Covering the Curriculum with Stories

six cross-curricular projects that teach literacy and thinking through dramatic play

By: Paul Ginnis , Sharon Ginnis


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 195mm x 156mm
Pages : 296
ISBN : 9781904424970
Format: PaperbackCDROM
Published: November 2006

Covering the Curriculum with Stories is an exciting and unique resource, presenting a set of six delightful, cross-curricular play-based projects that deliver outstanding learning experiences.

Designed for children aged 3–7, these projects will make major contributions to your pupils’ literacy and literary skills, teach a whole repertoire of thinking skills and deliver many features of the Foundation and Key Stage 1 Curricula in an integrated, cross-curricular way.

Each project:

  • is based on an original story
  • uses dramatic and kinaesthetic techniques
  • capitalises on children’s natural instinct to play
  • lays down important conceptual foundations for later learning
  • promotes emotional intelligence, learning-to-learn and citizenship.

The book provides everything you need to know to teach the projects successfully, including:

  • clear overviews with precise learning intentions
  • simple, clear, step-by-step instructions
  • details of pupil activities
  • indications of cross-curricular links
  • references to QCA programmes of study.

In addition, you will find extensive worksheets and learning materials on the Resources CD inside the back cover.


Picture for author Paul Ginnis

Paul Ginnis

Paul was one of the UK's oldest-established independent trainers, having started down that path in 1992. He worked in over 4500 primary, secondary and special schools in the UK and in 70 or so international schools in the Middle East, Far East, North and South America, The Caribbean and Europe. He also supported the introduction of a new Junior Cycle curriculum in Ireland. All his ideas were forged at the chalkface but they were inspired by some of the world's leading educational thinkers.

First and foremost, Paul was a practitioner (having started his teaching career in 1979), not a researcher or academic. He sought to model the way in which current teaching imperatives and modern learning insights could be translated into workable classroom strategies, and to achieve that with a bit of fun along the way.

Even in an aggressive educational world driven by political, inspection and PISA priorities, he believed that it was possible to proceed with integrity, courage and wisdom. To do so, teachers needed a few truths about the learning process to guide their creative planning and a good number of proven strategies to set them on their way. From his books and workshops Paul wanted people to take away teaching ideas that would turn passive pupils into active students and consequently result in deep learning, modern skills, essential dispositions, good progress and great results.

Of his many publications, The Teacher's Toolkit is the most well-known, having been reprinted 15 times and translated into Arabic, Indonesian, Hungarian, Slovenian and Spanish. It is one of the UK's bestselling books for teachers and is required reading on most teacher training courses.

Paul died suddenly on 30th January 2015. He had three grown-up children and was a Stoke City FC season ticket holder and a self-confessed vinyl junkie. He was also a driver and roadie for The Zombies on their 2009 Odessey and Oracle' national tour - making his adolescent rock n' roll dream come true! He lived near Stoke-on Trent with his wife Sharon, two cats, one dog and a jukebox.

Picture for author Sharon Ginnis

Sharon Ginnis

Sharon has been teaching and training for 30 years. She provides workshops, courses, demonstrations and presentations to primary schools around the world, encouraging them to adopt creative approaches to the curriculum.

In particular, she promotes stories as contexts for deep, cross-curricular learning. By using dramatic scenarios, with teachers and students working together in role, levels of engagement, enquiry and independence increase. Children become driven to research, think, collaborate, read and write as they excitedly seek to resolve dilemmas. Her work is rich in literacy and is regarded as providing a lively and essential complement to the more technical approaches that abound.

Currently keeping her feet on the ground by working as Subject Leader for the Arts within Stoke-on-Trent's Adult and Community Education Service, and by teaching in local primary schools, Sharon has in the past been an Advisory Teacher for Drama in Birmingham, a Senior Further Education Staff Development Co-ordinator, a national Inclusion Adviser and an Associate Tutor of the University of Cumbria. In all her roles, across all phases of education, Sharon seeks to demonstrate the power of the creative process in raising achievement for all.

Her freelance work has taken her to China, Peru, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand and Austria. She emphasises pedagogy that transcends cultures and ethnicities because it is rooted in universal aspects of human nature: curiosity; creativity; the love of fiction; the desire to play; along with the instinct to solve problems and rise to challenges.

