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Margaret Cooling is the author of over forty books on RE and assemblies and two books for youth groups. For many years her speciality has been on using the arts to communicate Christianity within the field of education. She has worked with both the national Gallery and the BBC on this. Margaret preaches and writes drama and Bible study material for her three local churches. In the past she has lead both youth groups and taught in Sunday school and has been a house group leader. Margaret has taught in both primary and secondary schools. For the last eighteen years she has been engaged in writing and training across the UK (and in Australia). She trains both teachers and clergy to work in schools. In the past few years Margaret has begun to adapt her experience and knowledge within the field of education to work with churches. She has also run an education unit for a theological college. Margaret's first book for BRF, Creating a Learning Church was published in March 2005.
From REtoday - Spring 2013 This book, as the title suggests, is a companion volume to Bible Storybags, also by Margaret Cooling. It comprises reflective storytelling ideas, suitable for primary age children, which can be used in either RE or class collective worship. More Bible Storybags has a particular focus on learning from religion and contains 16 units covering key stories from The Old Testament, such as Creation, Moses, David, Jonah and Esther. Each unit contains two scripts, differentiated for younger pupils (4-7 year olds) and older pupils (7-11 year olds). Here the busy teacher will find ideas for using the material which includes a retelling of the biblical story, together with a range of follow-up activities as well as useful background information. For example, there are tips on ways of telling the story, patterns to make the knitted characters in the stories, instructions as to how to make the storybags as well as useful websites. The book also includes appropriate questions to stimulate discussion and thinking skills around the stories, such as 'What is puzzling or surprising?' There are prescriptive 'stage directions' and manual actions to accompany each biblical story. However, the resourceful teacher will use these frameworks as a tool on which to build their own creative ideas. Practical advice includes suggestions for colours for the respective storybags, such as a brick-coloured bag for the story of Joshua and a velvet or rich-looking bag for the King Solomon narrative. I would recommend this book for the primary classroom. It contains a wealth of creative ideas to support storytelling in RE from the Judaeo- Christian tradition. Reviewed by Lizzie McWhirter