Resource 4: Ways to use stories in the classroom
When selecting stories to use in science you need to be sure that it relates to the topic you are teaching and also how you could actually use the story in the lesson. There is no purpose in reading a story if it does not have any relevance to your science topic. You need to look at children’s stories whenever you can and note titles that might be useful in lessons later. An interesting story is one that has:
- a clear story throughout, with an introduction, development and a swift conclusion
- vivid description
- repetition of main themes for emphasis
- an appeal to feelings and emotions
- characters children can identify with and villains they can dislike
- subject matter that relates to your science topic
- a story that you can use to stimulate your students’ thinking.
When you have selected the story you want to use, you need to plan your lesson and think about how and when you will read the story. For example, do you want to read the whole story? Or do you want to read only part of it so that you can set a problem or investigation for the students to do based on the story? Maybe you can read the story and then have students role play different people or animals and explore ideas from within the story. This is often possible with environmentally based stories, as often they are written specifically to explore the questions around such matters as protecting trees or investigating pollution.
How and where you read a story can also affect its impact. Reading a story about light in a room that is perhaps not well lit by the sun can add atmosphere for the students. Alternatively, reading a story outside when exploring shadows can help students to look at shadows as you read.
As a school, teachers could work together to build up a list of stories to tell or to read around science topics and so help students enjoy science more.