The Children’s Stories – Rocks & Soils

by | 07/03/23 | Sheffield Curriculum Adventures

At Watercliffe Meadow Primary School, to embed their learning, the teachers make sure that every topic has some sort of ‘Fabulous Finish’.  This is an opportunity for the children to tell or show what they have learnt over the weeks.  When we started this project, we knew we had 5 weeks of stories to share, but we didn’t know what the Y3’s ‘Fabulous Finish’ would look like, but gradually the idea emerged for our ‘Fabulous Finish’ to involve the children telling us their own stories that they’d made up about rocks and soils.

In order to support the children to do this, Gemma Eden, the Y3 teacher, created outline stories for the children to work with. Her aim was to encourage the children to use a range of props to demonstrate their understanding of rocks and soils, by the use of story. This way, she hoped they would build on their knowledge, use the familiar vocabulary and revisit ‘characters’ they had met along the way. The children worked in predetermined groups, and were given one of four stories to tell. Each story outline was provided with vocabulary that had to be included, a selection of props they could use, and an objective of understanding it had to meet.

The four story outlines covered the following topics:

  1. How are fossils formed?
  2. How is sedimentary rock formed and how can we identify it?
  3. Igneous or metamorphic rock? How do we know?
  4. What is soil and why is it important?

Mary Anning and her men of science telling us about fossil formation

Incredible soil explanations

Lava exploding and creating igneous rocks

We all had a lovely time watching the children perform their stories in both the classes.  They were so good!  We watched in awe as they formed sedimentary rock in the classroom,  met Mary Anning and the men of science again, and heard about the importance of soil.  One of the groups even sang the ‘I like coffee, I like tea’ rhyme again!

Gemma was thrilled with the response from her class. She said that putting story into science had been ‘an epiphany’ for her. ‘‘It has been the most amazing 6 weeks of learning and storytelling and the culmination of today’s finish was spectacular and I was a very emotional and proud teacher!”

Some fabulous crocheted sea creatures that have been made for us

Next steps 

Whilst we are sad not that our time in school is over, now the real work begins on making sure this project is accessible to all!  Our next job is to turn all of these stories and this learning into a Rocks and Soils Resource that can be accessed by every primary school in Sheffield.  So that’s what we’ll be busy doing over the next few months – editing videos, developing schemes of work, and gathering props for use in the classroom and developing a CPD session that we hope will run in May/June.  Then the resource will be ready to be trialled in the autumn term of 2023 so please get in touch with us at Create Sheffield if you’d like to be one of the schools that help us test it out!

This is the sixth blog in a series written by Sophie Hunter about the work done in Watercliffe Meadow Primary School in Shirecliffe.

Further information

Carmel Page is a fantastic Storyteller, Community Artist and Creative Mentor.

Read all about her work and get in touch here.

This work is part of ‘Culture on the Doorstep – Sheffield Curriculum Adventures.’ Read all about it.

Across South Yorkshire, 4 Local Cultural Partnerships are exploring how place-based learning, within the context of a 15-minute neighbourhood, can build the cultural capital of children and young people. Create Sheffield, Evoke Kirklees, Leeds CEP and Spark Wakefield are running 4 simultaneous pilot programmes in our communities from September 2022 – December 2023. These initiatives are supported by IVE, the ACE Bridge organisation for Yorkshire and the Humber. In Sheffield, the pilot is also supported by Sheffield Museums and Sheffield Hallam University.