A Gaelic Reading Journey at Sgoil Stafainn and Sgoil nan Loch

Pupil at Sgoil Stafainn

Gaelic Medium Education schools and units across Scotland have been taking on the First Minister's Reading Challenge. We heard from two different schools on how they are approaching the Reading Challenge and how Gaelic language fits into their reading journey.

Story time at Sgoil Stafainn, Highland by Josie Macleod

At Sgoil Stafainn we have had two amazing and very successful years taking part in the First Minister's Reading Challenge. This year we are focusing on making sure that pupils at early and first levels become as involved and inspired by the challenge as our older pupils have been.

We had regular story sessions with the Sgoil Àraich (nursery) children, but wanted to develop this further. We researched how to get the very best out of story time, focusing on developing language through stories. This is especially relevant in a Gaelic Medium Class where language acquisition is fundamental to learning. The main points for us were: Pupils using puppets

  • Read the same story several times to allow children to become familiar with the story and really ‘hear’ the language.
  • Choose the book or story carefully and prepare for the session.
  • Work with small groups.
  • Reduce distractions as much as possible.
  • Make stories visual – therefore more interesting and engaging.

Teaching and Sgoil Àraich staff decided to extend our Stòiridh is Seinn (Story and Song) sessions and make them weekly right through the year. We felt that singing would add to the sessions and this has really proved to be the case. We choose a different theme and story each week and then sing songs, play games and follow with creative activities – lots of art and drama. Three terms in and we all agree - it’s absolutely brilliant! 

We have read an enormous amount of stories and used online Gaelic resources such as the television programmes Leugh is seinn le Linda, Cbbeebies Alba (stòiridh), Sgeulachdan Thradisionta and Òrain na cloinne bige from E-storas to make this an interactive part of the week.

Storytelling and singing in class has led to more regular use of Gaelic Language. There is a rapid increase in vocabulary and a good grasp of grammar emerging in all the pupils in GM 1 and 2 and the Sgoil Àraich children. They have all become better at listening and their comprehension of the stories is evident in our discussions and in their own writing as they re-use new words and phrases.

Parental and Community Engagement at Sgoil nan Loch, Western Isles by Ann Marie Lockerby

As part of an ongoing project to develop the Reading Culture in our school staff and pupils have: Pupils enjoying story in campsite reading area

  • updated the school library,
  • discussed adding teaching zones
  • acquired a SMART board and laptops for digital literacy
  • made cosy reading areas
  • bought story sacks
  • made a teddy bears' picnic area for our youngest pupils
  • made a family area with tea and coffee facilities
  • put up a Tepee and Campsite reading area

The school held a Family Learning in Literacy day to mark the grand re-opening of the Library. Parents had the chance to learn more about Reciprocal Reading, Literacy Circles and bilingual Bookbug sessions in all classes and nurseries.

Local toddler and pensioner groups are now being invited in to use the space. Parents are being encouraged to engage in bilingual Stay and Read sessions after nursery or at the end of the school day. Parents have also formed a Library Working Group to manage the borrowing of books on a rota basis. All pupils are also participating in a Shelfie Challenge alongside the First Minister’s Reading Challenge to collectively try and read 1,000 books between home and school within the school year.

“Tha an leabharlann agus an leughadh againn tòrr nas fheàrr a-nis oir tha a h-uile càil fearast ri fhaighinn agus ri fhaicinn agus tha e cofhurtail agus spòrsail a bhith a’ leughadh san Leabharlann” Kerry Mackinnon, GM6

“I think the library has really changed how much the pupils read and I think it’s helped our writing because the more we read the better our writing gets! I think the Shelfie challenge has been a big success because everyone is trying to read more books to help out the school’s reading target.” Ryan Black, P4

Share your reading journey

If your GME primary school or unit has been on a reading journey this year, make sure you enter the Gaelic Medium Education Reading Journey challenge! Every school that submits an entry receives a Party Pack with decorations to help you celebrate, plus the chance to win money for books. Find out more about the challenge in our submission guide. The deadline for submissions is 1 May.

New resources

Gaelic versions of our resources created in partnership with the National Museum of Scotland are now available. If you work in Gaelic Medium Education, you can access these resources to encourage reading in context and creative writing:

Build a Story at the Museum

Read your way around the National Museum of Scotland

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