Jacqueline’s school in Inverness had a motto over lockdown, "our school is closed but we are still together". Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the team ran weekly Bookbug sessions in the nursery and early intervention Bookbug sessions with P1 and P2 classes. "We just thought, how can we keep learning going even though we’re not at nursery?"
Planning and process
Jacqueline used the school's closed Facebook page to share two recorded Bookbug sessions a week, for families in the nursery to join in with.
Before each session Jacqueline took photos of Bookbug or puppets in her garden or house, with clues about the songs or book she would share. She sent a personal invitation to parents, "from my house to yours".
Jacqueline made two plans a week, had books and publisher permissions in place and props to hand.
"When you’ve done your Bookbug Session Leader training and you have your bag with puppets, Bookbug and lycra, everything you need is there. All the songs and rhymes are online and there’s help with permissions for books. So not much had changed, it was just online. We have fantastic tools at our disposal and anything you don’t know Scottish Book Trust will help you with."
Jacqueline kept things familiar, using the same format in each session, but introduced some new material with lots of repetition. She used Makaton signing too, so that all children were included.
"We have some nonverbal children in our school and it’s been a fantastic way of communicating with them. We're showing our children what to do from an early age so that as they go through school with their friends, they can communicate with them."
Partnership with libraries
Partnership working was key and Jacqueline found the practical support she got from High Life Highland Libraries was invaluable, as they were also providing online sessions - for the whole of the Highlands. The library service provided books and supported Jacqueline in delivering her sessions, and team shared High Life Highland Libraries’ sessions and Scottish Book Trust’s Facebook Friday sessions(this will open in a new window). This meant children in the Highlands could have access to a Bookbug session five days a week if they wanted!
After the first two weeks Jacqueline stopped recording her sessions in advance and delivered them live instead. This reduced preparation time and if things went wrong live, families understood - in fact it showed parents that things didn’t have to be slick and perfect to still be fun.
Jacqueline made the most of the online chat functions to allow families to comment and keep a sense of connection with the school. Families sent photos and videos of children baking for Bookbug’s birthday or commented about things that were happening in their lives.
The impact on parental engagement was huge.
"It was just massive, parents were commenting and families were engaging with the sessions as they happened and I could tell how excited they were - parents told me how their children were listening to everything and didn't realise they were learning at the same time."
"Lots of parents miss out on Bookbug sessions normally due to work commitments, or feeling apprehensive about going to a library session. In our normal nursery setting, we would maybe get one or two parents involved – never this level of involvement. One parent contacted the Director of Culture and Learning for the Highlands to say what a massive difference it made to her life during lockdown." This was a direct result of the link between the nursery and High Life Highland libraries.
In fact, online sessions have had such an impact that Jacqueline and team hope to keep an online platform for their Bookbug sessions in the future, so that Bookbug can appear in homes across the Highlands all year round.
If you’re looking for more advice and support for running Bookbug sessions online, take a look at our learning resource, watch our training webinar or see our top tips for brilliant online sessions.