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Lessons In A Squeeze - Short Story Edition

31/01/17

Stuck for a good read this #NationalStorytellingWeek? These are Jen’s 'go to' short stories for Primary and where you can order them.

 

Imagine the scene, you had a call from a school at 8:45, after the rush to get there (having gone the wrong way 3 times), you reach the classroom, red-faced and flustered only to find that no planning has been left for you.

Instead of being panic-stricken, in one simple motion you can pull out pre-prepared activities. I achieve this, easily, with books. By keeping a couple of my favourites with me whenever I go out to a school, I can exude effortless calm in the face of a potential nightmare.

Though I favour picture books for primary supply, there are times that a little more depth is required. Step forward; short stories. If you take the time to find a good collection you won't regret it as they can be utilised from Year 2 all the way up to secondary level. There are many anthologies available now, in hundreds of genres, but try to find a set that has a wide appeal. Steer clear of syllabus books and ask if they have read the book as a class, you don't want to step on someone's toes and ruin a future lesson.

1. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman.
I could make a list compiled entirely from Neil Gaiman's books.This is a selection of short stories with dark and magical twists. Don't Ask Jack (only 4 pages long!), The Price and Troll Bridge are particularly brilliant and will have year 6 eyes bulging. You will be hard pushed to find a better descriptive writing models than the ones Gaiman brings to the table. Explore creating suspense, humour, fear, and metaphor with the children. Don't miss the opportunity to question on inference while reading. Remember to read the stories FIRST to check whether they are suitable for the age range you are working with

2. Please Mrs Butler by Alan Ahlberg
This was a favourite from my own school days and I find that it is often overlooked. A delightful collection of school-themed poetry. This can help hit lots of Speaking & Listening targets (bonus points if you can scout out a school video camera!) so get them up and acting out the poems. Write your own letter (Please Mrs Butler), create ridiculous excuses (As I Was Coming To School/Excuses), or discuss the meaning of 'fair’ with Colin. Brilliant book for ‘last ten minutes before…’ moments.

3. Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth by Chris Priestley
There are five books in the 'Tales of Terror’ series, while The Teacher's Tales of Terror may be a more apt choice, this one is my favourite. I like to explore the 'story-within-a-story’ element to these books as there is always an instigating storyteller. There are some frightening stories in here - discuss what makes them scary and the writing devices which could be used to create the same emotions. A character study is an easy route as well as setting descriptions or newspaper articles detailing the strange events that have occurred. The Edward Gorey style illustrations are a bonus if the classroom has a document camera for the interactive whiteboard.

I also love:
Tales of Mystery & Madness by E.A. Poe, Illustrated by Gris Grimly
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Michael Rosen's Big Book of Bad Things

To ensure you remain utterly unflappable, remember to READ THE TEXT FIRST! Stumbling across something you weren't expecting (i.e.profanity) will completely detract from the Zen-like state you are trying to achieve. I never leave the house without options - grab a few to ensure you have a range to fall back on. Show off your skills, play to your strengths, prove just how smooth and in control a Supply Teacher can be!


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