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  • Sabrina Olizar-Smoke

A Morning with Margaret Bateson-Hill

Margaret began coming into my classroom to do workshops with my students when I first started teaching almost a decade ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect – I thought she was going to read some books. However, we were delighted to find that Margaret is much more than an author; she is a performer, singer, storyteller, poet, dancer, drummer, orator and educator all in one!

Over the years, she has come into my classes at least a dozen times. Her workshops linked well with the seasons, topics we were covering in class, and the national curriculum.

For example, one October, she came into my year 1 class and did a literature session that linked to the autumn season and to the creatures that we find outdoors this time of year. She told (acted out and sang) several short stories that were autumn themed. These were also interactive so the children were involved in moving, saying refrains and making sound effects. They were interspersed with some simple songs that the children were also able to join in singing. After this, Margaret led the children in a discussion about autumn and recorded their ideas. She elicited their thoughts using all of their senses. She then had the children help her organize these ideas into two beautiful poems.

Another time when she came into my nursery class, she did an exciting storytelling session that enthralled the 3 and 4-year-olds. She told interactive stories that involved children dancing and singing simple refrains. She also had a drum that she used for some of the songs and sound effects.

The children in my classes have always greatly enjoyed Margaret’s sessions! She regularly came into the school where I used to teach so the children knew her very well. They always got really excited when they heard that Margaret was coming and so did the teachers!

When I was a newly qualified teacher, I found that observing Margaret in class helped me learn a lot about how to use my voice to engage children (without having to raise it). When I was more experienced, Margaret’s workshops re-invigorated my enthusiasm for teaching.

I’m currently taking some time out from teaching to raise my children but I look forward to having Margaret back to visit my class when I return to work!

Guest Blog Post - About the Author

Sabrina is a mother and teacher who is passionate about providing children with the opportunity to learn in the outdoors. She earned a BA from Berkeley, her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis and the PGCE from the Institute of Education in London. She values the use of evidence-based practices to inform teaching. She enjoys teaching children how to garden and to discover and enjoy the wonders of nature. She founded Play of the Wild to support and encourage teachers and parents to use the outdoors. You may also want to see her post, Masha and the Firebird Book Review.

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