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Lauren MacDonald - Oral language activity based programme

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Last updated by Catriona Pene

posted on behalf of Lauren MacDonald

The Programme

Firstly Id like to give credit where it's due and thank Lisbeth Swanson who was the RTLB I worked with last year, and who is now employed as a Resource Teacher of Literacy.

Last year, for my appraisal, I developed an oral language activity based programme that the kids really enjoyed.

  • Barrier Games: (following instructions about where to place pictures, use a cookie tray x2, sticky magnet strips)
  • Head Bands Game: guess the picture on your headband by asking questions/ others giving clues (laminated paper headband, velcro dots to stick picture on. I used pictures included in a barrier game task related to households.) Headband wearer doesn't see the picture. Group members give clues. The child wearing the headband has to guess the picture on their headband from the clues they are given.  Last clue could be the starting letter! (if proving tricky..)
  • Order and retell a story from pictures: I used some 'Magic Key' sequences of 4 pictures. It could be completed in a different order so long as it made sense as a story.
  • Use props to retell story
  • Use props to make up a story. Sparklebox has a great selection.
  • News from home. Each child/group had a set news day. Each child shared their own news. One child's news was chosen by the group to present to the class. Other children in the group would report back with a sentence relating to the chosen child's news. Make a news book up if you like and pop it in the library corner. Kids love to revisit these newsbooks because they are all about them.
  • Listening post, audiobook app etc 


  • The class I worked with was 16 children so...I made up packs of activities so you just needed 4x 4 activities as each group cycles through them and Fridays we did class news.For more children you may want more stations.
  • There was also a reporting back component to give accountability.
  • The children got so good at this that we could have put an activity out at reading time and they still would have done it well as part of a wider Literacy Rotation.They would work well as self-managed pair activity at any time of the day.
  • Barrier game master sheets
  • Give me 5 poster 
  • Give me 5 docgiveme5.doc
  • Icons for OL pages
  • Icons  ICONS for OL.pages
  • Oral language planning pages
  • Oral language  oral lang ideas.pages
  • Sequencing Ted's day
  • Sequencing Ted sequencing_ted's_day.pdf


POINTERS Please excuse me if some sound obvious!

  • Lots of modelling of each task before you start rotations as you want them to be really familiar with the language and expectations around the station.
  • Barrier Game: The children listen to an instruction then follow it. e.g. "Put the puppy under the big tree." If they miss part of the instruction, teach them to say "I heard puppy but I need you to repeat where to put it." Be quite explicit in your teaching regarding the skills they need to do the task well.
  • Sometimes, when the children would retell their picture sequence story, we would have a mini play where they would 'use the voice dad would use to say "go away" etc. They loved impromptu acting. Also "what do you think mum might say to that?" etc.
  • The 4 picture sequencing had a sentence underneath each picture but I'd prefer to use it without them, then the children have to think "what would make sense?" and it does allow them to change the problem and solution.
  • if possible, record the retelling on your iPhone or iPad and play it back to the class at report back time. A blue tooth speaker works well when doing this.

Thanks so much to Lauren for sharing her resources, ideas and links.