What is Storyshaping?

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By Julia Damassa — Creator of the Storyshapes and storyshaping concept

Storyshaping is an inclusive and interactive way to create shared stories orally. As individuals or part of a group, children can explore and invent new places, times, characters, questions and ideas together, to build a collaborative story, both expressing their ideas and listening to others’ ideas. It is a great way to develop story structure and story language through talk.


Storyshaping uses five story prompts, available as tactile Storyshapes. These represent the building blocks for a story: place, time, character, question and idea. If you don’t have a set of Storyshapes, you can still use these five concepts as prompts for a shared class story

Place: Ask the children where their story takes place. Encourage them to respond, and accept all their ideas equally. Repeat their collective ideas back to them, adding descriptive story language where appropriate. Ask about the colours, sounds and smells of the place to encourage the use of adjectives for a more vivid description. Time: Now ask the children when the story happens. Talk about the time of day, the weather, what day of the week or month it is, or if it is a special day. Character: Ask the children who their story is about. Elicit the character’s name, age and occupation to build up a picture of them. Ask what the character is doing, encouraging the use of verbs and adverbs. Think about how the character is connected to the place of the story, and maybe even the time too. Question: Ask what the character’s question is – something they need to find out or a solution to a problem. Thinking about the character’s thoughts and feelings, decide on a question together. Idea: Now ask how the character finds the answer to their question. Then, encourage the children to take their character on a journey to find an answer to the question. When the question has been answered, ask how the story ends.

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