The stories young children tell can open up a world of creativity, communication and development, while offering crucial insights to teachers. Trisha Lee explains the concept of helicopter stories

“Wolf eat daddy up. Wolf eat mummy up.
Wolf eat grandpa up. Rocket land on wolf.”

Chloe was four years and 10 months when she told me this story. She was in her first term of reception and I was lucky enough to be visiting her class regularly to run scribing and story-telling sessions.

Based on the work of Vivian Gussin Paley, “helicopter stories” are a simple but powerful approach for children aged two to seven. They tell their stories to an adult scribe who writes their words verbatim. Then each story is acted out by the class. If it is a one-word story, the child becomes that character. If it is a more developed narrative, that too is brought to life. Working in this way, every story is valued.

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