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Years 3 and 4 Oracy lessons 







  • choose and prepare poems or stories for performance, identifying appropriate expression, tone, volume and use of voices and other sounds 

  • tell stories effectively and convey detailed information coherently for listeners 


Potential links to other literacy strands 

Creating and shaping texts: 

  • use beginning, middle and end to write narratives in which events are sequenced logically and conflicts resolved 

  • choose and combine words, images and other features for particular effects 



  • a short simple story, such as a quest or a lost and found story 

  • Make a few numbered images/sketches or key words on separate sheets of paper, to represent the sequence of events in the story. 


Organisation: think/pair/share; pairs into fours  



  • Ask the children to focus on the way you use your voice to tell a story. Put the papers on the wall in sequence and explain how you will use these as prompts.

Ask children to use the prompts to predict what the story will be about.

  • Tell the story a section at a time, based on the prompts. Use actions as well as words and ask the children to repeat each section after you. Ask them to copy the way you use your voice as well as the actions. 

  • After the story, ask: At what pointsdid I change my voice in the story and why do you think I did this?Allow thinking time, followed by talking in pairs, before sharing ideas. Use the sequence of papers to identify parts of the story. 

  • (Optional) Allow children time to learn the story off by heart, along with the actions. This can be used later as a model for their own story writing. 


Main activity 

  • Explain that pairs will retell part of this story to another pair. Each pair should share the story telling. 

  • Divide the story into clearly defined, manageable sections. Share out all the sections amongst the pairs or give the same section to everyone. Alternatively let pairs choose their own section.

  •  Provide 5 general tips for using the voice effectively to tell stories: 

Make sure the listeners can understand what you say 

Talk a little slower than normal speech 

Pause slightly after each sentence

Avoid speaking too softly but do not shout 

Vary your voice to suit what is happening in the story 

  • Take a short section of the story and invite the children to evaluate the way you use your voice when you tell it. Tell the story badly by ignoring all the tips for using the voice effectively.

  • Allow pairs time to decide how to share out the storytelling and when and how they will use their voices effectively. Encourage pairs to practise telling their stories to each other. 

  • Put pairs together to make a four and ask them to tell their stories to each other. 



  • Allow pairs time to recall one or two occasions when the storytellers they listened to used their voices effectively. They could note these down on a white board or paper. 

  • Take brief feedback and use this to emphasise the learning in relation to the objective(s)  



  • Place less confident children in small groups, instead of pairs. This will help focus on the use of the voice by reducing the amount of recall required.



  • Pair up more confident children and ask them to explore and evaluate the use of particular vocal effects such as choral speaking or sound effects using the voice. 


Assessment questions 

  • Can children identify when and why the voice is used differently when they listen to the story? 

  • Do children apply what they know about effective use of the voice to their own storytelling?  



Adaptations/further suggestions 


  • The children could make the story into a talking book by recording the storytelling. This could be placed alongside the written version in the class library. Some children could also make another recording called How to tell a story badly, where they tell the same story in a bland, monotonous voice. 

  • Children could use the 5 tips on using the voice to create a poster based on their own ideas on how to use the voice effectively to tell stories. 

  • Write the names of some emotions on the board, such as happy, jealous, scared, miserable, disappointed. Select one line of direct speech from an unfamiliar story. Choose one of the emotions and write it on a piece of paper, without showing the children. Read out the direct speech, using your voice to indicate the emotion. Allow the children two attempts to guess which emotion the character is feeling, before revealing the word on the paper.  Repeat with different emotions, before letting some of the children have a turn. Groups can then try the exercise using a new line. 

  • Choose a familiar traditional tale, such as Goldilocks. Demonstrate and discuss how to make effective use of the voice when telling the story. Then explain The Story Telling Challenge:can the children tell the same story in 30 second chunks and still make effective use of their voices? Choose one child to start the story and change the storyteller every 30 seconds, until the whole story has been told. Start the story again if some children did not have a turn. 

  • Read out a short section of a popular well known novel. Then ask the children to use their voices effectively to retell this part of the story in their own words. They could use picture or word prompts to help them recall the main events. 

