National Simultaneous Storytime (Activities for Upper Years Students!)

Emma (Teach Starter)

Written by Emma (Teach Starter)

Storytime? Upper years students? Those two don’t usually go together in one sentence!

We’re here to prove you wrong! Next Wednesday 22 May at 11 am is National Simultaneous Storytime, and we’ve got the goods to help even the most mature of students participate – and love it!

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National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) is held annually by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator, is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country.

Australian Library and Information Association

The main aim of NSS is to promote literacy and a love for reading Australian authors.

This year the ALIA have chosen the vibrant and funny picture book Alpacas with Maracas, written and illustrated by Matt Cosgrove. He’s even provided some printable cut-outs, such as these maracas we found on the Alpacas with Maracas Scholastics page!

Alpacas with Maracas - National Simultaneous Storytime

This amazing book is sure to have your students giggling – no matter the age! From its funky word-play to the glorious illustrations, take a look through the book with these fantastic activities for upper years students. If you’re after some early-years friendly activities, don’t fear! Make sure to head over to Holly’s blog Alpacas with Maracas Fun Activity Ideas | National Simultaneous Storytime.

Engaging National Simultaneous Storytime Activities

Alpacas With Maracas – Reading the Story

It might be a bit much to expect a large group of upper years students to sit quietly and still while a picture book is being read to them. Why not begin your National Simultaneous Storytime by bringing your whole school together for a group read of a different kind!

Buddy your upper years students with an early years friend, and have them sit together as the story is read. Your upper years students will love the opportunity to help their buddy explore the story.

Why not ask your older students to prompt their buddy with the following questions?

  • Can you tell me what happens in the story in your own words?
  • Which was your favourite character? Why was that your favourite character?
  • What was the best part of the story for you? Which part did you like the least?
  • If you could perform in a talent show, what would you do?

Upper years students make the perfect helpers for any activity that an early years teacher might give their class, and they’ll be developing a love for reading through the positive experience!

What is an Alpaca?

Most of your class may have heard of an alpaca, but have they ever really thought about what an alpaca is?

Task them with researching this amazing creature!

Did you know there are two types of alpacas?

Alpacas with Maracas - National Simultaneous Storytime

Researching the features of an alpaca and writing an informative text or creating an informative poster is a great way to link science with literacy!

Use our Informative Texts Unit Plan – Years 5 and 6 to give your kids the skills they need. Our Note Taking Graphic Organiser is the perfect tool for them to gather their thoughts. After that, they can put our Informative Texts Writing Scaffold to good use and create an amazing piece of writing!

Book Study – What’s in a Children’s Book?


You may think a children’s book is far too simple a text for an upper year student to study.

Not so!

The vocabulary available in a picture book might not necessarily be the most advanced, but it does provide ample opportunity to study the use and context of some fabulous parts of speech!

Alpacas with Maracas features beautiful use of onomatopoeia, adjectives and adverbs.

National Simultaneous Storytime - Literature Study Task Cards

Why not get students to re-write a page from the book using different words to change the tone or mood of the book?

Decode the Text

Believe it or not, this simple children’s book can provide buckets of analysis material when you put it together with our Literature Study – Upper Primary – Task Cards.

These cards are just the thing for exploring contemporary and classic children’s picture books, particularly focusing on:

  • setting
  • character
  • plot
  • language devices
  • illustrations
  • text structure and
  • vocabulary.

After your students have read the book, set up rotational activities which include our literature task cards and some funky alpaca activities

Rhyming Couplets

Further study of the text in Alpacas with Maracas is easy with our Elements of Poetry Workbook!

National Simultaneous Storytime

Take a look at some wonderful poems, written by Teach Starter’s very own teacher Stephanie Mulrooney! Then, use this creative prose to analyse the energetic linear rhyming pattern in the storybook.

Create Your Own Children’s Storybook

Matt Cosgrove is one talented man! Not only did he write Alpacas with Maracas, but he illustrated it as well.

The beautiful illustrations in this book pop out of the page with vibrant colours and strong lines. Once your students have had an opportunity to study the vocabulary and style of the book, why not task them with making one of their own?

Dogs with Blogs National Simultaneous Storytime

Our Story Boarding Template will provide your students with lessons of fun as they create their own amazingly illustrated picture books.

Your students will love the opportunity to become authors of their own when they put their story into our Blank Mini-Book Template! They can then read them to their buddies and get some feedback on their story-writing skills.

Funky Alpaca

I’ve saved the best until last!

You loved our other funky animals, so we couldn’t help but put together this Funky Alpaca Craft Template just in time for National Simultaneous Storytime!

Explore lines and patterns with this adorable cutie! And don’t forget the trendy glasses!

National Simultaneous Storytime - The Funky Alpaca

Your students will love relaxing with this activity. Their unique alpacas will make a magnificent display in the classroom! Why not pair it with their buddy read?

So shake things up with Alpacas with Maracas and see how easy it is for upper years students to enjoy National Simultaneous Storytime!

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Comments & feedback

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Bree Jennings

Thanks for always thinking of easy and fun ways for teachers to engage with initiatives such as national simultaneous story time – especially at NAPLAN time!

Bree Jennings · May 17th, 2019

Royce (Teach Starter)

Hey Bree, thank you for your awesome feedback. I am glad these were helpful during NAPLAN time.

Royce (Teach Starter) · May 20th, 2019

Patricia Bertacco

As a CRT I’m always looking for interesting ideas I can add to my lessons folder. This will definitely be part it. Thanks for all the great ideas!

Patricia Bertacco · May 16th, 2019

Royce (Teach Starter)

You are very welcome Patricia and thank you for your lovely feedback.

Royce (Teach Starter) · May 17th, 2019

Melissa Sheehan

Thank you for these fantastic resources to accompany the national simultaneous story time next week!

Melissa Sheehan · May 15th, 2019

Emma (Teach Starter)

You’re very welcome Melissa! Thank you for your positive feedback.
Kind regards,

Emma (Teach Starter) · May 16th, 2019

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