All About Christmas

All About Christmas by

As always the guys at Topmarks have put together a really well presented package.¬†There’s everything you need to know about Christmas contained here…

You can find out why Christians celebrate Christmas and explore the timeline of the Christmas period from Advent to Epiphany.

From the story of the Nativity to individual sections about Advent, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Epiphany and even how to make Christingles, all aspects of the formal side of the festival are covered.

The section on customs covers Santa Clause, Christmas carols, card, Christmas pudding, Christmas trees and mistletoe.

Finally there is a host of activities with Christmas Games, Songs and stories and ‘how to’ advice on the production of cards, Christingles and even a dancing Rudolph!

You can get the low down on Santa, his reindeer and the elves as well as a whole host of puzzles and printables to see you through the madness that occurs once the Christmas postbox comes out… ūüôā

All About Christmas by


The Apostrophe : A rant…

The main issue that I have with teaching children about using apostrophes is that somebody had always got there before me and often created major confusion.

Bravo to the person that taught six year olds that could barely write their own names about apostrophes of omission. You taught them to recognise when the letters ‘-nt’ come together at the end of a word and showed them how to stick in an apostrophe to be all grown up.

Then you drilled them for a while, giving them worksheets which kept them quiet and ¬†pleased their mummies, but never thought to introduce them to the fact that not all words that end in ‘-nt’ get an apostrophe.

The same happened with words ending ‘-ll’ ¬†or ‘-ve’.

Clearly, the little dears needed to be seen to make progress so, before they left the infants, the apostrophe of possession was¬†introduced – but only the simple ‘s.

Again lots of worksheets, or maybe even ‘point and click’ activities on trendy apps,¬†were¬†bandied about in which every final ‘-s’ needed an apostrophe dropping in before it.

So, by the time I had them, aged 11, apostrophes were growing like mushrooms all over their writing…

I have genuinely seen the following.

I like to pain’t.
Wi’ll you come to my party?
Can I ha’ve a cup of coffee, please?
As he en’tered the room he saw a ghostly shape.

All of these are the result of what I call “Apostrophes week”: maybe the infant department curriculum and planning documents clearly stated that these children must all be taught apostrophes no matter what their reading level or cognitive capabilities, or maybe teacher just felt like apostrophes were a good idea, who knows?

Of course, the children are keen to please, learn the trick and are rewarded with praise Рmuch the same way  as I taught my labrador to sit, lie down, speak and close doors.

But the dog doesn’t really¬†understand the actual words, she just knows that her actions please me and she gets a pat on the head and maybe a treat.

Although they fell out of fashion, worksheets are a useful tool and I do reckon that learning takes place more often with pen in hand than it does by clicking a screen. (If you call worksheets¬†Skills Development, Assessment ¬†and Consolidation Activities they become back in vogue…)

My only plea would be that:

Firstly, colleagues might not be so eager to teach the apostrophe at the lower end of the primary schools – may be get full stops and capital letters nailed first?

Secondly, introduce a thought process so that pupils have to think whether an apostrophe is actually needed; maybe chuck in a few questions in which¬†an apostrophe is NOT actually needed and thus we might identify whether they have been taught a transferrable skill or simply conditioned to ‘sit on command’ in order to tick a box …

Rant over.

Verbs : The Conditional Mood

‘Conditional’ ¬†indicates that the action of the verb depends on something else to happen under certain conditions or circumstances . A useful way to remember this is to think of the phrase ‘If this, then that.’ The conditional often uses words like might, could, and would.

The baby might cry if you pick him up.

This verb sentence shows what could happen under the condition of picking up the baby, so it’s an example of the conditional mood.

Another example of a verb using the conditional mood is:

He would look older with a beard.

This shows that the man looking older depends on whether or not he has a beard, so under that specific condition, he would appear to have aged.

Verbs : The Indicative Mood

‘Indicative’ indicates a state of factuality or states something that is happening in reality. Most sentences in English are written in the indicative mood. For example, the sentence –

The dog jumps into the car

– simply states what is really happening in the present moment.

The indicative mood can also be used in sentences that include words like ‘might’ or ‘may’ because it indicates something that is a real possibility:

That house might collapse if they don’t make the necessary repairs.

The fact that the house could actually fall down if it isn’t fixed is indicative of reality, so we would say this sentence is written in the indicative mood.

Verbs : Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

In the glossary of grammatical words and phrases suggested for pupils of primary school age it is suggested that pupils should know the difference between a transitive verb and an intransitive verb.

A transitive verb is one that is used with an object. 

The object of the verb can be a noun, a phrase, or a pronoun that refers to the person or thing that is affected by the action of the verb.

In the following sentences, applaud, keep, beat, and hate are transitive verbs:

  • I applaud¬†your¬†performance.
  • We need to keep¬†quality players.
  • I couldn‚Äôt beat¬†him yesterday.
  • She hates¬†bullies.

Some transitive verbs can be used with a direct object as well as an indirect object:

  • Gill¬†boughther mother¬†some chocolates.
  • She¬†senthim¬†a¬†Valentine’s card.

An intransitive verb does not have an object.

In the following sentences, howl, walk, shake, and sleep are intransitive verbs:

  • The dog¬†was howling.
  • I walk¬†to keep fit.
  • They shook¬†uncontrollably.
  • We slept¬†for hours.

Some verbs can be either transitive or intransitive depending upon how they are used in the sentence. The most common of these are:

– move
– set
– do
– start
– close
– change
– open
– run
– live
– wash
– stop
– write

Verbs : The Interrogative Mood

The Interrogative¬†asks a question. A great way to remember the term ‘interrogative’ is to think of an interrogation room where a suspect is asked a series of questions.

Its as simple as that, really. The important thing to note is that when a question is being asked the sentence always ends in a question mark

The most common way to form the Interrogative is to put the auxiliary verb before the subject in the sentence.

This example uses the present continuous tense…

  • John is walking down the street.
    – a statement informing the listener about what John is doing
  • Is John walking down the street?
    – a question asking the listener for information.


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