We began by turning our classrooms into the Isle of Struay to support their idea of life on an island. Hot seating (children are questioned in the role of a character) and role-play proved valuable tools in developing their affinity with the main characters by enabling them to get into the minds of the characters.
The children's desire to learn more meant we took on a topic-based approach to our teaching of all subjects - making character puppets (design and technology), role-play (speaking and listening), creating their own Scottish dances (PE) and learning how materials change when baking Katie Morag's cakes (science).
It brought a new dimension to the teaching of literacy and numeracy by giving the children enjoyable activities that were meaningful in the context of the stories, such as writing letters to the author and describing the position and direction of places on the island. The children relished the opportunities that the topic-based approach provided, so we challenged a group of gifted and talented writers to write a Christmas story entitled "Christmas on the Isle of Struay". The children worked continuously out of class for two days, with two teaching assistants as scribes, until they were satisfied with their story.
The finished story was so impressive that we converted it into a play script for the infant Christmas play. It has been rewarding for all involved, as we used the play to demonstrate the importance of teamwork by carefully choosing children for specific roles, both acting and backstage, drawing on their individual strengths and uncovering some previously hidden talents.
Nicola Shattock and Vicky Willan
Woodmansterne Primary School, Lambeth