Bringing 'The Promise' to Life at Rothesay Primary School

In September 2014 Nicola Davies visited Primary Schools in Argyll and Bute with the Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour. Laura Reynolds, a teacher at Rothesay Primary School, describes how Nicola's book The Promise inspired her pupils and sparked a whole range of cross-curricular activities. 

Before Nicola Davies visited our school we were very busy reading books that she had written. The children decided that the book they would like to particularly focus on was The Promise. 'The Promise'

We discussed the front cover and made predictions on what we thought the book would be about. We then read the book through and talked about how the language Nicola used helped to build up a picture in our heads. We also looked at the illustrations and how important they were to giving extra meaning and detail to the book.

Creating Illustrations

We were very impressed with the illustrations for The Promise and decided to use the techniques to illustrate our ideas for our Promise. On the left hand side of the paper the children drew a bland, colourless space like the ones featured in the book. Then, on the right, they drew the same space but included lots of colour and their own ideas on how to improve the local areas.

Making Our Own Promises

The children decided that they wanted to make their own Promise; to sprinkle wild flower seeds along paths to local beaches, to make windchimes to hang in a popular walking area and to create bright and welcoming plaques to attach to our school fencing.

After reading The Promise the children decided that they wanted to make their own Promise. They worked to create a list of local streets and areas that could benefit from a little TLC. They had to decide on a small group of places that they thought particularly needed ‘cheering up'. Once this was agreed they made a list of how they could achieve their Promise, what materials would be needed and where to source these locally. Some ideas the children came up with were to sprinkle wild flower seeds along paths to local beaches to encourage more wildlife and to add some colour. They also want to make wind chimes to hang in a popular walking area to help make people smile and work with the academy students to create bright and welcoming plaques to attach to our school fencing. 

Music, Nature and Imagination

We then tried out ideas that were already detailed on The Scottish Book Trust’s website. We talked about inspiration – what this is, where it comes from and when we use it. We listened to Mendelssohn’s Hebridean Overture. After listening to this, we shared our thoughts and ideas of what we thought Fingal’s Cave and Staffa Island would be like and made a list of adjectives that we thought described the music, the cave and the island. We then looked at some pictures afterwards and compared our thoughts with the real images. This also provided great discussion about how the music and images linked and what they represented in each other.

Poetry in the Garden

After being inspired by Mendelssohn and Nicola Davies we also decided to take inspiration from nature.

After being inspired by Mendelssohn and Nicola Davies we also decided to take inspiration from nature. We went out into the school garden and used our senses to gather ideas for poems that we would write individually then read to Nicola on her visit. We had to make up adjective lists, rhyming banks and recap how to structure poems. We had to experiment with language and layout to make our poems interesting and inspiring for others. We illustrated these and made a wall display in our classroom that Nicola could enjoy when she arrived at our school.

Nicola Davies Reads 'The Promise'

Nicola Arrives!

Finally the day arrived and Nicola was amazing – she captured the children throughout her session sharing photographs and ideas of where her books came from. She answered all questions and was more than happy to sign an autograph for everyone! The children absolutely loved it.

To round off our fantastic week the children wrote about Nicola’s visit and evaluated what they had learned and what they enjoyed the most. Now we all wait patiently until the Spring so that we can bring our own Promise to life!

Take a look at the gallery below to see some of the poetry and artwork created by pupils at Rothesay Primary School. 

Bring the world of conservation to your classroom with these brilliant learning resources to accompany Nicola's Books.

Laura Reynolds

Laura Reynolds is a primary teacher at Rothesay Primary School in Argyll & Bute.