Lisa McLaughlin’s Play Project

Pre Covid, Using family reading to put play at the heart of family learning.

Lisa McLaughlin
Working Party Member
Principal Teacher

The Coorie-In Reading Initiative

The Coorie in Family Reading initiative started in 2018 at Hermitage Park Primary School and has subsequently been adopted at my current school, Preston Street Primary.

Whilst the ‘Coorie-in’ initiative encouraged reading for enjoyment, family learning, parental engagement and closing the attainment gap to name a few, it was borne from a study conducted by the Pupil Health committee. The findings showed that as little as 13% of our pupils received a bedtime story from a parent or carer. When we looked at this data more closely and focussed on our P1-P2 pupils as many as 60% would go to bed with some type of technology rather than a book.

This led to a two-pronged approach where my colleague, Lisa Black (Deputy Head) and I decided to introduce:

  1. Weekly Family story telling sessions
  2. A Coorie-in bedtime story channel


The Coorie-in Family reading initiative promotes the value and pleasure of reading. Learning to read and write doesn’t start in nursery or Primary 1. Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through everyday loving interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. Fewer children are coming to school with experience of these kind of interactions and it was because of this and our love of books and storytelling which encouraged us to launch the ‘Coorie-in’ Family reading initiative.

What format of each session involved:

  • Weekly session for 30 minutes after school for families Nursery-P2.
  • Beginning with an opening song followed by a group story.
  • Craft activity related to the story.
  • Sharing of craft and finishing with a closing song.
  • Time given to parent/carer to read a story with their child.


When we asked parents about their feedback on the sessions they said they felt their child’s interest in books had increased. The opportunity to watch staff members read a story and interact with their children provided them ideas on how they could include this in their own bedtime storytime. Families also liked the opportunity to engage in an activity with their child.

I have since moved to Preston Street Primary school where I am Principal Teacher for Nursery-P2. Our Coorie-in initiative was introduced to the school in 2019 and continues to grow and evolve. The Bedtime story channel has been a wonderful way to connect with our families, particularly during lockdown. We have encouraged our parents and staff to read stories to add to our Channel which remains a highlight for our youngest learners to engage with during their Bedtime Story routine.

Next Steps

  • We are keen to develop things further and look at different ways to work with our families to promote a love of reading.
  • Due to COVID restrictions, we are unable to invite families into school. So, we are keen to brace technology and run a Digital Coorie in with our families in the New Year where will we invite families to our live storytelling event over TEAMs.
  • Our Preston Street Coorie in Bedtime Story channel will continue to be uploaded with stories from our staff and families which is a wonderful way to connect with our community and continue to celebrate the joy of reading.
  • To work with children and families using the Helicopter stories approach. This approach is based on the Storytelling and Story Acting of the renowned Early Years practitioner Vivian Gussin Paley. Children will dictate their stories to an adult to scribe. Later the children and families will sit around a taped stage and act out the stories.

Covid-19 Caveat

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we were not able to invite families into our setting to participate in parent/carer and child Coorie-in sessions. Our plan was to run a Digital Coorie-in for our families over Microsoft Teams.

Our feedback from the first lockdown indicated our pupils and their families enjoyed having the connection with their class teacher through pre-recorded Storytime.

On consulting with families, we felt further LIVE Team content would be beneficial for our younger pupils to maintain the contact with their class teacher and their peers. As our children would be receiving regular LIVE check-ins with their class teacher, we felt the addition of another LIVE event such as Coorie-in, would not be welcomed by our families.

Due to this, we decided to pre-record the Coorie-in sessions as this allowed our families to watch them at a time of their choosing. 

Project Progress

In line with Realising the Ambition, our focus was on supporting children to form a secure and emotionally resilient attachment base. To enable our children to flourish and grow, it is essential that opportunities for nurturing and attached relationships are created.

Reconnecting and building relationships is key to ensuring a smooth transition back to school. Our families commented that one way which supported the return to school was seeing the staff’s familiar faces on our Coorie-in Youtube Channel.

Our families were encouraged to ‘Coorie-in’ with their child and listen to the story together.

Realising the Ambition emphasises how Literacy develops throughout a child’s life and underpins all communication and interaction:

‘Warm nurturing relationships help open up communication and connect literacy to the child’s life’

We can achieve this through encouraging,  ‘enjoyment, engagement and meaning of stories and explore the connections between text and illustrations’

The Coorie-in Story was posted every Friday at 12pm. A post was added to the Class Blog pages on our website and also on the School Twitter account.

A TEAMs page was set up for each class and our stories were hosted on the ‘Story Time’ channel.

Pupil Voice

Peely Wally bird inspired by the Story ‘Peely Wally’ by Kale Stilman

Tartan inspired by the story ‘Wee Granny and the ceilidh’ (Author, Elizabeth McKay)

A channel was provided within the class Teams pages, which encouraged the pupils to ‘Share their learning’

Some of the pupils chose to share their Coorie-in craft activities. This provided us with an insight into the activities the children enjoyed. It also allowed us to respond to the interest of the child with regards to the choice of books and craft activity for future sessions.

When we returned to school I asked the pupils if they had watched the Coorie-in Stories. Here are some of the responses:

“I liked watching the stories with my Mummy.”

“I saw you on TV.”

“My favourite story was the Peely Wally Bird.”

“I heard you read the book ‘The Lion inside’ and my brother and sister listened to it.”


Family Feedback

You-Tube views showed our Coorie-in sessions were reaching between 50-60% of our P1-P2 families.  This was less than the first Home Learning period where the Coorie-in stories were reaching around 80% of families.

We attributed this to the introduction of more LIVE content in the second lockdown and also our families having more work commitments.

The feedback received indicated how much our families valued the recorded content as this fitted in with work commitments.

“The videos on the blog were the perfect way to let the children feel connected to their teacher, while offering a bit of flexibility for all the families having to juggle multiple commitments. The Coorie-in stories and craft activities have also been a great opportunity for the younger kids to get involved too.”     

“Thank you for today’s Coorie-in story and craft. We look forward to Friday afternoons when we can sit down as a family and enjoy this activity together.”

Today’s Coorie-in story (‘The Kissing Hand’ by Audrey Penn) allowed us to discuss the return to school. My son is a little anxious about returning. He is excited to see his friends and teacher, but is worried he will miss me. This story generated lots of discussion.”        

Next Steps

  • Bedtime Stories will continue to be uploaded by our teachers, parents and carers.
  • The Coorie-in Project will be used alongside the Edinburgh Transition Project for our Transition from Nursery-P1.

“One of the key features of a positive transition from ELC to schools is activities which promote parents’ ‘active participation during the transitions process.”

Realising the Ambition
  • The basis for developing positive relationships is good communication. Moving forward, we would like to build on this shared communication with our families during the Home Learning period. Our families valued the video content provided by our teachers and commented how the practical ideas and strategies assisted them in supporting their child at Home. The National Parenting Strategy, 2012 states the importance of supporting our parents to: ‘have the skills, knowledge and respect to provide support with confidence.’
  • One way we can do this is to continue to develop and create effective ways of communication which fosters positive and lasting relationships.

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