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Floorbooks in a Gaidhlig Medium Setting: A tool for promoting language

In this week's guest blog Chrissie Ford from Balivanich School talks about her experiences of using the Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Approach to develop both the Gaelic and English languages. Would you like your blog to feature on our website? Email enquiries@mindstretchers.co.uk

We are based in a nursery which has two baby rooms (1-3 years) as well as two 3-5 rooms (one each Gaelic and English).  We have tried lots of different approaches to our planning but found it challenging, especially with our 1-3 rooms. Not only are they just learning to use language but some children were coming into the Gaelic room having never been exposed to the language before.  As we use the total immersion approach we found that the children were struggling a little with the language when they hadn't been used to hearing it. After attending Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Level 1 training with Mindstretchers we decided to introduce the approach and test it out. We realised early on that the children were not able to add many ideas due to the language barrier so we began to use a book as a centre focus in order to introduce basic language and give them the tools to develop their oral skills. We also try to follow the same book in both our baby rooms so that we are able to share ideas and as well as enable the children in the English room to learn some Gaelic.  Generally we use a book that we have in the Scottish Book Trust Bookbug bags as they are printed in both Gaelic and English.  Combining a story and a Floorbook in this way proved to be really useful in developing the oracy of both languages. Previously we have read:

“We’re going on a bear hunt”/ “Tha sinn a dol a shireadh mathan”

“Ten Little Pirates”/ “Na deich spuinnich beaga”


As an introduction, we spend time reading the book to the children for a few days while creating a Talking Tub based on the book. We note down any comments that the children make during the reading and add these to our tub. After the first couple of readings, we find that the children have usually picked up one or two Gaelic words; we tell them that they are correct for any English words that they recognised and then repeat the word in Gaelic to support this.

When we introduce the talking tub, we pass around the objects and observe how the children investigate them, what they do with them and anything they say about them. This is the information we use to expand our planning; follow the children’s interests to introduce and support child led activities. We record all the information in the Floorbook and anything specific to the child is recorded in their individual Family Books.

An extra part to our planning is that at the beginning we go through the book we are using and we make a note of some of the words we would like to focus on by using the 3 tiers table from Highland Council’s Emergent Literacy approach.  This contains words we know the child knows (tier one), words we would like them to learn during the story (tier 2) and words that are more difficult and therefore ‘bonus words’ if they do learn them (tier 3).  We share this with the parents and each child has one in their home diary to allow parents to help us with their child’s learning. We also put one of these into individual Family Books and highlight the words the child is able to say/understand and date beside each one to allow parents to see progress, making the Family Book a good home link.

I would say that developing Gaelic through using the Floorbooks has definitely been successful.  We have noticed that as we generally develop their learning using a book focus, they have specific sections of the book that they show interest in and from there it is easy for us as staff to be able to hone in and put a much deeper emphasis on that part of their learning and understanding.  We have also found that they are much more able to link learning from book to book and they quite often recall things that they learned in the past to what they are doing in the present.  We have certainly seen the use of language develop much faster than it used to and we think this is down to using the Floorbook to concentrate on the direction the children take us. It has been great to use in conjunction with the aforementioned Emerging Literacy approach.  Both approaches have tied in very well together especially with the age of the children we work with. Working with the same book focus in both the English and Gaelic rooms has developed the language really well amongst other children in both rooms; they are now becoming bilingual through linking words in the story together both in Gaelic and in English.

I hope that this helps give a bit of inspiration into how we use Talking and Thinking Floorbooks and gives you some ideas as to how you can develop additional languages through Floorbooks.

Would you like to know more about the Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Approach? Join Claire Warden for a live webinar or listen in to one of our pre-recorded webinars and improve your use of Floorbooks.

Guest blog written by Chrissie Ford from Balivanich School. Would you like your blog to feature on our website? Email enquiries@mindstretchers.co.uk.

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