Creating Non-Fiction Pop-up Books

In March 2016 children's author and environmentalist Christiane Dorion visited schools in Inverclyde, West Lothian and Dundee as part of the Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour. Here, Nicole Macdonald, Principal Teacher at St Mary's Primary School in Inverclyde, describes how Christiane's visit inspired a brilliant non-fiction pop-up book project.

Getting Started

It all started when primary 5 learned they had been chosen for a free author visit from Christiane Dorion, a children’s author who creates non-fiction pop-up books which ask big questions about the world in which we live.

In preparation for the author visit the children completed some research to find out a little about Christiane and the kind of books she wrote. They were very excited to meet a “real” author and prepared lots of questions to ask her on the day.

Christiane spent a morning with the children. She explained how she gets her ideas for her books, and how she makes them appeal to children. She talked about our planet and encouraged the children to explore how the world works and to look at what actions they can take to protect our planet for future generations.

Following Christiane’s inspiring visit, the class decided that they would like to become authors like Christiane. They decided to create non-fiction books which would inform other children about the world in which they lived and encourage them to think more about the planet.

Making Pop-Up Books

The children worked in teams of 3 or 4 to make story boards, which were used during their initial planning and revisited at each session to help keep the children on track. During ICT they researched their topic to find accurate information and images. Some children were so enthusiastic about the project that they continued with their research at home and brought their findings in for their group.

It was decided that their books would be aimed at the infants, so it was important that they keep the text simple and use bold and colourful images. The books were printed in colour, laminated and bound to make them look like real books. The children were really proud of their finished work.

One group decided that since the book was to be aimed at infants, perhaps a puppet could be used to tell the story and provide a focus for the younger children. Initially, the children designed their puppet on paper and investigated different materials which they could use to make their puppet. Then followed a fun session which produced Dinky the dinosaur, Sid the snake and many more!

Another group had the idea of making a board game for the young children to play once they had heard the story. This would help to develop their learning and was sure to be lots of fun! Each group completed some research on board games and chose a format that suited them. The result was bright, attractive board games with simple rules for the primary 2 children to play.

The Big Day!

Finally the big day arrived and primary 5 were really excited. After a month of hard work they were ready to show off their books, puppets and board games. The children of primary 2 came along and worked in small groups. They stayed for the afternoon and rotated around all the different groups. They learned about reptiles, monkeys, life on the Arctic, sharks, big cats and how humans have changed the world. They listened to the stories, played with the puppets, took part in the board games and even had a chance to show off what they had learned in the quiz. It was a great success and everyone really enjoyed themselves.

Parent and Family Showcase

To complete the project, primary 5 invited their parents and family in for a topic showcase so that they could share all the learning that had taken place. The class made a PowerPoint about everything they had been doing and included photographs. Finally, they read their books to their parents and invited them to look at their puppets and play the board games. This was another successful afternoon and was well attended by family members.

The project involved many areas of the curriculum and allowed the children to develop many different skills and share their talents. Friendship and mixed-ability groups meant that children developed their team skills and helped one another and it actually became quite competitive as each group worked hard to outdo each other. This resulted in a high standard of work by all groups. Getting to share their work with another class was a highlight of the project and if time had been on our side, the children would have loved to do it all again with another class!

Christiane Dorion is a passionate advocate for encouraging children's curiosity about our planet and inspring them to think about how we can take positive action to protect it for the future. Download learning resources inspired by Christiane's books to help you explore STEM subjects with your pupils and watch Christiane share her Golden Rules for Engaging Children with Science and Sustainability.

Nicole Macdonald

Nicole Macdonald is Principal Teacher at St Mary's Primary School, Inverclyde.