August 17, 2015
South-East London-based MakeBelieve Arts have pioneered and successfully developed the "Helicopter Stories" work for many years now. This accessible approach is based on the premise that stories and fantasy play engage all young children and help them to draw connections and make sense of the world. It is developed from the ground-breaking work by Vivian Gussin Paley in the USA.
A few years ago I was privileged to observe Helicopter Story sessions facilitated by Artistic Director Trisha Lee and was impressed by how quickly children can become enthralled by the approach. In her book, Lee describes how to introduce Helicopter Stories to children, scribe their tales verbatim and bring their ideas to life by allowing the children to act them out. Research has proven this approach to have a significant impact on children's literacy and communication skills, their confidence and social and emotional development, particularly for kinaesthetic learners - those in Ken Robinson's words, who "need to move to think".
Paley writes in her foreword to this book, "even the shyest three-year-old is eager to dictate a story... the words come from the children, and every expression grows in meaning and richness when reimagined inside a script and acted out with classmates... We humans are born knowing how to place our thoughts and images into stories."
The book is a fascinating and easy to read guide to an accessible storytelling approach to drama and learning, suitable for use with children as young as 18 months to seven years old.