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story_tellingI am passionate about developing story telling skills in children and young people as there is much research to show that it not only helps children develop their language, but also their socio-emotional skills, including their self control.

I first trialled interactive storytelling sessions with children who had a primary difficulty with understanding or using language, called ‘specific language impairment’ (SLI) whilst working as specialist (SLI) therapist.

I found that the children really benefited from experiencing the stories first hand. Through acting out roles and the story line, they were able to learn more vocabulary more effectively and ‘make sense’ of what was happening (than if passively listening to a story).

The story was the thread from which lots of language based activities hung, such as learning new words, and the range of words (i.e. action words, adjectives, etc), building sentences (to describe events in the present past and future) and eventually telling a complete story, which could be linked to their own real experiences. Stories provided a way to explore the feelings and motivations of the characters which could be related to the children’s own feelings.

I used a range of drama techniques such as role play, and multi sensory learning (i.e. through song and rhyme; and the use of objects) to bring the stories to life. Children were supported to relate the stories they experienced, to their own life events.

About the story telling sessions: Who?

From this experience, I have developed interactive storytelling and language development sessions for other children which can be at:

  • - a universal level to help all children’s language development
  • - for targeted groups of students – i.e. those who may benefit from a language boost / targeted language intervention
  • - at a specialist level – for children with identified SEN including children with SLCN

The interactive storytelling and language development sessions are ideally suited to groups of 8-10 pupils in Key Stage 1 but can be tailored to younger or alternatively older children.

About the story telling sessions: What?

The hour long sessions each relate to a different story but share a specific framework and follow a similar ritual, in order to help the children predict what will happen during the course of all the sessions.

Each story has a theme or moral based around a core emotion, to enable the children to develop their language around feelings, and this is related to their own personal experiences.

The children hear and enact the story and participate in various language activities, linked to the core story.

About story telling: Why?

The interactive storytelling and language development sessions will help the children to develop their:

  • - attention & listening skills
  • - understanding
  • - vocabulary
  • - spoken language,
  • - narrative (i.e. story telling) and inferencing skills, (i.e. being able to ‘read between the lines’ /infer what it meant when it is not explicitly stated) – such as for example, being supported to understand how the character might feel.

About story telling: Where?

The interactive story-telling and language development sessions are usually delivered in an educational setting, but other alternative settings can be accomodated.

About story telling: Evaluation

The children’s language levels will be measured pre and post the sessions to monitor change. Different assessments / screens are available depending on the level of therapeutic input (i.e. more in-depth assessment is recommended for children with SLCN who access the group at a specialist level)

About story telling: Extension work

The programme is also highly adaptable so additional extension activities can be developed, on request, for schools wishing to carry the work over into the classroom.