Tales to tell

EB sockburn worm



 I offer a range of Tales to Tell for your school or venue.  

My stories support the National Curriculum (particularly History and English) and agreed syllabuses for RE.  I also have lots of experience of working with children with special needs. 

Stories are usually accompanied by a handling session, art activity, drama session or writing activity.  School sessions are normally delivered to one class at a time and can last anything from 45 minutes to half a day, to suit individual schools.

I am happy to develop bespoke stories for schools and venues and I can work with school staff to develop short or medium term plans for using stories and associated activities to enhance their teaching. 

I've listed below some of my most popular tales, but click on Top tales this term for more detailed information about those that are particularly appropriate for this term.


Tales of Anglo-Saxon saints and kings
   (History and RE)

Tales of St. Cuthbert

As an old hermit reflects on his life he recounts some amazing tales: how he worked as a young man guarding sheep before a remarkable vision led him to become a monk; his role as a teacher and his struggle to find space to pray; his life of solitude before a King came to visit and his close connection to the animals on his tiny island.

Tales of St. Cuthbert draws on contemporary accounts of his life to reveal one of our most important Anglo-Saxon saints and encourages pupils to ask questions about, and reflect on Cuthbert's life of prayer, his commitment to faith and consider how his story is important to Christians today.

A handling session, using replica artefacts linked to St. Cuthbert,  introduces his life as a monk.  Pupils can then design their own St. Cuthbert (when available, he is often edible!)

Suitable for KS1.  Supports RE syllabus work on St. Cuthbert and NC History work on 'significant historical events, people and places in their own locality'



 Tales of the Northern Saints

Who were Edwin, Oswald, Aidan, Hild, Cuthbert, Bede and Wilfrid?  What happened when Aidan gave away the King's horse and why does a fossil remind us of Hild? 

Tales of the Northern Saints weaves these stories into the heritage of the North East to illustrate their significance both then and now.  It allows opportunities for pupils to consider the impact of early Christianity on the region.

Additional activities include: a writing session using quills; the opportunity to handle vellum and see a page of a real medieval manuscript; activities linked to individual saints and handling sessions with real and replica artefacts.

Suitable for KS2.  Supports RE syllabus work on Northern Saints and NC History work on 'Britain's settlement by Anglo-Saxons and Scots'


Tales of St. Bede

"My chief delight has always been in study, teaching and writing." 

An old monk looks back on his life and tells the stories of some of the people he has met and written about.  But the most amazing stories are the ones about himself: how he studied the tide and the moon and decided the world was round; and how he decided to write about the history of the church in Britain.

A handling session, using replica artefacts and documentary evidence introduces pupils to life for a boy in the monastery.  A follow up activity imagines that the pupils are oblates joining the monastery and encourages them to consider why Bede was sent to the monastery at such a young age and how they might feel if they had to do the same - each pupil will have to make a big decision before they can join the 'monastery'.

Tales of St. Bede draws from the Venerable Bede's own books and contemporary writing about his life and death to reveal our first historian and an amazing northern saint!  It offers opportunities for pupils to reflect on his life of faith and commitment and consider why his life, and work, is still important today.

Suitable for KS1.  Supports RE syllabus work on St. Bede and NC History work on 'significant historical events, people and places in their own locality'



Tales of the Anglo-Saxons

Who was King Edwin? How did the Anglo-Saxons become Christians and why should we not call the period the 'Dark Ages'?

Hear tales of Anglo-Saxon saints and kings, learn about their culture through handling real and replica artefacts, take part in a range of hands-on activities and discover how an Anglo-Saxon monk wrote the first History book of England - and knew the world was round!

Hands-on activities include: seeing a real medieval manuscript fragment then writing using a quill pen; learning the skills of an archaeologist by examining an Anglo-Saxon "burial" and recording the grave finds; learning to use aerial photographs to identify Anglo-Saxon building remains; creating a simple woven band using drop weights; studying Anglo-Saxon carvings and creating your own inhabited vine scroll.

Tales of the Anglo-Saxons offers the opportunity for pupils to build a vibrant chronology, think critically, weigh evidence and develop perspective and judgement.  The session draws from contemporary documents (Bede's Ecclesiastical History and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles), modern day writing and archaeological evidence to encourage pupils to select and organise historical information and develop an understanding of historical knowledge gathered from a range of sources.

