Stories and activities to get the new school year off to a flying start
15 Jul 2021
Story Box Library (SBL) has a wonderful collection of stories to help teachers and students start their new school year on the right foot.
Fiona the Pig’s Big Day, Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush: A School Day Smile and Starting School make perfect viewing for Foundation students, while Middle and Upper Primary students will no doubt find Hark, It’s Me, Ruby Lee!, 4 F for Freaks, Miss Kraken and Rules of Summer entertaining and thought-provoking stories.
We’ve explored some of our best school-themed stories and how they can be used as prompts for making connections with classmates and teachers, getting to know the school and establishing class expectations and routines.
More detailed text response suggestions can be found in the Classroom Ideas created for each story, found via the Activities tab on Story Box Library.
Sharing Holiday Memories
Jackie, our Education Project Specialist, discussed the importance of Storytelling in the Classroom here. Returning to school after a summer break provides wonderful opportunities for children to share and listen to the experiences of others, especially when paired with some fun summer-themed stories.
- After watching Why I Love Summer, Summertime or Rules of Summer, provide opportunities for students to share some of their summer holiday memories with classmates, by:
Using Circle Time or a talking stick to provide a safe space for sharing.
Using personal illustrations to create a class mural or quilt of experiences.
Creating and sharing a summer holiday scrapbook.
Sharing photos or mementos from the summer holidays as part of an organised ‘show and tell’ session.
- Students can:
- identify holiday highlights using our List Template
- recreate their favourite or ideal summer meal using our Menu Planner template
Preparing for School
For most Australian children, January days are often spent organising belongings for school, naming stationery items, hemming pants and dresses, and learning to tie shoelaces. Starting School and Fiona the Pig’s Big Day provide children with the opportunity for text-to-self connections, and follow-up text response tasks can assist with establishing personal organisation routines. After viewing these stories:
Invite students to share with the class new items purchased to prepare for school (e.g. shoes, lunchbox, pencil case).
As a class, brainstorm a list of tasks students completed while getting ready for school, and use these to create sets of morning routine prompt cards to help you remember what needs to be done each day.
Sharing Feelings about Starting a New School Year
Whether in Foundation or Year 6, the first day of school is always fraught with big emotions. Identifying experiences or feelings shared with book characters or peers can do wonders for the development of belonging, acceptance and empathy within the classroom.
Starting School, Fiona the Pig’s Big Day, Izzy and Frank or Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush: A School Day Smile provide opportunities to identify and discuss feelings about starting a new school year. Try:
Discussing the similarities and differences between experiences and strategies used by the characters in these stories. Use our Venn Diagram template to help identify these.
Using our List template, invite students to list and share the things they’re looking forward to about the year ahead.
Using a graffiti wall template to record the various questions or feelings experienced by students in the class.
Getting to Know Classmates
A number of our school-themed stories focus on diversity and friendship, and they provide great examples for beginning and developing relationships with classmates. After watching:
Wide Big World, encourage students to get to know each other by playing a game of Classroom Bingo.
4 F for Freaks, create a Class Photo Gallery by taking and displaying photos that represent the children in your class.
Tiggy and the Magic Paintbrush: A School Day Smile and/or Hark, It’s Me, Ruby Lee!, invite children to write five interesting qualities or ways they can be helpful onto tracings of their hands and display them on a wall in the classroom. This ‘Helping Hands Wall’ can be used to help students find classmates who share common interests or skills, or for someone to turn to when they need help.
Anemone is not the Enemy, make a class friendship wall and encourage students to leave suggestions for ways to make friends, adding them to the wall.
- Discuss the characteristics of a good friendship. Use our Y-Chart template to record students ideas about what a good friendship 'looks like..', 'feels like...' and 'sounds like...'
Getting To Know School
Everything feels new on the first day of school, from new classmates to school bag hooks. Content in Fiona the Pig’s Big Day and Starting School provide great stimuli for becoming familiar with your classroom and school grounds. After viewing:
Fiona the Pig’s Big Day, create a visual timetable that demonstrates the typical structure of the day for your class, or invite children to draw symbols or use colours to show on a map of the classroom where their chair and school bag are located.
Starting School, invite children to mark important places on a map of their school, such as the classroom, toilets, the office etc.
Creating Classroom Rules and Routines
Creating a safe and positive classroom culture is paramount to a successful school year. A number of our school-themed stories act as great prompts for discussions around rules, roles and responsibilities within the class, through:
Discussing rules that exist in your community groups after watching Rules of Summer. Use a bullseye target graphic organiser to record some rules that exist in the following groups:
Using Miss Kraken and Hark, It’s Me, Ruby Lee! as prompts to discuss the purpose and impact of rules, and working together to create a class mission statement that includes values, goals, expectations and rules.
Miss Kraken, inviting students to write a recipe for the perfect teacher (including ingredients, method and diagrams).