We use fiction to initiate science investigations as part of a project that grew out of an idea from Setpoint Leicestershire, our area's businesseducation consortium
(www.leicestershireconsortium-ebl.org.ukserv_stem.asp). Leicester University research into raising standards in science and providing a cross-curricular link with literacy should help to balance the time allocated to these subjects in primary school.
I worked with our key stage 1 literacy co-ordinator, Celia Varley, to create a scheme of work that would: * benefit children's science, literacy and language skills so they could clearly explain what they were doing lencourage them to listen to the ideas of others while working in groups
* help them access useful information
* give a purpose to their writing.
The fictional text was introduced in the literacy hour and revisited in science. For example, children can write up the instructions or a recipe in the literacy hour. This fulfils a literacy objective and allows more time to develop science-recording skills.
After reading The Three Little Pigs, a Year 1 class set up an investigation to find out which material would be best for a roof. Four plastic pots, each containing a model pig, are used. Each "roof" is made from brick (a clay tile is used), paper (blotting paper or sugar paper), plastic or straw. Using a pipette, the children then squirt 10 drops of water on each "roof" and observe closely. Of course, the paper absorbs the water and goes soggy, and the straw lets the water through.
In another activity Year 2 pupils read different versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. They notice that the part where Goldilocks tastes the porridge is told differently in each version. One states that the large and the medium portions of porridge are too hot and the small one just right.
Another version states that the large one is too hot, the medium one is too cold and the small one just right.
In science, we ask the children to think about which version is correct.
They then make some porridge, put it into three bowls of different sizes and test each bowl with thermometer readings every 10 minutes. They then refer back to the story and use the results to answer the question. This way we are getting children to critically evaluate what they read or hear and not just become passive listeners.
More ideas we like to use can be found in Science and Literacy published by the SCIcentre, School of Education, Leicester University, tel: 0116 252 3659 Karen Stuart, science co-ordinator, Coleman Primary School, Leicester