Book inspired lessons

I am going to start a ‘BOOK INSPIRED LESSONS’ blog post series. It will only be as and when for the minute, then once there’s a few ideas in the blog I might make it a real thing!

For a long time I’ve wanted to learn how to sign, properly. But it’s just not something I’ve ever got round to unfortunately. It’s always been there, bubbling in the back of my mind! As soon as I read ‘A Quiet Kind of Thunder’, I knew I wanted to do something BSL inspired, but I wasn’t quite sure what. Rhys being deaf just spurred something on in me!

I pondered over it for a day or two and had a browse on Twinkl and saw that they have some INCREDIBLE resources all about BSL. I knew instantly that I wanted to use the resources in my Year 4 classroom! I found this video and knew that I had to use it! It’s a very simple video showing how to sign the letters of the alphabet, which will enable the children to “fingerspell” (spell with their fingers) their names!

We watched the video twice, with the children copying the lady on the video. Then the children went back to their desks with this sheet and they had 5 minutes to practise fingerspelling their name with the partner. The children absolutely LOVED it.

It only took 10-15 minutes and now all the children have some awareness of BSL and hopefully can spell their name using this incredible language! I hope to teach them a christmas song in BSL too… Twinkl is wonderful and has all kinds of Christmas BSL resources available! Check them out!

Have you ever tried BSL in your classroom? How did it work? I want to show my children that all forms of communication are important and create a classroom filled with children who are aware of the diverse nature of this world!

S x

What am I reading in the classroom?

We finished Demon Dentist recently in Year 4 and they absolutely LOVED it. They thought it was funny, heart-breaking and exciting. If you’re looking for a story to read to your KS2 classes, definitely give Demon Dentist a look. I loved it too as an adult. I was experiencing the story with them and it did not disappoint!

Since we finished that the children were dying to start something else. They wanted to read another David Walliams book but I told them that we need to read a range of authors but that we could definitely go back to David Walliams! I have most of his books (novels and picture books)! I came up with a list of 4 books for them to democratically decide between:

Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle – Gabrielle Kent (who visitied school recently and was an absolute delight!)
The New Teacher – Dominique Demers
The Witches – Roald Dahl (which came second on our last vote, so I had to include it for the second time)
Perijee and Me – Ross Montgomery (which I read over the summer holidays and it is incredible)

I read the blurbs of the books to the children then we had a vote on which book would win… and the winner was Perijee and Me!

We’ve already read the first few chapters and they’re loving reading time once more. I can’t wait for them to properly meet Perijee and watch his tale unfold. I love Perijee and Me. I read it earlier this year and I devoured it.

Once we finish Perijee and Me we have The Christmasaurus WHICH I CAN’T WAIT TO READ

This class are a great lover of reading, especially being read to and it fills my little heart with joy. There’s nothing more I love than sharing a book with them! I am so lucky that I get to share these incredible books with them.

S x

BOOKBLOG: Will Mabbitt

Funny, simple and effective.
Kids loved it. I loved it.
Buy it. Go on.
(It’s not out yet though).
Buy it when it comes out.

“This book is about worms. I can only draw worms.

You might think worms are boring – but you’d be wrong. These worms have INCREDIBLE adventures!

I can’t draw those bits, though, so you’ll have to imagine them.”

When my wonderful friend Sarah asked me if I wanted a super exclusive version of a new book I knew I would. Puffin’s very own Fantastic Beast. Let’s be honest, she knew I did too… This was a VERY special copy. It was a pre-release sneak peak… HOW FANCY. Only 15 of them around! I felt very honoured and accepted in minutes! 

The illustrations in this book are so brilliantly simple. They don’t take anything away from the humour in this book. It made me laugh out loud. It made the children laugh out loud. They asked me to read it twice in the same day. The worms are far too cute to be scary Fantastic Beasts, but they’re fantastic nonetheless.

In essence this is a counting book. There are 10 worms, well kind of. Maybe 10 worms. The author’s pretence is that he can only draw worms. Full worms, half worms, worm heads… just worms. I love the illustrations. The colour scheme is everything too! It’s not often you find a yellow/pink and blue book. 

