Saturday, 26 November 2016

Beetle Boy – M. G. Leonard - Middle Grade Story Sack

Today we are continuing our Story Sack feature with a story sack complied especially for Middle Grade readers, and constructed around M.G. Leonard’s hugely successful Beetle Boy. Being for older readers, we have consciously played with the traditional format of the Story Sack to make it appeal to more mature children, and also endeavoured to make it exciting for boys in particular. This is made really very easy because the novel Beetle Boy is such a riveting read, with so many themes running through, that it is really a very easy book to base a story sack around. 

So firstly a very quick blurb about Beetle Boy supplied by my ten year old son:

Beetle Boy is a fantastic and exciting book all about a boy called Darkus who discovers huge beetles that have had experiments done on them, and learns that a creepy lady is trying to capture them. Darkus’s father has gone missing so he goes and lives with his uncle and together with his two friends and his new pet rhinoceros beetle they join forces to save the beetles and find his dad.

So for this story sack, we picked a non-fiction book Explore Natures: Beetles and BUG, which does exactly what it says on the tin, with lots of beautifully full colour photographs and illustrations. 

Traditionally story sacks come with soft toys, but with this one being for Middle Grade readers, we decided that they would require something a bit more grown up, so the soft toy has been replaced by a beetle in resin, and a bug hunting book plus a kit comprising of scrapbook, looking glass, compass and binoculars to assist with the finding of bugs in the local area, identifying them and recording the findings. 

Another must for story sacks is a game, so with this one, I’ve opted for the beautiful and educational Bug Bingo, BUT there are many different games which would also be very appropriate, plus fit smaller budgets such as: Bug Top Trumps, or the vintage classic Beetles, or the more recent strategy game Hive.

This displays that story sack can be utilised to inspire older children to read, and are not exclusive to Key Stage One. This Beetle Boy story sack has a blend of fiction, exciting and educational activities and non-fiction reading, all of which are things that appeal to middle grade children and to boys in particular. Why not try compiling one your self or even seeing if you can turn a young reader into a Beetle Boy or even a Beetle Queen!

Thank you for stopping by, and please drop by again for more Story Stack ideas, coming up in the next few weeks we have; YA Story Sacks, Story Sacks on a budget and Biography Story Sacks.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Grandpa was an Astronaut by Jonathan Meres and Hannah Coulson – Story Sack – Barrington Stoke

Continuing our features on Story Sacks, we bring you a space themed Story Sack inspired by Grandpa was an Astronaut by Jonathan Meres and Hannah Coulson. From the moment I opened up the padded envelope (with the tell-tale Barrington Stoke squirrel on the front), and laid my eyes on the vibrantly illustrated front cover of Grandpa was an Astronaut I wanted to not only review it but make it the central component for a Story Sack.

The story it’s self is beautifully simple, exploring the tender and joyful relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. Where two generations of the same family bond through play and make-believe, utilising every child’s favourite toy, a cardboard box. In a cardboard-box-rocket, Sherman and Grandpa, a former astronaut, go on an expedition to the moon. The story is told in a way that will engage young readers and bring a wave of nostalgia to adults. The story is further brought to life by the wonderfully colourful and energetic illustrations by Hannah Coulson. All in all, it’s is an ideal story to be shared by the whole family at story time.

With the story being so captivating, and being to the back drop of space I went about creating a Story Sack around it. As you may know, Story Sacks are designed to get children excited about reading. A story sack is a bag and inside there is a good quality fiction book (usually a picture book) and a non-fiction book which is related. There are also soft toys a game and sometimes an activity sheet. All the contents of the sack relate to the story in the fiction book, and are designed to explore the story in other ways, and to ignite the child’s imagination.

So when putting together story sacks I firstly look for the soft toys, for the Grandpa was an Astronaut Story Sack, I opted for finger puppets for Sherman, Grandpa and Mum (which are inexpensive and readily available on online), and a small dog figurine to represent Luna, Sherman’s pet.

Once the soft toys were in the bag (literally), I looked for a game, and found a lovely Rocket Game by Orchard Toys, and paired this with the fully illustrated Biggest and Best Universe Guide to be the non-fiction and educational elements of the sack. 

To further enhance the imaginative play, there is a crocheted moon, and a paper box rocket.

