What are time connectives? Time (or temporal) connectives are a type of connective word which are used to inform the reader when something is happening/has happened.

Here are some examples of time connectives:

Before First Previously This evening In the mean time
After Eventually Since Suddenly Once
Later After a while Finally In the end Soon afterwards
Next Meanwhile Lastly Immediately  Then

Here is an example sentence:

Last week, I went strawberry picking.

As in the sentence above, time connectives are often used at the beginning of a sentence. Unlike other connectives, which are often placed in the middle of a sentence to link one clause with another clause.

Instead, time connectives can be used to link different parts of a text together. This is demonstrated below:

Yesterday afternoon, I went and played football with my friends. Afterwards, I went to Ben’s house for my tea and we played in his garden. Later, we both did our homework together and then I went home’.

The time connectives in this passage tell the reader the order in which the events happened in the writer’s day.

When are children taught about time connectives?

During Key Stage 2, children are taught that connective words can be conjunctions, adverbs or prepositions. Children are expected to be comfortable using these different terms, as they could appear in the Year 6 Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling test.

Teachers may introduce children to time connectives by pointing them out in the reading they are doing as a class and then discussing why the author used them.

Time connectives are also common in non-fiction texts, as they often need to explain something in a particular order. Teachers might provide children with a passage from an instruction manual or a cooking book. For example:

  1. Before doing anything else, preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Then peel the sweet potato and cut it longways into medium sized strips.
  3. Next, sprinkle the seasoning over the strips of sweet potato.

This allows children to see how time connectives are used and why they are helpful.

How to help children with time connectives?

It is likely that teachers will put time connectives up on display in the classroom. They may also provide children with a word mat of time connectives so that they begin to use more of them in their writing tasks and stories.

Teachers will point out when time connectives could have been used in a child’s work as they are marking. They may ask children to rewrite a section of their work by using a time connective.

Another way to help children is by making time connective cards, each time you show a card to your child, ask them to finish the sentence and see if they can create a story.

It can also be good practice to give children a writing passage that includes time connectives and ask them to underline each one they can see. For example:

This morning I walked into school and we had assembly. Next, we had a science lesson before break time and then we had P.E. Soon afterwards, we had an English lesson with Mrs Taylor and we learnt about time connectives. Finally, it was time for lunch. First, I ate a sandwich and then I had an apple and some carrots’.

How does Learning Street help children with time connectives?

Activities such as missing word exercises and comprehensions allow children to improve their own sentences by seeing examples of good ones. Through the repetition of these exercises, they will move away from writing basic sentences to more complex ones, including the use of time connectives.

Also, there are plenty of occasions for children to write their own sentences in various different exercises, and you can help your child improve their sentences such as through the use of time connectives.

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