For Early Years we have our specialised, unique and exclusive programme, Helicopter Stories: Letting Imagination Fly, based on the Storytelling and Story Acting curriculum of Vivian Gussin Paley, our patron. Although simple in essence the approach has been demonstrated to be in line with the EYFS learning goals and to have significant impact on early engagement with literacy.

MakeBelieve Arts is a theatre and education company offering innovative, high quality theatre and education programmes to develop the creative potential of children aged 0-15.

Moving from theatre in education to theatre and education, we work with children, their teachers and their families, in schools and a variety of settings outside the classroom, using our knowledge of how children learn to make our programmes exciting, relevant and effective.

All our programmes are underpinned by a belief in the creative potential of all children, and a desire to nurture that creativity. MakeBelieve Arts enriches subjects across the curriculum.

For over a decade MakeBelieve Arts has worked with Vivian Gussin Paley’s Storytelling and Story Acting curriculum. We have designed a programme of professional development based upon this approach. This has come to be known as Helicopter Stories, which has recently been robustly evaluated by the Open University.

After studying Vivian's work and visiting her in America, Trisha Lee (MakeBelieve Arts Artistic Director) began pioneering the technique in the UK. The technique develops confidence, curiosity, concentration and communication skills; increases turn taking, attention span and speaking and listening skills in all children regardless of ability.

As well as doing in-class sessions and training with Local Authorities and Early Years settings we are now doing Helicopter at Home with parents, so the technique can be sustained both in settings and at home.

The findings, from the evaluation, show that this approach:

• demonstrates evidence of significant impact on communication, literacy, speaking and listening

• offers considerable communicative support and encouragement for children with limited verbal language

• fosters an increasing awareness of written language

• motivates children to engage in literacy activities

• contributes to children’s developing sense of agency through its respect for children’s voices

• provides practitioners with evidence of children’s progress in language and communication


Early Years Age 3-5, INSET Teacher Training, KS1 Age 5-7


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