A group of Scottish schoolchildren have been handed thousands of pounds worth of Microsoft products for their class after winning a competition to find talented young authors who can write in the style of Enid Blyton.
Primary 5 at Kinneil Primary School in Bo’ness, near Falkirk, will also see their story about jewel thieves made into a special Famous Five cover after Hachette Children’s Group, brand owner of Enid Blyton Entertainment, judged their creation to be the best among entries from across Britain.
The competition was held to mark the 75th anniversary of the Famous Five books, and challenged children in Year 4 and Primary 5 classes (aged eight and nine) to write a story of between 500 and 800 words in the style of the classic novels. The stories had to focus on an exciting location or place of local interest, and adopt the same five-step structure that Blyton used: Set up, journey, adventure, resolution, return home.
The budding authors also had to make their creations interactive, by using Microsoft’s Sway programme, which allowed them to insert text, images and even their own voices to help tell the story.
After studying Enid Blyton books and local landmarks, the winners from Kinneil Primary School created Five go to Kinneil House, which uses video, pictures, stop motion animation and audio to tell the story of four children and their dog who catch two diamond thieves at the historic venue in Bo’ness.
One of the pupils, James, said his favourite part of the project was “how the whole class worked together”, while Drew said using Sway was a “fun way to learn”.
Class teacher Lauren Young added: “The competition was a fantastic project to take part in, and it created a real buzz in the classroom. It encompassed many parts of the curriculum and allowed the children to share their talents and learning in different ways through writing, drama, art and technology.
“Enid Blyton’s stories encouraged the children to read more and her style and structure gave the children a great basis to build their stories on. I could not be more proud of the children for this fantastic achievement.”
Hachette gave their entry the top prize because it was a “great story and the multimedia presentation was outstanding. They had a mix of videos that they had scripted, cast and filmed, plus recorded dialogue and photos and drawings which told parts of the story in different ways, but everything flowed very cohesively. They had clearly put a massive amount of energy and effort into their entry.”
Among the many challenges – but also opportunities – for Scotland’s educators today is how to best harness the range of technologies now available and how to use them to enhance the learning experience. Join FutureScot on 23 November for our EduTech 2017 conference, where leading experts will discuss how the latest technology can help engage pupils, enhance the learning experience and encourage innovative new approaches to teaching, inside as well as outside the classroom. Plus, on 30 November EduTech – FE&HE.
Hachette teamed up with Microsoft to hand the winning class:
A Famous Five book for every child in the school;
A copy of every Enid Blyton book that Hodder Children’s Books has published, for the school library;
Five Surface Pro 4s for the class;
A Surface Pro 4 for their teacher;
A hamper of fun games, treats and T-shirts;
A cover illustration designed by Laura Ellen Anderson, who created the artwork for 21 Famous Five books that have been re-released with a contemporary look;
Certificates for the students.
Lucy Upton, group marketing director for Hachette Children’s Group, said: “Enid Blyton was a progressive teacher and educator, who was passionate about literacy, so we were delighted to partner with Microsoft on this exciting story writing competition to celebrate the 75th anniversary of one of her best-loved series, The Famous Five.”
Ian Fordham, director of education at Microsoft, agreed, adding that he was delighted the technology company had been involved: “Blyton’s books are known and loved by children and adults across the world, and we hope they inspire young people to tell some amazing tales of their own,” he said. “Using the creative power of one of our products, Sway, they can bring those stories to life in the digital world and have their own unique adventure that they can keep and treasure for the rest of their lives.”
Blyton is one of the world’s best-selling children’s authors, selling in excess of 500 million copies in more than 40 languages. In the UK she sells more than two books a minute, and many of them have been adapted into films and TV series.