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6 Reasons why Helicopter Stories should be an essential part of early years education

date October 16, 2023Trisha Lee


In this insightful blog storytelling advocate Trisha Lee shares her 6 reasons why Helicopter Stories should be an essential part of early childhood education.

A story about nothing

Today a three-year-old, on her first day at nursery, decided she wanted to tell a Helicopter Story. It was a remarkable moment, especially considering she had been in the room for less than an hour. We were gathered around the stage, acting out stories, when she put up her hand to share her tale.

Then she froze.

“What character do you want to be in your story?” I asked, hoping to ease her in gently.

“Nothing,” she replied, her eyes fixed on the taped-out stage in front of her. Then she shuffled onto it.

young girl covering her eyes

I invited the girl to walk around the stage. A girl in a story. Then, something magical happened. Another child, perhaps sensing her vulnerability, joined her, without any prompting from me. It was a simple yet profound act of solidarity. The two girls walked around the stage, acting in a story that had no words.

Now, some people might think that isn’t a story, but all of us watching, knew that it was.

This touching incident, encapsulates one of the most crucial lessons we can learn from Helicopter Stories: nothing a child does can be wrong. The three-year-old, took a risk, even though she wasn’t sure what was involved and risk is the essence of creativity.

What is Helicopter Stories?

Helicopter Stories is, in theory, a simple approach. The practitioner scribes the children’s stories, word for word, and then the group comes together to act them out. The equipment needed is minimal, a rollof masking tape, several sheets of A5 paper, a pen and a practitioner who is curious to uncover the rich world of children’s imaginations.

Simple yet powerful.

children in kindergarten in circle with teacher

Here are 6 reasons why I think Helicopter Stories should be an essential part of all early years education.


1 – Develops language and communication skills:

  • Through storytelling, children enhance their language skills by creating narratives, characters, and dialogues. The approach promotes active listening as children eagerly share their stories with their peers.

2 – Encourages a lifelong love for storytelling and learning:

  • Helicopter Stories instil a deep appreciation for storytelling, reading, and writing in children. It sets the foundation for a lifelong love of learning by making education a joyful and imaginative experience.

3 – Building confidence and creativity:

  • Creativity thrives when children feel safe to take risks, and Helicopter Stories create a nurturing environment for this.

4 – Child-centered approach:

  • Helicopter Stories values every child’s unique contribution and celebrates the diversity of their ideas. Nothing a child does during a Helicopter Stories session can be wrong.

5 – Active engagement:

  • Encourages children to become storytellers and actors in their own narratives, promoting active engagement and ownership of their stories.

6 – Fosters social and emotional development:

  • Collaborative storytelling and dramatic play in Helicopter Stories help children develop empathy and cooperation skills. It offers a space for emotional expression and the exploration of complex feelings.

Helicopter Stories is not just about making up stories and acting them out; it is also a gateway into a world where every child’s voice is cherished and celebrated.

This remarkable approach empowers children to become confident, creative, and compassionate individuals. It’s a reminder that in the realm of early education, every moment is an opportunity for growth, creativity, and connection.

girl sitting cross legged

It reminds us that even a story about nothing, is a story about something, if we watch and listen carefully enough.

About the Author

Trisha Lee Headshot

Trisha Lee is an advocate for the role of storytelling and story acting within Early Years Education. She is passionate about the need for a creative, story rich environment in the early years. As Artistic Director of Make Believe Arts, the small charity behind Helicopter Stories, Trisha has developed The Poetry Basket and The Story Basket to support EYFS practitioners in sharing a diverse range of poetry and audio only stories with their children supporting their growth as storytellers.

Trisha has spoken at numerous EYFS conferences, as well as sharing Helicopter Stories with children across the world, including townships in South Africa, local schools in Vietnam, and with kindergarten children in America, Australia and New Zealand.


To find out more visit the Helicopter Stories website – or follow @helicopterstories on Instagram or Facebook