Journeys with Julia: Interdisciplinary Learning at Castleview School

Pupils and staff at Castleview School were delighted when we found out that we were part of the 20th Anniversary Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour with Julia Donaldson. Our school has 29 pupils aged 3-12 who have moderate to complex additional support needs. As a school we have a passion for stories and our pupils often learn through story-based approaches. We frequently find we dip into the marvellous works of Julia Donaldson as the richness of her text is so compelling for staff to read and, most importantly, for our pupils to listen to!

picture of a journey
Julia’s visit in March has absolutely been the highlight of our school year. She and Malcolm were ably assisted by our ‘Big Noise’ musicians as they told us the story of A Squash and a Squeeze and Monkey Puzzle. We were delighted to share with Julia and our guests our version of What the Ladybird Heard with a little help from our Raploch Campus Makaton Choir. It was an amazing afternoon for our pupils to share with their families and our Castleview friends. There was laughter and tears, singing, signing and dancing and a great time was had by all.

We were delighted to follow up this experience by becoming Schools Champions. Working with Scottish Book Trust, we developed our summer topic of ‘Journeys’ and gave it a Julia Donaldson twist. As a starting point we received a goody box full of books!

Our classes all chose different aspects of Journeys to focus on – these were either based on one of Julia’s texts or using them as supporting material for their topic. The Green

Jack and the Flum Flum Tree picture
and Red classes contain some of our oldest pupils and they were both working on Jack and the Flum-Flum Tree. Each taking their own individual slant on it has meant they have covered quite different aspects of learning. The Green class have become very interested in the end of the story, where the monkey plays the drums, so they have spent a lot of time developing their understanding of rhythm and beat whereas the Red class have become quite interested in sharks and have been thinking about a trip to Deep Sea World to find out more. Our Green class also had a fantastic visit to the Tall Ships where they explored life on a boat. The Red class have been reading The Snail and the Whale too and are really enjoying exploring the ideas in both books.

Trip to the Tall Ship
The Yellow class focused on the story of The Smartest Giant in Town and shared some of the huge clothes they had been making in an assembly for us all. They have done lots of work looking at clothes and dressing up as part of their learning. Going out on exciting journeys has also been part of the learning for the Yellow class and they have been pitching tents and exploring ways to travel.

road transport playtime
Our other classes, Blue and Purple, used a story about a train journey and then read some of Julia’s stories, such as Sharing a Shell, to reinforce some of the ideas from the story. There has been lots of free play with transport toys too, as well as exciting days out to places like Balmaha and Pittencrieff Park.

Part of the funding was used to give us high-quality storytelling experiences. Ailie from Flotsam and Jetsam came to share some traditional stories with us and we were all intrigued by the different sensory items that appeared from her wicker basket! Ailie also did a training session for staff after school so that we could all strengthen our storytelling skills. This will definitely influence how we look at storytelling across the school and how we develop our resources.

Ailie Finlay workshop

Scottish Book Trust grant funded some Kodaly music sessions with Clare Cushing – a longstanding friend of Castleview School, who never fails to delight with her songs and stories. Clare had us swooshing silk scarves for the sea and creating a paper boat as well as blowing up lots of balloons to illustrate parts of the story of Jack and the Flumflum Tree.

Being Scottish Book Trust School Champions has been a great opportunity for our school, and when we head into session 18/19 we will do so enriched by a range of valuable experiences and resources which will enhance literacy at Castleview for years to come. From everyone at Castleview we would like to say:

picture of sign language thank you sign


Check out our learning resources to find out more about our Scottish Friendly Children's Book Tour with Julia Donaldson!

Jaki Robinson

Jaki Robinson is the Principal Teacher at Castleview School, Stirling.