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The Story Spinner was our first series of traditional storytelling, 42 stories, carefully chosen from a wide range of cultures creating a rich library of tales. This award winning 7 DVD box set was specifically designed for primary schools and the subject of a formal evaluation. A part of the key findings is presented below.

The stories for the Traditional Storyteller apps were taken from our second series, ‘Stories from Around the World.’  The stories are similar in style and content to the Story Spinner, and winner of Silver and Bronze Practical Pre School Awards in 2011.

The Story Spinner Project Summary of Final Evaluation Report

By Eve Bearne.  University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education

and Marilyn Mottram.  School Effectiveness Advisor, Birmingham LA.

August, 2009


Key findings:

1.  The achievements of all children involved indicate that The Story Spinner stories have contributed significantly to raising standards in speaking and listening.

2.  Noticeable gains have been seen in writing. The structure as well as the imaginative content of the children’s told and written narratives improved noticeably over the course of just one term.

3.  The DVDs have helped to raise attainment in reading, as children could watch stories on the DVDs then transfer their understanding to stories in books.

4.  The DVDs provided support for more flexible and creative planning and teaching, fitting well with the revised Literacy Framework and offering a variety of assessment opportunities in reading, speaking and listening and writing.

5.  Several teachers commented on improved behavior linked to a rise in confidence and self-esteem as a result of children’s success as storytellers and writers.

The teachers noted common features when they analysed the children’s writing at the end of the first phase of the project. The beneficial effects on writing included:
* Improved sequencing of events. The children showed greater confidence in planning, clearly knowing what they want to write after having the experience of telling stories.

* Greater attention to characterisation. Many of the children showed the ability to include characters’ thoughts as they told stories. Equally, they were able to develop more multifaceted characterisation.
* A more assured story voice. This was evidenced by:

  •  increased /more adventurous vocabulary and imagery
  • more complex sentence structure
  • the use of rhetorical techniques such as repetition for emphasis or for creating narrative tension.

* Improved use of punctuation. Explicit discussion of the cadences of storytelling, including pauses for effect, meant that children became more aware of the function and importance of punctuation.

Reviewed by Debbie Dudt, Cofton Primary School

‘Stories from Around The World’ is different from anything I have come across before. It is an astoundingly simple, but highly effective tool. In no way am I belittling this resource, as I believe that ‘simple’ is often best. Not only do children thoroughly enjoy the stories, but it really encourages them to listen as they have no illustrations to distract them – just the voice, gestures and facial expressions of the story tellersthemselves.

The stories also provide an excellent model for telling a story with appropriate expression and intonation. In addition, it is also great for children to develop their creativity further, as they can imagine what characters, settings etc. look like in their own minds, not just through an artist’s impression within illustrations in a book.

What is also impressive is the range of good quality cross-curricular follow-up work that can be explored. There is obviously the literacy element of it being story-based; the geographical and historical elements of countries and cultures; the RE link in creation stories/early World and the PSHE/SEAL element where dilemmas need to be solved and lessons can be learned. Furthermore, there would be a lot of scope for Art & D/T work and many opportunities for creative thinking and problem solving.

Although the Primary Strategy refers to storytelling, many children do not get the opportunity to hear stories told rather than read, and I think that theses stories capture the flavour of a storyteller being in the room very successfully, and it’s quite a challenge to achieve that – Susanna Steele. Unicorn Theatre; Greenwich University
It really does feel that a master story-teller is here in the classroom, spinning ancient magic specially for you! Children crave stories, and for good reason. Stories build up their understanding of ideas, feelings, people, places…and their store of words to explore and express their own experiences of the world. They create strong foundations on which literacy and learning can be built. But this carefully selected and beautifully produced collection is far more than an educational resource – it’s a cultural treasure trove, and a very special personal experience! – Sue Palmer. Literacy Consultant & Writer on Contemporary Childhood
I am extremely enthusiastic about the project and the great storytellers represented here – Michael Rosen. Poet Laureate & Author