Storytelling and Storymaking in Schools

“I learnt that I have a great imagination.” – Student, Ilfracombe School story06

David offers exciting and participatory storytelling performances and interactive storymaking workshops, which can be chosen from a list of themes or designed specifically in collaboration with the school. Stories are often accompanied by music, percussion and song. Every performance and workshop is a compelling learning experience.


David has considerable experience storytelling in primary and secondary education in mainstream and special schools as well as with adult learners and teachers. The interactive telling of tales, myths, legends and fables has a positive impact on participants’ speaking and listening skills. Storytelling encourages effective and creative communication. This ancient art form based on the spoken word also leads to the development of written skills through oral rehearsal and mental imagery.

Scroll down for current performances and workshops:

Telling Tales from around the World

Join David Heathfield the Storyteller celebrating fantastic stories from the World’s Oral Cultures.

f129aced-01f4-4e5e-a8e1-1b33b8bfa287Assembly: The whole school sets out to discover amazing folk  tales from one or more of the World’s Oral Cultures.

Workshops: The exploration goes deeper in storytelling and storymaking workshops for up to 35 KS1 or KS2 students involving creative participation: guided mental imagery, physical drama, students collaboratively creating and retelling a new tale.

Story Choice: Students are deeply engaged in stories with a particular regional or cultural focus such as Middle-Eastern, Chinese, West African, Indian, Japanese, Brazilian, Polish, Russian, Nordic (Viking), Australian Aboriginal, Mayan – you choose which! Alternatively you can opt for a combination of stories from different cultures. Workshop activities are based on ones David has published in Storytelling With Our Students.

Working closely with school teaching staff before, during and after the one-day project, David is available to offer guidance about follow-up creative activities.

‘Amazingly successful. David captured the imagination of the children and introduced stories and drama in a way they had not experienced before. Totally worthwhile for the children and beneficial for me in improving my storytelling and drama.’ Sarah Willmott, Teacher, High View School, Plymouth

Folk Tales in Shakespeare

Celebrating Shakespeare’s Legacy

It’s 1616 and Heathfield the Storyteller is on his way to your school directly from seeing William Shakespeare’s acting company The King’s Men performing at The Globe Theatre in London. He’ll regale you with popular folk tales and show you how Shakespeare fitted them into his plays, such as The Owl was a Baker’s Daughtershakespeare-words (Hamlet), Child Roland and Cap of Rushes (King Lear).

Whole School Assembly (40 minutes):

Heathfield the Storyteller bursts into your school having just got back from seeing some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays in London. He’s eager to tell you the fairy tale Cap of Rushes and how Shakespeare adapted it to write the opening of King Lear as well as the mysterious story The Owl was a Baker’s Daughter, referred to by Ophelia in Hamlet.

KS2 Workshops (50-70 minutes):

The assembly is followed by interactive storytelling and storymaking workshops with up to 35 students in each one. Students discover the old British fairy tale Child Roland through imaginative storytelling and drama activities and create their own endings. They explore Edgar’s line in King Lear:

Child Roland to the dark tower came,

His word was still “Fie, foh, and fum,

I smell the blood of a British man.”

Armistice: a WW1 Survivor’s Story

Marking the centenary of the end of  World War One.

Hubert Trotman was fighting on the front line in Belgium on the morning of 11 November 1918 when the Armistice was declared. He survived the Great War, but most of the boys he grew up with did not.archive_rmli

‘I was a man before my time’. Hear the incredible true WW1 survival story of how this courageous lad had gone from schoolboy to Royal Marine and defied death again and again. Storyteller David Heathfield steps into Hubert’s boots and brings alive experiences Hubert remembered from WW1 in an extraordinary interview he gave as an old man in Devon.

KS2 or KS3 Assembly (50 minutes)

‘The General rode up on his horse and looked at me. “Permission to speak, Sir?” “Granted.” “Is the war really over, Sir?” “The Armistice is signed,” he said. I  stood there at the salute, I don’t know how long. I must have lost consciousness. Perhaps it was shock.’

Find out Hubert’s experiences of mud, trenches, bully beef, dog biscuits, living with lice and getting blown up: ‘I went up in the air for miles and came back down to earth with a bump’.

And join Hubert singing WW1 songs Keep the Home Fires Burning and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.

KS2 or KS3 Workshops (60-80 minutes)

Each storytelling workshop involves up to 35 students participating creatively together.

When Hubert returned home after the Armistice, why was he given a whole new set of teeth for free?                                                                                                                    Because at The Somme Hubert had pulled an old school pal, the dentist’s son, out of a shell hole. Instead of drowning all alone, this friend came home to his family.

This and other amazing true stories are explored creatively through guided mental imagery, physical drama, interview and student storytelling.

“I liked the drama because it was lifelike and it made me feel emotional and what it was like in the trenches.”  Year 6 Student, South Molton Junior School
“The children were riveted. David really bought the Great War to life” Helen Foster-Collins, South Molton Junior School.

Grimm’s Golden Goose

with storyteller David Heathfield as Wilhelm Grimmgolden20goose20illustration

Celebrating Grimm’s Tales in a one-day school project

The Brothers Grimm published their collected Fairy Tales 200 years ago. Every generation since has been enchanted by the magic, mystery and messages hidden in the tales. Now Wilhelm Grimm is ready to reach out across the years and share the timeless secrets of storytelling with you.

Whole School Assembly (40 minutes):

From 200 years away Wilhelm Grimm makes an extraordinary wish to know whether the tales he and his brother collected will still be known by children in the future and magically finds himself in your school leading the children lightly along behind The Golden Goose into the magical world of Grimm’s Tales.

