Story boxes at Woodmansterne School, Lambeth

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Zoe Bryant, Deputy Head at Woodmansterne School talks about how they have worked in partnership with parents to raise reading achievement within the school.

At Woodmansterne we are always looking for new ways to work in partnership with our parents in order to raise the achievement of our children.

Last year we wanted to focus on reading. We approached parents in the playground and asked for volunteers to help us make some story boxes.

Each parent selected a book of their choice and then covered and decorated an empty shoe box to the theme of their book.

Inside the box they put items and words linked directly to the book. For example The Very Hungry Caterpillar story box contained models of a caterpillar egg, the sun, a range of different sized caterpillars, a butterfly, photos of different fruits and words from the text.

Once the parents had finished their story box they discussed with staff how children could use them. They realized the boxes could be used in a number of different ways such as matching the words to the items, retelling the story in their own words using the props or by making up a different story using all or some of the items.

Parents took their box home and tried it out with their own children and after that went into class to share it with a small group. As confidence grew they used it with children in other classes and then began to make additional story boxes either in school or at home with their children.

We held a special Story Box Celebration Assembly where the parents showed the boxes they had made and described how they had made them. Each of the parents received a certificate, much to their amusement and surprise!

After the assembly, parents, children and staff all became even more adventurous and creative! They began using books linked to other aspects of the school’s newly re-mapped curriculum and created story boxes for a range of themes eg: healthy lifestyles, The Romans, minibeasts.

We now have a library of well used story boxes which can be used across the curriculum and yes our children’s interest and achievement in reading is steadily improving too. Our only challenge now is where we can store them!

The boxes have proven to be very popular with the children. One day when I was working in a class I heard one of the children describing the story boxes as ‘Boxes of Secrets’. When I asked her why she called them this she replied “Because you never know what you’re going to find inside!”

Zoe Brant Deputy Head Woodmansterne Primary School and Children’s Centre

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