Telling stories

Telling Stories cover imageGlobal Link, a Development Education Centre based in Lancaster, developed this methodology and chose the medium of story telling because:

  • It’s fun.
  • It engenders respect for the oral tradition, valued in other cultures but not so much in the British school system.
  • It helps children learn about, and relate to, other parts of the world.
  • It relates to many of the ‘Communication, language and literacy’ Early Learning Goals.

Stories were chosen which illustrated, at an appropriate level, global citizenship themes. All were traditional stories originating outside of Britain. Children in formal and informal settings received a programme of visits from a story teller. Each story had accompanying ‘extension activites’ which developed the learning points of the story. For example, the indigenous Australian story of Tiddalik (already widely known in this country) illustrates the importance of water to plants and animals. As well as a game which replays an episode from the story, each setting was provided with the materials to sprout seeds, thus illustrating that without water nothing can grow.

Each story was told with the help of props – puppets, models, or other visual aids. For example one story from Indonesia tells how the different parts of a mango tree cannot agree who is the most important. The children had the chance to pass round a mango and taste dried mango and then to form the different parts of the tree themselves while the story was told.

Teachers holding a globeAn important part of the project was a giant tactile globe. This was specially developed for the project to help children understand that we all share the same planet. At each visit the children would explore the globe, roll it between them and identify different features, principally the polar ice caps, the sea and the land masses. After six visits, most of the children could correctly identify all these features and many could locate Britain on the globe.

The project has been a great success with the children looking forward to the stories each month. All the teachers have been surprised at how closely the children listen and how much they recall. In all settings teachers record improved levels of knowledge, understanding and skills. The project has been most successful where teachers have been able to fully incorporate the extension activities into their day-to-day work. This could be facilitated in the future by allowing teachers to select in advance those stories whose themes fit easily with the work already planned. A further improvement would be to loan resources for the school or nursery to use between visits.

Find out more

Global Link: For further information, visit:

Teaching resource: Read more about Global Link’s resource Telling Stories

Local Support: If you are inspired by this case study and would like to do something similar in your school, or are looking for ideas for developing the global dimension, why not contact your nearest Development Education Centre?

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