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Skim and Scan

Preparing for the KS1 Reading test, how do we teach children to find and copy?

Our primary role in English lessons is to provide children with engaging stimuli so that they are motivated to produce their very best work. We teach them to plan, draft, write and edit their work. Providing them with high quality written or verbal feedback ensures that they know how to improve their work. We identify gaps in learning and fill them as much as we can. Children respond to our feedback and we celebrate their progress.

Another of our roles is to prepare children for their KS1 tests. We know that we have done our very best when we have taught the relevant content; demonstrated and modelled how to access a range of question types and equipped our children with skills and strategies to access the tests. In order to be satisfied that the children in our classes are genuinely prepared, we must ensure that they are familiar with specific question types. This ‘familiarity’ with specific question types is different to ‘teaching to a test.’ Children should feel confident when they open their test papers to apply their knowledge across all question types.

One of the most difficult question types to teach is a ‘find and copy’ question. Here are examples of 2 different ‘find and copy’ questions that assess different content domains for reading.


This question assesses content domain 1a) draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts. Children need to be able to skim and scan the text to correctly find another word that means the same as not feeling well. Year 2 children are expected to understand that the question requires a one-word answer. The  correct response is ‘seasick.’table


However, the second example assesses content domain 1b) identify and explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction texts such as characters, events, titles and information. The demand in this question is different to the above. Children are given a page locator (page 9) and a paragraph locator (Look at the section headed: Recycle). Children are expected to read the text in a separate booklet and identify the correct answers.

So, ‘find and copy’ questions assess different content domains; are presented in different ways and can be asked in relation to fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts.

  • How do we teach ‘find and copy’ questions?
  • When do we introduce skimming and scanning?
  • What does progression look like in this skill?

We can begin to teach ‘skimming and scanning’ skills in EYFS and continue varying the resource until children are older. Children can be detectives; search & find and skim & scan using high quality texts.

These resources show differentiation:

mbtableChildren love all of these resources and enjoy working in pairs. Having a partner can instigate discussion as well as providing a competitive element.

When assisting children with one of these activities, teachers can glean a real understanding of children’s skimming & scanning skills.

Once teachers are satisfied that children have experienced the foundation skills for skimming & scanning through a variety of questions, they can introduce ‘find and copy’ questions using real extracts.

Good luck finding a book that works for you and your children.

Maddy Barnes, November 2015

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