An eye-catching display of books and hats arranged neatly on a table.

Box Clever

SLS UKAdvice

Topic: Using topic boxes in the classroom 

Age group: Primary – all ages 

Synopsis: School Library Services across the UK provide excellent, tailor-made topic collections support school projects. Our topic boxes help teachers with their planning and delivery of the National Curriculum within a framework which is both interesting and flexible, writes Wanda Gajewski from Wandsworth LRS (Learning Resources Service)

Wanda Gajewski
Wandsworth LRS

Librarian’s view:

The arrival of the topic box in the classroom is an exciting day for children who usually cannot wait to rummage through the contents.

As a librarian, I am also a great enthusiast of the topic box as they can cover all the syllabus of the National Curriculum. Themed boxes are a wonderful way to support class projects and topics as each box contains engaging and interesting resources, including original and replica artefacts of outstanding quality – of the sort you would normally find in the museum. This makes a topic box a great way to bring a history lesson to life in the classroom.

‘’I cannot wait to get your box for next half term as there are ALWAYS so many rich learning experiences – it truly is magical.”

Teacher from Griffin Primary School

Topic boxes provide additional resources in the classroom to enhance independent learning. The collections may be fiction and non-fiction, supporting specific curriculum areas and literacy. In most cases, teachers usually have some teaching materials within the school to help with the children’s learning. The history topic boxes can also help the teachers and pupils understand how others lived and the resources assist pupils when they conduct their historical research.

For me the starting point for a topic box compilation is the clarity of the request. We do our utmost to fulfil teachers’ needs, even if the occasional request is bizarre or ambiguous. Teachers evaluate the impact of the learning resources and what it adds to the overall learning experience, and so we often receive wonderful feedback from our loyal teachers. But to get the contents spot on it is imperative that it is clear what the teacher is expecting to receive in their topic box. The key thing that I have learnt over the past 20 years is the value of instilling and maintaining student’s curiosity.

‘’I look forward to seeing what is in the box for the children to explore.”

Teacher from Brandlehow School

With the slimming down of the National Curriculum and the increasing autonomy of schools in curriculum matters, schools need to access a wide range of materials. Without the SLS, most schools would struggle to gather enough resources to cover all subjects they want to teach.

School Library Services’ librarians use their extensive knowledge to provide teachers with the best new and quality topic books available at the time of your request. We are constantly evolving and improving our services to ensure that all changes in the National Curriculum have been reflected in our stock.

Currently the curriculum celebrates differences and diversity to enable a better understanding of current issues. SLS supports teachers by recommending high-quality fiction so that children can find themselves in books and stories as well as use the story to learn about the experience and lives of others.

Why request a topic box?

Our topic box collections not only focus on the core subjects, we ensure that emphasis is also placed on a broad range of topics and that we offer a selection of the best diverse and inclusive texts for the children. BAME and diverse perspectives are at the core of our collections. We recognise and appreciate the importance of educating children about human rights, justice and equality in the society.  A topic box is a great resource because:

  • It offers an abundance of resources focused on subject and learning goals.
  • The teaching materials can be adapted to children’s interests and level of understanding.
  • The materials are designed to stimulate and enrich learning.
  • Your pupils will find a fascinating variety of artefacts to handle, investigate and use for re-enactment. 
  • The contents make a fabulous, colourful and informative display.
  • They will be delivered and collected from your school by SLS’s couriers – making life easy for teachers.

‘’It is so easy to order your topic box. All you need to know is what you want to teach. Ask SLS’s advice and they will send it out to you.”  

Teacher from Ronald Ross Primary School

The joy of topic box learning

It is always incredibly positive to hear from teachers how they feel supported by SLS, their reaction to the topic boxes and ideas how teachers make use of the material. Here is some feedback we’ve recently received from teachers.

‘’The box I received for this half term was AMAZING, thank you! The children loved examining the Great Fire of London artefacts and looking at all the books about History.’’  

Teacher from Granard Primary School