Suitable for KS2.  Supports NC History work on 'Britain's settlement by Anglo-Saxons and Scots', particularly Anglo-Saxon invasions, settlements and kingdoms, Anglo-Saxon art and culture and Christian conversion.


 War Tales

Bella's War

A voice from the home front during WWII

A postcard arrives from France with birthday greetings.  Bella's husband, Tommy, was one of the thousands who went over in the days after D-Day.  As she waits for news, Bella reflects on her life at home - a life filled with children, both her own and 2 evacuees, and her work to support the war effort.

We also hear brief snatches from Tommy as he writes those letters home.

Bella's War is supported by a handling session using real and replica photographs, artefacts and archive material, including medals, letters and Tommy's postcards.  Pupils can also use the postcard as a stimulus to write Bella's reply.

Suitable for KS2.  Supports NC History work on 'a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupil's chronological knowledge beyond 1066', particularly 'a significant turning point in British history'.


Tales from the Great War

Four different voices tell their experience of the First World War:

George's Tale begins in France in 1915 when he receives a very special box.  Hear about his war from the postcards, letters and photographs he sends home first from France, and then from a much more exotic place.

Norman played for Sunderland AFC before the war; now he is ostracised because of his beliefs - but that's only the beginning of his nightmare.

Annie's Tale tells of life as a "munitionette" in the shell shop, or ammunitions factory.  A young woman who takes up the call to work and discovers she is capable of more than she thought.

Frederick is facing Christmas in the trenches and wishing he was home - but then a Christmas miracle happens.

Each of these tales is drawn from real witness accounts, letters and documentary evidence to give an insight into the different ways lives were affected by the outbreak of war.  They are supported by a handling session using real artefacts including medals, regimental badges, postcards and George's tin.

Suitable for KS2.  Supports NC History 'a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupil's chronological knowledge beyond 1066'.

Suitable for KS3.  Supports NC History 'challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day'.


Christmas and Easter Tales
   (RE - Christianity)

The Shepherd's Tale

"Have you come to hear the story?  Huddle up close then, it's a cold night tonight on the hills above Bethlehem." 

This magical story session takes pupils back to the time of the birth of Jesus as the shepherd recounts the night the angel Gabriel visited him.  Gather round the shepherd's "fire" to hear a very special story. 

The session concludes with time for pupils to reflect on why Jesus is special for Christians and then make an angel to hang on their own Christmas tree.

Suitable for all ages but particularly EYFS and KS1.  Supports RE syllabus work on the Christmas Story, Christmas as a special time and the meaning of Christmas


The Wise Man's Tale

"One night I saw a star burning brighter than any I had ever seen before."

 Gather round as an old astronomer tells of the time he spotted a brilliant star in the sky.  Hear how he set off on a journey to bring gifts to a king and found the most amazing baby.

This dramatic telling of the version of the nativity in St. Matthew's Gospel takes pupils on a wonderful journey with the wise men.  The session concludes with time for pupils to consider the symbolism of each of the gifts given to the baby Jesus, to reflect on why Christians believe Jesus to be a gift, then to make a star to hang on their own Christmas tree.

Suitable for all ages but particularly EYFS and KS1.  Supports RE syllabus work on the Christmas Story, Christmas as a special time and the meaning of Christmas


The Tale of the First Christmas

A reflective look at the birth of Jesus.  The nativity story is told in 13 stages: starting with the world and ending with love.  Each stage is unpacked as a symbol from a box and, at key points, we hear the stories of central characters including the Angel Gabriel, Joseph, Mary, the shepherds and the wise men.

Storytelling, stilling and reflection provide a powerful environment to allow pupils to consider the true meaning of Christmas for Christians. 

(This tale can also be extended to include time for pupils to make the Christmas story as a hanging bead decoration - small additional cost applies.)

Suitable for KS2.  Supports RE syllbus work on 'What is the meaning of Christmas', 'Why do Christians call Jesus the Light of the World' and 'What are the themes of Christmas'.


Tales from the Jesse Tree

Hear the stories of some of Jesus' ancestors.  You may have heard about King David, but have you heard the tale of Ruth or Samuel? 

Jesse trees, carved in stone, wood or in stained glass were once found in many churches and cathedrals and served as the family tree of Jesus, helping Christians to understand how the New Testament grew out of the Old Testament.  

