Speaking and listening are vital skills in many aspects of our daily lives and are an important area of development in our children. Research suggests that the pandemic may have had an impact on the communication skills of children. (The Speech Link Multimedia study of 50,000 pupils in schools in England showed around an extra a 20 to 25% of four and five-year-olds needing help with language at school).
Communication skills are needed in all areas of the curriculum and No Pens Day Wednesday aims to celebrate and develop these skills by encouraging schools to put down their pens and pick up their language with a day of speaking and listening activities.
I’ve worked in a range of settings who have taken part in No Pens Day, some of which have made it a termly event due to the success, popularity and impact. Spending time to focus on and develop speaking and listening skills can support children’s learning in many areas. If they are able to practice using vocabulary in word games and discussions, they are more likely to use this vocabulary in their written work.
No Pens Day activities can be incorporated into classrooms of all of ages and abilities. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Tell stories using puppets or use puppets to start conversations
- Make numbers out of other materials e.g. playdough, mark making in sand
- Have fun outdoors – build dens, look for 2D and 3D shapes, make shadow shapes, measure shadows, go cloud spotting
- Music – sing songs (with actions!), play instruments, create a masterpiece!
- Go on a ‘listening walk’ by exploring different areas of the school and outside – what sounds can you hear?
- Word games such as – What am I? Children describe an object or emotion to their partner or small group for others to work out
After the event you can build on the activities and skills by encouraging children to talk about what they did and what they enjoyed most. To link back to literacy, they could complete a written account of the day.
Lots of these activities could also be carried out at home to support the overall language development of your child.
Are you taking part this year? I would love to hear how you get involved in No Pens Day! Although the official day is 24th November 2021 this year, you could choose to take part any day that suits you – why not make it a regular event?!