Blog by Eva Kyriacou - Anna Hibiscus' Song
Created: 1st March, 2021

For Spring 1, I was really excited to use the teaching sequence I had come across for ‘Anna Hibiscus’ Song’ by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia in Literacy across both Reception classes. The teaching sequence and text fit in perfectly with our new topic ‘Cultures from around the world’, as well as our departmental and school priority of diversifying our curriculum and provision to represent our pupils in their teaching and learning. It has enabled us to take a significant step forward towards providing a curriculum in which our pupils see themselves, and one which consciously includes black children, their heritage, and culture. The teaching sequence provided an array of Literacy input sessions to hook children into the story in an engaging way, take them through the story and reflect on all they’d learnt. The extensive bank of cross-curricular continuous provision activities complemented this and extended the learning and interest of the children further. I have to admit to feeling a little apprehensive about how the teaching sequence would work once we had a blended learning provision, with the onset of online learning once again, with the January 2021 lockdown. However, I needn’t have worried, the activities needed little adapting, and feedback from parents, pupils and teaching staff alike has been overwhelmingly positive. 

The impact of the use of the teaching sequence has had a positive impact on both the teaching and learning in in-school literacy lessons, and the pupil outcomes in terms of the work produced across both Reception classes. The sequence ensured that we maximised and accounted for more cross-curricular links, both within the formal teaching sessions and the more open ended activities. As previously mentioned, our parents really embraced the activities, with some going as far as making their own tuff tray of related texts and resources. The children were encouraged to make links with the story, its characters and their own lives. Below you will find examples of this from children’s home learning; we used our sound buttons to record the different ways in which we can move (after actually moving of course), our favourite part of the story and what makes us feel happy. The central theme of the book; happiness coincidentally supported all our work around children’s mental health week and looking after their well-being in Lockdown 3.0. The listening sensory walk was a highlight for many children (and adults) - what a great mindful activity! 

Teachers have also commented on the marked improvement of independent writing prompted by the higher engagement levels in the general topic ‘Cultures from around the world’. After one of our pupils read part of the story, she decided she wanted to post Anna a letter! Other children were also keen to find out more about the other continents which they hadn’t learnt as much about, and explore their own personal cultural stories and histories. These excerpts demonstrate that not only did the teaching sequence have a marked impact on the children’s writing and motivation, but it also ensured there was greater diversity embedded within our curriculum offer, in a meaningful and non-tokenistic way. 

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