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Schools & Groups

Our Approach to Learning

Our Learning sessions unleash students’ creativity and critical thinking skills and through this, develop their literacy and wellbeing.

Learning and Participation sessions at The Story Museum are guided by the following principles:

Start from the story
Every session is based around stories from The Story Museum’s 1001 Story Collection and beyond, curated to represent stories in all forms from a vast range of cultures and traditions. Through exposure to new stories, participants build cultural capital, knowledge of narrative structure, classic story tropes and rich vocabulary.

Universal
Stories are selected to resonate with every participant. We don’t assume prior knowledge of any story. We concentrate on human themes and emotions, and create familiarity and accessibility through our retellings whilst being faithful to socio-historical context. Our chosen stories are a balance of ‘windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors,’ a phrase coined by Dr Rudine Sims Bishop in her groundbreaking 1990 essay of the same name. ‘Mirrors’ are stories in which students can see their own lives reflected, and ‘windows’ allow them to see into worlds that are different from their own, and ‘sliding glass doors’ allow students to enter all the worlds through their imaginations.

Immersive
Our sessions are multisensory and experiential, allowing participants to enter different story worlds through both the physical environment and their imaginations. Objects are used as stimuli for story making, using free association and metaphor, while imaginative play and drama techniques aid story world building.

Seriously playful and collaborative
Play enables experimentation, interaction and discovery. Play and collaborative group-work form the heart of the sessions. We take play seriously, knowing that through play, participants are building skills for life: social skills, critical thinking skills, self-regulation, empathy, wellbeing and creativity.

Empowering through oracy
Sessions place emphasis on speaking and listening, oral presentation and discussion. Our structured storytelling activities allow participants to become brave and resourceful, building confidence and self-esteem through the articulation of ideas.

Inclusive and accessible
We adapt our sessions to suit the needs of all learners. We offer opportunities for all students to engage with stories. All sessions are differentiated by open-ended outcomes.

Transformative
A session from The Story Museum opens doors. Every participant encounters a story they would like to engage with further, or discovers a new art form or interest to pursue, or leaves with an idea for a story of their own.

How do we know it works?

Here’s what our teachers, parents and group leaders have had to say about our approaches to learning in action:

Start from the story
Karen really helped to build the acquisition of vocabulary through story language. The children experienced how story language can excite and enthrall an audience.
- Teacher after a Year 1 Pumpkin session, Nov 2022

Universal
Opportunities for students to use their imaginations, variety of experiences so something for everyone.
-
Year 3 Teacher on a visit to the Museum, Oct 2023
The visit gave space for the mothers to reminisce on stories from their childhood and cultures and share these with their children. The children were awe-struck by the immersive galleries and it was a privilege to witness their excitement. Thank you!
- Group leader on a visit for Hestia Modern Slavery, October 2023
Immersive
How engaged the children were listening to the stories and enjoying the sensory activities.
-
Year 1 Teacher on a visit to the Museum, Oct 2023
Seriously playful and collaborative
Creative collaboration on the workshop was excellent.
- Year 9 Teacher on a visit to the Museum, Oct 2023
The children engaging so well and purposefully in imaginative play.
- Reception Teacher, Jan 2024

Empowering through oracy
Storytelling was epic, All voices heard.
- Year 4 Teacher on a visit, Oct 2023
I actually could not believe what was happening. I have never heard her speak since September, and it’s now May. Not only did she volunteer to speak, she was confident and hilarious and the class were supportive of her and cheered as they couldn’t believe it either. It is astounding.
-
Year 5 teacher during an in-school session in High Wycombe, 2022
Inclusive and accessible
Freedom to move around whilst creating stories and resources they have access to with a variety of ways of completing the task.
- Year 4/5 Teacher on a visit to the Museum, February 2024
The Literacy Workshop was incredibly engaging and adapted to cater to the ages, communication needs and interests of the children. Karen was enthusiastic, attentive and made the children feel heard, valued and inspired.
-
Group leader on a visit to the Museum, October 2023
I really appreciated in particular your understanding of children with SEND needs, and how open you were to make the trip a success. This includes allowing extra adults to support and providing a social story, which was incredibly useful for preparing our young person.
We all loved our morning with you today. Both children and staff excitedly spoke about what they had seen and created. I particularly enjoyed watching a boy who is 'too cool for storytelling' grinning and giggling along to the monkey story. I also wanted to say a huge thank you to Lucy for again being so aware of the SEND needs. Her warnings about loud sounds or surprises were so helpful, and it was wonderful to see her engaging with and remembering the name of our young person. These things, that may seem small to others, really do mean a lot. I can only hope that more places in the future are as welcoming and supportive as you are.
-
Teacher on a visit, March 2024

Transformative
“It was the most magical and wonderful day. We have never taken a class of children to the Museum before but after their reactions yesterday I think you will become a regular fixture on our trip list. The session leader was absolutely brilliant and the children loved her. She kept them engaged all day, they were so motivated and their imaginations were set on fire.”
- Hannah Edwards, Deputy Head Teacher, St Antony’s Catholic Primary School, March 2023