Two cats, a dog, a grandchild, a love of films, a passion for sci-fi and sneaking off to make her own art whenever she can, keep Sharon busy.


  1. 'Covering the Curriculum with Stories' is rich in stories and activities to bring the curriculum to life. Incorporating drama, problem solving and narrative it takes the reader through six cross curricular projects that are suitable for children from 3 to 7 and beyond. The ease of explanation for each activity ensures that this book is valuable for both teachers who are experienced at working in this way and for the complete novice.
  2. One of Crown House's very practical guides, this is a really useful summary of drama activities that can follow from using stories, and a clear demonstration of how stories link with all areas of the curriculum. As I storyteller and a trainer, it's a title I include in my book lists, and regularly recommend.
  3. A comprehensive resource featuring six cross-curricular projects that teach literacy and thinking skills to three- to six-year-olds through dramatic play. Each project is based on an original story and features step-by-step instructions and activities. An accompanying CD contains worksheets and learning materials such as photographs and posters.
  4. "We are all capable of creating great stories and how we can all learn while we play", so writes Bill Lucas, best selling author and Chairman of The Talent Foundation. Literacy involves much more than a set of technical exercises and this book sets out to show what can be achieved for all types of learner through stories. The reader is taken through instructions for teachers and activities for pupils in such a way that structured opportunities for emotional and imaginative engagement open with such ease. Why work this way? It shows how to create an exciting approach to the Foundation and KS1 curriculum. It enables you to cover a great deal in a short time through cross curricular projects. Don't panic! It also gives worksheets and references to QCA programmes of study. It really does light up the way to an exciting and enjoyable curriculum. One for the CPD shelf in the staffroom.
  5. I was lucky to be part of a project with Sharon Ginnis using the book 'Covering the Curriculum with stories' I have found Sharon and her book inspirational to the way I teach. I have used The Incredible Shrinking Machine and several of the tools mentioned in the book. I immensely enjoyed being a part of the Salford project and will not look back.
  6. Covering the Curriculum with Stories a wonderful book! As a former drama educator I have enjoyed reading it and I am very appreciative of the way in which Sharon and Paul have so skilfully and clearly described and explained how to use play, story and drama in a way that is accessible and inviting to class teachers.

    When I first received this book I was struck by the illustration on its beautiful cover which I found immediately arresting and suggestive of magic and adventure to come. Three children peer into the mosaic tiled entrance of a very small, dark room in the foreground of which is a large, unopened red book placed on a wooden table. The children appear fascinated, expectant, even reverential. Something inner and deep is suggested here.

    On the other hand, the title above the illustration, suggests something more formal and controlled with words such as covering, curriculum, cross curricular and projects in spite of the playful double meaning of the word "covering'.

    The cover thus encapsulates what I understand to be the challenge and purpose of the book: to be mindful and respectful of the current physical and social environments that teachers inhabit, the pressures on them to "deliver' a curriculum and the use of language that is expected in formal educational settings; then to engage in a journey from what is known to what can be discovered, with much learning and fun on the way, that may lead to a deeper quality of experience such as that depicted in the cover illustration.

    Sharon and Paul approach these challenges throughout the book with breathtaking skill, sensitivity and care "spending time' in the opening chapters with teachers in the teachers' own areas of comfort and expectation. In the chapter entitled "Why work like This?' Sharon and Paul explain to the class teacher that it is fruitful and exciting to use, play, drama and story in school with children. They clearly explain "How Stories Can Develop Learners' and, to allay fears of retribution, they are at pains to reassure with examples and references that these approaches are in line with current developments in the curriculum. How could anyone not wish to proceed at this point?

    In the next chapter The Play Write Framework Sharon and Paul explore the six components of a good story and Christopher Booker's work, The Seven Basic Plots " Why We Tell Stories. This is followed by the chapter Dramatic Conventions " the tools for the job which is one of the most clear and informative explanations of ways of approaching the teaching of Drama I have read. In particular, the section on Teacher in Role will enable even the most disinclined teacher to make a start in working in this medium. At this point I would expect all to be comfortably on board and looking forward to the projects in parts Two and Three.

