Using storytelling to promote literacy, communication and socio-emotional development in the early years

Jones Bartoli, Alice. 2018. Using storytelling to promote literacy, communication and socio-emotional development in the early years. Project Report. Tales Toolkit. [Report]

Text (Using storytelling to promote literacy, communication and socio-emotional development in the early years)
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Abstract or Description

Early socio-emotional skills have also been associated with higher academic performance through enhancement of self-awareness, motivation, and coping (Zins, Bloodworth, Weissberg, & Walberg, 2004). Tales Toolkit provides interactive, child-led resources making use of a consistent and easy to remember set of symbols to represent story structure: Character, Setting, Problem and Solution. During group sessions, objects are selected for each of their four symbols, and children are encouraged to come up with their own narrative that includes a ‘problem’ and a solution to that problem. Teachers in Early Years Settings are trained to use Tales Toolkit during online training sessions, and typically use Tales Toolkit weekly with their children, as well as embedding the symbols more widely across the learning spaces. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of training in and using Takes Toolkit in Early Years settings.

A mixed-methods study examining both effects of participating in the programme on Early Years Framework Stages (EYFS) achievement levels, and the views of participating early years providers. Quantitative data on teacher-ratings of child attainment is provided for the seven areas of learning and development, including communication and language, personal, social and emotional development (PSED) and literacy. Ratings are provided against age-based expectations. EYFS data is available for over 500 children aged between two and five years of age from across the UK. Quantitative analyses are based on a 2 (intervention/control) x2 (Baseline/end of academic year) mixed design. We are also able to focus on children who are eligible for extra ‘Pupil Premium’ funding for their school (those with very low household income or are in care) and those who have English as an Additional Language. Thematic analysis of interview data is based on eight interviews with early years practitioners.

Between-groups ANOVA of quantitative data controlling for performance at baseline suggests that children in the tales toolkit group make greater gains (with differences represented by medium effect sizes) on several EYFS levels than comparison children whose schools had not yet had Tales Toolkit training: Literacy; Communication and language, and PSED; Understanding the World; and Overall phase of development. No differences in outcome were found for those students with English as an Additional Language, or those who were eligible for Pupil Premium Funding.

Thematic analysis of qualitative data suggests practitioners value the flexibility and inclusiveness of the resources. Practitioners discussed the effect on children in terms of engagement with literacy, including writing. The ability to train all members of staff using the online system is also reported to be helpful for schools managing limited budgets. Case studies of language and literacy development in children where specific difficulties had previously been indicated were also related.

This evaluation supports the use of Tales Toolkit as a useful strategy for developing personal, social, language and literacy skills during the early years period.

Item Type:

Report (Project Report)


pre-school, early years, literacy, storytelling

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Unit for School and Family Studies


November 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

15 Nov 2018 10:29

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2021 19:29


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