Simple storytelling for YLs

It’s only a few days ’til Xmas, so this post comes rather late. However, this simple way of telling stories with 4-10 year-olds is very adaptable to any topic. Here’s how to set it up…

  1. Create a soundscape. Have students think about what sounds they might hear in Santa’s Workshop. Show a picture to help the students get ideas together. Maybe they can hear bells ringing, reindeer clip-clopping, elves hammering, a roaring fire. We can also hear Santa snoring. Then, all at the same time, get the students to make the sounds. Use your hands as a volume meter to stay in control of a potentially noisy activity!


2. What’s Santa dreaming about? My group of 6 year-olds have been studying food vocabulary, so this is what I decided to focus on. We went through a disappearing drill of food vocab to refresh students’ memories.

3. Role play. I put on a Santa hat, did my best Santa voice and elicited ‘Do you like...’. I got a strong student to ask me the question and responded with a hearty ‘Yes I do‘ or ‘No I don’t‘. Then we swapped and, one by one, it was the students’ turn to be Santa. They really enjoyed it! I couldn’t lay my hands on any elf costumes, but given more time it would have been nice to make some hats to get students into the role a bit more.

4. Written consolidation. Students colour in a picture of Santa and write ‘Santa likes / doesn’t like…‘. This could be adapted for all of the adaptations below…


This is open to really any language point or topic you’ve been working on…

  • Instead of ‘do you like‘, role play ‘where have you been, I’ve been to…, I went there in…’ for present perfect practice
  • Instead of Santa’s workshop, have a tiger sleeping in the jungle dreaming about other animals.
  •  A sailor thinking about what weather he might encounter on a long voyage.
  • An intrepid traveller explaining the different types of transport they had to take to get to their destination.
  • A deep space explorer logging what they’ve seen into the ship’s computer or talking with mission control about what they can see out of the shuttle window.



There are huge possibilites here for such a simple story concept. Watch Carol Read giving a talk on this for a really good example of how to do it well…





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