A combined spelling and vocabulary timetable for KS2

A little while ago I read an excellent blog by @_MissieBee and @ReBuckEdu on the teaching of spelling. The central idea of their blog was to organise the teaching of spelling across Key Stage 2 by phoneme, consolidating children’s knowledge of the sound-spelling correspondences (sometimes known as grapheme-phoneme correspondences) taught in Key Stage 1. This integrated the spelling rules and spelling lists of the Key Stage 2 national curriculum into sensible framework organised by sound. This idea rang true with my views about phonics and spelling, so I wondered whether this approach could be integrated with the teaching of morphology, etymology (including Latin/Greek root words) and tier-two vocabulary.

In previous blogs (which you can find here and here), I collated lists of tier-two vocabulary and root words that I considered most useful for primary schools. Using these and the national curriculum spelling guidance, I have created timetables for teaching spelling across Key Stage 2:


The basic idea is that – alongside the components of the KS2 national curriculum – the most important tier two vocabulary, morphemes and Latin/Greek root words are organised by their component phonemes, introduced in particular weeks and then repeated across Key Stage 2.

Here is an example of this, specifically week 14 in Year 3:

You can see that the words here are chosen as they all contain within them one spelling of the sound /or/. This emphasises the idea that sounds can be represented in multiple ways. In brackets, you can see that aspects of morphology and etymology (including Latin/Greek root words) are identified. In subsequent weeks, all of these morphemes are repeated in other words. For example, you can see the morpheme ‘de’ in the word ‘deform’. In Year 3, this morpheme also appears in the words ‘dethrone’ and ‘decelerate’. In subsequent year groups, this morpheme appears in ‘deceive’, ‘descent’, ‘destruction’ and ‘dehydrate’ (alongside the morphemes relating ‘ceive’ [take], ‘scent’ [climb], ‘struct’ [build] and ‘hydra’ [water]).

In short, the timetables for each year group in Key Stage 2 attempt to ensure that the content of children’s spelling lessons aligns with their prior knowledge from phonics while also introducing the most common tier-two vocabulary and morphemes, including Latin/Greek root words.

Full disclosure: This is something I’ve only very recently put together. It isn’t tried and tested yet, and it likely has a few kinks to iron out. However, if you think that these spelling timetables might be of use, then they are yours to use as you see fit.

One stop shop for @Suchmo83 resources

I hope you find something useful in here. Feel free to share these resources as you see fit, but please mention where you got them from when you do. Thanks.

Curriculum packages

  1. Science

In the blog linked here, you will find a folder that contains science curriculum overviews for the entirety of primary science, including all the knowledge and skills to be taught. It also includes the big ideas and key concepts of primary science, basic information texts for each topic, built-in retrieval, vocabulary to be taught (and retrieved), suggested enquiries for each topic and much more:


2. Geography

In the blog linked here, you will find a folder that contains geography curriculum overviews for the entirety of primary geography, including all the knowledge and skills to be taught. It also includes key concepts of primary geography, basic information texts for each topic, built-in retrieval, vocabulary to be taught (and retrieved) and much more:


It is presented in the same format as the science document above, to which explicit cross-curricular links are made.

3. History

In the blog linked here, you will find a folder that contains history curriculum overviews for the entirety of primary history, including all the knowledge and skills to be taught. It also includes key concepts of primary history, basic information texts for each topic, built-in retrieval, vocabulary to be taught (and retrieved) and much more:



This is a timetable of combined spelling and vocabulary in KS2 that aligns with the teaching of phonics and embeds tier two vocabulary, morphology and Latin & Greek root words into the teaching of spelling:


This is a number bonds catch up resource and related plan, based on sequencing discussed by Liping Ma. It is best used alongside the development of number sense and use of appropriate visual representations (such as ten-frames and two-colour counters), but I have also had some success with it as a stand-alone programme:


This is a selection of interactive maths resources useful for counting, subitising, place value and mental arithmetic: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1nTa0CtUxJSxGggG4n8nDhHFFzCXPle-a?usp=sharing


Here is a link to a video that introduces teachers to phonics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAAyL1V0Qp8&t=10s

While it was originally created for secondary teachers and leaders, I think it might be of use to others from any phase who are new to phonics.

This is my tier-two vocabulary word list. It was created using Coxhead’s Academic Word List and the tier-two words found among several lists of the most common words in the English language. (References for these can be found in the document itself. If you would like to know the rationale used for choosing the vocabulary, read this blog: https://primarycolour.home.blog/2019/06/14/tier-two-vocabulary-for-primary-teachers-the-3-4-5-list/):


Here is a list of useful root words for primary teaching of vocabulary:


Here are some notes and key quotes from Mark Seidenberg’s excellent book on the science behind reading, Language at the Speed of Sight. It is, in my view, essential reading for any person who teaches reading:


Science – a curriculum giveaway

For those of you who don’t want to read the blather (though I think it might well be useful) and just want the curriculum document, scroll down to the arrow to find a Dropbox link.

