Northfleet Nursery School

Northfleet nursery school

“Learn to play then play to learn”

Helicopter Stories

Letting Imagination Fly

Northfleet Nursery began their Helicopter Stories journey back in 2012. We committed straight away to the approach due to the instantaneous effects we witnessed on speech, language and communication for the children in our nursery and have been regularly using the approach across all classrooms.

Sheba Ahmed qualified as a Helicopter Champion, alongside Roz Munday as the Deputy Champion in March 2016. As Northfleet Nursery school is a Certified Centre of Excellence we can offer training to other schools and settings.

What is Helicopter Stories?

Helicopter Stories is a storytelling and story acting approach based on an American Kindergarten teacher Vivian Gussin Paley’s work. In the UK, Trisha Lee, supported by Isla Hill and who work at MakeBelieve Arts have been pioneering this work since 2002.

Alongside the simplicity of this approach is an ethos that is child-centred, creating a culture of curiosity and wonder at children’s imagination during both the telling and the acting out of their stories.

How does Helicopter Stories work in the classroom?

A simple approach requiring only 3 pieces of equipment-masking tape, pen and paper

Children tell their stories to an adult and the child’s story is written down verbatim, exactly as they are told.

The group then gathers around a taped out stage and the stories are acted out.

What is the impact of Helicopter Stories?

Helicopter Stories facilitates significant, measurable progress for all children, whatever their starting point. Below is an example of a child’s Helicopter Stories over 6 months. As the adult writes the story they maintain the child’s voice by not changing their language nor correcting their grammar.

The child starts with stories which are mainly nouns and short sentences. After a while the stories begin to show story structure (beginning, middle, end), characters and events. The similarities are apparent within the stories but so are the differences. The child has taken ideas from many sources and shaped them to make it her own.

Helicopter Stories – Girl, 4yrs, EAL

9th December

A story, a princess, a star

13th January

Princess and dragon is going to eat the princess. Then dragon eating some food. Get the fire. Then they went away. It’s going far away, the king is here.

25th February

A princess, dragon eat the princess, it gobble up and the lion miss princess.

20th May

Once upon a time I was like a prince and I go into castle and there was a prince so there a dragon, then the handsome prince killed the dragon, then the dragon eat the handsome prince with the fire.

Benefits of Helicopter Stories

This approach uses the power of storytelling to develop key curriculum areas such as creativity, communication and language, personal, social and emotional skills in the Early Years and Key Stage 1 classroom.

The Benefits:

  • An inclusive, whole-class approach which values every child’s contribution;
  • Facilitates high levels of engagement;
  • Creates confidence and self-assurance;
  • Supports the development of speaking skills as children express and share their ideas;
  • Helps to develop accurate, active listening skills and understanding;
  • Supports co-operative and collaborative and creative learning;
  • Develops positive relationships within a shared storytelling experience;
  • Allows children to explore the power of words as they see their stories come to life, and develop their ability to use and adapt language to communicate;
  • Offers children a bridge into the world of story writing as they begin to see the links between the oral stories they compose and the words on a page.

More Information

If you are interested in Helicopter Stories or would like more information on;

Please contact - Sheba Ahmed or Roz Young at

Northfleet Nursery School
140 London Road
DA11 9JS
01474 533950 

 or for further information, contact