Category: Early Years

#Falkirk Reading Teachers’ Early Years Book Group: STEM Focus

Our Early Years Book Group has been looking at new picture books that can be used for STEM. Picture books are fantastic for stimulating learning and many are wonderful for a STEM Through Stories focus. The Falkirk STEM Officers support us by providing story planners for each book to give teachers and practitioners a starting point but our members always find creative ways to use the books and bring the learning to life.

King of the Swamp by Catherine Emmett and Ben Mantle

King of the Swamp Plan

McDarkly lives all on his own, growing orchids in his dank swamp, until one day his peace is disturbed by an arrogant king who wants to turn the swamp into a roller-skate park. This story is brilliant for looking at nature, minibeasts and environmental issues.

Practitioners took the book with them on a visit to the local woods and it stimulated lots of role-play and den building. One child commented that they didn’t want them to ‘take away our green stuff’ when they saw building work happening nearby.


Tad: a big story about a brave minibeast by Benji Davies

Tad Plan

Tad is the smallest tadpole in the pond and she is scared of ‘Big Blub’. When the other tadpoles start to disappear she worries ‘Big Blub’ has got them. This story is brilliant for looking at life cycles and feelings.

The children loved this story and found it very engaging. They walked to a local pond to see some real tadpoles and practitioners felt it would be best to use this at spring time.


Tiny Little Rocket by David Fickling and Richard Collingridge

Tiny Little Rocket Plan

A little rocket takes you on an adventure to space. This book is great for looking at space, rockets and technology.

This was a strong favourite of the children who loved to pour over the pages together with friends. The black background makes the pictures bold and attention-grabbing and encourages the children to learn about space. The children took their interest outside to see the moon and this lead to lots of discussion about what’s in the sky.


Izzy Gismo by Pip Jones and Sarah Ogilvie

Izzy loves to invent but her inventions don’t always go to plan. This story is good for looking at inventions, technology, block play and developing a growth mindset. Izzy is also a strong, diverse role-model for getting girls into STEM.

A planner wasn’t created for Izzy as the STEM Officers felt it was the perfect book to inspire free and creative play in children. Practitioners felt it is a good book to leave in the building area to inspire children. They loved the rhyming text and the pictures have a lot of detail for children to pour over.


Challenging Gender Stereotypes in Picture Books

You Can Be Campaign – Book Audit | Zero Tolerance

The You Can Be Book Audit is a chance for ELCs and nurseries to win £100 worth of books by taking part in an audit of their book collections. The idea is to bring greater gender balance and challenge old-fashioned gender stereotypes that can be harmful to children and stop them achieving their full potential.

Check out the link above for more information and book ideas.

We have also put together book recommendations that challenge the gender stereotypes:

Go to this Sway


Early Years Picture Book Group

Inclusive Stories

Our last round of books focused on LGBT+ families and inclusive stories. All children deserve to see their own lives represented in the stories we share and books are a fantastic way to build empathy and understanding of others.

The discussion was very positive and one of the most interesting points raised  was that the LGBT+ family books were just accepted by the children as books about families in general and that we, as adults, can put our own preconceptions onto books. The children didn’t see a label, they just saw families and children like them.

My Friends and Me by Stephanie Stansbie is wonderful as it shows a whole range of different families: LGBT+, single parents, foster parents, step families and many more.

Ketchup on your Reindeer by Nick Sharratt

Another absolute winner from the brilliant Nick Sharratt. With split pages so the children can make up their own crazy story combinations. The children adored sharing this book with each other—a real Christmas cracker!



Too Much Stuff by Emily Gravett

Children loved this gentle story about consumerism, advertising and the desire we have to accumulate ‘stuff’.  When the magpies lay eggs they feel they need to get lots of things to make their family perfect when all they really need is each other. Heart-warming and sweet with beautiful illustrations.

Up Next

We are very excited as our next focus is STEM through stories and the group are working with RAISE Falkirk to develop resources around the books.

Maggie Burns, Librarian

Learning Resource Service