Wardie Tells a Story: Building Storytelling Skills

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin…

Our story began at Wardie Primary School, as a class project a couple of years ago. P4 were asked to be involved in a storytelling project that made links to the Commonwealth. As this was the year the Commonwealth Games were in Scotland, it was a very exciting opportunity to link listening and talking skills with history! We used the Authors Live event as a starting point and other suggestions they had made to get us started. From this focus, we used storytelling for teaching and assessing other topics, such as the Middle Ages.

Building on this, we sought to teach core storytelling skills across all levels within the school and nursery, as every class participated in the ‘Storytelling Focus Fortnight’. Each year group looked at a different aspect of storytelling of their choosing and taught specific literacy skills through it. 

At the end of this fortnight, all classes presented to the school during assembly. What a pleasure it was to see how enthusiastic the children and teachers were!

The variety of activities and skills that were developed in all the classes was amazing! Here is a wee look at some of the children’s experiences (you can find images of everything at the bottom of the blog!):

  • Storytelling stones
    On the Way Home
    , by Jilly Murphy, was P2’s inspiration. In this story Claire, a little girl who has hurt her knee, makes up weird and wonderful excuses as to how she did this and only reveals the truth at the end. The children loved the tall tales Claire made up. Using storytelling stones, with drawings on them of the key events, they re-told the story to their partners. They then made up their own excuses for why they hurt their knee. These ranged from derailed trains to a fire-breathing dragon. It was thrilling to see how animated they became as they added more and more details to their stories!
  • The P6 children’s project was great and innovative; they made their own audio books and also drew pictures of their stories and added them to their recorded stories. Their stories were enhanced, having gleaned skills from storytellers on the Scottish Book Trust’s Authors Live Storytelling Relay event.
  • Storytelling maps
    Giant storytelling maps were used in the P4 classes. Each class looked at a classic tale and embellished it as they re-told it. They then drew detailed pictures and added them to their storytelling maps. These were used to help the children navigate through their elaborate tales. One teacher noted how liberating storytelling was for children who normally found writing ideas challenging. She felt this allowed them to express themselves freely and decided to use it as a writing tool for planning writing from now on.
  • Story keys
    In P7, children ‘unlocked’ their stories with storytelling keys. Each key had different stimulus and the children loved using them! They were able to use these in a similar way to storytelling dice, where each key helped to make up the next part of the story. They also played a storytelling loop game: Each child was given a card that linked to another and they were to embellish their story cue before passing the story to the next person. This created fun and quirky tales. They worked really hard at building their storytelling skills using a variety of inventive ideas!

Though our focus fortnight has passed, this is not the end of storytelling for us at Wardie… Our aim is even greater: to embed this into our wider curriculum. We want it to be incorporated into some maths work, as well as project topics, such as history and science. Moreover, we plan to use it as an assessment tool and to help raise our attainment in literacy.

We thoroughly enjoyed starting the year with storytelling and look forward to using it in different ways. We hope that you liked reading about our venture and that it inspires you too!


Aurelie Norman

Aurelie Norman is a teacher at Wardie Primary School. Aurelie took part in our Authors Live Champions project in 2013, using storytelling as a means of exploring subjects across the curriculum. To read about Aurelie's project and the other projects which have sprung from the Champions project, visit our Get Inspired section.