Story-telling props, as suggested earlier, can be very useful when telling stories to young children and are often very much enjoyed by older children. The story of a child going off to buy a present for Granny is much more fun if the various objects considered as suitable presents can be handed round – the pink soap smells delicious but she doesn’t like pink … the bag of pretty cotton wool balls would be lovely because she likes soft, pretty things but they cost too much … the little bunch of grapes are a beautiful purple but would not be suitable to go in a parcel… the chocolates look scrumptious bur she is always worried about getting too fat… and so on. How long this type ot story can go on will depend on the children. By the time everyone has smelled the soap, fingered the cotton wool, admired the grapes, made suitable noises about the chocolates and eventually decided on a suitable present, this may well be quite enough. In any case this type of story can lead on to a group discussion of what grannies, grandads and aunties like, although this type of extension to story-telling cannot be regarded as a substitute for conversation work in smaller groups.

Puppets can be used to illustrate a story and all children enjoy this. With a new group of children, or for a story-teller who is new to a group, they can be a great help. Children will respond to a puppet quite often when they would be wary of a new adult. Asking them to guess the puppet’s name, suggesting that the puppet guess their names is a good ice-breaker. It has to be kept simple of course. The story of the three bears with four different puppets, a different voice for each character and a full complement of props could be disastrous.

Pictures can be useful for introducing a story. Sometimes just one large picture to be shown at the beginning is enough, at other times a series of pictures would be useful. A suitable place to display them is necessary – perhaps a special board, or a board covered with plastic foam sheet so that mounted pictures backed with the same material can be stuck to it or, more extravagant, a magnetic board. Only good picture material should be used, which for this purpose means large, relevant and attractive. Mounted pictures can be slipped inside a transparent plastic wallet if they are too large to cover satisfactorily. Covering film is easy enough to use if one takes care not to stretch it by pulling too hard and uses it in an average temperature (too much heat or cold seems to affect the adhesive), but large areas are certainly more difficult to cover than smaller ones. The people who draw well and fast can make up pictures with chalk or felt pen as they tell a story.