Teaching on a Shoestring

An A–Z of everyday objects to enthuse and engage children and extend learning in the early years

By: Russell Grigg , Helen Lewis


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Size: 222 x 182mm

Pages : 208

ISBN: 9781785833076

Format: Paperback

Published: September 2018


In Teaching on a Shoestring: An A–Z of everyday objects to enthuse and engage children and extend learning in the early years, Russell Grigg and Helen Lewis explore the educational value of familiar objects and suggest practical activities to help develop young learners’ cross-curricular skills.

We take many everyday objects for granted. But in a time of ever-tightening school budgets these objects can be invaluable in affording low-cost, high-impact opportunities for learning. With these value-for-money principles in mind, Russell and Helen have packed this practical A–Z handbook to the brim with fun facts, inspiring ideas and exciting activities to help teachers make the best use of familiar objects as launch pads for effective learning.

Underpinned by solid theory, Teaching on a Shoestring investigates the learning potential of twenty-six inexpensive, readily available resources – from apples to ice cubes to zebra-patterned fabric – and shows how they can be exploited to develop in young learners the four skills widely regarded as essential in the twenty-first century: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

The book is organised into two parts: covering theory, then practice. In Part 1 the authors examine the nature of an object-rich learning environment and discuss the benefits of enquiry-based learning, in which the emphasis is upon promoting collaboration, dialogue and higher-order thinking in real-world contexts. In Part 2 the learning opportunities around the twenty-six objects are laid out in detail to illustrate how they can be put into practice. While the book focuses on object-based pedagogy employed with the under-sevens age category, many of the principles can also be applied with older children.

There is a common format for the enquiry into each object, arranged into the following sections:

  • In a nutshell – key background information about the object in its broader
  • Did you know? – interesting facts about the object.
  • Ready – key vocabulary, resources and health and safety factors to consider.
  • Steady – learning goals and intentions.
  • Go – activities which show how teachers can develop the four skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity around
  • Other ideas – follow-up cross-curricular ideas.
  • Find out more – websites and other references for further information.

 Suitable for early years educators and anyone who works with young children.

‘10 at-home learning ideas that hardly cost a penny’ - click here to read the full article on The School Run.

Read the feature of Teaching on a Shoestring in Humanising Language Teaching Magazine here.

Check out the new Teaching on a Shoestring website.


Picture for author Russell Grigg

Russell Grigg

Dr Russell Grigg was previously an associate professor at the Wales Centre for Equity in Education, and has extensive experience in teacher training and has written many books and articles on the subject of primary education. Since 2018, Russell has been working as an education inspector for the Ministry of Education in the United Arab Emirates.

Click here to take a look at Russell's Padlet page, where he asks for your contributions to the question, What's the best idea in education ever?'.

Check out the new Teaching on a Shoestring website. 


Picture for author Helen Lewis

Helen Lewis

Dr Helen Lewis is Programme Director for PGCE at Swansea University School of Education. Part of her role involves leading an educational anthrozoology module, and undertaking original research into the impact of animal-assisted interventions in educational settings. After studying animal and human behaviour at university she became a primary school teacher and has worked in education for over twenty years.

10 at-home learning ideas that hardly cost a penny' - click here to read the full article on The School Run.


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