Squeezing a story into your day! How story time integrates with other learning.

You might have spotted from my frequent “Reader Response” posts that I love to have a book at the centre of my weekly scheme. Every single week of the school year has a book timetabled. My poor teaching partner, who has the other half of Junior Infants, must be driven mad with me! I am completely obsessed with exposing children to stories, having them engage with them and respond to them in an age appropriate manner!!!Incase you thought that I was joking about how seriously I take literacy and stories I thought that I would include a screen shot of my Long Term/Termly Planning for Literacy.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 16.31.47

The Irish Curriculum is severely overloaded and it can be so hard to squeeze everything in! I make story-time an absolute priority in my classroom. In fact, it is the starting point of all of my planning. Every other subject planning happens after I have planned my stories for the year. This allows me to use these stories to their maximum advantage, tying them into seasonally appropriate terms, matching them to maths/science topics so that the story becomes the springboard for my maths/science lessons that week.

Below I have listed some of the Strands and Units that I have found myself integrating through my story of the week. I hope that you find it helpful!!

I like to integrate my weekly Drama lessons into my literacy. It is much, much easier to explore Drama with small children when you have a familiar topic as your starting point.  Often times I will integrate Music also through creating soundscapes to accompany stories that have strong “sound” under currents. Here are some objectives that I have found relevant to responding  to stories with music:

Strand:Listening & Responding  Unit: Exploring Sounds

  • discover ways of making sounds using body percussion
  • listen to, identify and imitate familiar sounds in the immediate environment from varying sources
  • recognise different voices
  • explore ways of making sounds using manufactured and home-made instruments

Strand: Composing     Unit: Improvising & Creating

  • select sounds from a variety of sources to create simple sound ideas, individually and in groups
  • invent and perform short, simple musical pieces with some control of musical elements

History is another subject that has a natural synergy for story telling with infants. Here are some of the main objectives that I try to meet on a weekly basis for History:

Strand: Story   Unit: Stories

  • discuss the chronology of events (beginning, middle, end) in a story
  • express or record stories through art work, drama, music, mime and movement and using information and communication technologies
  • display storyline pictures showing episodes in sequence

Depending on the story you might be able to explore other elements of the science curriculum. For example when we read “Aaaaarrgh Spider” we explored spiders, their body parts, diets…

Strand: Living Things   Unit: Plants and Animals

  • recognise and identify the external parts of living things (spiders)

Data Handling is another great reader response or even pre-reading activity that I love to engage my class in. It makes maths so meaningful and children can see the power and influence of maths in their own lives. I have some printables for download that create graphs for a number of books. Check out the Maths Section of my blog.

Strand: Data   Unit: Representing  &  Interpreting Data

  • represent and interpret a set of simple mathematical data using real objects, models and pictures

I hope that my Teacher followers will see the fantastic opportunity books offer from a teaching & learning perspective. If you haven’t tried using a story as the centre of your planning I would urge you to try doing so next week. Just give it a go for me! Please! Let me know how you get on 😉

I hope that my Parent followers enjoy reading how teacher’s brains work and how we set about planning for your child’s learning!It is complex and time consuming when you consider how many subjects we have to plan for and the fact that each subject must have long-term, short-term and weekly/fortnightly plans and then monthly accounts of what exactly was covered.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


7 thoughts on “Squeezing a story into your day! How story time integrates with other learning.

  1. Kay says:

    I love seeing how other infant teachers lay out their weeks, can I ask what you are using as a basis for the oral language programme? We use chatterbox cards but I find they sometimes are lacking in interesting topics.

    • missmernagh says:

      Hi Kay,
      I find it incredibly helpful to see how other teacher’s plan. I prefer to use tables as I think they are so user friendly. You can just glance at them and see where you are going. I hate, hate lots of text. I just want a concise, clear roadmap to follow!
      I use Chatterbox and Now You’re Talking from CJ Fallons, it’s from their old Starways programme.
      I have another resource that I can’t recall the name of. I will have a look on Monday when I am at school. I purchased it in Paperchase when I was in London. Perhaps it is for sale here. It’s are really cute cube with interesting questions like “Would you rather be a clown or an astronaut” or “which would you like to eat, an old pair of shoes or a sock” those kind of things. They are great cards to get kids talking! I usually save them for the end of the year and use the technique “Think, Pair, Share”. At that time of year children have developed better communication skills and can stay on task easier and longer. LOL!

      Have fun,
      Miss Mernagh 🙂

      • Kay says:

        Thanks for your reply, I’m the exact same, tables are so much clearer, also just wondering what the letters in brackets a stand for and do you complete nursery rhymes under History?

      • missmernagh says:

        Hi Kay,
        Today’s post was especially for you!I have listed my favourite resources of Oral Language. I hope that you find it useful.
        The letters in brackets are the codes used in the Now You’re Talking scheme. I have included a photograph in today’s post so you will see what I mean. It is just a reference so that I can quickly locate the lesson in the manual.
        When I am teaching nursery rhymes it is exclusively to promote oral language and phonological/phonemic awareness. We don’t engage in any sequencing activities or such that would meet any of the objectives of the History curriculum in a real and meaningful way. I use the stories that we read every week to meet the requirements of the History curriculum instead. Does this answer your question? If not drop me another message.

        Have fun,
        Miss Mernagh 🙂

  2. Julyan says:

    Hi Miss Mernagh,
    My daughter is only 2 and yet loves your book recommendations. I have found that by taking your advice regarding daily story telling as part of your day and night routine, her vocabulary and imagination have flourished.

    Thanking you,
    Julyan & Ysandre

    • missmernagh says:

      Hi Julyan & Ysandre,
      As a teacher I firmly believe that daily story telling is one of the most important things you can do for your child. I am so, so thrilled that you are giving your child a love of books and reading! It IS amazing how much it can impact on vocabulary and imagination.

      How great that she likes my book choices!!! I am working on a new unit this week so keep checking in for a new book recommendation.

      Thank you for leaving your comment 🙂 It takes time and effort to blog. Comments like this makes it feel worthwhile.

      Miss Mernagh 🙂

  3. Rita Conroy says:

    Hi Teacher,
    My son tells me he is having a great time in school. As a parent-teacher; I love to hear this and as I see how well you plan and appreciate the time it takes to do so…I am fully confident that it will pay off in terms of my child’s learning. Fiachra absolutely loves stories and I am encouraging him to read along with me at home too. It’s great to hear that you are using Building Bridges….I use many of the strategies therein too and have found that the children love the predictability of my story time sessions…they know that they will be predicting, inferring etc…and they expect the question-time alongside story-time. Since attending the workshop on Building Bridges in the Wexford Education Centre a few years ago; I cannot speak more highly of this aid to comprehension and understanding. It really helps children to focus and concentrate.
    Re: Oral Language – I use the suggestion from the pdst website re Oral Language and have found the activities very worthwhile. I also use the Usborne Book of Experiences – great to link with the oral language required for the effective use of the Socio-dramatic element of AISTEAR.

    I have just embarked on the Reading Recovery training course and look forward to commenting on same when I get a chance…..This time of year is so busy…..well it just seems busier after the summer break….wait until November….snowed under!

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