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A factor that characterises human societies is that we are able to understand each other’s mental states. Scientists call this Theory of Mind – we can comprehend that other people have beliefs, feelings and experiences that are different to our own. 


The Nal’ibali Storyplay approach brings stories to life!

Storyplay incorporates story reading, storytelling, dictating personal stories and acting out one another’s stories. It is highly interactive, fun and educationally inclusive., and can be done with children of all ages, combining their love for stories and their unyielding joy for play. All related talking, thinking and other activities make storytelling meaningful to children, at the same time supporting their early and ongoing communication, reading and writing development.

Training on the approach is delivered to educators, teachers, early childhood practitioners, parents and others who work with children. They then put it into action in their own settings with the children in their care.  

The beauty of Storyplay is that it brings the original story to life! It allows children to imagine where the story takes place and to create and represent this world through their play. It also gives the adults time to observe children’s learning and play, while allowing children independence and autonomy to demonstrate skills and interests that may otherwise remain hidden.

Our Approach

The Nal’ibali Storyplay approach supports each child’s engagement with stories. The first step is ensuring regular opportunities for children to listen to stories - both read and told. 

Children engage with these stories using Storyplay activities, which include:

  • Discussions about stories in whole groups, small groups or one-to-one
  • Children retelling stories to one another
  • Children telling stories to adults who write these down for them
  • Acting out of all kinds of stories, including ones from storybooks and children’s own stories which they have dictated
  • Drawing pictures, pretending to write and play-acting stories
  • Creating scenes or characters from stories with clay, playdough or recycled materials, developing coordination and creative skills

Over time, this develops a community of adults and children who value stories and benefit from them.   The communication between adult and child is centred on the story, and explores what thoughts and feelings are aroused. Children are encouraged to imagine themselves in the story’s setting and explore these hypothetical scenarios in a subjective way: What would they see? What might they hear? Who would they meet? What has happened to characters in the story?  What problems might they encounter in the story and how could they solve them? They also encourage them to consider questions such as: How do we listen? How can we ask others to listen? How can we listen with our hearts and brains as well as our bodies, eyes and ears?

This helps adults get to know the children and vice versa. Children become more confident as they learn to express their ideas and feelings and grow to trust these adults who show an interest in them.

The Nal’ibali Way

Nal’ibai Storyplay is rooted in research which shows that when young children use the platform for play and dialogue, they develop imagination and manipulate symbols. These, together with ‘pretend reading and writing’ as well as picture reading and drawing, are all essential to their literacy learning. These activities motivate free reading, where children are encouraged to choose their own books and tell their own stories. In fact, choosing to read is a significant factor in learning to read. When motivated children engage in meaningful and relevant conversation about stories, their knowledge and their oral language develops.

In Nal’ibali Storyplay workshops, participants begin to understand the importance of stories for modelling literate behavior. They explore their own stories, practice storytelling and learn how to make stories central to children in their own learning environments.