Non-fiction

English Year 2 Autumn Letters and Postcards

Excuse Letters

Be inspired to write letters with fantastic excuses by J.P.N. McHennessy. Describe an adventure based on Dear Teacher by Amy Husband. Study sentences with different forms.

Start with the core unit to introduce key texts. Then select from comprehension, SPAG and composition units.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Read and write letters; understand features
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Texts
John Patrick Norman McHennessy by John Burningham

Group Readers
The Three Guinea Fowl

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read and enjoy J.P.N. McHennessy by John Burningham. Note the old-fashioned features. Discuss the excuses and sequence the story. Then discuss ideas for a different adventure that could have befallen John Patrick.
Activity
In groups of 3, children discuss three possible ideas for a new adventure that would have made John Patrick late for school. Then each child writes one idea on their whiteboard in the form of an excuse, using 1st person. They show the class.

Day 2 Teaching
Show another letter, the one that starts Dear Teacher by Amy Husband. Will the principle believe Michael? Discuss the features of letters. Shared read Dear Mr Gorilla (see resources) and explain the group reading activity.
Activity
Children read The Three Guinea Fowl in their groups, paying special attention as they do so, noting typical letter features and language choices. They also answer either easier or harder set of questions about story (plan resources).

Day 3 Teaching
Explain that today we will write a letter from the teacher to the parents of John Patrick. Remind children of features of letters and shared write a letter to the parents. Use a question and an exclamation, describing the punctuation used. Finish the letter with an appropriate sign-off.
Activity
Give each child a postcard template. They write a postcard message from John Patrick to his teacher, using the excuse that they invented on the first day of this unit. They must use correct punctuation.

Group Readers

The Three Guinea Fowl
This is a clever story with lively illustrations, written partly through the medium of letters. Ideal for teaching this genre of writing, the tale engages children who want to know how the problem is resolved.

You can purchase printed copies of this Group Reader from Hamilton Education.

SPAG
Unit 2 SPAG: Forms of sentence and punctuation
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Texts
John Patrick Norman McHennessy by John Burningham

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Re-read J.P.N. McHennessy by John Burningham. Using an extract (see resources), point out the four different forms of sentence: statement, question, exclamation and command. Give each of four children an example of each, and have them come to the front so that you can discuss the correct punctuation
Activity
Using Sir’s Sentence Sorter, children must read each sentence and highlight the word that describes it – statement, question, exclamation or command. Children then write their own example of each sort.

Day 2 Teaching
Show John Patrick’s full name and highlight the digraphs. Discuss writing and spelling our full names; children rehearse this. Then explain how we can write our names and addresses so that we can send letters. Model layout for a name and address on a postcard or letter.
Activity
Give each child in the group a slip with their full name and address on it. They learn to spell their full name and then write their address at least twice. If time, they write a ‘By Hand’ postcard to their families, addressing it correctly.

Day 3 Teaching
Review children’s understanding of the differences between statements, questions, exclamations and commands. Hot seat John Patrick. In pairs children discuss then pose questions. Model writing questions using correct punctuation. Then demonstrate how to write commands and exclamations.
Activity
Children write their letter from John Patrick’s parents to the teacher, complaining about the latter’s treatment of their son. Some use the template with the address filled in (see resources) while others use their own address or create a fictional one for the McHennessy’s.

SPAG
Unit 3 SPAG: Sentences: forms, punctuation and spelling
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Texts
Dear Teacher by Amy Husband

Optional Texts
John Patrick Norman McHennessy by John Burningham

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read Dear Teacher by Amy Husband. Demonstrate how we can write notes and group children in threes. Each group has an adventure summary from Michael’s adventures. Take turns to read out their notes to sequence the whole story.
Activity
In their groups, children shared read the book summary, Michael’s Adventures. They then answer differentiated questions about the text. Less confident children work with the TA or teacher.

Day 2 Teaching
Pin up and display the sentence types (see resources). Identify and discuss statements, questions, commands and exclamations. Model writing questions and answering these with statements or commands. How do we write exclamations?
Activity
Give less confident writers Top Secret Sentences to work on. More confident writers work on Pirate Ship Sentences. They identify sentence types and rephrase a more complex set of sentences.

Day 3 Teaching
Show children The Sunnybank School Schwa Effect Chart (plan resource) with its different /ul/ graphemes. Explain it, and read words through together, focussing particularly on the less common -el ending words. Keep Chart on display. Compose a nonsense sentence containing words taken from a number of the columns on the chart.
Activity
As a group, children compose and record a series of sentences related to characters and settings of Dear Teacher using a word/words from the list. Tell groups that they are going to need to choose their favourite sentence to read aloud to the class in the Plenary.

Composition
Unit 4 Composition: plan, write and edit an extended letter
(suggested as 3 days)

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read and enjoy Dear Teacher by Amy Husband. Use a story map to explore Michael’s adventures. Then use Michael and Bruno’s New Adventure Planner to start planning using these categories: Challenge, Location, Problem, Solution.

Activity
In groups children discuss ideas for a new challenge. They record their favourite ideas in note form on the New Adventure Planner. They then think about each of the location, the problem and the solution in turn.

Day 2 Teaching
Drawing on the Planner notes recorded yesterday, model converting each idea into a full, first person sentence as if from Michael. Then children continue to write their letters. Remind children that we write in the first person and challenge them to incorporate a command into their letters.
Activity
Drawing on the ideas captured in class yesterday, children draft their adventure letters from Michael to Miss Brooks. They look for opportunities to incorporate an exclamation, a command and a question in their writing.

Day 3 Teaching
Today children will produce ‘best handwriting’ versions of their letter drafts from yesterday. Urge children to pay close attention to any suggestions you have made about their drafts. Model re-writing your own draft story, stressing attention to punctuation.
Activity
Children rewrite their draft story letters as ‘best handwriting’ versions using paper and line guides or on the Letter template provided. More confident writers finish their letters with P.S. and possibly P.P.S. lines, seeing if they can produce command and question sentences for these.