The document linked below is the result of 25+ hours of work. It is 41 pages and 15115 words long. I share it in the hope that it might be useful to others. I bang on a lot about how excessive workload is undermining the profession, so I hope that sharing this curriculum document counts as an example of me putting my money where my mouth is. (I created it in my own time, and have taken only a limited payment from my school for the work done on the proviso that I can distribute it as I see fit. They kindly acquiesced.)

What I have attempted to do is to spell out in detail the knowledge to be taught, including the necessary vocabulary, for each science topic from year 1 to year 6. In addition, for each topic the relevant prior knowledge and vocabulary – gathered from previously taught topics – is listed. For example, the electrical circuits topic in year 6 has plenty of new knowledge and vocabulary to be taught, but much of the learning has already been covered in the year 4 unit on electricity (and in other topics). Here is the knowledge and vocabulary to be revised in the year 6 electricity topic:

In comparison, the new knowledge and vocabulary to be taught is less extensive:

Seeing the intended curriculum in this way serves a few purposes: most obviously, it links each topic to the rest of the science curriculum, but it also emphasises to teachers how much a given topic relies on previous learning (while not making the teachers search for this information).* Of course, this document is only intended to specify the ‘what’ of the science curriculum. As such, it is a relatively dry list of procedural and declarative knowledge; the document places no limits on how any school or individual teacher would teach the content.

As well as detailing the knowledge and vocabulary to be taught and revised in each science topic, I have added twelve ‘big ideas’ of science to the start of the document and shown how they link to each of the topics. Adam Boxer posted a thought-provoking blog-post on the way in which ‘big ideas’ can be superfluous or even limiting in secondary school science; however, I think the that the lack of science specialists in primary teaching lends genuine utility to this approach, as well as helping to define for children (and teachers) what constitutes chemistry, biology and physics; the addition of ‘earth science’ and its own ‘big ideas’ – while debatable – seems like a pragmatic addition that allows teachers to make explicit reference to (a) the links to geography, and (b) the way that the ideas of physics, chemistry and biology can overlap in areas of scientific study. Naturally, these ‘big ideas’ are easily removed from the document if they seem unnecessary to your setting.

The original document had images and diagrams added for each topic, ones that I think would be useful to the teachers in planning and delivering lessons; I have removed these from the document below in the interests of avoiding any copy-write violations. Sadly, the document is somewhat less friendly without these.

There are parts of the document that are particular to my school setting. For example, the specific trees that children are to learn by sight match ones that are found on our school grounds.** Equally, I had to make a fair few subjective decisions (e.g. exactly which parts of a plant are essential to children’s understanding in a given year group? Stigma? Ovule? Xylem?) Although I’d advise personalising any curriculum document, there is, I think, huge overlap in what many schools will attempt to teach, especially given the precision of the science national curriculum compared to, say, history or geography. That being the case, without further ado here is the link to the science progression document:

Once you have downloaded the curriculum document, if you find that it saves you or your colleagues some time, please consider coming back to this page at some point and making a small donation to the Malaria Consortium using the following link. There is absolutely zero pressure to donate. If the charity bit puts you off from downloading, please just pretend it isn’t there! My central aim is to save some fellow teachers a bit of time if I can, so share it freely. A few donations to an excellent cause (in this case a top-rated GiveWell charity) would merely be a bonus:


*This structure of ‘revision’ and ‘new learning’ for each topic is borrowed from a curriculum document that @MrsSTeaches created and that she and Clare Sealy kindly shared with me; consider this an attempt to ‘pay it forward’ in response to their generosity.

**I think I saw this idea shared by Andrew Percival.

***There are bound to be a few spelling errors here or there (or even vocabulary that is defined as ‘new’ in more than one topic.) I’d hope that my decent science qualifications and teaching experience will have weeded out the vast majority of possible misconceptions in my scientific understanding, but feel free to ask questions or point out any errors. I sincerely hope that you find this useful.

Tier two vocabulary for primary teachers – the 3-4-5 list

Vocabulary is an essential component of reading comprehension and learning. The challenge for teachers is that it is hard to know where to begin when teaching vocabulary. Too many words, too little time. In their influential book, Bringing Words to Life, Isabel Beck, Margaret McKeown and Linda Kucan attempt to provide some structure to this challenge by suggesting that vocabulary can be divided into three tiers:

Tier one: Common words that students are likely to pick up through everyday conversation. (E.g. dog, through, chair, know.)

Tier two: High-frequency words for “mature language users”. In other words, the sort of words that are useful and that appear across learning domains, but that students might not experience in everyday language. (E.g. distribute, analyse, context.)

Tier three: Subject-specific words. (E.g. photosynthesis, alliteration, refraction.)

