To celebrate National Share-A-Story Month and the power of stories we have launched our campaign #ToddlerTales which focusses on the children taking part in Story Starters. #ToddlerTales lets children tell their stories through our Story Starter volunteers and we find out what the children enjoy the most about the sessions.  

On a weekly basis, our Story Starters provide children in local early years’ settings (e.g. nurseries) one-to-one support and encouragement to develop their language and communication skills and help them start school ready to read.

Find out more about Story Starters here

Our volunteers love going to their pre-schools or nurseries and they receive such warm greetings from the children who they support. Sometimes the children are even waiting for the volunteers to come, a strong indicator that they enjoy their story telling sessions with a volunteer.

Something that our volunteers have repeatedly mentioned is the children’s excitement when using props along with the books in their sessions to get them more involved in the stories. Katie, one of our volunteers from Cheshire says: “They’ve reacted really positively and I've never struggled to get them to come for story time. They enjoy the use of props too”. Story Starter volunteer, Pauline, agrees: “The children quickly settle into the routine of the session and I have included some homemade props to go with the stories, such as telescopes for Shark in the Park”. Our Wirral volunteer, Isobel, explains that popular props to use in the sessions could be anything from a hand puppet, kitchen rolls for telescopes, assorted building blocks and animals and figures that she has collected to aid the experience. In addition, our Story Starter volunteer, Penny, says "I have also loved being able to add to the story with interactive props".

Using props in storytelling can really enrich the experience and encourage a pleasant involvement with books and stories for younger children. It can help to draw the children’s attention into the stories and enrich their understanding of the story (Source: Learning and Teaching).

Amy Lewis, Beanstalk Programme & Training Development Manager, explains this about the use of props in volunteering sessions: “Story Starters use props and actions to engage the children with the story book. This allows the children to be actively involved but crucially increases the opportunities for language development as the Story Starter can attach meaning to new words they are introducing to the children e.g. if there is a picture of a car they can hold a toy car and can talk about how it can roll, forwards or backward. If a person in the story is ‘waving’ the children can ‘wave’ engaging them with the story and attach meaning to the words they are hearing”.

Given that the children have had such a positive reaction to the use of props, there is no doubt that props are a great tool in helping to engage more children with books, enhance their learning experience and give them a good introduction to the world of literature.

Find out more about Story Starters here