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Opening words teachers’ guide
© www.teachit.co.uk 2012 13616 Page 1 of 2
Why opening words?
Opening words have been chosen carefully by
writers to invite a reader into the text.
From the very first word there are clues about the
kind of text and what comes next. Is it science
fiction, an advert, a poem, a horoscope – or
another text type?
These words are perfect to turn into a Teachit
Magnet activity of your very own!
Using opening words - try some of these ideas with your class
 Prediction: as each word is displayed, ask the students to guess the next word, and
then the rest of the sentence, from the words already on view.
 Word classes: what kind of word might come next? If the first word is ‘The’, is the
next word likely to be a noun, a verb or an adjective?
 Guess the genre: what are the clues about the setting, language, characters etc? Try
to work out what genre of fiction you are looking at. You could also try to work out
the context of the text.
 Creative word choices: what's the most imaginative suggestion for the next word?
 Story starters: once the class has spent some time looking at and discussing the
words on the board they should have plenty of ideas about how they could develop
these in groups or alone, into a story, a poem, or an argument.
 Crunch it up: Remove the numbers and mix them up for an on-screen sequencing
task.
 The flight path: create Magnets from the opening words of a range of different text
types then challenge students to predict the purpose of the text. How soon can you
make accurate predictions?
 Looking at audience: create a series of Magnets based on the same text type, eg
persuasive texts, but aimed at different audiences. Try to work out the audience for
each text based on clues in the language, punctuation and grammar.
 A revision tool: display a key extract from a text you are studying. How quickly can
you recognise the passage, continue the line, describe the context, explain its
importance and comment on the use of language?
 Explore more than one: some interesting story starts are listed below as a starting
point. Rank these in order of preference, make predictions or spark creativity using
these as the opening words for narrative writing tasks.
Opening words teachers’ guide
© www.teachit.co.uk 2012 13616 Page 2 of 2
‘Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.’
The Outsider by Albert Camus
‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’
1984 by George Orwell
‘I once saw a bloke try to kill himself.’
On Saturday Afternoon by Alan Sillitoe
‘In walks these three girls in bathing suits.’
A and P by John Updike
‘An extraordinary thing happened today.’
The Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol
‘Now what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts.’
Hard Times by Charles Dickens
‘When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.’
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
‘There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.’
The Voyage of the Dawntreader by C.S. Lewis
‘The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.’
Murphy by Samuel Beckett
‘Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.’
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
‘Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.’
Waiting by Ha Jin
‘They shoot the white girl first.’
Paradise by Toni Morrison

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Using opening words effectively

  • 1. Opening words teachers’ guide © www.teachit.co.uk 2012 13616 Page 1 of 2 Why opening words? Opening words have been chosen carefully by writers to invite a reader into the text. From the very first word there are clues about the kind of text and what comes next. Is it science fiction, an advert, a poem, a horoscope – or another text type? These words are perfect to turn into a Teachit Magnet activity of your very own! Using opening words - try some of these ideas with your class  Prediction: as each word is displayed, ask the students to guess the next word, and then the rest of the sentence, from the words already on view.  Word classes: what kind of word might come next? If the first word is ‘The’, is the next word likely to be a noun, a verb or an adjective?  Guess the genre: what are the clues about the setting, language, characters etc? Try to work out what genre of fiction you are looking at. You could also try to work out the context of the text.  Creative word choices: what's the most imaginative suggestion for the next word?  Story starters: once the class has spent some time looking at and discussing the words on the board they should have plenty of ideas about how they could develop these in groups or alone, into a story, a poem, or an argument.  Crunch it up: Remove the numbers and mix them up for an on-screen sequencing task.  The flight path: create Magnets from the opening words of a range of different text types then challenge students to predict the purpose of the text. How soon can you make accurate predictions?  Looking at audience: create a series of Magnets based on the same text type, eg persuasive texts, but aimed at different audiences. Try to work out the audience for each text based on clues in the language, punctuation and grammar.  A revision tool: display a key extract from a text you are studying. How quickly can you recognise the passage, continue the line, describe the context, explain its importance and comment on the use of language?  Explore more than one: some interesting story starts are listed below as a starting point. Rank these in order of preference, make predictions or spark creativity using these as the opening words for narrative writing tasks.
  • 2. Opening words teachers’ guide © www.teachit.co.uk 2012 13616 Page 2 of 2 ‘Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.’ The Outsider by Albert Camus ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ 1984 by George Orwell ‘I once saw a bloke try to kill himself.’ On Saturday Afternoon by Alan Sillitoe ‘In walks these three girls in bathing suits.’ A and P by John Updike ‘An extraordinary thing happened today.’ The Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol ‘Now what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts.’ Hard Times by Charles Dickens ‘When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.’ To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ‘There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.’ The Voyage of the Dawntreader by C.S. Lewis ‘The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.’ Murphy by Samuel Beckett ‘Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.’ The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner ‘Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.’ Waiting by Ha Jin ‘They shoot the white girl first.’ Paradise by Toni Morrison