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


Learning Through Play

Whilst reading yesterday’s letter to the The Telegraph from leading educationists I was pleased to see their call for a more play based curriculum.

Inevitably the media has focused on the call for children to start school later, this has meant the call for more play based learning has been overshadowed. This letter and most studies have focused on play based learning for the under 5s. I believe play based learning has a role at all ages. When we have a good experience whilst learning we retain the knowledge better. We have something to ground that knowledge to. For instance <blog_break>when I’m in schools telling our Chest of Dreams story there is a section where the characters follow the points of a compass to lead them to the treasure. So whilst I’m telling the story or just after I get the kids to follow the directions in the book. As the children have experience of using the compass points during the game they remember them. Should later on they need to recall the information they can go back in their minds to that experience.

Play based learning is also valuable for dyslexics as they learn best through a multi sensory approach. If they were to read the same information about the compass points, they may struggle to understand it as their concentration will be on reading the words rather than understanding the meaning. However if they learn through experience they are more receptive and can easily understand the meaning. As dyslexia is massively under diagnosed there maybe many undiagnosed children in a class.

So I think Mr Gove’s dismissal of the letter mean that he is missing a great opportunity to give kids a lasting education rather than just equipping children to past tests and putting a whole group of kids at a disadvantage.

Crafting our future scientists.


I was driving home on Easter Monday listening to Radio 4’s Start the Week programme; being interviewed were three scientists. One of the scientists Philip Ball made the point that science is all about making things and it’s a craft. I had always thought of science as looking at what had been made. He went on to explain that most scientific research is done in finding some way of making a practical product such as a medical device.

Heckscher (1966)[1] explains the link between creativity and science ‘in every great discovery there has always been somewhere along the line a creative act, a leap of imagination.’ Bernadette Duffy [2] explains this further with Newton’s discovery of gravity saying that it took a creative jump from observing the apple falling to getting to the theory of gravity. Continue reading