The words are the making of this book though. It’s that kind of humour you find in a Jon Klassen book. I loved it. It made me proper chuckle. It’s humour which is accessible to children and adults alike. I love picture books like that. Picture books I get something from are picture books I am more likely to go back to time after time. 

This book can be read for humour’s sake, to just entertain your children but it can also be used for numbers! I absolutely cannot wait to take it back into school to read it to another bunch of children. I can’t wait for more from Will Mabbitt. If this is to go off then I will be buying his books for a long time to come! 

Thanks Sarah and Puffin Books for sending me this super pre-release copy! Can’t wait to get my hands on an actual proper copy! 

S x

To all the people who support me…

This letter is for all of you who have supported me in the past 2 weeks of my life. Through the tears, the cheers and the panicking, you have all been incredible to me and I am forever in your debt!

You have supported me for much longer than the past 2 weeks, most of you have supported me for years and years and never gave up on me even when it looked like I was going to give up on myself. You wouldn’t dream of letting me give up just because it got tough. You would do anything to let me know that I’m doing a good job, that I’m doing this because this is what I’m meant to do. You’re all my own personal angels.

I’ve been stressed to the teeth over the past 2 weeks and you’ve all been incredible. Sending me prayers, messages, tweets, texts… however you’ve communicated your good luck and your well wishes they were well received and very welcome. I couldn’t have got through the past 2 weeks without each and every one of you. It isn’t often that I share my entire story with my world. I don’t put myself out there. I’m too afraid of failure. It’s personally my biggest barrier but you all showed me that it’s not something to be afraid of. Trying is what matters. Try and you’re achieving… it’s through not trying that you’re failing.

I have felt amazingly supported over the past few weeks and I know that you will all continue to support me in the years to come. This is a long ass journey that I am very lucky enough to have had all of my amazing friends, family and colleagues supporting me through. I can’t thank everyone individually in this blog for your well wishes because I would be here forever (and no one wants to read me blabber on!). There are a few people who I want to thank publicly though. Paul, thank you for being the world’s greatest brother and your ridiculously long texts of words of wisdom and being my rational brain when I don’t have one. Gemma, thank you for being my absolute rock, you’re incredible. Kate, thank you for always listen to me and being like a sister to me. Sarah, thank you for always having wise words for me. Rachel, thank you for being there for me in all of the ways you always have been, you’re incredible. Mel, you have no idea how much your tweets have meant, you really are a queen.

Just know that I will do everything in my power to say thank you to you if I ever do run into you. I’ll buy you a drink, give you a hug or just say a simple thank you.

You are all wonderful. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have such an incredible support network around me and I definitely would not have got through this process without all of your positive vibes.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

S x

BOOKBLOG: Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder: incredible, funny, heartwarming, charming. I fell for this book wholeheartedly.

(released 12.1.17)

“Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk and, as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.”

Welcome to the world of Steffi: a selective mute who isn’t have the greatest time and Rhys: the deaf boy who changes all of that.

I was lucky enough to have my request granted on NetGalley (which is incredible btw! If you’re a book blogger/want to be a book blogger, get yourself over there!) and my wonderful friend Rachel told me I had to read it, so naturally it jumped to the top of my list. I fell in love with it immediately. Hello, my name is Steph (my best friend calls me Steffi, so I felt like it was shouting out at me!) so it instantly appealed. 

Characters: The characters are for me truly what make this story the incredible story that it is! It is mainly centred around Steffi and Rhys, with recurring parts for Steffi’s best friend Tem and Steffi’s parents. Steffi is a young girl who since she was young has been a selective mute. She’s kind of hidden in her own shell and has relied heavily on her best friend Tem to help her get through. I liked Steffi instantly. I connected with her, not just because we have the same name, but because some of Steffi’s inner-most thoughts are very similar to my own thoughts. She is loveable, brave and determined, everything an unsung hero should be. Rhys is the type of YA boy I love. He’s adorable, he’s sweet, he’s funny and he brings Steffi so much. He refuses to be halted by his deafness. I loved him. There’s no other way to say but I loved him. So much so I tweeted the author and asked where I could find one! He accepts Steffi for who she is and he is that kind of friend we all want. Tem irritated me at times, but we all have a Tem. We all have a best friend who we talk to all the time. She loves Steffi all the time. That’s what a friendship needs to be. Steffi’s parents – I prefered her dad to her mam. Her dad was much more relaxed about Steffi’s plans, whereas mam is much more highly strung. I liked that they were a realistic representation of what parents are. Parents worry, support, push and protect. 

