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Year 1 Writing Overview

The grid below is an overview of the writing units in Year 1. Each unit is driven by an engaging, vocabulary-rich book (or a school trip!) that inspires a wealth of writing opportunities.   Some of these books have strong thematic links to other areas of our curriculum (for example Science, History and Geography). If you would like to see how writing units are mapped across the whole school, please read our 'Whole School Writing Overview' which is available HERE. If you would like to find our more about our writing curriculum, please follow the link to our 'contacts' page and get in touch.

Autumn 1 Autumn 2 Spring 1 Spring 2 Summer 1 Summer 2

Poetry: 1 week

Stimulus: ‘Happy Poem’ by James Carter

Purpose: create a new verse for the poem.

Poetry: 1 week

Stimulus: ‘Winter Morning’ by Ogden Nash

Purpose: write an acrostic poem using description.

Poetry: 1 week

Stimulus: ‘I Like’ by Moira Andrew

Purpose: perform poem and use new vocabulary in sentences.

Poetry: 1 week

Stimulus: ‘Ning Nang Nong’ by Spike Milligan

Purpose: perform poem and write own nonsense poem.

Poetry: 2 weeks

Stimulus: Various Food Poems – 'Slurpy Spaghetti' chapter in 'The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems’

Purpose: create food poetry.

Poetry: 2 weeks

Stimulus: rhyming poems: ‘Summer Days’ by Anne English and ‘Summer Song’ by J. Ciardi

Fiction: cumulative tales, 3 weeks

Stimulus: ‘The Three Little Pigs’ by Pie Corbett 

Purpose: share write a cumulative tale to apply sequencing skills.

Fiction: adventure story, 2 weeks 

Stimulus: ‘The Naughty Bus’ by Jan Oke

Purpose: write a sequel to a story.

Fiction: friendship story, 3 weeks

Stimulus: ‘Rainbow Fish’ by Marcus Pfister

Purpose: change the characters and setting of a story.

Fiction: mystery story, 3 weeks

Stimulus: ‘Beegu’ by A. Deacon

Purpose: write a goodbye letter to Beegu.

Fiction: magical story, 3 weeks

Stimulus: ‘Bog Baby’ by Jeanne Willis

Purpose: create your own Bog Baby story.

Fiction: portal story, 3 weeks

Stimulus: ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ (traditional)

Purpose: change the ending to a story.

Non-fiction: instructions, 2 weeks

Stimulus: ‘Making a Windproof House for the Three Little Pigs’

By Sue Gagliardi

Purpose: write clear sequential instructions.

Non-fiction: Information texts, 3 weeks

Stimulus: Bring in toys from home + ‘Toys’ information text

Purpose: write about a toy.

Non-fiction: recount, 2 weeks

Stimulus: Class trip to Sealife Centre

Purpose: write a recount of trip to Pizza Express.

Non-fiction: information text, 2 weeks

Stimulus: 'Big Blue Whale' by Nicola Davies

Purpose: write a report on a creature seen at the Sealife Centre.

Non-fiction: explanation text, 2 weeks

Stimulus: ‘How to Grow a Beanstalk’ by Janice Vale

Purpose: use gained knowledge to look after a plant or animal.

Non-fiction: letters, diaries, 2 weeks

Stimulus: Jack will leave out some plants and a letter. 

Purpose: write a letter to your new teacher.

What writing skills and knowledge do we learn about in Year 1?

Sentence Construction

Recognise and generate a range of sentences

Basic Simple Sentences

A basic simple sentence has one main clause (a nound and a verb that can stand alone). They do not have very much detail.

This is a cat.
My car is blue.

Questions and Exclamations

A question is a sentence punctuated with a question mark that invites a response.

How many days are there in a year?
Why is the sky blue?

An exclamation is a sentence punctuated with an exclamation mark, expressing surprise or strong emotion.

I hate cats!
The football team won! 

Compound Sentences

A compound sentence uses co-ordinating conjunctions such as: but, and, or, so

The children played on the swings and slid down the table.
Spiders can be small or they can be large.

Complex Sentences

A complex sentence is made up of a main clause and subordinate clause. The main clause makes sense on its own and the subordinate does not. These two clauses can be joined by a subordinating conjunction such as: because, while, when, as

It was pitch black because the light was broken.

I did my homework while watching television.

Complex sentences can also include relative clauses. 

Michael, who was always late, cycled to school.
The badger, who lives underground, is nocturnal.

Understand that a sentence makes sense and can stand alone.