    In Part Two there are three projects for three to five year olds and in Part Three there are three projects for five to seven year olds. Each project is fascinating journey rich in learning styles, beginning with a Planning Checklist and a Teacher's Overview to get started and, on the way, in addition to the main development of the story, are Optional Extras sections to explore. The projects conclude with sections on Potential Cross Curricular Learning and there is a helpful CD that includes lots of material that can be downloaded for each project. For example, in Mrs. Hope's Shop a plan of the shop and shopping cards can be printed. Following the projects, the book closes with two helpful and relevant appendices: Professor Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory and Dr. Anthony Gregorc's Mind Styles Analysis.

    Having journeyed through the projects I feel that many teachers will feel empowered to use what they have learned in new and different contexts, to play with the ideas and the medium and to create their own projects. However, perhaps, like the red book on the cover, "something deep and inner is suggested' through the use of this book. In her jewel of an introduction Dorothy Heathcote quotes T.S. Eliot in his Journey of the Magi: "(We are) no longer at ease here in the old dispensation'. It may be that this book's most profound effect is unstated: through the use of this medium teachers may receive intimations of a different relationship with themselves and with the children in their care and sense the beginnings of a rediscovery of their own innate playfulness.
  7. Creativity is high on the national agenda, the curriculum is changing significantly and those who work in schools are being encouraged to personalise the experience of their pupils so that the learning is memorable and real. Covering the Curriculum with Stories is a delightful resource for all those who want to ensure that children learn effectively through dramatic play and that they have fun too.
  8. Covering the Curriculum with Stories is a marvelous resource which underpins the magic of story telling at its most engaging with a detailed and thorough explanation of why learning through story should be part of very young childs inheritance. I thoroughly recommend you do more than buy it " buy it and cover your curriculum with it as well!
  9. In Covering the Curriculum with Stories Sharon and Paul Ginnis have produced a genuinely integrated learning resource. They have combined their expertise and experience in a rich and stimulating portfolio of activities centred on storytelling. Stories are fundamental to learning: across the ages, every culture, faith and philosophy has found its most powerful expression through stories. Sharon and Paul have captured the power of storytelling but have added the impact of drama, the disciplines of literacy and, crucially, underpinned everything with strategies for effective learning. These stories develop a range of skills but they also introduce moral issues, problem solving and decision making strategies and everything is underpinned by a focus on personal relationships.

    Covering the Curriculum with Stories is a powerful resource in its own right, but it is also a model of highly effective professional practice which will influence the organisation and teaching of the curriculum in schools.
  10. We are all capable of creating great stories and we can all learn while we play. These are the two beliefs at the centre of a truly inspirational but deeply practical resource from Sharon and Paul Ginnis, Covering the Curriculum with Stories. This must surely be the most comprehensive approach to using stories to explore almost every nook and cranny of the school curriculum. It also just happens to be full of wonderful ways of helping pupils to become more effective learners. The stories are engaging and varied. There are suggestions for activities to suit every type of teacher. It is, in short, a gem of a resource; one that every primary school should rush out and buy right now.
  11. If only the entire school curriculum were built around such imaginative and engaging resources and activities as these ...
  12. I heartily recommend Covering the Curriculum with Stories. Sharon and Paul Ginnis have developed an excellent resource combining story telling, drama, creativity and play. As the authors recognise, young children do not learn to be more creative simply by being given more freedom to play. The resources that they require in their play are crucial, and the resources that are of most importance are cultural.