Plot: I have never come across a story with a deaf character in (this is down to my own sheet lack of diversity in reading, I am working it!) so it was incredible to read how the author managed to get that across. After a while you forget that Rhys is deaf and that Steffi doesn’t talk, because as it becomes apparent communication is way more important than talking! I loved the story. It was so refreshing to read a YA book that is HAPPY. That has mostly happy moments. That brings some sunshine into your life. Without giving too much away Rhys and Steffi get close, they become each other’s ear to the outside world and eventually they both become reliant on each other. They both step outside of their boxes. They push each other. They are just adorable. I loved reading this story. I cried, obvs. It made my heart so happy to read such an amazing story of love, friendship, bravery and growth. I laughed, cried and fell in love. 

Cover: OMGGGGGGGGGGG. LOOK AT IT. Pinky red and gold. Yes. It’s totally the kind of cover you pick up from the bookshelf. It has total shelf appeal. Good work.

So yes, I can’t wait for everyone to be able to read this! Have you read it? What did you think? Or are you eagerly awaiting the release? If you are, go check out Sara’s other book Beautiful Broken Things! 

S x

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for allowing me to read the book early!

Curriculum maps

So for my recent SCITT interview and observation I wanted to show off my skills, to show them that I had a skill set already. I’ve worked for 7 years honing these skills so why should I not “show” them off?


Since I was using The Tunnel by Anthony Browne (which is an incredible story, you can get so much from it, with any age I reckon) I thought it would be a great idea to show the people running the course that if I was to do a topic around this book how I would link it to other areas of the curriculum (specifically in Year 3). I spent a lot of time looking through the curriculum objectives for Year 3 and thinking about how they could/how they would link to a topic around this book/Anthony Browne books!

I love doing topics based around books. They lead you down so many different paths, or down one very specific path that you can have so much fun with it!

I’ve attached the curriculum map I’ve made for Year 3 to this post as I think it could be useful for other Year 3 teachers who are possibly using the story for the first time, or maybe have been using it for years and would like to see how other people would use it.

Please let me know if you have any comments to make about it, or if you have any curriculum maps you’d like to share. I think they’re incredible and have so much worth to them. They’re a great place to have all of your ideas on!

Download here:the-tunnel-y3-cross-curricula

S x


Growing up I was a massive fan of all things fashion – I’m not exactly a fashionable person but I was obsessed with Project Runway and watching Lauren Conrad (who is my forever woman crush) become a fashion designer on The Hills (I can go into detail about my love for LC and The Hills, but now and here are not the correct outlet)made me want to follow in those very fashionable footsteps! I wanted to go on and design clothes like that, alas I have absolutely NO artistic bone in my body. I am much better at teaching! When I heard that Penguin Random House were teaming up with Victoria and Albert to create a hands-on fashion pop-out book, I knew I had to get my hands on it! I could finally live my incredible dreams of being a fashion designer!!


The press release tells you what it’s about way better than I could…

“A deluxe fashion press-out dress up book that combines the very best of fashion from the V&A and style trends throughout history. Featuring six press-out models illustrated by Daisy de Villeneuve, press-out clothes, shoes and sticker accessories (all from the V&A’s eclectic collection), this is the ultimate fashion workbook for children and adults alike.”


Inside there are pages dedicated to different styles with pop outs to build an outfit and stickers! STICKERS! How exciting! I love a sticker! Not only is it a beautiful book to read but it’s informative too! It’s such a great book to read to learn more about fashion throughout the years. I tell you I learned a fair few things from this book. There were sections dedicated to dresses, trousers, fashion over the years and so many more!

