Frequently Asked Questions:
Multiple series of lessons designed to engage, motivate and inspire middle to upper primary children (Years 3 - 6) with storytelling in its many forms. (Comprises 3 series with 12 lessons in each series).
Ultimately, Story Tools is designed to:
Story Tools is a new, stand-alone product, created as an additional offering to our digital library platform, Story Box Library. Story Tools requires a separate subscription from an existing Story Box Library subscription. Both Story Tools and Story Box Library are ad-free and safe for kids of all ages.Story Tools is a new, stand-alone product, created as an additional offering to our digital library platform, Story Box Library. Story Tools requires a separate subscription from an existing Story Box Library subscription. Both Story Tools and Story Box Library are ad-free and safe for kids of all ages.
There are 12 video lessons in each series, and we’re currently in production with Series 3 – that’s 36 comprehensive lessons! Series 1 and 2 have been released, and Series 3 will be launched in February 2024.
Each video lesson is delivered by two visionary Australian book creators, hosted and narrated by the fabulous Tamala Shelton. We’d like you to meet our amazing creators and you can find their introductions on our Story Tools website here.
Series 1 Lesson 8: All About Genre - In this lesson, children learn about different story genres, and how to spot clues that tell us what kind of story they're in. Kids also explore how to find story genres they enjoy. Featured authors Ben McKenzie and Karys McEwen describe genre clues and how kids can use these to find more stories they enjoy.
Series 2 Lesson 5: Heroes and Villains - Kids hear from authors Adam Wallace and Bernard Caleo about what makes a captivating hero and villain, and why these types of characters are found in SO many stories. They explore how good guys and baddies can become truly worthy opponents – and learn some writing secrets to help when they’re creating them.
Here is the 3 series overview and the rationale behind the lesson topics and course sequence.
Each series is roughly broken down into five main sections:
It’s a holistic approach, designed to address all those key skills for writing, encouraging an enjoyment of the craft as well. We know that as teachers, librarians, and educators, you’ll enjoy delivering the content, facilitating that creativity while also encouraging further engagement in reading and storytelling in the process!
Inspiring disengaged learners
It can be challenging sometimes to inspire children in the middle and upper grades, particularly those who may not have a lot of confidence in their writing abilities, or who might feel uninspired to extend themselves beyond their usual ‘comfort zone’. Our resources will help you overcome this and get your children writing more than you’ve ever seen them write before!
Connecting authentically to the world around them
With the involvement of well-known authors and illustrators, children get to see the real-world application of the skills and concepts they are learning about. The activities in each lesson have been specifically designed to be as creative as possible so kids are motivated to engage with the focus of the lesson, and to try out some new strategies and techniques. Hearing firsthand from creatives on their experience will resonate with some, if not all, young writers. There are even a few ‘behind the scenes’ publishing-focused lessons, such as Series 2 Lesson 11: The Book Factory, which provides your young creators with a fascinating glimpse into how books are made, while giving them context and the ‘bigger picture’ for their own creative work.
Story Tools is a flexible resource that can be used to support your current literacy program. You may prefer a ‘pick and mix’ type approach of selecting lessons that best fit into what you’re doing/focusing on. There’s no planning involved because we’ve done the hard work for you!
Diversity and Individual Needs
Story Tools caters to a diverse range of learners, and there are opportunities for children to discover different reading genres, which in turn, helps extend their reading preferences. It also fosters a sense of belonging in a program that promotes kids to see themselves in these stories. There are so many literacy programs out there that make kids feel like they don’t belong, or they don’t see themselves, or feel that they can celebrate who they are in the stories they hear and read. We want to change this and ensure all children feel - and are - included.
What does this look like in the Story Tools program?:
We really want to give ALL children an ‘in’ to the world of storytelling, especially those ‘reluctant’ readers and writers – so the next few lessons are all about exploring different kinds of story forms, from non-fiction to audio fiction and zines. We think these particular genres will help connect, engage and ignite a passion for literacy.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES EACH STORY TOOLS LESSON LOOK LIKE?
