Student Teachers Get Expert Advice for Storytelling in the Classroom

Cat Weatherill PITE students

As part of the University’s annual storytelling festival for children, Primary Initial Teacher Education students course took part in a special workshop with storyteller Cat Weatherill. The session coincided with the second year students’ course module on books and narrative.

Student Jordane Cox said: “I think it was good to have a whole session on just storytelling because obviously with primary school you have such young children that it’s going to be a really good way to engage with them.  The way that Cat did it showed other ways to make it more interactive for them.”

Cat Weatherill delivered a story to the students then got them to tell the same story back to each other in a limited time period.  She explained how to use storyboards, a series of pictures that outline the narrative and help in breaking elements of the story down into a manageable form.  She also explained how to engage the children and maintain their attention, and how to use props and toys effectively in the stories.

Peter Butler said: “The session was good at getting us to do it ourselves.  I think storytelling in the classroom is quite underrated, but it is quite interesting to use the story time to get children hooked.”

Cat Weatherill said that storytelling could be used in subjects beyond the traditional English and literacy, from Geography to Biology.  “I think it’s enormously valuable to have storytelling in the classroom because it’s a perfect way of embedding information,” she added.  “Children are more receptive to facts if they are held within a narrative; that is a proven fact.  It’s also a nice way for teachers to connect with their children and be entertaining.” 

Kate Morley, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education, said: “As primary teachers, students will need to ensure they promote a culture of reading for pleasure within their classrooms with the emphasis on enjoyment, engagement and the power of words and narrative.  The session gave them valuable insights into the techniques used by storytellers, developing their understanding of this approach and enabling students to use storytelling as part of their own practice.”

As part of the Storytelling Festival there will be a Family Day on Saturday, October 19 with a host of events at The Hive and in the Festival tents on the University’s City Campus, off Castle Street.  Highlights include Beano author, writer and illustrator Nigel Auchterlounie, author Sophie Dahl, the premiere of a new adaptation of HG Wells’ The Time Machine, and an interactive storytelling and illustrative session with Lydia Monks, the illustrator behind Julia Donaldson’s What the Ladybird Heard books.

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