Saturday, February 28, 2015

Storytelling is one of the simplest and perhaps most compelling forms of dramatic and imaginative activity. A good place to start is by telling stories to your pupils and encouraging them to share stories with one another. All of us can become engaging storytellers with a little practice. There may also be members of staff who are particularly skilled at telling stories, or you could invite a professional storyteller (such as Hugh Lupton in the video below) into the school. Listen to each other, watch videos of storytelling and encourage the children to identify techniques they could use in their own stories.

Rather than learning stories by rote pupils should identify key images and important moments, and retell the story in their own words. Still images can be used to mark out those key moments, as can drawing storyboards and story maps or (for younger children) sorting pictures into the right order. It is well worth playing some games to develop oral skills and get the creative juices flowing. These can help to develop vocabulary, story- making and storytelling techniques.

Important storytelling techniques include the use of voice (words and sound effects), facial expression and bodily gesture, mime, pace, repetition, rhythm, elaboration, exaggeration and – most of all – engagement with the audience.

Begin with some word association games like Word Tennis and One word at a time stories.

Word Tennis

In this word-association game, pupils have to keep thinking up words in a chosen category and ‘bat’ them to each other. Whoever repeats a word or can’t think of one is out, and somebody else takes his or her place. You can demonstrate with two students and then play it in pairs or teams of four or five students. Each team should form a line facing another team. The two students at the head of each line play each other until one of them can’t think of a word – or repeats an earlier word. That person goes to the back of the line and the next student takes their place.

Categories can include colours, fruit, sea creatures, flavours of ice cream, fairy tale characters, sports, capital cities, adverbs, adjectives and so on. Change the categories as often as you need to maintain interest. Students will soon come up with their own interesting suggestions for new categories.

Further ideas, games and activities for using storytelling across the curriculum can be found in the book Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years by David Farmer. You can also learn more by attending one of our one-day courses in London.

Primary Drama Across The Curriculum - June 2015

Wednesday 10th June 2015
10:30am - 4:30pm at Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Street, London E1
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This one-day drama INSET course with David Farmer immerses you in activities and ideas which you can take back and use immediately in the primary school classroom or drama club. The drama strategies can be used across the curriculum and are designed to meet statutory drama and literacy objectives.

Drama Books by David Farmer


101 Drama Games and Activities is packed with tried and tested ideas for drama lessons, workshops or rehearsals. Sections include improvisation, mime, ice-breakers, group dynamics, rehearsal, storytelling, voice and warm-ups. 

“One of the handiest things to have around.” - Teaching Drama magazine

Published by Lulu (2007) ISBN 978-1-8475-3841-3
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101 MORE Drama Games and Activities contains inspirational and engaging games and exercises suitable for children, young people and adults. The activities can be used in drama lessons and workshops as well as during rehearsal and devising periods.

“...bubbles over with imaginative ideas which could be used to good effect by non-specialist as well as seasoned drama teachers.” - Teaching Drama Magazine

Published by Drama Resource (2012) ISBN 978-1-2910-2516-3
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Learning Through Drama in the Primary Years describes 36 drama strategies in full detail along with over 250 cross-curricular activities and three extended lesson plans.

“A must-have for those serious about the teaching of drama in primary school settings” - Teaching Drama magazine

Published by Drama Resource (2011) ISBN 978-1-4478-7732-5
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Playful Plays Volume 1 is a brand new collection of eight short plays for children and young people as well as inspirational drama games designed to bring creativity and fun to the rehearsal room!

Published by CreateSpace (2014) ISBN 978-1-5006-3061-4
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