5 Scots Activities for Beginners

Scots is a fantastically expressive language which adds breadth and depth to Curriculum for Excellence. In my role as a Scots Language Coordinator I have come across a groundswell of willingness amongst teachers to include Scots as an integral part of their literacy programmes. However, one of the most frequently asked questions has to be, ‘What simple, practical activities can I adapt to introduce Scots effectively?’ The following five suggestions are designed to give a wee starting point for those keen to try out Scots in their classroom while building on their own skills and confidence in the process.

Create some Scots dinosaurs!

Susan Rennie has provided the text of her fun, but now out-of-print, book Sweetieraptors on her website. The text can be used to teach or reinforce the idea of prefixes and suffixes, encouraging children to create their own unique ‘dinosaurs’ using Scots vocabulary. I have used this approach myself, with P4 classes creating their own illustrated books for the nursery (writing for purpose and audience!) which have been very well received. Susan includes teaching notes with suggestions on her website as well as the text for some of her other titles which are now difficult to source.

Use familiar teaching approaches

Applying familiar teaching approaches to Scots texts is always a great way to ensure quality teaching and learning while maximising teacher confidence! Take a Scots text (for example, Precious and the Puggies written by Alexander McCall Smith and translated by James Robertson) and choose an interesting extract to examine with your pupils. If you are familiar with ‘The Thinking Reader’ approach then this can be very successfully deployed without having lots of prior Scots knowledge/vocabulary, developing both Scots language and literacy skills within a familiar context for teachers and learners. It’s also a great one to try with adults who claim to have no Scots skills whatsoever!

Narrate a picture book animation in Scots

Picture books are great resources – and even more so when they have been turned into animations! Room on the Broom written by Julia Donaldson and translated by James Robertson is a great example of this. A lot of fun can be had turning the sound down and adding your own Scots version – children love the challenge of keeping the image and text in sync! Word lists and further ideas for classroom activities for Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo in Scots can be found on the Glasgow Film Theatre website.

Be inspired by 'The Boy and the Bunnet'

If you are looking for a listening and talking resource that will delight and enchant, then look no further than ‘The Boy and the Bunnet’ by James Ross and James Robertson. This is a combination of Scots, storytelling and traditional music that is sure to inspire engaging classroom activities. If you are not sure where to start, the website has a few teaching and learning suggestions.

Scots word-mats

Creating Scots word-mats can help learners to create their own simple texts in Scots while reinforcing features of language. In this example you can clearly see that the text lends itself to work on verbs in particular, and there is plenty of scope for developing dictionary skills.

Now it’s over to you: pick an idea, adapt it, try it out – an gie it laldie!

Katrina and the rest of the Scots Language Co-ordinators at Education Scotland have contributed some fantastic blog pieces giving guidance and inspiration in Scots teaching practice - browse all of our Scots in Schools blogs to find all of these posts and more!


Katrina Lucas

Katrina Lucas is a primary teacher based in Falkirk, currently working on secondment as a Scots Language Co-ordinator at Education Scotland.