We're Going on a Bear Hunt: Storytelling tips for early years

We have teamed up with Walker Books for these top tips on We're Going on a Bear Hunt storytelling in early years. 

Nobody knows where or when the first story was told. We can imagine tribes sitting around listening to their elders telling stories of their own lives and that of their elders.

Why is storytelling important? 

Developing a love of books in early years is essential to support lifelong joy with literacy. It helps them to develop:

  • Receptive and expressive language
  • Sequencing skills
  • Thinking skills and problem solving
  • Attention span and listening
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Phonological awareness and grammar.

It is important that children have adults that enjoy telling stories, who can bring the story to life and make it exciting!

On to the top tips!

Telling a story should never be a job you do with all the children while you wait for lunch to be served or while you are waiting for parents to arrive.

Adults should be committed to planning great storytelling adventures in new and exciting ways and places, with stories that spark and develop children’s imagination and creativity.

It can be very intimidating to sit down in front of a group of children and read a story and there is no training session for practitioners included in their level three courses.

Usually practitioners bring their own love of stories; they bring their own experiences of having stories read to them and their experiences of watching other accomplished storytellers holding a captive audience.

To make a story exciting and fun you can: 

  1. Use your voice and tone to set the scene and create an atmosphere
  2. Build anticipation and introduce surprises
  3. Use facial expressions
  4. Use your whole body to tell the story
  5. Move around the room and go outside if this is appropriate to the story
  6. Use your voice to develop characters and introduce sounds
  7. Vary the pace, speed and volume as appropriate
  8. Use props to make the story come to life
  9. Relax and enjoy the storytelling activity
  10. And finally, it's really important to keep up-to-date with your early years standards!

Early years standards in your nation:

  • England: Ofsted's Early Years Inspection Framework has a focus on communication and language. Find out more here
  • Scotland: Active learning is at the core of storytelling, relevant to the experiences and outcomes within the literacy framework, especially around listening and talking
  • Wales: Estyn guidance on reading is covered in both well-being (1.4) and Learning (2.1). The ‘Curriculum for Wales 2022’ (Draft, 2019) states: “Learners who listen and read effectively are prepared to learn throughout their lives. 
To help you tell the We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story in your setting, Walker Books has created a storytelling kit filled with hints on creating a space, actions and props. Download it below.

The history of storytelling

The earliest known record in the origin of storytelling can be found in Egypt.

We know that storytellers were considered very important people. Storytelling has been used for generations as a means of remembering history, sharing of cultures and beliefs and a tool for giving wisdom and understanding to people.

The Society for Storytelling tells us, "Oral storytelling is one of the most ancient art-forms and has a long and honourable history.

"Stories have been passed on by word of mouth, since long before reading and writing became commonplace.

"In the past these stories served as a means of communicating news, teaching moral principles and tribal law, and explaining the origins of Life, the Universe, and all that therein lies."

We're Going on a Bear Hunt resources to support your nursery

To support you with the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework, together with Walker Books, we've created a range of other useful resources on storytelling for nurseries.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt resources

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Education Inspection Framework 2019 updates (England)

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Host a 

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Storytelling activity ideas and downloadable resources

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