Tell Me A Dragon, by Jackie Morris, is a beautiful book. It has the most wonderful illustrations, which will both support and motivate children to write more descriptively, and the structure of the sentences on each page provide children with models for writing which they can imitate or innovate.
How you use the text will depend on the year group you are teaching and the grammatical features you have identified for development with your pupils. I've provided a few examples from the text for each grammatical element, together with the relevant Sentence Toolkit tools which you could use with these. Once children have understood how to use the structure and had fun with writing their own examples, they could perhaps produce a class or group book, writing sentences to describe their own dragons.
Noun phrases which provide beautiful description, using both pre- and post-modification of the noun (Sentence Toolkit: tape measure)
- the silver moon-path, (premodification only)
- the secret music of the wind (postmodified with prepositional phrase)
- whisper-thin wings of rainbow-hues (wings are pre-modified with 'whisper-thin' and post-modified with 'of rainbow hues')
- snaggle-toothed, fierce and brave
- jade-winged and amber-eyed with a tail as long as a river (the adjectival phrases is extended by adding a prepositional phrase introduced by 'with'. Within this prepositional phrase, the noun phrase 'a tail' is also post-modified with a simile. The children don't need to analyse the structure in a technical way, but the model is fantastic for imitating and innovating. E.g. My dragon is steely-scaled and stony-eyed with spikes as hard as granite.)
- as big as a village
- as long as a river
- across the sky
- in the waves
- all day
- from far away and long ago
- around my pillow
- into my dreams
If I were developing subordination of time (Year 2), the model I would use would be:
- When she laughs, petals ride on her breath.
If I were developing other ways of creating complex sentences, in order to vary sentence structure, I would use the model below. I would use this with Year 5 and 6 pupils who were already using conjunctions for subordinate clauses:
- Curled around my ear, my dragon sings sweet songs and tells me strange stories from far away and long ago.
- Curled around my pillow...
Punctuation (Sentence Toolkit: screwdrivers, hyphens)
The text provides good models of punctuation, in particular use of commas to mark phrases and clauses and hyphens to create compound constructions to modify/describe nouns. For example: snaggle-toothed, jade-winged, amber-eyed, sea-dragon, ice-dragon.
To see other texts recommended on this blog, click here. And for more Texts that Teach, check out this link.