Each lesson contains so many great resources. You get:
We have one of the best line-ups of creators in Australia! [Click here to see the list and profiles of those involved in series 1 and 2 Story Tools]. For example, the Creators of Series One include the brilliant authors Anna Walker, Davina Bell, George Ivanoff, Karys McEwen, Lili Wilkinson, Mat Larkin, Melissa Keil, Jane Godwin, Nicki Greenberg, and Nova Weetman. Creatives such as David Booth and Ben Mckenzie also feature. Ben is a performer, writer, game designer and ‘nerd for all seasons. David Booth is an artist whose work has been exhibited at and acquired by several leading institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Museum and Parliament House Art Collection.
For a little teasers and spoiler alert you can expect to see Shaun Tan coming in series 3 which is going to be EPIC!
Tamala Shelton is a gifted writer and spoken word poet in her own right, but she’s also our Story Tools host and narrator. Tamala is a Bundjalung and Lamalama performer who is a game-changer when it comes to storytelling. Tamala’s vibrancy and creative spark is something that sets Story Tools and Story Box Library apart, as well as being responsible for that contagious and cheeky whistle that starts every lesson. With such unique expertise, our creators – and Talama! - will walk your kids through how to bring words and pictures together to bring their ideas to life. And she’s got her own episode coming in Series 3 all about audio-fiction narration!
One of the main benefits of Story Tools is that it showcases a range of popular, award-winning authors and illustrators, who often provide different approaches and insights into story creation. You can invite these experts into your learning space whenever you like. We know that having writers come to your school is a valuable experience but there are times that it's just not possible to do that, logistically and financially. With Story Tools, children have access to a wide range of talented creators who are sharing their tips, techniques and valuable insights to help inspire and spark kids' creativity and story writing craft. And a subscription to Story Tools provides outstanding value!
Before you submit Story Tools to your leadership team for resource selection, download and use our Planning Guide which you can find here to ensure you’re well prepared for a successful outcome. We’re also here to support you, so please reach out if we can help you to implement Story Tools into your school. We believe every school needs Story Tools, so we’ve made it our mission to ensure all kids have access to this special resource, and we’ve kept the price competitive and affordable. Our team of expert helpers will happily answer all your questions!
HOW CAN I INCORPORATE STORY TOOLS INTO OUR LEARNING SPACE?
You don’t need to do any additional work, because Story Tools has been designed to integrate with what you’re already doing. And, if you’re so inclined, you could also use our app which makes Story Tools super-portable, no matter where your teaching space is.
Story Tools is super flexible. You can use the series and lessons sequentially, or lessons can be used in any order that suits your needs. Whilst you may choose to work through the lesson, there’s no need to deliver these lessons in the order we’ve presented them, just as there's no prerequisite to watch one video before another.
Each lesson is treated as a discrete unit, which introduces the topic and gives kids strategies and tools for understanding and engaging with it. Essentially, you can use the lessons however you like, in whatever order works best for you!
Story Tools also enables you to build upon planned in-person visits from creators that you already offer. With the press of a button, you can increase children’s access to those same authors and illustrators any time you want, no matter where you are, allowing for further inspiration and learning opportunities for your budding writers.
Story Tools scaffolds learning in two ways:
1. In each lesson, resources have been carefully designed to build on skills and promote children to move through the lessons at their own pace.
2. Secondly, within the series we scaffold some of the bigger ideas. For example, Series 1 Lesson 3: The Story Building Blocks, introduces children to the five main elements of story building (Plot, Setting, Character, Problem, Resolution). Following this, we have lessons that develop on this concept such as, Series 1 Lesson 4: All About Plot or Series 3 Lesson 3: Place and Time – that break these elements down further and delve into each one in a lot more detail.
Each of our lessons outlines which strands and objectives the lesson relates to in the English curriculum. The General Capability area of Critical and Creative Thinking is also embedded throughout the lessons.
