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Back to School!

The summer – at least in terms of school holidays – is drawing to a close. It seems only yesterday that I had six glorious weeks ahead of me in which to plan the next term’s school activities, and now it’s time to begin facilitating them. In addition to single projects at schools across the borough and a weekly visit to Milton Hall Primary School, this school year sees a second year of Story Bites residency at Hamstel Junior School. The residency is only for part of the week, but it allows for multiple projects to take place across the school. Each year group will have at least one Story Bites project and there will be other projects too, including Jedi Club at lunchtime and Family Bites after school, along with lots of author visits and other book related fun activities.

Family Bites is a project that sees the entire family Story Biting a book. Each term we played games, and used arts and crafts to explore a book that has been read and listened to together both in our meetings and at home as a family. Everyone in the family, from the youngest siblings to Grandparents, have been involved. Over last year we chomped our way through The Sharkheaded Bear Thing by Barry Hutchinson, The Jolley Rodgers and the Ghostly Galleon, by Jonny Duddle and The Bolds by Julian Clary, a hilarious tale of tails, and a strange family rescue. Each was brought to live in its own way and a year of games and creating came to its head when we had tea with our own life size imaginings of the Bold family, at a Family Bites finale party for everyone who had taken part over the year. We are currently looking at ways for making Family Bites a community wide project, outside of school.

This year we have multiple year group projects and more family bites projects all exploring and being inspired by books, and development is just coming through the hair pulling stage. How can we top last year’s year 5 Jumblecat project – which resulted in 4 ginormous jumble creatures – for this year’s year 6? The interesting thing for us is that however well we plan, once we begin the actual workshops, the book and project will be taken in the directions that the children want to take it. Story Bites is about giving the participants space to have fun with a book and explore it on their own term, we just facilitate that process. In effect we have to plan for anything to develop, and that is not an easy task when filling a cupboard with resources that might just be needed! But somehow it always works out.

Watching a group story bite a book, whether a small group or a whole year group, is like viewing the world through a kaleidoscope and that is an exciting and privileged position from which to start a new year!

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