Thursday, 17 July 2014

Using myths and legends to inspire confidence and improve literacy skills



Myths and legends can inspire in drama, art, and more!
(Image: belmont.school.nz)
Teaching mythology is a great way to develop a love of reading and writing in students of all ages, to inspire in drama and art and to cultivate a desire to research ancient history and other cultures. 

It's also a great theme to explore with students who are less confident in their abilities and less engaged with learning. The world of myths, legends, fairytales and folklore has no boundaries - it is limitless. Our more vulnerable youngsters can create, dream and imagine, without fear of being judged or without fear of getting it wrong.

Teaching myths and legends to students with Special Educational Needs, or to those whose first language is not English or struggle with reading for example, can be made even easier with the amazing resources available online. Video clips, audio stories, animations, and interactive maps and games are just a few.

Below are reviews of two websites which could prove very useful when differentiating for your less 'able' students. 

Interested? Read on. 

Storynory.com
Key Stages 1 and 2



Packed full of humorous audio stories, Storynory is brilliant for introducing young children to a number of different myths and legends.

You'll find a massive range of free audio stories to download here, including legends such as Robin Hood and King Arthur and a number of Greek myths.

The majority of these audio stories are around 10 to 15 minutes long, and the longer myths are generally split up into parts. Most are available as a transcript also, and on the occasion of a more complicated myth (The Trojan war, for example, which confusingly appears both in history and mythology), the Storynory team have put together some background information to help kids understand both the fact and the fiction.

The auditory form of these stories means this site is brilliant for children who might struggle with reading myths and legends in written form. The site’s homepage suggests using the audio stories with blind or autistic children, or with those whose first language is not English.

The site is also very simply laid out and easy to navigate. This, along with the bright colours and pictures, the cute mascot (a frog named Prince Bertie – once a human prince of course!), and the simple wording of the stories, means young children will have no trouble exploring Storynory on their own if they want to.

Myths and Legends
Key Stages 1, 2 and 3



A great resource for developing a love of stories and storytelling, there are over 75 vibrantly animated myths and legends from the British Isles and beyond to watch and explore on this site.

With each myth set out like a storybook, readers can sit back and watch the animations unfold, or manually click through at their own pace. The accompanying words are also read aloud, along with realistic sound effects, which is great if working with children with SEN in literacy or whose first language is not English.

Teachers can register with the site for free, which then allows their students to upload their own myths and legends (either as a written text, or recorded file) for the teacher to review online. The site provides a whole range of free images and sounds students can download and use when doing this.


Reading and listening to myths can inspire children to 
create their own.

(Image: nicurriculum.org.uk)
For students who want to take their story one step further, there’s the StoryCreator tool, which allows you to create your own storybook style animations, similar to those on the rest of the website. Anyone can access the tool and create a story, but unfortunately, to save and upload your story to the site, your school must subscribe. Whole school access costs £59 a year. It is a fantastic tool though, and I believe worth at least considering. It’s a lot of fun to play around with, but really encourages creativity. It would also be perfect for introducing students to story structure and planning, as well as certain aspects of ICT.

Even if you don’t decide to subscribe, this site is definitely well worth a visit with your class. Students of all ages will really enjoy the animated myths and legends, and the site’s emphasis on the importance of stories and imagination should hopefully inspire them to create their own, whether they’re using the StoryCreator tool or not.

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