If you are struggling or reluctant to read, understanding that words don’t need to be daunting and can be a source of fun is a big help in itself.

There are four aspects of language development that deliberate ‘playing with words’ can help with:

  • Pronouncing, putting together and properly stressing the sounds of the language… play with noises and sounds
  • Rules by which words are put together into sentences… play with word meanings and grammatical constructions
  • Selecting words to appropriately convey intended meaning… play with different words
  • Rules that govern the behaviours for engaging in effective communication… play with the conventions of speech

You can ‘play with words’ wherever and whenever you encounter them, but here are some ideas and tips based on using the title of a book.

Some ideas build on the specific ‘features’ of a title…

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

  • What sentence would you use to start a diary?
  • Shall we make a diary to record what we do together?
  • Using additional describing words as the basis of a memory game... the Diary of a wimpy, small, hairy, smelly… Kid!
  • How would you feel if you were called ‘a wimpy kid’?

The Cat in the Hat

  • What kinds of hats can we think of? What else can you wear on your head? I went to the hat shop and I bought: a bandana, a cap, a wig…
  • How many ‘at’ words can we add? The cat in the hat sat on the mat in the flat with a bat…
  • What rhymes with other animals? The Cat in the Hat… Fox in some socks… Goat in a coat… Dog in the Fog… Mouse in the House… Snake in the Cake

Puppy in a Puddle

  • Continuing alliteration to extend the (silly) sentence (the puppy in a puddle pulled out a pink pebble, a packet of polos and a pot of pansies…)
  • What are other young animals called… where might they be? Puppy in a Puddle… Kitten in a Kitchen… Calf in a Cave
  • What noises does a puppy make?

Everything you need to know about science

  • Using the book title to create an alphabetical list: everything you need to know about aeroplanes, bagpipes, cabbages…
  • Change the word order… You need to know everything about science
  • Words connected with science, different types of science

Some ideas lend themselves to virtually any title…

  • Take one or more words from the title and use it as the basis of an acrostic e.g. Science – space, chemicals, ideas, energy, nuclear, creation, engineering.
  • Use the full title for ‘Constantinople’ (where you make shorter words from the letters available) e.g. “The Cat in the Hat” = tin, can, heat, then etc. and then make silly sentences up… The Cat in the Hat sat on a tin can in the heat then…
  • Add extra describing words to the title e.g. The Puppy in the deep, cold Puddle.
  • Use the title as the basis of a short story.
  • Change or add letters to make a different word (The Catch in the Hatch, Dairy of a Wimpy Kind)

Do you have any great ideas to add to these? Then contact us!

You can download this guidance in PDF format.

If you have any more great tips on how to engage reluctant and struggling readers, then speak to us as we'd love to hear them. Or why not put your tips into action by becoming a Coram Beanstalk reading helper