Outside School Hours Research Hub

Vignette 5 – Book Week

Book Week is an exciting time at St Henry Primary School. The school hosts many activities including a fancy dress day where children dress up as characters from their favourite books. Esther and her educators like to share important events with the school where they are based. This year Esther had a meeting with the school librarian and some of the classroom teachers to learn about their plans for Book Week. Esther took what she had learned back to her team so that they could also plan for Book Week.

Everybody agreed that they should invite children to keep their fancy dress on for OSHC, and that the educators would also wear fancy dress. The team also planned some special activities in addition that children could choose to do. Esther and the team agreed that the program that week would still have the normal opportunities for child-directed play available to the children. 

The event was a great success. All of the staff got into the spirit with their fancy dress and the children really seemed to appreciate the effort that they all went to. The educators made a conscious effort to acknowledge children who attended in fancy dress by providing them with encouragement. They also took the opportunity to talk to each child about their costume, asking them questions about why they chose the costume and how they made it.

The special games and activities were also a success with many children choosing to participate. The educators made a point of letting the children know that they did not need to do the special activities or dress up. In addition, the educators sourced some new books for the service. These new books were written in a number of languages including English, and some provided representations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and cultures. 

Outcome 1: Children and young people have a strong sense of identity

My Time Our Place sees children’s identities as something under constant formation. Children explore different aspects of their identities through their play and relationships. The Book Week activities described in this vignette contribute to children’s identities in this way. When the children come to OSHC in fancy dress, it frees them to adopt different identities and personalities from characters in books they enjoy. Adopting different characters allows children to contemplate their worlds from the perspectives of others, which contributes to a sense of empathy. Being able to wear fancy dress was also a way for children to align themselves with books, texts and authors that are important to them in a way that feels safe.   

The ways the educators set up the program also supported Outcome 1. Children were able to make informed decisions about what activities they participated in. This allowed them to participate alone or with the peers of their choice. The structure of the event allowed them align themselves with their individual preferences and interests.

Outcome 2: Children and young people are connected to and contribute to their world

The practice described in this vignette supports Outcome 2 in a number of ways. Educators support children’s engagement with community when they build connections between the Outside School Hours Care setting, school and local community. Book Week is a date of national significance for large numbers of primary schools and the children who attend them. By participating alongside the school, the staff at St Henry OSHC made important connections to the school event, reminding children, families and other stakeholders about the deep connections between OSHC and schools. Providing Book Week activities gave children more opportunities to participate in a community event enjoyed by many other children.   

This event helped to remind children that they are members of multiple communities and have deep connections with others. It gave children the opportunity to enjoy celebrating an important event alongside their peers and other diverse community members. The engagement with different individuals and texts gives children opportunities to develop understandings about the diversity of culture, heritage, background and traditions. This will help them learn to respond to diversity with respect.   

Outcome 5: Children and young people are effective communicators

Communication skills are essential for children’s learning and development. They give children the ability to exchange ideas, thoughts, questions and feelings. Through these processes they become respectful listeners and thoughtful contributors. The focus of these Book Week activities helped to foster children’s enjoyment of reading and language, and contributes to their communication skills. The additional activities incorporated visual and multimedia texts beyond a simple focus on books. This recognised that children communicate in diverse and multiple ways. The variety of books purchased for Book Week allowed children to encounter a diverse range of languages and community literacies.   

Wearing fancy dress also encouraged children to use language practices different to those they normally use. It also facilitated the arts through imaginative, creative play, and the creation of dramatic roles and scripts.

Research project being conducted by Professor Kylie Smith and Dr Bruce Hurst from The University of Melbourne and Associate Professor Jennifer Cartmel from Griffith University

This research project aims to find out about how Outside School Hours services plan and program for gender equity. Outside School Hours services are unique and we want to understand what these changes mean and look like in practice. The research will do this by asking you to share your perspectives on the practices you employ in your service. It will also ask you about your knowledge and attitudes towards gender equity work with primary age children.