• Storymaps


    Story maps are pictorial representations of a story and are a great tool for helping children to internalise a story. They allow a quick overview of a story and can act as a ‘crutch’ for the storyteller who is building confidence.

    Materials: White A3 paper, pencil, pens, crayons


    Tell the class a story. It is best to start with something simple with only two or three main locations. Stories such as The Three Little Pigs, or the Three Billy Goats Gruff are perfect for this exercise when done for the first time.

    Then explain to the children that they are going to create a map of the story showing where the various places are relative to each other. You might want to draw a quick demonstration map on the board, though it is best to then rub it off once the children understand what they are doing.

    Some children will choose to create an aerial view of the landscape and add onto it sketches of buildings, trees etc. Others will draw a side view with locations running along the horizon. This is not particularly important for this activity as it is creating a personal record of the story for each child.

    Explain that their drawings do not need to be perfect, that this is a way of recording information and putting down their own ideas about the story. Explain that detail can be added, for example, the colour of a house. This detail may not have been mentioned in the telling of the story, or indeed the child may choose to change it. This is all part of the process of the child making the story their own.

    Characters can also be drawn on the map, placed at the location where they appear. The child may want to draw a character more than once, for instance with Little Red Riding Hood they may draw the wolf in the forest and at Grandma’s house dressed as Grandma. Children may also want to write notes on their maps.

    When the maps are completed give the children time to colour them. Colour is an important element in making the images memorable.

    Then allow the children to show each other their maps. Ask them to note the similarities and differences between them. Emphasise that there are no right or wrong ways to draw the map but encourage them to consider that although they all listened to the same story, all the maps will be unique.

    Give the children a little more time to make further additions to their maps after the discussion.

    They now have a complete record from which to learn the story without having to read it.


    Have the children retell the story to each other in pairs. Once each person has told the story the first starts again. This time their partner can interrupt and ask a question. Remind everyone that this should be done politely with an, “Excuse me!”

    Before hand you might want to discuss the type of questions that will be asked. The idea behind the questions is to have the children develop a more vivid mental image of the story in their mind’s eye. Some examples of questions that might be asked are:

    “Can you describe the house?”
    “What was in the garden?”
    “What did the dog look like?”

    Encourage the children to keep the questions open ended so that the storyteller can develop answers if they have not already thought about it… asking about characters’ feelings is a great way to explore the story in greater depth.

    When the first person has told their story, have the pairs switch and allow the second person to tell and answer questions.

    The purpose of this activity is to help the children become better acquainted with their story. As they answer the questions they are developing a stronger and more detailed mental image of the places, characters and events in the story. Often the details generated in this activity will not feature in the final version of the tale told by the children. This is not important as often they would stop the flow of the story. They do however aid the internalisation of the story by the child. This activity is about ‘creating memories’ making it easier for the child to retell the story.

  • Storyhand


    Story hands are a versatile sequencing tool that allows learners to explore and work with stories, preparing them for telling and leading into writing. Storyhands work best with the classic five part story that features a beginning,, three events in the middle followed by an ending (such as the three Billy Goats Gruff, The Three Little Pig etc.)

    Materials: Prepared story hand (if desired), writing and drawing materials


    Tell the story. Then have the learners draw the beginning of the story on the thumb. Next discuss how the story ended and draw this scene on the last finger. Then discuss the sequence of events that connect the beginning of the story to the ending. The learners then draw the three middle events on the three middle fingers. If the learners complete the storyhand in this order they will avoid running out of fingers!

    The storyhand can then be used by individuals, pairs or groups to practice re-telling the story. If working in a group, the story sections can be allocated to individuals. The groups can then split into secondary groups allowing the learners telling the same part of the story to practice together and give feedback. They can then re-join their group and re-tell the complete story.

    After re-telling the story, the storyhand can be used as a plan for writing. Each finger of the hand represents a section of the story. This can be used for the writing of a chapter, a paragraph or a sentence, depending on the developmental stage of the learner. Group members can also use the storyhand to focus on the writing of their section of the story. Then the various sections of the story can be collated to complete a piece of group writing.

    This idea comes form the book Traditional Storytelling in the Primary Classroom by Teresa Grainger, ISBN: 0-590-53686-9

  • Storytelling Games

    In a pair or trio start to re-tell a story. At any point one of the listeners interrupts as politely as possible! They then ask a question: What did the cave look like? Why did the boy do that? How did the queen feel?
    Lis is a great introduction to questioning skills and introducing the idea of open and closed questions. The game allows children to clarify their thinking regarding a story and building into it more detail. This is a great pre-writing activity as well.

    Tell a story. Discuss what scenes are missing. For example, the Troll in the Three Billy Goat's Gruff visits his sister. Have children explore that scene. What do the characters do? What to the characters talk about? Have them create a dialogue and share it with others.

    In a pair, trio, group ar as a whole class, have one person start telling a story. At a natural break they tig the next person. They then take on the story and pass it on by tigging someone else. Carry on until the story is told.

    Courtroom Drama!
    Put a character on 'trial'... have chlidren take the rolre of characters to explain their actions in stories you have told: Have Goldilocks explain why she broke into the home of the 3 Bears. Witness can be called... Wee Bear might explain the emotional impact of having his porridge all eaten up.


    Here are some tips to get yourself and your class telling stories:

    1. Choose stories you enjoy!
    2. Illustrate the story (Storymap).
    3. Write out the main events as newspaper headlines.
    4. Tell the story to a pet or cuddly toy.
    5. Take your story for a walk... tell it into yourself as you walk round the park
    6. Explore voices for your characters
    7. Keep eye contact when telling to others.
    8. Use guesture (not too much, keep it simple as this can distract friom the story)
    9. If using props keep them simple: the more props, the messier it can get!
    10. HAVE FUN! This is the most important part of storytelling...

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