How puppet making can play a crucial role in developing a child’s dexterity!

A professor of surgery, Professor Kneebone, (Yes really) has told the BBC he has seen a decline in manual dexterity in his students which has led to them becoming “less competent and less confident” in using their hands. He’s put this down to the use of technology as well as less creative subjects being taught in schools.

However, better dexterity is not only a crucial skill for surgeons but it’s also needed for everyday things in life, whether its sewing on a button or even tying your shoelaces, our fine motor skills are necessary, and it’s vital that children from a young age are given the opportunity to develop them.

So how can you help young children to develop their fine motor skills?

Puppet making is an ideal activity for this because it has all the elements from teaching children how to use a scissors through to holding pens or pencils as well as basic sewing skills.

It’s also great for boosting their imaginations and creativity because they learn how to use different materials and media.

Another benefit is that they learn to work together collaboratively so they learn team building skills which again will be a crucial skill they will need as they go through life.

Puppet making also helps them to develop their speaking and listening skills as well as increasing their vocabulary.

Put puppet making together with stories and you really do have a winning combination that’s versatile, fun and engaging for children of all ages – and the adults enjoy it too!!

So to find out more about puppet making and creative storytelling and how you can help the future generations feel free to get in touch.

pojo blows the gunpowder plot KS1 making v2

The Girl Who Cried Wolf

Here is another of our safeguarding storiesThe girl who cried wolf

This story takes the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf and changes it to include a girl called Princess Arabella. The princess is bored so she decides to swap places with the shepherd. But again she is bored so she starts lying to get the villagers to come up the mountain. Until a dragon comes and the villagers don’t believe her.
Once we looked at the similarities Continue reading

Snow White and the Very Angry Dwarf

Whilst preparing for a Safeguarding Through Stories workshop I came across a set of books that I think are an absolutely fabulous way of introducing safeguarding and personal development topics through fairytales. Plus they are very funny entertaining stories, they certainly had me laughing out loud.  They are great for early years through to Key Stage 1. I’m also using them in a literacy context to look at different versions of well known stories. We love them so much we’ve put the whole set of 12 books in our online bookshop.

Snow White and the Very Angry DwarfI’ll be writing a post with a craft activity for each of the books over the coming weeks. Our first story is Snow White and the Very Angry Dwarf, the story looks at anger management. This is a good story for observing reactions and children may tell you about someone who is often angry, which you may wish to investigate further. It is also good for looking at strategies they can use when they are angry.

After telling the story we discussed the similarities and differences between this version and the version of the story they know. Continue reading

The Enormous Turnip Literacy Lesson

20150429_101655Getting children involved and encouraging them to retell  or in early years helping you retell a story is a vital step towards them developing their own stories.

When a child holds a puppet they’ve made it belongs to them. We’ve had a fair few tears from children who have put down their puppets and then can’t find them, in our time. And it is this possession that encourages reluctant speaks to come out of their shells. Puppets help to develop children’s speaking and listening skills when they are used to retell a story. But puppets that they have made take this to another level. Continue reading

Tip 4 of the Top 10 Tips of Storytelling in the Classroom

Below is tip 4 of the storytelling tips we have been sharing in the the run up to National Storytelling Week (28th Jan – 4th Feb). The National Storytelling Week is in it’s 17th year and is organised by the Society of Storytellers. Check out their website for events that are taking place throughout the week in your area.

But why promote storytelling in schools?

Primarily because it improves literacy. If you are familiar with Pie Corbett you know how he uses storytelling to help develop story writing in his Talk 4 Writing programme. Now our own development on that is to add in creativity by getting children to make items to either help them tell the story or to help inspire their own stories.

Although it may seem as if speaking and listening has less prominence in the National Curriculum than it used to it is still an intrinsic part and the basis for the rest of literacy. Good oral skills mean that children can convey their ideas and show their thinking regardless of the subject. It is also a life skill with employers constantly looking for good communicators who show creativity. Storytelling is also big in the business world as many now see it as way of marketing, by telling their business’ story.

Today’s tip is one of the crucial.

Pojo Kicks off Book Week

Last week we had the pleasure of being asked to kick off Book Week at Harnham Infant School in Salisbury.

The children of the school had met Pojo previously because they had used Pojo Blows the Gunpowder Plot last November to tell the story of Guy Fawkes.

This time we told the story of Pojo Saves the Rainforest and then spent the day going into the classes to talk to them about how to put their stories together using our 7 steps to story writing.

We also gave them the challenge of writing a story with the characters from Pojo Saves the Rainforest and by the end of the day some of them had already come up with some wonderful tales of Pojo being a superdog and saving the world or meeting penguins. It’s always great to see where children’s imaginations go to when you let them.

We finished the day with a book signing and lots of the children bought other Pojo adventures. So he’s definitely proving a real hit in Salisbury!

Can Being Dyslexic Be an Advantage?

What does Richard Branson, Alan Sugar and Jamie Oliver all have in common?

They have Dyslexia!

There are many more very successful people who have also overcome Dyslexia. So why do people say that it’s something that someone ‘suffers’ from? The way I see it the condition just means that their brains are wired differently which makes reading and writing a challenge, but more often than not they are some of the most talented people – probably because they have a knack of seeing things from a totally new perspective which makes these individuals an asset to any team!

Last year I read a book called The Dyslexic Advantage by Dr Brock L Eide and Dr Fernette F Eide which was absolutely fascinating. It set out how the Dyslexic brain differs and also the different strengths that a person with Dyslexia has because no two dyslexics are the same either, but just understanding and being able to recognise those strengths in children will help any teacher/parent ensure that their children get the support they need. Often one of those strengths is being able to see the bigger picture and find creative ways of solving problems. This is certainly the case with Richard Branson he doesn’t just follow the convention he sees totally different ways of doing things.This type of dyslexic may have difficulty following a set procedure but in a world where businesses are looking for people to ‘think outside the box’ this could be an advantage.

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Picking up whether a child has Dyslexia at an early age is vital in order to give them the support and help that the child needs with the written word. Teaching a subject in a multi-sensory way is key to helping those children build on their natural abilities and stop them feeling isolated from their peers, children very often feel sensitive if they do not think that they are learning at the same rate as others. It will also help them to learn in a way that will allow them to excel by using their natural abilities. By teaching the whole class in a multi-sensory way those with dyslexia aren’t made to feel different and those that haven’t been diagnosed, as believe it or not under diagnosis is still an issue, can excel. In a more traditional teaching environment they may become disruptive and disengaged. Often a person with Dyslexia can be very creative and display talents in more creative and artistic areas. It is not that they can’t understand or can’t achieve in academic subjects but that they may learn better in other ways. They may be a more visual, auditory, tactile or kinaesthetic learner and when more senses are used they can engage with a lesson and provide a positive contribution because they can see things from a completely different angle.

The British Dyslexia Association ( also has a great website for parents/teachers/employers with tools to help if you either have a child with Dyslexia or help assess whether a child in your care has Dyslexia which is the first step to helping our future generation and encourage more super talented people to succeed.

Dyslexia Awareness Week – 3rd – 9th November 2014