LiteracyPlus Tidbits: Literature



The very word ‘Literature’ brings to mind dusty, difficult books stacked in a rarely frequented corner of the library, or long hours spent dissecting Hemingway, Conrad, or the sonnets and plays of Shakespeare.

But Literature does not have to be boring, or stuffy, or ‘only for the bright kids’. It is for everyone.


Literature opens up new worlds to children. It teaches them about people and places, both real and imaginary. It teaches them to empathise, feel and explore emotions. It teaches them values and what it is to be human.


Literature can be used to illustrate the many forms writing can take—personal narrative, exposition, poetry, fantasy, and so on. Hence, it is greatly encouraged for a child to read widely to gain that exposure.


Literature provides children with a variety of narrative structures that can help them become better writers. Children can borrow from these models as they shape their own pieces, adapting story structures to their own needs and imitating patterns other writers have created. Through such modelling and adaptation, children will start picking up writing styles, vocabulary and plot ideas, and begin developing their own writing styles.


Building a child’s interest in Literature can be done in a myriad of interesting ways: through reading aloud, dramatisation, choral reading, games, journal response, the TV/movie connection, and art & craft activities. The possibilities are endless.


English Usage Tips: Punctuation



  • Using commas with appositive phrases – An appositive phrase is a noun phrase that identifies or adds detail about the noun right next to it.

Incorrect: Mr Khoo, who is a professional magician performed at my sister’s birthday party.

Correct: Mr Khoo, who is a professional magician, performed at my sister’s birthday party.

Incorrect: Mr Khoo, a professional magician is well known in Singapore.

Correct: Mr Khoo, a professional magician, is well known in Singapore.


  • Use commas, not colons, when punctuating dialogue

Incorrect: Before doing his trick, Mr Khoo said: “Hey, presto!”

Correct: Before doing his trick, Mr Khoo said, “Hey, presto!”


Smarter Than a LiteracyPlus Student


Weiyang started a savings plan by putting 2 coins in a money box every day.  Each coin was either a 20¢ or 50¢ coin. His mother put in a $1 coin in the box every 7 days. The total value of the coins after 182 days was $133.90.

(a)  How many coins were there altogether?

(b)  How many of the coins were 50¢ coins?


For the answer, click here.




Can you figure out what’s wrong with the Lesson Learnt Story Ending below? Many pupils are guilty of this mistake!

After nearly being bitten by the venomous viper, I learnt that I should be careful of snakes.


For the answer, click here.




What is the main idea of the passage below?

The tide was slowly rising, and the wet border it left on the shore inched further inland with every crashing wave. At first, the advance was gentle, and the water spilled a safe distance away from the sandcastle. But soon, the waves grew bigger and more urgent. They clawed their way closer and closer, taunting the hapless edifice with a spray of salty sneers. Once the water caught hold of the most vulnerable tower, there was no turning back. The sea came in, and the poor sandcastle crumbled away.


For the answer, click here.

LiteracyPlus Tidbits: Short Stories



Short stories incorporate many basic literary elements.

Main character, setting, conflict, plot, symbols and theme are examples of story elements which appear not only in novels and chapter books, but also in short stories. However, determining these elements in a short story takes less time, for the reading experience is shorter.


Input and feedback are immediate.

As a parent, your child’s questions about and reactions to the short story can be dealt with on the spot because of the length of the story. You can immediately assess your child’s oral reading and literary, discussion and comprehension skills.


The short story form gives children a realistic writing model.

By sharing and analysing language and literary elements as they appear in short stories, children can find examples which they can use as models for their own compositions.


Collections worth collecting…

The short story genre can include fairy tales, folktales, fables and even picture books. Famous traditional authors include Aesop, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. For Upper Primary pupils, Newbery Award-winner Avi has two well-received collections: Strange Happenings: Five Tales of Transformation and Best Shorts: Favorite Short Stories for Sharing selected by Avi with Carolyn Shute. As Katherine Paterson writes in her afterward, “Do read these stories with your family, your friends or your classmates. Try reading one aloud, your ears catching details that your eyes skipped over.”


English Usage Tips: Punctuation



  • When do you use hyphens in numbers?

Incorrect: There are three-hundred-sixty-five days in a year.

Correct: There are three hundred sixty-five days in a year.

Use a hyphen when writing out the numbers twenty-one to ninety-nine in words. Do not use hyphens for other numbers.


Incorrect: France has a 35 hour working week.

Correct: France has a 35-hour working week.

Incorrect: The ten year old boy wanted to become an archaeologist.

Correct: The ten-year-old boy wanted to become an archaeologist.

Use hyphens only when the number functions as an adjective phrase.


Maths Concepts Explained!

Confused by all the different Maths problems and concepts that your child has to learn? Then this is the parent workshop for you. Understanding these ‘new’ Maths problems will better equip you as a parent to help and support your child.

Concept 1: Percentages – Salary & Savings

These questions are commonly tested in exams and many pupils do not know how to solve them.

Nancy spent $800 of her monthly salary and saved the rest. In April, she increased her spending by 40% and her savings decreased by 25%. How much is her monthly salary?