The completed Story Sack is colourful and fun looking, and should be enticing for children, furthermore, it was inexpensive as both the game and non-fiction books were sourced second-hand, and the puppets cost less than £1.50, making the whole thing cost less that £10.00, proving that Story Sacks can also be complied on a budget!

Thank you for stopping by and please drop by again!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Poo at the Zoo by Steve Smallman and Ada Grey - Story Sacks – DIY - Poo Bags

Getting children engaged in stories from an early age can be the cornerstone to them developing a love for reading. There are many ways to accomplish this but one of the most fun ways, which is adopted by schools and pre-school and can also be easily adapted for the home, is to use Story Sacks, (press here to read our last Story Sack DIY guide).

Over the next few post, we at space on the bookshelf will be exploring the concept of story sacks; looking at how to create them, how to put-together story sacks for older readers like Middle Grade and Young Adults, and looking at creating Story Sacks on a frugal budget. But to start off our Story Sack features, we shall begin with; Poo Bags. It is pretty universally acknowledged that children find poo funny, so why not use their amusement to both engage them in stories, and slipping in a bit of education on the way?

What’s a story sack?

Story sacks are another way of getting children excited about reading. A story sack is a bag and inside there is a good quality fiction book (usually a picture book) and a non-fiction book which is related. There are also soft toys a game and sometimes an activity sheet. All the contents of the sack relates to the story in the fiction book, and are designed to explore the story in other ways, and to ignite the child’s imagination.

Tips to make best use out of your story sacks...

Teaching assistance and story sack creator Janice Markey (whose been making story sacks for over ten years) shares some tips for making story sacks and how to use them best to excite children about reading.

  • Don’t forget the toys -There MUST be a soft toy and a game in the sack!
  • Fewer are better - We keep four to five story sacks in the class room at any one time allowing the children to borrow them on a rota system. A child can take them home for a week and read them together with their families. The rota system means they look forward to their turn the children often ask when their turn is to take home a story sack.
  • Keep them Fresh- I’m always keeping them fresh and making news ones and keeping up with trends. I did an Olympic one and a queen’s jubilee one last year. If they get tired I take them out of circulation and remake them. Keeping them fresh means they are always exciting for the children.
  • Scrounge – Story sacks cost to compile, so scrounge funds wherever you can!

Poo Bag #1 Poo in the Zoo by Steve Smallman and Ada Grey

Poo in Zoo is a funny and vibrantly coloured picture book following the adventures of Little Bob McGrew the keeper at the zoo, whose job mainly consists of shovelling up – you’ve guest it - poo! The illustrations of the differing type of poo from varying creatures are amusing, and you feel a little sorry for Bob McGrew, but it’s when the naughty Iguana starts greedily guzzling everything he can find, and then deposits it in a glowing smelly plop, which is when the keepers job becomes really horrible.

Poor Bob doesn’t know what to do with glowing poo, but it soon becomes the main attraction, with people flocking to see it, so much so that Hector Gloop for his Amazing Poo Museum, meaning that Bob can buy an automatic Poo picker-up-er!

I chose this book for the basis of the Story Sack not only because it is funny and beautifully illustrated, but because when I was a teenager I had a pet – you’ve guest it – iguana! And indeed iguanas do have the smelliest most horrendous poo, on account that they only do a move every few months! My iguana’s poo was so bad that it will smell out the whole house, for days even after it had been cleared up!

My very Smelly Iguana  - Iggy.

The Other aspect of the book that I thought was quite topical was the Poo Museum, as earlier this year an actual Poo Museum; The National Poo Museum, opened up on the Sandown Zoo on the Isle of White.

Of course a Story scam need to be educational as well as funny, so I’ve paired Poo at the Zoo up with the factual ‘Animal Sciences; Poo a Natural History of the Unmentionable’ which is an interesting picture filled book full of interesting poo facts.

To make the Story Sack educational and fun, there are an array of soft Zoo Animals, plus a hand-puppet Little Bob-McGrew Zoo Keeper and of course a cuddly iguana, a pretend poo, and lastly a game of Plop Trumps!

This Story Sack should cause lots of fun and laughter, and maybe even slip a bit of education in without children even noticing! But if maybe Iguana’s aren’t your thing, then you could always try one utilising the classic ‘The Mole who knew it was None of His Business!’

Poo Bag #2 The Mole who knew it was None of His Business - Werner Holzwarth & Wolf Erlbuch

I hope you've enjoyed this Story Sack post, and please come back and visit for more Story Sack inspiration!