Climb into stories

Steven Hastings

It's good to get a class excited about a new book - preferably before they even start reading it. This can be done in a number of ways, using everything from the information about the author to the setting of the story.

On the course, we began by looking at a picture from an illustrated book of a boy running down an alley.

We discussed what might be happening. Everybody came up with a single word to describe the mood of the picture, and then we turned all our words into a poem.

After that, we couldn't wait to read the book.

The course explored different ways of getting children to engage with texts, such as hot-seating, or writing letters from one character to another. When children start relating to characters, they become more involved in the story. The ideas could be adapted to suit any book. The key message is that working on a text over several weeks deepens children's responses.

And because one idea tends to lead to another, you also find yourself becoming more creative as a teacher.

I'm doing Macbeth with Year 6 and I've gone for a multisensory approach. We've been listening to music, drawing pictures of the heath, writing our own spells and chanting them out loud.

It's brought the story to life, even for those at the lower end of the ability range.

Julia Gant teaches at St Chad's Roman Catholic Primary School in Croydon, south London. She was talking to Steven Hastings.

Make a date

Planning Creatively Around Texts is run by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. The next dates are February 7 (Years 5 and 6), April 29 (Years 3 and 4) and June 10 (Years 1 and 2) Cost pound;115.

Visit for more information.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Steven Hastings

Latest stories