Beck et al argue that teachers should pay particular attention to tier two words due to their high utility and because students may not be exposed to them otherwise. To facilitate this, they point to academic word lists made up of tier two vocabulary. This is a useful jumping off point, but this raises two questions for primary teachers:

  1. Which tier two words that are not on these academic word lists should we teach?
  2. Which tier two words on the academic word lists are most appropriate to teach at primary school? (As ever, there is a balance between aspiration and practicability.)

To answer the first question, I read various lists of the most common words in the English language, found the tier two words within these lists and then added them to the original academic word list to make a longer hybrid list.

My answer to the second question is, inevitably, a judgment call. I resorted to using my best guess to decide which words from this new hybrid list should be removed and left for secondary school. I have worked in year 5 and 6 for the last decade – briefly teaching key stage 3 students before that – so my ‘best guess’ is also, I hope, a somewhat educated guess. Nonetheless, I recognise that there is something entirely subjective about judging whether or not a year 6 pupil should be taught, for example, the word ‘subsidiary’. I suspect that no single teacher would agree with every one of my chosen omissions, but I hope that this doesn’t entirely devalue the list itself.

The end result is the list of 345 words you see below. In compiling the list, I had to decide whether to keep words in the form in which they were found or to convert them to different forms. (E.g. Keep ‘accurate’ in its adjective form or whether to change it to the noun ‘accuracy’.) I decided on the former, but I would hope that any teaching of these words would involve the explicit sharing of the related forms. You might spot glaring omissions in the list or think that certain words don’t belong. You may well be right. Regardless, I hope that this list of 345 tier two words – one I have imaginatively titled ‘the 3-4-5-list’ when discussing it with colleagues – might prove useful:

abandon, abstract, absolutely, access, accompany, accurate, achieve, acquire, adaptation, advantage, affect, aid, alter, alternative,  analysis, announce, annual, anticipate, appearance, appreciation, approach, appropriate, area, assessment, association, assume, assumption, atmosphere, attached, attained, attitudes, attract, audience, authority, automatic, available, aware, basic, benefit, bond, brief, budget, capable, category, cease, channel, circumstances, civil, clarity, code, collapse, combine, comment, commit, common, communication, community, compare, complex, component, conceived, concept, conclusion, condition, confirmed, confined, conflict, conscious, consequences, consider, consistent, constant, construction, contact, context, contract, contrast, contribution, control, controversial, converted, convinced, co-operation, core, couple, create, crucial, cultural, cycle, data, debate decline, definite, definition demonstrate, deny, design, despite, detect, develop, device, dimension, discrimination, display, distorted, distribute, diversity, document, dominant, draft, duration, dynamic, economy, efficient, eliminate, emerged, emphasis, enable, encounter, energy, enhanced, ensure, entire, environment, equipment, error, establish, estimate, ethical, evaluation, eventually, evidence, evolution, examine, example, exceed, exchange, excluded, exhibit, exist, expansion, experience, expert, exploitation, external, extract, factor, familiar, features, file, final, flexibility, focus, format, foundation, framework, frequent, furthermore, generated, global, goals, government, guarantee, hierarchy, highlighted, identical, identified, ignored, image, impact, imposed, incident, indicate, individual, inferred, influence, initial, innovation, input, insert, insight, instruction, intelligence, intensity, intention, interaction, internal, international, investigate, involved, isolated, issues, justification, label, layer, limit, link, literature, location, logic, maintain, major, market, maximum, media, medium, mental, method, migration, military, minimum, monitoring, motivation, national, necessary, negotiation, neutral, nevertheless, nonetheless, object, objective, obtained, obvious, occur, odd, option, organise, outcomes, overall, overcome, overseas, period, persistent, perspective, phase, phenomenon philosophy, physical, political, popular, positive, possession, potential, precise, predicted, previous, principle, prior, priority, procedure, process, prohibited, propose, prospect, public, published, pursue, quotation, random, reaction, recognise, recovery, refine, region, rejected, related, release, reluctant, removed, represent, required, research, reserve, resources, response, restore, retained, revealed, reverse, revision, revolution, rigid, role, route, schedule, scheme, section, security, select, sensitive, separate, sequence, series, severe, shift, signal, significant, similar, site, society, solely, source, specific, stability, standard, strategies, structure, style, subsequent, substitution, sufficient, suitable, summary, supply, support, survive, sustainable, symbol, system, target, technique, technology, temporary, tension, text, theme, theory, traditional, transfer, transform, transport, transition, trend, trigger, typical, underlying, unique, united, variation, via, visible, visual, volume, voluntary, whereas

Here are some resources I used in compiling this list and others that you might find useful:

Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford.

Quigley, A. (2018). Closing the Vocabulary Gap. Abingdon, Oxon : New York, NY : Routledge