If like me you think you’re a bit of a fashion designer wannabe, then get your hands on this book if you can! It’s such fun to play with and create my own designs… because let’s be real I’m never going to be a fashion designer, so living vicariously through this book is as good as I’m going to get!



Thanks to my wonderful friend Sarah from Penguin Random House for my copy!! And credit to Penguin for the bottom two pictures in this post!

S x

Follow your dreams!

For those of you who have been following my journey to becoming a teacher, thank you so much for taking the time to read about what’s been going on! For those of you who sent me positive vibes, a message, a tweet, a prayer… whatever you sent me they worked!

As my last blog post about this whole journey told you I was in the midst of being interviewed by the head of the SCITT course and one of the Catholic heads in Newcastle. It was terrifying, I was really nervous but I was outwardly really well composed! When I got to the school I was being interviewed in I had to wait for a while (because obviously I was early… no surprise for those of you who know me!). I met one of the wonderful members of staff who took me up to the sixth form common room and I had to do a literacy task – there was a piece of text for me to edit. It was explained to me that there were no right or wrong answers, just very much what I thought! So I did that and then I waited for the interviewers to arrive. When they arrived, I was taken into an office and we had an informal chat about why I wanted to be a teacher etc. If you’d like me to share the questions I was asked (those that I can remember anyway!) then I am more than happy to, just shout! My interview lasted about 25 minutes and then I was taken back down to the reception. I was told that I’d hear as soon as possible about the judgement that was made. As it was a Thursday I had to go to uni, and I was just not in the mood. I got on the bus to go back to town and I just burst in to tears… the relief, the anticipation… it just took over

Cut forward to Friday morning and I was just a barrel of nerves. I couldn’t concentrate. But I had to power on, Friday is one of my teaching days! At about 9:30 I got an email inviting me to take part in the second part of the process! How exciting! I was to do a reading task with a group of 6 Year 3 children. My boss then proceeded to tell me it would happen the following Wednesday! No time to beat about the bush, but also… no time to worry. For me that probably helped massively!! I had a think over the weekend and asked my wonderful Y3 pals which story would be good to do and I decided to do The Tunnel by Anthony Browne and to focus on the skill of prediction – hot in the Y3 curriculum!

Flip forward to Wednesday and I was again a barrel of nervousness. I couldn’t cope. I had an hour of teaching in the afternoon before my interview. I could get through it. Everyone at work was so lovely to me, my friends were all texting me wishing me good luck… I was as prepared as I could be. The lady observing me (alongside my head) was a little bit late, so by this time I was climbing the walls, but when it came to the actual task of reading to the Year 3 children I was calm. Reading is my thing. I love it. There’s such a power in stories. I got through the task unscathed I like to think! I got a big thumbs up from my boss, he seemed to be really proud of me. I was told that I would hear back as soon as possible about whether I was successful on getting on the course.

Thursday morning came and there was no email yet. 
Thursday lunch time came and there was no email yet.

I wanted an email before I left school for uni. It was getting closer and closer. Then I checked my emails and there it was! An email from the SCITT course offering me a conditional place. Me. A place. What. How. I felt like crying. I firmly accepted. I was over the moon.

I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet though. It still kinda feels like a bit of a fib. But there we have it. I need to kill this degree and then I will be on my SCITT course. How insane. How utterly bonkers. Finally. My hard work is starting to pay off. It’s so so so so good. And everyone has been so incredibly good to me. I am eternally grateful.

S x

BOOKBLOG: Cinderella Colouring?!

I would label myself as a self confession COLOURING IN LOVER. There is no part in me that doesn’t love colouring in. I will colour in with pens, pencils or any implement that is put in front of me… I do love colouring in… pens however, those would be my medium of choice! I have any number of colouring books in my drawer and often get a new one at Christmas. I don’t remember not having a book to colour in. Part of me loves that it is now  a socially accepted thing that adults colour in, but part of me is also like NOOOOOOO THIS IS THE THING I LOVED NOW EVERYONE IS STEALING MY LOVE. I am an adult though and realise that it is an incredible way to calm my mind and does so much good for me, so it must do so much good for others. It’s very good for my soul colouring in because at the end of the day it is only me I need to please with my picture, no one else!