Tales from the Jesse Tree begins with Adam and Eve and ends with the first Christmas and can be told in Advent or to support work on Christmas.  Each story has its own symbol and there are opportunities for groups/classes to create their own tree with symbols.

Suitable for all ages.  Supports RE syllabus work on the themes of Christmas and Jesus as a special person



The Angel's Tale

"The day he was born we all went - a whole host of God's messengers.  But it was my job to stay with him until the very end"

A very special witness tells the Easter story as he unpacks the tokens he took from each of the key events: a palm leaf left on the road after the entry into Jerusalm; a piece of bread from the Last Supper; the cloth Pilate washed his hands on at the trial; a nail from the cross and some sweet smelling oil from the tomb.

The Angel's Tale concludes with the opportunity for pupils to reflect on, and ask questions about, the Easter story to develop an understanding of the meaning of Easter for Christians.

Suitable for KS1.  Supports RE syllabus work on Easter


Were you there?

Hear the Easter story from the point of view of those people who witnessed Jesus' last days.  Joshua describes the hopes of those who watched Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Judas and James tell their stories of the Last Supper, Peter laments over Good Friday and Mary describes her encounter in the garden on Easter Day.

'Were you there?' can either be told as individual tales to specific year groups, or it can be delivered as a series of stations, with backdrops, handling objects and sounds.  Pupils are led from station to station to hear a story and take part in an activity which allows them time to reflect on and ask questions about each tale to develop an understanding of the importance of Easter for Christians.

Suitable for KS2.  Supports RE syllabus work on Easter


 Bible Tales     (RE - Christianity)

Jesus Tales

Tales about Jesus and tales Jesus told.  Includes stories such as Jesus calming the storm, The Feeding of the Five Thousand and parables such as The Lost Sheep and The Eye of the Needle. 

Involves puppets and activities to encourage pupils to reflect on Jesus as a special person for Christians and consider why Jesus told stories.

EYFS - supports RE syllabus work on Jesus as a special person and stories about Jesus

KS1 - supports RE syllabus work on stories about Jesus



Tales from the Bible

Listen to the ground rumble as Goliath walks into battle, hear how Jonah ended up in a whale and listen to Joseph's brothers' side of the story of that coat.  These, and many other, tales will introduce some key Bible characters and look at stories you may already know from a different angle.

A selection of tales from, and inspired by, Old and New Testament stories.

Suitable for KS1. Supports RE syllabus work on the Bible


Traditional tales, fairy tales, myths and legends   (English and History)

Telling tales

How can swapping a cow for a bag of beans cause such an extraordinary turn of events?  Hear Jack's mother's version of events.  Do you know the story of the old man who rode out of the sea and claimed to come from the land of eternal youth?   

Hear a range of fantastic fairy stories and tremendous tales and legends.  Some will be well known, perhaps with an added twist, and some may be new to you.  They are sourced from the North East, across the British Isles and round the world.

Telling Tales usually starts with an unusual object or tableaux, designed to fire the children's curiosity and imagination.  All tales offer the opportunity for pupils to ask questions and consider meanings and characteristics of the stories.

The session includes time for pupils to re-tell or map out their own version of the stories, and/or create their own tale.  A range of techniques including: drama, pupil's oral storytelling and talk for writing support and encourage pupil confidence and competence in spoken language, listening and writing skills.

Suitable for KS1and lower KS2.  Supports work in NC English


Unbelievable beasts

Tales of fantastic creatures from the famous legend of the Lambton Worm to the less well-known tale of the Sockburn Worm.  Marvel at the brave knights who challenged dragons and other fearsome creatures then make a dragon of your own.

Supports work in NC English

KS1 - session usually involves story of Sockburn or Lambton Worm plus opportunity to make a dragon

KS2 - session considers the role of monsters in literature and includes tales such as Beowulf and the Epic of Gilgamesh plus opportunity for children to map out their own Unbelievable Beast story


Tales from Ancient Greece

Tales of gods, heroes and monsters.  Hear about Heracles and the labours he had to perform and learn about Jason's epic journey.  Tales from Ancient Greece will look at Greek creation myths, stories of Greek gods and legends of Greek heroes to develop pupils' understanding of the importance of myths and legends, their influence on the Romans and their continued relevance today.

Suitable for KS2.  Supports NC History work on Ancient Greece