Learning language through literature

Language arts – here we come!

Welcome teachers, pupils, and parents to this page of literature-inspired enrichment activities brought to you by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme!

In the coming months, Star-NiE will feature poems and stories taken from the English language textbooks of Years 4, 5 and 6.

Making a connection with literature through poetry and stories does more than just develop reading skills. It develops positive life-long reading habits and attitudes, and an interest in literature.

Making an early connection with literature develops and enriches your language in a holistic manner. It helps you process and express your thoughts and feelings in context – a necessary real-life skill, and since as children you love to imagine, literature based activities will nourish your imagination! We begin by connecting with poetry before we move on to stories.

So, stay on the page and enjoy learning how to communicate through activities that focus on six language arts skills: listening, talking, reading, writing, viewing, and visually representing.

Connecting with poetry

A famous poet once said, “Poetry must be FUN.” So, for the next few months let’s enrich our use of English through some fun and playful poetry.

Sand Castle

All of us, teachers and parents, can relate to a day at the beach. You may have joined in with friends or family to build a sand castle too. Did it occur to you that your outing could be used as an informal teaching-learning episode too? At the next outing, perhaps?

The poem: Sand Castle

I built a house

One afternoon

With bucket, cup,

And fork and spoon,

Then scooped a shovel-

ful of shore

On top to add

The second floor.

But when the fingers

Of the sea

Reached up and waved

A wave to me,

It tumbled down

Like dominoes

And disappeared

Between my toes.

J Patrick Lewi

About this poem

The poet excitedly describes how she built a sand castle. But soon she’s disappointed because a huge wave reaches up the shore and washes it away. Do you think she’ll build another? Well, she has everything she needs on the spot. So, is there a hidden message for you to take away from this little poem? Think about it.

Activity A

1. Imagine you are the one who built the sand castle. Read aloud the poem using two different voices to show your feelings: excitement and disappointment.

The poet compares the wave to fingers. This is called PERSONIFICATION – giving human quality or ability to objects or animals. It is often used in poems and stories to make them come alive!

2. While at the beach you see many things. List them and give them a human action. Next, imagine you are the thing or the object and do the action!

Example:Object Human actionwaves - dance

Activity B

Complete this verse with your own words or words from the poem. Yes, the end-words rhyme.

I knocked on the ____________

Of the second floor

Oh no! It tumbled down

My friend looked at me with an angry ____________

He snatched my _________, my fork and ________

I was left hungry into the late _____________

“I’ll build another door. It’s only a diorama!

Why make a fuss? Why this ____________ ?”Now, find a friend to act it out.

Activity C

Have fun reading aloud and working out these beach-related rhyming riddles:

1. I’m tiny and oh, so fine

In me you can draw a line

And yet I can build up castles, anytime!

What comes to mind? ______________

2. I rhyme with ‘sand’

Isn’t that grand?

What am I? I’m your _____________!

3. The shore said I was brave

I was so happy with the praise

I rushed to meet it in a dancing ____________!

Now, it is your turn to create your own riddles.

Activity D

Situation: You are at the beach (Imagine, if you cannot be physically present). You find and sit under a quiet, shady spot. You have your notebook with you because your teacher wants you to write a little poem about your day at the beach.

Task: As you look out at the sea and around the beach, use your senses to write words that come floating to your mind to describe the following:

1. The sea, from far and near

2. The sea waves

3. The sand under your feet

4. Your feelings

For homework: Use some of these words to write your poem.

NiE Activity

1. From the newspaper cut out these letters:


They must be in bold capitals:

i. Find any item that begins with each of these letters. Cut and paste alongside each letter. ii. Write a line that begins with each of the letters. Your sentence must say something about the item.

S ___________________________________________

A ___________________________________________

N ___________________________________________

D ___________________________________________

2. I found this picture in The Star newspaper. Imagine that it is an ancient castle.

For homework: Surf the Internet for names of parts of a castle that look similar to what you see. Then, in four lines (or more) say something about this castle. Add some mystery to it!

Lucille Dass is a Star-NiE freelance consultant trainer. The Star-NiE programme is endorsed by the Education Ministry. For more information, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1-300- 88-7827 from Monday to Friday (9am-5pm).

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Published twice monthly on Wednesdays, the colourful 16-page NiE pullout incorporates authentic materials from the newspaper into English language learning. It is written by experienced teachers/specialists and is endorsed by the Education Ministry. The syllabus-based pullout comes with a copy of The Star and is only available through school subscription. For more details, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1-300-88-7827, Monday to Friday (9am-5pm).
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