Workshops (50-70 minutes):

The assembly is followed by interactive storytelling and storymaking workshops with up to 35 students in each one. Each workshop involves students participating creatively and interactively with Wilhelm Grimm: a further tale is explored creatively through guided mental imagery and physical drama activities (Rec&Y1:  Mother Holle Y2&Y3: The Three Feathers / Y4&Y5: The Three Little Birds / Y6: Godfather Death).

Students then collaboratively create and expressively retell a new tale in the Grimm tradition.

Woodland Wild

Join Heathfield the Storyteller in the Woodland Wild to discover magical tales of trees, birds and bugs in and near your school grounds.

woodland20wildAssembly: Up to 300 children (either in the school hall or in an undisturbed outdoor area) are enchanted by magical folk tales from the Woodland Wild, such as How Anansi the Spider took all the Stories up the Tree (West Africa).

Outdoor Workshops: Outdoor storytelling and storymaking workshops for KS1 or KS2 with up to 35 explorers delving deep into the Woodland Wild in or near the school grounds. Each workshop involves creative participation: guided mental imagery, physical drama, collaboratively creating and retelling a new tale inspired by the environment and what the explorers discover.a), The Stars in the Sky (Scotland), Manju and the Fearsome Little Beasts (Japan), Juan and the Magic Tree (Philippines), The Royal Flea (Spain) and The Dog and the Wolf (Ukraine).

“You brought our garden alive with magic and excitement when the children created their own story. They were entranced by the magical pond and what it  produced! Thank you for an amazing day! We hope you can visit us again before long.” Jo Clark, Year 2 Literacy Leader, Christchurch Infant School, Bournemouth

Don’t… wake… the… GIANT!giant

Creep carefully alongside Storyteller David Heathfield so you don’t disturb snoring ogres and grunting giants in their sleep. For whether they slumber in folk tales from Africa, Asia or Europe, they all have one thing in common when they wake up – a huge appetite!

Whole School Assembly (40 minutes)

Once trapped inside the greedy sea giant’s singing drum, there’s only chance of escape – send him to sleep and …


Workshops (50-70 minutes)

Each storytelling and storymaking workshop involves up to 35 students participating creatively together.

Another sleeping giant or ogre world folk tale which is just right for your KS1 or KS2 class is explored creatively through guided mental imagery and physical drama activities.

Students then collaboratively create and expressively retell a brand new giant tale.

“David has a wonderful ability to engage children, sparking their imaginations and reminding us all of the power of stories.” – Jo Turner (Year 5 Teacher, Newtown Primary, Exeter)

Greek Myth

3744538744_62f8ceb60c_zTake a leap of the imagination into powerful Greek Myth. Be enthralled by tales of greed, fury and revenge, of innovation, freedom and desire. Suitable for KS2 & KS3.

Assembly (30 minutes):  Daedelus, the great inventor in Greek Mythology, fiercely defends his involvement in the creation, the imprisonment and the destruction of The Minotaur, the death of his only son, Icarus, and the murder of the tyrannical King Minos.

Workshops (70 – 120 minutes): Up to 35 students express powerful moments from the story of Daedelus both verbally and physically. Then, the life story of Atlanta, the wild, free and independent young woman of Greek Mythology, is discovered and explored through creative participation: students imagining and telling their own endings, guided mental imagery and retelling in character.

“An exciting and engaging start to our Ancient Greek theme.” – Mrs Ariss, Year 6 Teacher, Kings Ash Academy, Paignton

Norse Mythology

Gallop through the nine fantastic worlds of Norse/Viking Mythology, encountering Life and Death, Summer and Winter, Good and Evil, Hope and Despair. Suitable for KS2 & KS3.

Workshops (70-90 minutes)
:Suitable for up to 35 students. David Heathfield tells the awe-inspiring Norse/Viking creation myth from the vast emptiness of the beginning through to the glory of Valhalla and introduces the gods whose names live on today in our language and culture – Odin/Wednesday, Thor/Thursday, Freya/Friday.

Students then, through creative participation, discover the story of the Death of Baldur and the approaching doom of Ragnarok. David pauses just before the quest to bring Baldur back from Hell and students anticipate, create and tell their own versions of the adventure. Finally, students retell moments from the Death of Baldur through guided mental imagery, physical drama and creative storytelling activities.

Mayan Mythology

KS2 & KS3

maya-hero-twinsJourney through the Underworld and face the most dreadful challenges set by the Death Demons in the House of Gloom, the House of Blades and the House of Bats. And get to know Conejo, the wild trickster rabbit.

Assembly (35 minutes):  David tells the Popol Vuh, the Mayan creation myth, of how the twin hero gods Magic Hunter and Jaguar Deer take revenge on the Death Demons of the Underworld who cruelly tricked and murdered their ancestors.

Workshops (50-90 minutes): Up to 35 students describe moments from the Popol Vuh through guided mental imagery and physical drama. Students then find out two Mayan myth stories about Conejo, the wild trickster rabbit: How Conejo got Long Ears and How Conejo escaped Jaguar and reached the Moon. Through guessing and telling endings, drama roleplay and creative storymaking activities, students develop as storytellers.

“An enthralling and thought-provoking storytelling event” Mrs Lewis, HLTA, Kings Ash Academy, Paignton.

And many more school performance and workshop themes are available including:

  • WW2 – Real Stories from History, including Wojtek the Soldier Bear and Wartime Devon
  • Respect Tales
  • Health and Well-being Stories

David is a member of the Society for Storytelling and is a member of Equity. He has a current DBS check. David has published books and numerous articles on storytelling in education.