Monthly Archives: September 2015

A world of words

Word routes into EnglishKetchup, toboggan, piranha – do you know which languages these words came from into English? After last week’s discussion about Little Bull, we had a game this week in which we found out where lots of words originated.

Each group of children had a list of languages and words, and had to try to match them up – then sticking the words onto the right country (or region) on a map on the board.

Matching words with languages


We had animals, foods, clothing – a huge range of words that we now say in English, but which came from countries as far apart as Malaysia, India, Poland, Ireland and Mexico. We even had a couple of words that originally came from Native American languages that Little Bull might have known. For some words, it was hard to guess their origin, others seemed easier. Our map was soon covered with words from across the world, showing that English contains words from a surprising range of countries. So the question was, why would this be the case? Answers we discussed included:

  • maybe this is because Britain has been invaded by other countries, and their languages left traces in English
  • maybe this is because Britain once had an Empire that expanded across the world, picking up words as it went.Mapping the words

What do you think? Here are the words we mapped, and the languages they were originally from:

  • Arabic (giraffe, sofa)
  • Turkish (yoghurt, coffee)
  • Swahili (safari, jumbo)
  • Greek (butter, chorus, feta)
  • Central American (chocolate, chilli)
  • Polish (horde, gherkin)P1420652
  • Portuguese (piranha, potato)
  • French (cabbage, pastry)
  • Urdu (cot, typhoon, bungalow)
  • Welsh (trousers, gull)
  • Chinese (ketchup, tycoon)
  • Irish (hooligan, slogan)
  • Hungarian (coach, biro)
  • Malay (gong, bamboo)
  • Native American (toboggan, moose)
  • Persian (jasmine, orange)
  • Spanish (hurricane, flamingo)
Our completed world of words

Our world of words

Native languages


‘Never odd or even’

At the start of this week’s get-together, a couple of group members revealed they’d already finished The Indian in the Cupboard, our current title. Wow! Great reading – you obviously found the book very compelling. Now your challenge is to keep the book’s ending secret, otherwise that would be called a spoiler!


‘A nut for a jar of tuna’

To warm up for our session we played a game with palindromes – words, or in this case phrases, which read the same backwards as forwards, for example Madam, I’m Adam. In pairs, the creative goal was to try to invent a story that ended with one of these palindrome phrases:

  • Never odd or even
  • No lemon, no melon
  • A nut for a jar of tuna
  • A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal – Panama!

‘No lemon, no melon’

We’ve got some more of these palindromes so we can play the game again. If you know any good palindromes, please send them in by making a comment below.

Then it was time to focus on the early chapters of the book. In the story so far, Omri receives a toy plastic Indian as a birthday present, and when he locks it up in a cupboard, the Indian, whose name is Little Bull, comes to life. But how does the book describe the Indian? The author, a lady called Lynne Reid Banks, chose to reveal his appearance bit by bit over several pages rather than giving a long description all at once.

In the session, everyone took a piece of paper and, as the descriptions were read out loud, P1420593drew how he or she imagined the details given by the author. According to the book, Little Bull had bare, bronze shoulders, a feather in his coloured headband, fierce black eyes, shining white teeth, a blue-black pigtail, loose-fitting leggings, decorated moccasins on his feet (shoes like slippers), a naked torso (the main part of his body), reddish skin on his arms, a belt made of a leather thong knotted at the front, into which he tucked a tiny knife. All the drawings were great and P1420611people picked up on different aspects to mention. They looked quite different to the Indian illustrated on the cover of the book, in fact.


Finding the Iroquois

We also learned in the book more about who Little Bull is: an Indian – or to use a better name, a Native American – from a tribe called the Iroquois. We had a look on a map of Native American tribes to find the Iroquois, and found them in the north-east of America in modern New York state.

Helpfully, this edition of the book, by Harper Collins, has some real-life information about the Iroquois Indians, so we learned some useful background details before returning to the story. But one thing struck a chord with several members of the group, and that was the way that Little Bull speaks. At he end of chapter one, he says ‘I no small! You big!’

We discussed that although Little Bull’s English might not be very fluent, this wasn’t because he wasn’t clever. This led one group member to remember starting at Dashwood, and not being able to speak English very fluently – but speaking Urdu at home very well. Other group members, it turned out, spoke a variety of languages at home – Latvian, Polish, and Greek – but the whole group now speak and read English incredibly well too. How exciting!



Voting for our new book

New group members Exciting times in this week’s Book for Breakfast. We welcomed our new group members and Current booksexplained what we tend to do in group meetings – from eating toast to playing games, listening to one another, and using our imagination. And of course reading, thinking and investigating.

Everyone talked about one book they had been reading recently, and chose one adjective to describe it – see below. Have you read these books? They included the mysterious, the dark, the dramatic, the action-packed, the suspense-filled, the hilarious, the whimsical and the compelling. One book is even mind-blowing, according to its reader!

Books we're readingThen, very importantly, we had to choose the next book we’d read together. We looked at the list of suggested books on our school website, and came up with a shortlist of half a dozen titles we thought sounded good. Group members wrote these onto slips of paper which we spread out Votingon our table.

Then, everyone had to make their vote. We did this through a Book for Breakfast patent Chocolate Mini-roll Method (which had just been invented). Each taking a Mini-roll, group members made their way around the table, musical-chairs style. Everyone had to think carefully about which book they would vote for, and then after three, place their vote.

The winner could then be declared (and the Mini-rolls eaten): Tug of War, by Catherine Forde. But this, we discovered, was out of print! So we went to the second choice, which is The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. So join us next time to find out how we get on.


Endings and beginnings

In our last session before the summer holidays, we finished the Hunger Games as our final book of the year, and had a lovely reward of a book token from Mrs Gallyot…

Finishing the Hunger Games

…we said goodbye to Katy who is moving up to Banbury Academy…

…we played consequences, a game in which you each add a new line to a story…

…ending up with some pretty funny results…

…and we said hello to our new group members, joining us next time! See you soon!