    Throughout Covering the Curriculum with Stories an emphasis is placed upon children developing their communication and collaboration skills and their creativity as they learn to learn through play. These are the same curriculum priorities that I have identified in my own research. These attitudes, skills and understandings are increasingly prioritised by developmental psychologists and early childhood educators, and are now also being identified as being of special importance by politicians and economists in developing the knowledge society of the future.
  13. Sharon and Paul Ginnis are very rare as educators in that they have a deep belief in student-centred methods, combined with unbounded creativity and down-to-earth practical ideas. Any teacher would be lucky to have this book as a resource, as the rich opportunities it provides for learners to be involved in problem solving, questioning, playing and drama are enough to last a school year, and more, ensuring they become part of their daily thinking habits.
  14. This is an exciting book. Exciting in many ways. Firstly, it is hugely heartening to find learning through drama being presented in such an accessible and lively way that teachers cannot fail to want to try out the ideas. For too long now the arts have failed to take their rightful place " at the centre of the curriculum. At last the energy has come full circle; and here are the experts, Sharon and Paul, offering a fabulous resource to enable all Foundation and KS1 teachers to re-energise their teaching. Yet thankfully this is no quick fix recipe of ideas " it is an extremely thoughtful, erudite, well worked-out, cross-curricular resource. The authors have thought through every angle that any teacher, whatever their experience and background, would possible want explored. The authors are obviously excellent practitioners, which means the ideas are tried, tested and incredibly workable.

    I cannot recommend the book highly enough. It is exactly what creative, concerned teachers are looking for.
  15. The Ginnises have created a breathtakingly comprehensive, creative and effective series of resources that will give teachers nowhere to hide. With this resource every teacher in the land will be able to lead wonderfully creative lessons that bring the best thinking, acting, playing and learning out of every child.

    This series is a huge undertaking and a huge achievement and deserves a place in every school.
  16. This inspiring publication is about the education of young children, offering clear, vivid, thoroughly tested guidelines on how to harness their creative instincts in order to meet the requirements of the curriculum.

    Sharon and Paul Ginnis have developed the use of dramatic play linked with the building of stories, which not only opens up pathways to all the basic subjects and skills, but also creates an atmosphere in the classroom of group discipline, responsibility and fun. Above all it challenges children to think " and to enjoy thinking.

    Experienced teachers will be able to free-wheel with the books rich ideas and beginners will find the step-by-step instructions both exciting and safe.
  17. Using drama for learning, being a sort of universal joint to engage children with the curriculum currently required by law, has become of interest again recently. Teachers are weary of the requirement to concentrate upon content-based study and are seeking respectable academic contexts which can challenge their students to think, study and engage with the real circumstances of their existence.

    Throughout our lives we all spend a great deal of time telling and listening to stories and we easily forget how these engagements inform and influence us. Technology has added tremendously to the availability and usage of story. Newsprint, television, the internet and radio have added to the literary and oral forms we all experience. This book makes sensible, detailed and informed contributions that help teachers to understand why it is important to harness stories to serve curriculum learning, by explaining the transition from the literary form to the dramatic form.

    Roger Barnes a psychologist at Newcastle University said to me, "Schools may not be safe, but drama can be a safe place to learn in and from." This book endorses this opinion.
  18. Sharon and Paul know how young children learn. Combining methods from the long-established tradition of drama-in-education with their own original ideas, they have created worldly-wise, lively and rich scenarios that are guaranteed to produce profound learning. Its a long time since teaching was this good.
  19. When weighing up the potential impact of any educational resource, I first and foremost think as a parent. The sixty four thousand dollar question is always this: would I want the teachers who teach my own children to discover and use this resource? With Covering the Curriculum with Stories the answer is an immediate, unequivocal and enthusiastic yes!
  20. Covering the Curriculum with Stories is an excellent resource which will be welcomed by teachers, student teachers and, of course, pupils!
  21. Covering the Curriculum with Stories offers a clear, step-by-step guide to creating exciting and meaningful literacy based projects. The level of detail and range of resources provide teachers with the tools they need to develop tailor-made, cross-curricular activities that really do capture the imagination of our young learners. This book is an excellent, well planned and easy to follow guide, perfect for the newly qualified teacher and for those wishing to add excitement, fun and creativity to their lessons.
  22. Human beings of all ages love stories, and story telling, whether written, oral or visual is an important aspect of most cultures internationally. Stories involve characters, plots and meanings so we not only enjoy stories, but learn from them as well. This is why this book is such a fresh approach to education for younger children " it combines enjoyment with learning. The six hugely entertaining and engaging stories can be used to promote thinking and to develop other important skills right across the curriculum. Moreover, the first part of the book provides an extremely useful and practical guide for teachers as to how they might want to use the book with pupils. The book is an invaluable resource and, like Pauls earlier book The Teachers Toolkit, should be part of any teachers or schools collection of classroom materials.
  23. Kim, four, spends a busy November morning digging up earth in the garden and filling little cardboard boxes with it. When her mother asks her why, Kim explains that these are to be her Christmas presents for her brother and the other boys she knows. "What boys like best is to get dirty and play in the mud" Kim tells her mother. "When the snow covers the ground, they cant find any mud. So I am going to give them some for Christmas."