S2L 9: All About Non-Fiction - Children engage in activities in this lesson that require them to explore and analyse different non-fiction texts, such as the layout, language, use of visual images and diagrams, etc. In doing this, children are encouraged to consider how these elements have been used to convey information in a clear and interesting way. They then have the opportunity to apply these elements themselves when writing a nonfiction piece for a particular audience.
These activities can be mapped to the following English Curriculum Learning Objectives:
Many of the lessons also have strong connections with the General Capability strand of Critical and Creative Thinking. These are designed so that kids can engage with concepts and techniques authentically, with well-known authors and creators providing them with insights into practical and relevant techniques and skills. Children are then presented with activities that support and scaffold them to explore and analyse these concepts further, often inviting them to make connections with their own experiences. Kids can then apply these new understandings and skills to generate ideas and solutions in their own story writing.
For example, in Series 3 Lesson 4: Writing Endings - with the help of award-winning authors
Leanne Hall and Meg McKinlay, children discover different ways narrative stories can end. They explore and experiment with rewriting endings by applying some of the approaches introduced to them in the video and activities.
Therefore, tapping into the following elements of Critical and Creative Thinking, Level 3 & 4 means that kids can:
What if we told you that Story Tools isn’t just about writing? We’ve got quite a few lessons that focus on illustrating, from how to draw a character to what an illustrated story might look like. Story Tools understands that creativity, storytelling, imagination is so different for each child. With Story Tools, you can work alongside Australia’s best authors and illustrators to help ignite that creative spark in exciting and individual ways to unlock unlimited potential.
Some examples could be to check out Series 1 Lesson 6: ‘Introducing Illustrated Stories,’ where David Booth and Nicki Greenberg help your young creators to ‘invent new worlds…and then to get lost in them.’ And because we love helping you to banish the boring from your literacy lessons, imagine surprising your kids students with their writing focus for the week which is actually … drawing. How much fun would that be? Or, if your kids were keen to explore the wonder of picture books, Series 1 Lesson10: ‘All About Picture Books ’ will help to ‘unlock the door’ to their imaginations.
Whatever lesson you decide to choose, you’re opening the door to every kid’s student’s creativity with Story Tools, and moving them closer to being the confident storytellers you know they can be.
Firstly, download and familiarise yourself with the lesson package - in particular, the lesson plan. Select which of the two main lesson activities you'll use first with your class and print any handouts required. Begin the lesson with the pre-video discussion prompts found in the lesson plan. Play the video in its entirety and then explore the video content with your kids using some (or all) of the post-video discussion prompts. Finally, introduce and engage your young creators with one of the pre-selected activities for the lesson, utilising the accompanying resources.
Each activity will take approximately 45 min to 1 hour to complete, including viewing the video. You can select one of the two main activities included in each lesson, or can do both, depending on your classroom needs and time allocated. The lesson activities are not sequential or linked, and so they can be used independently of each other!
Our worksheets are vibrant, colourful, engaging, purposeful and fun! They’re created to scaffold and support children by helping them to generate, organise, and analyse their ideas and information relating to the learning focus. Worksheets may include templates, prompts and scenarios for kids to work with. Examples of work are also provided which we think is an important part of the program, because providing exemplars is a powerful way to motivate kids, modeling where they might go with their creative journey. Again, flexibility is at the heart of what we do, roll with it and your kids’ needs! You can choose what to use, depending on your childrens’ needs and understanding of an activity.
The reference posters can be used to help unpack and outline the terminology, concepts and processes related to the lesson focus. They are there as a reference, and serve as a reminder for kids to refer to when carrying out an activity. These are perfect for a visual learner and they’re designed to be used in your learning space, either on-screen or printed for display if you wish!
With a Story Tools subscription you can watch videos here on our website, or in our iOS app.
Absolutely! Our Story Tools iOS app means that you’ve got Story Tools handy, no matter where you are! Download the app here..com.au to speak to our friendly sales team. If you’re from a public library, a member of our team will connect you with our partners at James Bennett.
- Karys, Secondary educator
- Amelia, Primary & Secondary educator
- Jackie, Primary educator