Concept 2: Gap & Difference

One of the most common and basic concepts that can be applied to make solving word problems a lot easier.

A group of students took part in a Maths quiz. They found that if one of them had scored an additional 15 marks, their average score would be 88 marks. However, if one of them had scored 20 marks less, their average score becomes 83 marks. How many students were there in the group?


Click on the flyer below for workshop details.


Spaces are limited, so call 6777 2468 or SIGN UP ONLINE today!

2018 P5 Maths Camp: Jun

Word problems make up about 50% of the Maths paper. Being able to identify the concept of each question will enable the pupil to employ the correct and most effective strategy to solve the problem. The word problem concepts that will be taught in this camp are must know concepts and are commonly found in P5 exam papers.



Spaces are limited, so call 6777 2468 or SIGN UP ONLINE today!

2018 PSLE Intensive Programmes: Jun

As part of the PSLE preparatory process, we will also be running a variety of PSLE intensive preparation programmes over the June holiday.

Each programme has 5 lessons, Monday to Friday, with lessons being 2 hours daily. All programmes have two start dates: 4 June & 18 June.

The programmes are designed to gear pupils up for key components of the PSLE and give them an edge in their exam preparation.


PSLE Oral Intensive Programme

Boost your child’s confidence in taking the oral exam. Hone vocal delivery skills through exercises, build vocabulary and practice tips on how to prepare for the Stimulus-based conversation.


PSLE Writing Intensive Programme

Give your child an edge in Paper 1. Learn how to generate relevant and specific elaborative detail, techniques to reveal character traits, and how to avoid writing abrupt story endings.


PSLE EL Paper 2 Intensive Programme

The programme focuses on tackling reading comprehension, grammar cloze and comprehension cloze. Practice answering interpretive comprehension-level questions and applying cloze passage tips.


PSLE Maths Intensive Programme

Build your child’s familiarity with the variety of word problems that will be tested on the PSLE. Topics such as Area & Perimeter, Whole Numbers, Fractions, Percentage and Speed & Ratio will be covered.


Spaces are limited, so call 6777 2468 or SIGN UP ONLINE today!

English Usage Tips: Grammar



  • fish OR fishes?

Incorrect: Some customers like to smell the fishes to make sure that they are fresh.

Correct: Some customers like to smell the fish to make sure that they are fresh.

The plural of fish is usually fish: ‘a fish’, ‘three fish’. Fishes occur mostly in children’s literature. 




  • it’s OR its?

Incorrect: The dog lost it’s bone.

Correct: The dog lost its bone.

Incorrect: Its under the chair.

Correct: It’s (it is) under the chair.

The confusion between it’s and its occurs because ‘s indicates possession, so English speakers naturally want to use it’s to mean ‘something belonging to it’. But it’s is only used when it’s a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. Otherwise, it’s always its.


Writing Tips: Discursive Writing



Tip #1

  • Use a formal, impersonal style
  • Use topic sentences to introduce the subject of each paragraph
  • Write well-developed paragraphs, giving reasons/examples for each point
  • Use linking words/phrases:
    • Sequencing words (e.g. first/ly; second/ly)
    • Same line of thought (e.g. furthermore; likewise; in addition; similarly; moreover)
    • Contrasting idea (e.g. yet; on the other hand; nevertheless; however; although; otherwise; conversely; on the contrary)
    • Conclusion or summary (e.g. thus; therefore; consequently; hence; in conclusion)
  • Use quotations, either word-for-word or in paraphrase, being careful to identify the source (e.g. As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said, ”…)
  • Review all aspects and viewpoints of a particular topic and present these views objectively


Tip #2

  • Don’t use contractions (e.g. can’t; shouldn’t)
  • Don’t use abbreviations (e.g. MOE; SPCA) unless you have previously introduced the term [“According to the Ministry of Education (MOE)…”]
  • Don’t use informal / colloquial language (e.g. some guys; stuff; lots)
  • Don’t use very emotional language (e.g. I absolutely detest people who…)
  • Don’t express personal opinions too strongly (e.g. I know…); instead, use milder expressions (e.g. It seems to me that…)
  • Don’t make sweeping statements (e.g. Everyone believes that…)
  • Don’t quote blindly or refer to statistics without accurate reference to their source [e.g. “A Minister of Parliament said… / A recent study showed…”  (which minister / study?)]
  • Don’t use clichés (e.g. Time heals all wounds.)


Tip #3

What are some differences between a discursive essay and an argumentative essay? Here are some tips to tell them apart:


  • Discursive essay: To present a balanced and objective discussion; usually discusses both advantages and disadvantages of the topic
  • Argumentative essay: To convince the reader to agree with the writer’s view

Writer’s Perspective

  • Discursive essay: 2 or more points of view
  • Argumentative essay: Takes a strong stance on the topic or issue; only 1 point of view

Body of Essay

  • Discursive essay: 2 supporting reasons, 2 opposing reasons
  • Argumentative essay: 3 supporting reasons, 1 counter-argument


  • Discursive essay: Allows readers to draw their own conclusion, or expresses a low-key opinion
  • Argumentative essay: Repeats thesis statement and summarises supporting reasons

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