Monday, 30 May 2011

Jumpstart Literacy

Jumpstart Literacy by Pie Corbett is a fabulous book for anyone wanting to spice up their English lessons!

The best way I can describe the book is that it is full of easy to teach mental starters for English. At least that's certainly how I have begun to use it.

Activities described in the book are:

  • Jumpstarting spelling - activities for memorising and improving spelling.
  • Jumpstarting words - different word classes and playing with words.
  • Jumpstarting sentences - developing control, manipulating and inventing sentences.
  • Jumpstarting writing - establishing a creative frame of mind for imaginative writing.
  • Jumpstarting speaking, listening and drama - activities to develop confidence in verbal and physical expression.
  • Jumpstarting learning - strategies to establish a learning mood in any subject

An example is Odd Word = Story:
This is a story-starter game that shows children how stories can spring up from the most extraordinary places!
  • Spend a few minutes brainstorming a list of nouns with the children. Write these on the whole-class board, creating a 'word wall; of suggestions. Encourage them to make their list as varied as possible... it will make for more imaginative stories in the long run!
  • The children each select two nouns that do not seem to go together, e.g. horse and pumpkin or toothpaste and space, and then have a few minutes to begin a narrative linking the two together. Explain to them that this was precisely what C.S. Lewis did in his classic tale, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. A narrative might look something like this:
  • One morning, while an astronaut was busy brushing his teeth, he noticed how beautifully white they were looking. He was due to launch off into space that day, so he decided to take a rocket fill of toothpaste with him, so that he could make the stars sparkle even brighter! 
I love the simplicity of the ideas and the ways that they can grab attention and inspire learning. I always felt that one of the strengths of the original National Numeracy Strategy was the mental starter. It started lessons with a bang! The ideas in this book could start your lessons off with a bang too!

I think the ideas are suitable for Year Three and upwards.


  1. I have to agree, this is a fab book!

  2. Glad you like it too! Do you use it with any particular year group?

  3. I teach Year 4/5 but have used it when I taught Year 6 English and I think I had it when I taught Year 3 as well!