Review: Science Through Stories

This review was written by Anne Goldsworthy, primary science expert, consultant and teacher. Find out more about Anne Goldsworthy here. Many thanks, Anne, for writing us this review.

Science Through Stories: Teaching Primary Science with Storytelling by Chris Smith and Jules Pottle

What a lovely idea- bringing story-telling into primary science!

These days, literacy and numeracy seem to rule the primary school timetable and curriculum. In many schools these subjects can become a bit of dull chore. And if science gets a look-in at all, it is usually for at most, one rushed afternoon per week. It is therefore very good to find something that combines the exciting and motivating story-telling approach to literacy with science. It’s a great way to make story-writing a somewhat more joyful experience and to get science to move up the agenda in your school.

This book is full of delightful stories with a science theme which come from different genres. Some stories are well known such as the Giant Turnip with its link to forces; some have twists to a familiar story such as Jack and the Giant’s Peach linked to plant life cycles and some have been specially devised by the authors to bring out science themes. One of these is The East and the West, a creation fable devised to help children learn about the way that a turning Earth gives us night and day. There are also great stories related to factual scientific events such as the tale of Mary Anning and her fossil collection. What all the stories share in common is that they would be a sure fire hit with children. As you read them, you can hear yourself telling them out loud to children. You can sense how readily the children would take to re-telling the stories for themselves and to go on to develop them further for themselves. So a big thumbs-up for the stories.

As with all compendiums such as this, you will need to select or adapt the stories to match your school’s science curriculum and your children’s level. There is nothing to stop you looking at compasses whilst doing magnets (The Magic Stone) or going into parallel circuits (Lighthouse Keeper’s Son) but neither of those science ideas are part of the new primary science curriculum for England.

There is also a page with each story suggesting possible linked science activities. In the same way, the activities are often useful and interesting but don’t always have a direct link to the statements in the curriculum. For example, the simplest story in the Physics section – suitable for those in years 1 & 2, is the Giant Turnip with its obvious links to pulls and forces. Sadly there is no work on forces in KS1 in the new curriculum. Sh – don’t tell – but there is nothing to stop you doing the story with that age group. You just won’t get to tick off NC statements as you do it.

The science activities are not the central point of this book and they are there to help bolster up the science in the stories. You would need to add to them to cover important areas such as finding out children’s ideas at the start of a unit of work so children can recognise what they’ve learnt. You would also need to develop your own activities to do with Working Scientifically so you can develop it beyond the basic fair test, as laid out in the new curriculum.

But use the approach, dip into this treasure chest and even develop your own stories to match your current science ideas. The children will thank you for it.

Buy the book here…

More about Storytelling Schools here…

More about Anne Goldsworthy here…