So in pops a press release saying there was to be an old school Ladybird story book to colour in? WHAT? Was this designed for me? YES SIR. How exciting. I will take one in all of the stories! img_2996

These 2 gorgeous books were sent to me and I just can not bring myself to colour them in. I don’t want to spoil them! However I know that if I need them then I will take great pleasure colouring them in!

The Cinderella book is the story of Cinderella but none of the pictures are coloured in. So I can make all of the colours in the story the other way round, or whatever colours I want. How awesome. Why didn’t these exist when I was younger?

The other book is A Ladybird Book of Colouring: each page has a different Ladybird cover on in black and white, with the original should you wish to copy it! I look forward to switching up the colours of some of the old school covers!

If you’re a fan of the colouring and a fan of Cinderella then I absolutely implore you get your hands on this book! It’s sweet. I might have to get a copy for Poppy for Christmas, she loves colouring and she loves princesses…

Thanks to my lovely publicist friend Sarah at Penguin Random House for my copies!

S x

p.s. typing the word “colour” incorrectly throughout this post really hurt my head seeing so many red lines… silly American WordPress!

Once Upon A Picture

Every now and again a website comes into my knowledge that I absolutely adore and today I thought I would share one of these wonderful websites with you! It’s one of my kids favourites and one of mine too… it’s great for prompts for all kinds of things!

Welcome to the world of Once Upon A Picture: Images to Inspire.

“What is Once Upon A Picture?” I hear you say.
Once Upon A Picture is a blog set up by my wonderful twitter friend Sam, where she posts images. Every day there is a new image posted. Below is the About section from the website, written by Sam herself.

Since I started teaching, I have observed and preached the benefits of using pictures in the classroom. They are immediate; they stimulate the imagination and promote creativity. Children who often ‘sit back’ are able and willing to contribute. They learn that their opinions matter.

As the blog has grown, teachers have let me know how they are using it in the classroom. Images and questions can be used to stimulate discussion and develop vocabulary, as a prompt for creative writing, a reading comprehension activity (with a mix of literal, inference, deduction and prediction questions), or as a starting point for a wider curriculum lesson. Some teachers have set an image and questions for homework, while others have organised whole-school writing competitions based on a picture.

Once Upon A Picture is, unashamedly, a passion project. I spend a lot of time looking at illustrations, digital art and animation. I have ‘pinned’ thousands of pictures and spent hours searching for writing prompts. I have an unhealthy love of picture books. It was a natural step to start a blog sharing the best.

All of the work shared here is done so with the permission of the artist. It’s important that children appreciate the person behind the work, and many artists enjoy hearing children’s responses to their creations.

Please support the blog by ‘following’ the website (either as a WordPress user or you can subscribe by email – click the tab in the bottom right) or on Twitter. ‘Like’ the Facebook page, where I share additional links and resources, and sometimes run giveaways. Share it with your teacher friends and invite children to comment on the posts. Any children’s work can be emailed to and I will publish it on the website.

Thanks for your support,

“How can I possibly use this in my classroom?” I hear you inquire.
Well… the options are limitless. I have used the pictures mainly in literacy lessons in the past. From just talking about the picture, to writing a few sentences about the picture to once using a picture as a prompt for a short story writing competition I held with my Y6s. They loved it. Some of their stories were INCREDIBLE.

“What kind of images are posted on OUAP?” I hear you muse.
ALL SORTS. Just looking at the homepage now I see: an octopus/squid, a mouse looking at a bookshelf, a time machine, a lighthouse, a family on a boat! There is so much variety! And they are all of such a high standard it is astounding.

“What do I do when I find an image I like?” I hear you shout.
Once you find an image you like, click on it and then it will bring up a list of prompts you could use for your class. You don’t have to! You can use the image how you wish. The questions underneath are an excellent starting point though. Great for getting the children thinking about the image.

Let me know if you have a peek over at Once Upon A Picture! There’s a twitter account too (@ouapicture)! Go over check it out. It’s incredible.

You know where I am to talk!

S x