#WordPower #Teaching Through Text Part 2: Nothing by Mick Inkpen

My most recent series of blog posts about vocabulary, #WordPower #TeachingthroughText, will provide practical ideas for exploring language in high-quality texts. The 8 #WordAttack strategies (connections, personal links, phonology, graphology, orthography, morphology, meaning and etymology) can be used to explore the language chosen for direct instruction. For detail on the 8 #WordAttack strategies follow these links for more information Part 3: Word Attack and Part 5: Building Word Power

Effective vocabulary instruction can help pupils to unlock the potential of new words through discussion, meaning-making and strengthening connections, whilst simultaneously deepening their comprehension of language and fostering communication. If you would like more information about my #WordPower vocabulary CPD programme, click here.

Years ago, when I worked as an English advisor for the Local Authority, I remember attending an annual conference workshop led by my mentor, Beverly Hughes. In her session, she shared the works of Mick Inkpen (Baggy Brown, Penguin Small and Nothing to name a few) and how the richness of language provided in his books could unlock creativity for FS and KS1 pupils. She spoke of ‘raising the bar’ in terms of our daily discourse, exposing children to words that they had not encountered before. I’ve chosen Nothing for this post as it’s one of my personal favourites. If you’re unfamiliar with the text, Nothing tells the tale of a stuffed toy that has been abandoned for years in the attic. He wakes up one day to discover that the family are moving. As the pile of years of waste is lifted, removed and packed away into the moving van, he is the only thing that remains. One of the owners of the house comments on the thing that is left behind saying, ‘it’s nothing’ and hence the story begins.

Nothing is a journey of self-discovery. During his journey, Nothing meets several characters – an uninterested mouse, a silky-voiced fox and a clumsy tabby cat who epitomises everything that Nothing wishes that he was – self-assured and with his own identity (‘Toby, the cat, had come from a long line of Tobys’) It’s not just the lovely story and the ‘big reveal’ at the end that makes this such a stunning book, but it’s also the richness of the language. Consider the following extracts:

‘’The little thing felt the weight on top of it gradually lighten and suddenly the glare of a torch beam stung its eyes.’

‘How do you think you would feel if you had been squashed in the dark for years and years and then you squeezed through a tiny hole to find yourself under the big starry sky?’

‘He found himself shuddering and shaking as great uncontrollable sobs quivered up his little raggedy body and sat him on the ground.’

‘All the while, joggling along inside Nothing’s head, there was a thought trying to get out. It felt like an important thought. It had something to do with the cat.’

If you use any of the activities with your pupils (FS, KS1, Y3 or Y4) please get in touch via email kellyashleyconsultancy@outlook.com or through Twitter @kashleyenglish. I’d love to hear from you!

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Copyright Kelly Ashley Consultancy, 2018

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