  • Select a suitable story for assembly, containing some direct speech. Divide the story into sections and allocate at least one section to each group. Ask groups to plan how they will tell their section of the story in assembly, using everyone in their group. Remind them to use their voices effectively, using sound effects made with the voice, if appropriate. Organise a rehearsal focusing on the effective use of the voice, before letting groups tell the story in assembly.







  • choose and prepare poems or stories for performance, identifying appropriate expression, tone, volume and use of voices and other sounds 

  • tell stories effectively and convey detailed information coherently for listeners


Cross-curricular links: RE-stories from Christianity (or other faiths) 

·     Why did (Jesus) tell stories? 

  • Make a book of stories that (Jesus) told. 



  • Two stories told by (Jesus) (one simple and one more complicated)

  •  A recording device 


Organisation: small groups of similar attainment 



  • Explain to the children that they will work in groups to tell one of two stories that (Jesus) told. Explain that each group will share the storytelling and will be asked to record their story, as if were for a radio programme. Ask: What is the difference between telling a story on TV and telling it on the radio?

  • Stress the importance of using the voice effectively when telling stories on the radio. 

  • Tell the two stories and ask the children to note when and how you use your voice for effect. 


Main activity 

  • Allocate one of the stories to each group. Give the more complicated story to the more confident groups.

  • Talk about the stories and their underlying meanings. 

  • Suggest how each of the stories could be broken up into sections, so that everyone in a group can tell a small part of it.

  • (Optional) Ask groups to make prompt cards using key phrases and/or sketches to help recall the sequence of events. These can be put on a stick using reusable adhesive, or attached to a piece of string with paperclips. 

  • Allow groups time to practise telling their stories. Encourage them to use their voices to best effect. 

  • Hold a final rehearsal, where all groups tell their stories simultaneously on a given signal. Groups who finish before the others should sit quietly and think about how to improve their individual performance, until every group has finished rehearsing. 

  • Then ask each group in turn to record their story. 



  • Play the recordings back to the children, stopping for comments after each group has told their story. Ask each group to comment on their own storytelling in terms of what worked well and why. Encourage them to focus particularly on the use of the voice. 



  • Adult help in a group 

  • Give groups pre prepared prompt cards and/or a written version of the story.


  • Encourage children to include some direct speech in their story and ask them to explore other storytelling features such as choral speaking.


Assessment questions 

  • Do children appreciate the need to put expression into the voice when recording a story? 

  • When children listen to a story, can they identify when the voice is being used effectively? 

  • Do children understand the underlying meanings of the stories? 


Adaptations/further suggestions  


  • Groups can tell the stories they have rehearsed in the lesson, for a religious assembly on the stories (Jesus) told. Alternatively, they can play their recorded version of the stories, whilst others dress up as the characters and mime some of the events. One group might like to write a modern version of one of the stories. They could read this version to the assembled children, after the original story has been told.

  • Groups could produce a written version of their story. Each person could be responsible for writing the section they told. Two of these written versions could be included in a class book called Stories That (Jesus) Told. Alternatively, all children can write one of the stories from the lesson for their own book of (Jesus’) stories. 

  • Teach this lesson after the children have made a book of stories told by (Jesus). Share out the stories amongst pairs or groups and make the stories into a talking book. Children can read the stories, rather than having to retell them in their own words. Demonstrate how to use the voice effectively by recording one of the stories yourself. Offer tips for talking when being recorded e.g. Speak clearly but don’t shout. Pause briefly between sentences. Use different voices for different characters. Change the tone of your voice to reflect the different events and moods. 

  • Use shared writing to compose a modern version of one of (Jesus’) stories and then record a group telling this story. 

  • Before the lesson, record yourself (or someone else) reading one of the shorter stories told by (Jesus). Tell it badly, by making ineffective use of your voice. Play this to the children and ask them to identify what was wrong with your performance. Ask the children to suggest and/or demonstrate how you could make improvements.

  • Ask the children to consider the following questions: Is it more difficult to concentrate on the story, when the storyteller makes poor use of their voice? Do you think (Jesus) was a good storyteller and if so why? 

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