    Joan Beck (in How to Raise a Brighter Child, Fontana-Collins, 1967) recognised that almost all small children possess a considerable amount of creativity and adventurous thinking, and that this can be cultivated by deliberate encouragement and opportunity. Sharon and Paul Ginnis share this conviction, which underpins the approaches they provide in Covering the Curriculum with Stories.

    This excellent resource allows children to engage with scientific discovery, experimentation, exploration, imagination, curiosity and enquiry, and provides them with opportunities to generate ideas, recognise relationships and find answers to questions. It also helps busy teachers to work together with their pupils on play-based projects that develop their creative thinking and learning skills. The stories are interesting, engaging and fun, as are the activities. Pupils will enjoy them enormously and the process of learning they promote.
  24. Everett Reimer observed that some true educational experiences are bound to occur in schools, but that they occur despite school, with all its compulsion, regimentation and coercion. This happens because there are some teachers like Sharon and Paul Ginnis who set out to make the experiences in classrooms as lively, interesting and enjoyable as possible. This book is to be recommended to all teachers who want to join them using the techniques of dramatic play so intelligently articulated in this handbook.
  25. Stories are magical. They provide the most effective routes by which children make sense of the world. If we believe that education is a moral enterprise, and we aspire for our children to become personally successful but also to use their gifts to build community and enhance the common good, then we must educate them to think critically, value differences and embrace pluralism.

    Sharon and Paul show us the way! Practitioners in early years will welcome this book as a scaffold, supporting their desire to engage children, make learning joyful and plan for cross-curricular outcomes with clarity and vision.
  26. A wonderful aid to the teaching of drama from writers who have a wealth of experience at the "chalkface". Covering the Curriculum with Stories ensures that teachers can "tick the necessary boxes" while retaining the story and play elements of education which are essential to the real intellectual, social and emotional development of children. I can see this book becoming a bible for busy teachers.
  27. This is a user friendly and informative book that will support teachers to understand and practise successful story-drama. Sharons and Pauls own imaginative and successful practice shines through!
  28. These story-based projects are brilliantly effective and great creative fun. It is wonderful to hear staff, pupils and parents talking so enthusiastically about them. Pupils play hard, work hard and think hard. The result: more enjoyment; better behaviour and very efficient coverage of the curriculum.
  29. Covering the Curriculum with Stories " and covering our young people with creativity, joy, fun and co-operation! This beautiful book presents a wide open door to, and a guided tour of, an arena that offers wonderful opportunities to everyone who wants to work with young people in ways that empower, enliven and enthuse. We learn why we should, and how we could, use stories, drama and play to unwrap and enrich the curriculum. The books sound rationale and crafted, detailed guidance is a gift to all classroom teachers. We will all want to take part in these magical adventures and see our youngsters grow and develop through this collaborative approach to learning.
  30. Sharons ability to engage pupils in the learning process, especially through drama is amazing. Through these creative projects she is able to deliver curriculum content and improve thinking skills in a way that is unique and incredibly effective.
  31. I will definitely recommend Covering the Curriculum with Stories to our student teachers. The authors present a well-informed and rigorous challenge to educators " both current and future " and demonstrate how the curriculum could (and should!) be transformed to re-inject the fun and excitement that ought be at the heart of childrens learning.
  32. Covering the Curriculum with Stories takes your pupils to places you can hardly imagine.
  33. The theoretical justification for the teaching processes used, and for the attitudes and skills which will result from this approach, is presented in a way that is both attractive and compelling. Sharon and Paul stimulate and support teachers by providing a comprehensive portfolio that would enable even those new to this way of working to gain clear insights into what is possible. A great read and a wonderful resource.

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