Once Upon a Time...

National Storytelling Week   30th January-6th February 2016

Who doesn't love a good story? Looking out of my kitchen window as I'm sitting here, I can see deer in the meadow behind my house. There are three of them- two slightly bigger and one smaller.

'Once upon a time, there were three deer- a mummy deer, a daddy deer and a baby deer...' 

Our minds are geared to telling stories and sharing experiences. Oral storytelling is an ancient tradition at the heart of human life. It is through this practice that we have the myths and legends from the past, that we have folklore, fairy tales and travellers' tales, that we have tales of tricksters, of Gods and Goddesses and of common folk. 

Storytelling also encourages a shared experience, a valuing of ideas. You don't have to be able to write well in conventional terms to tell a good tale- to have your audience hanging on your every word.


A fantastic resource to support and encourage children to create their own stories is 'Story World' by John and Caitlin Matthews. These are sets of beautifully detailed cards, designed to inspire storytelling. The original set contains a book crammed full of ideas and suggestions for how to use the cards, tips on storytelling and examples of stories told with the cards. There are also forty cards, each showing a different character, place or object. 

I have used these many times with children of all ages and from very different backgrounds and have never yet come across a child who didn't want to have a go or how couldn't think of anything to suggest. There are a number of additional sets available too- Haunted House, Mad Professor's Workshop, Christmas Tales...which you can use independently or combined with the originals.

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Children love to create their own cards with characters, places and objects of their own which they can add to the original sets- or create sets of their own. With one very reluctant writer I taught, this led to writing and illustrating his own books, based on his character cards, during one holiday . You can imagine the impact being an author had on his willingness to write in class! 

'Rory's Story Cubes' are another way of encouraging storytelling. These are dice with pictures instead of numbers. There are so many sets of these now- Batman, Moomins, clues, enchanted, actions- that I'm sure they would cater for any interest! You can also buy these in larger sizes which is excellent for those who find the smaller dice hard to manage. Find out more 'Rory's Story Cubes'.

Although harder to create your own versions of these in the classroom, it's not impossible! Linked with nets in maths, children can create their own story octahedron, decahedron, etc. This could then lead to probability investigations!

Whatever you do and however you do it, enjoy National Storytelling Week!