STORY STORKS - OUR STORY


BY SARAH CANTRILL, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & FOUNDER

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I created STORY STORKS in 2011 after the birth of my first daughter.  I’d been looking for a story class to take her to as she adored stories – there was nothing.  I figured that as a comedienne and pre-school music teacher I had the skill set to create something myself. 


At first the workshops were all about delivering a whole range of performing arts to kids using the story was to link it all together.  My customer base grew and mainly included early year’s specialists, teachers and second time round mums, all of whom told me that what I’d created was all about children’s literacy and getting kids ready to read.  I would laugh at them!  It was clearly about me being able to wear tap shoes to work!!

My baby grew up as they do and before I knew it she started nursery, started the process of learning to read and OMG turns out they were right.  STORY STORKS is all about getting children ready to read!  I’ve actually invented something useful!!


My second daughter came along at about the same time so whilst night feeding I researched children’s literacy and the importance of storytelling for children; at the same time I wrote the curricula for babies (PIXIES & SPRITES). 


I also stopped laughing at the teachers who had invited me in to their schools and accepted their invitation.  STORY STORKS is now a regular part of the Early Years offering for a number of schools in the area, be it on an annual, termly or even weekly basis.  I get repeat bookings – I take that as the ultimate compliment!

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Me in my tapshoes!

THIS INFOGRAPHIC SHOWS HOW STORY STORKS CAN ENHANCE THE LIVES OF KIDS AND PARENTS EVERYWHERE

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LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT


Below are some of the ways in which our stories enhance language development


- Our stories help to develop phonological awareness which put simply is the   knowledge that words are made up of smaller parts.  Phonological awareness is the precursor to phonics.

-  We help to increase children’s vocabularies.  Our workshops are choc full of characters, all of whom use different words.  Kids with larger vocabularies find it easier to read

-  We now show kids how the phonics they’re learning at school apply to stories through words, movement, pictures and more

- We encourage children to communicate with their grown-up, the group and with the storyteller, to whichever level they feel comfortable. 

- We teach children the skill of sitting and listening.


We also tackle some early literacy


- We teach basic story structure – beginning, middle and end, by celebrating each of these

-  Stories are full of different characters, each of whom has a different ‘voice’ and will use different types of words

- Show the children how to ‘act out’ the stories so that they can ‘act out’ the stories at home….and they do!

- We ask children to make predictions about what might happen next in the story – then 99% of the time we do it so they can decide whether or not they were right.

- We tell traditional tales that children go on to learn about at school.  We also include many traditional rhymes – also a part of what they use at school.

LEARNING TO LOVE STORIES


Our aim isn’t to inspire kids to read – it’s to inspire kids to read for pleasure, because it’s these children who are proven to perform better academically at exam time.  Whole grades better.  The children who are pushed through the mechanics of reading may be early adopters but they are unlikely to become readers for pleasure because actually, all you’ve done is teach your child that reading is a chore.  By the time kids are 7 it is virtually impossible to tell apart those who read early and those who read later. 


We teach kids that stories are amazing, full of adventure and characters.  We ride with knights, rescue princesses, climb beanstalks and count a giant’s gold.  We inspire the children to live the stories for themselves.  We teach them that stories are a pleasure. 


In a recent survey STORY STORKS customers reported that their kids were even more into stories as a result of our workshops.  They demand to be read to by their parents.  Kids who love stories want to read for themselves – that’s half the battle! 


It is never too early to instill a love of stories into your kids.  I created the baby level because they were coming along with their older siblings and loving it – sometimes more than the older sibling!  I often hear from parents that their baby has superior concentration at storytime than other kids.

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With all this new and amazing knowledge I realised that STORY STORKS is much more than just me being able to wear my tap shoes to work.  Its social impact could be profound – it would be rather rude of me not to get it out there!  My teacher customers would never forgive me!


I’ve now structured the company as a Social Enterprise which means that much of the profit gets reinvested back into the company.  I plan to use that money to inspire as many kids as possible and to educate their parents – getting ready to read is easy and should be fun!


So what I say to anyone who will listen is that if you want to give your child the gift of reading, don’t teach them to read.  Instead teach them to love stories and then they’ll want to go out and read for themselves.

 

If you’re a teacher click here for details of STORY STORKS in schools


If you’re a parent click here for details of our workshops

 

I’m in the process of pouring the contents of my head from late night research out into the parent’s zone on this website.  It’s still under construction but if you would like to know when it launches then please sign up for the newsletter.  

Click here for the sign up link.