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Review: Science Through Stories

cover of 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…

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Review: Science Through Stories

Science through Stories

This review of Science Through Stories appears in the November issue of Primary Teacher Update, and was written by Karen Faux. Find a link to this highly informative journal at the foot of the page, or visit their facebook page here.

As the introduction by Chris Smith outlines, this book explores the world of science through story. Some of the stories act as a springboard into scientific investigation or communicate information. Others are about great scientists and their discoveries – stories that every child should know.

The mix of traditional tales, historical stories and narratives written specially for this book have all been tested in the classroom by teachers. They cover the main science topics taught in English primary schools and they are ranked in order of difficulty, rather than year group.

With every story there is guidance on how to maximise the story-telling approach, to develop communication skills, social skills and topic knowledge all at the same time. The authors propose a ‘neat’ four-step process to help pupils remember and re-tell stories involving – hear, map, step, speak. It is fast and effective, say the authors, because it mixes various learning models in one clearly defined and easily learned process.

A fantastic resource, well worth the investment, that links to English as well as science teaching.

Buy the book here…

Visit the Primary Teacher Update website here…

More about Storytelling Schools here…

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Review: Science Through Stories

cover of Science Through Stories

This review of Science Through Stories by @thepndmonster was posted on her blog on the 12th October. A link to her brilliant blog is provided at the foot of the page. Many thanks for reviewing this title! We massively enjoy hearing about how the Storytelling Schools model works with home education.

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

Our friends at Hawthorn Press sent us this exciting new publication following our expression of interest. I was particularly interested in this book as it focuses on teaching science through storytelling and, as our Waldorf early years curriculum is all about storytelling, I am hopeful the two will compliment each other.

The book is aimed at primary school teachers who are teaching in classrooms, delivering the stories in this book to children of primary school age. As you know, we are home educating and we don’t do any actual ‘teaching’  which makes it very interesting finding out how well the Storytelling Schools publications translate in our circumstances. Bundle Number one is 4.5 years old so is at the youngest end of the spectrum for this book.

We looked a story from the Physics section; this is a story I am already familiar with so I was very interested to see how it translates, it is also seasonal so fits with our seasonal approach to home education.

Physics was something I was hopeless at in school. I never really ‘got it’ and even now, years later, it still brings to mind the mundane and overwhelming. I put this down to the teaching. It wasn’t made real or interesting and always appeared so daunting. These days I know better, anything can be made fun and spark that interest if it is presented in the right way, so let’s see if I’m proved right …

Firstly I had a good read through of the story, the ‘tips for telling’, the suggested ‘Ways to work with the story’ and the related science activities included for us to try. These are also followed by a section providing ideas to  ‘Explore other curriculum ideas that link to the story’ this includes Reading, Fiction, Non Fiction, Art and Design/Technology.

After reading everything through, I was very excited to begin!

Bundle Number One and I sat down for the story, him being completely unaware that this was anything more than just that, and I told the story with him thoroughly enjoying joining in on the chorus of:

‘Heave-ho, heave-ho! Pull the turnip free.
Heave-ho, heave-ho! We’ll have it for our tea.

… as we pretended to pull our giant turnip out of the ground. We also got Bundle Number One’s favourite toys involved to help us pull, which he loved!

After the story, we moved on to explore a selection of related activities. These activities were taken from the book and I chose:

Moving cars

We played with Bundle Number One’s transport toys,  pushing and pulling them along the carpet, adding bean bag ‘road humps’ to see what difference they made.

Shaping dough

we pushed, pulled, twisted, squashed, stretched and rolled some play dough …

During each of these activities, we were playing around with Forces – Pulling and Pushing. The fact that all of the learning took place through first hand experience, none of it feeling like a ‘lesson’ of any sort really worked with our own approach to home education and I would most definitely recommend this book to fellow home educators, you can grab your copy here!

Watch This space for more updates as we discover Science Through Stories!

Buy the book here…

More about Storytelling Schools here…

Read this post on the original blog here…

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Science Through Stories has arrived!

Following a fantastic launch at the Story Museum in Oxford (photos here), we are very happy to announce that this book is now available to buy. Bursting with exciting stories to fire up young minds, Science Through Stories is an inspirational toolkit for any educator. I currently have a little pile of these beside my desk, which are slowly going out to lucky reviewers.

More information about Storytelling Schools here…

Buy the book here…