Think a sentence, say a sentence, write a sentence - now reread.

Know that a sentence holds meaning, makes sense and is demarcated by CAPITAL LETTERS and FULL STOPS.

Apply phonics to segment words.

Use finger spaces.


While, When, Where

'ly' openers:

Fortunately, Unfortunately, Sadly

Use coordinating conjunctions 

Coordinating conjunctions can be used to joins ideas and add information. These conjunctions are: and, but, or, so

The old man took the ticket and examined the printing.
They can be very small or very large.
Charlie hid but Sally found him.
It was snowing so they put their boots on. 


Capital Letters 

Capital letters should be used for: 'I', days of the week, months of the year and name of people and places

The teacher gave Leah and Jordan some work.
I want to go to Paris!
Monday 13th June

Exclamation marks, question marks and full stops

Don't eat that cake!

Why is the sky blue?

I don't like carrots.

To find out more about these methods of punctuation, look in the Sentence Structure section above.

Bullet points

Bullet points are used to display lists, instructions and recipes. 

​In my packed lunch there was:

  • a sandwich,
  • an apple,
  • some grapes,
  • a bottle of water.

How to make a pancake:

  • Measure 250g of flour.
  • Add it to a bowl of 200ml of milk and stir.
  • Crack an egg into the mixture.
  • Stir and pour onto a hot frying pan.

Speech bubbles and speech marks

These can be used during direct speech. 

"Hello," said Sarah.

Word Structure and Language

Use a range of prepositions

Prepositions are words that describe where things are. Here are a few examples:

  • ​up
  • down
  • on
  • onto
  • in
  • inside
  • out
  • outside
  • towards
  • across
  • under
  • towards

Use 'a', 'an' and 'the' determiners correctly

Determiners are used to clarify the noun. 

Children should be able to use 'a' and 'an' correctly.

A cat strolled down the road.
My favourite fruit is an apple.

They should also be able to use 'the' to label a specific object.

The dog was friendly.
I went to the park.

Click here to try a learning activity

Use adjectives for description

Adjectives are words that describe things. In year one, children need to use adjectives for description and this may include colour and size.

The old woman sees the big dog.
The yellow tennis ball bounces on the hard ground.

Use vocabulary related to topic

Children are expected to use vocabulary that is linked to the topic that they are writing about. For example, if the topic was cats you would expect to see words such as: tail, fluffy, ears, paws etc.. 

Suffixes added to adjectives

Suffixes can be added to adjectives to create simple superlatives and comparatives. 

fresh --- fresher
quick --- quickest

'un' prefix

The prefix 'un' can be used to change the meaning of verbs and adjectives.\

tie the boat --- untie the boat
wrap the present --- unwrap the present

National Curriculum Terminology

  • word
  • letter
  • sentence
  • capital letter
  • full stop
  • punctuation
  • singular
  • plural
  • question mark
  • exclamation mark

Text structure

'Chunk up'

'Chunking up' is a process where sentences are grouped into beginning, middle and end sections. This can be done with a well known story and this way familiar connecting words and phrases can be identified. For example, 'once upon a time' and 'the end' are typical beginning and ends to a story. 

Adverbial Openers

Using simple adverbial openers in oral and written work adds detail. Adverbials can be single words (adverbs) or phrases (adverbial phrases). When looking to create these it is useful to ask yourself:

  • When?

Many years ago...
As soon as...
In the end...

  • Where?

Under the bridge...
In the car...
At Tom's house...

  • How?


The Reader

When writing children should think about the reader and what effect their writing may have on them. This may effect their use of vocabulary, punctuation and other literary techniques. 

Language Effects

Similes using 'like' and 'as'

A simile is where you compare two different things. In this case 'like' and 'as' are used. Children can start by using familiar objects and experiences to draw out comparisons.

The ground was hot like fire.
She was singing like an angel.

The fire is as hot as the sun.
Outside it is as wet as the sea.

Click here to try a learning activity.


This is when two or more words in a row begin with the same letter.

Wicked witch
Slimy slugs

To make this easier there is a two step process that can be followed. 

  1. Gather words beginning with the same sounds and letters
  2. Put together adjectives with nouns and verbs to describe (the slimy snake slithered)

Descriptive Lists

There are different ways to use descriptive lists:

  • introduce sentence of three for description 

He wore shoes, a dark cloak and a canvas hat.

  • two adjectives to describe a noun

The scary, old woman.
The green-eyed, scaly dragon.

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