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Action Research: Story Time bodies

Across the many groups who have taken DMP courses over the years, there has been much discussion about Story Time. How should we respond to the children who appear not to be listening - who want to be on the move, who wriggle and roll and fiddle with their neighbours?

Several practitioners undertook Action Research projects to explore the area further.  We are interested that the subject has come up, in just the same ways, on all the courses we have been teaching recently.

Nursery Officer, Nursery, Kingstanding

In my pre-school  setting, we conducted research during story time to help and encourage children to listen to the story. With a DMP approach in mind, we wanted to know if a different focus on ‘body behaviours’ would make a difference to what children gained from a story. 

Week one 

We started by spending a week asking the children at story time to “sit nicely” on a chair. We found that the children became fidgety and lost concentration with the story. 

Week two 

Children were asked to sit in the story corner and immediately all sat on a chair with their feet on the floor. Then we invited them to “get comfy”. They were a little unsure at first; to encourage them I sat on the chair with my legs crossed and explained that was how I felt happy to read the story – my way of getting comfy. The children then felt more at ease to move into a position they were happy with, resulting in a variety of positions from lying on a sofa, or on the floor, to putting their legs in the air. 

When they were settled I read them a story they hadn’t heard before. They started to roll around and interact with each other. I continued to read the story and became more animated to regain their attention. When asked about the story afterwards, I was surprised to hear how much they had taken in and how well they had listened. 

Throughout the week the children remained interested and happy during story time. Each session was a little more settled and relaxed as the novelty of being allowed to get comfy wore off. When talking about the story after each session the children could recall details of the plot. 

Day 1 

Children very excitable, unsure about getting comfy. Very giggly – started rolling around and messing. Recalled simple aspects of story 

Day 2 

Got into comfy position quickly. Excited at start. More relaxed as story went on. Recalled main plot 

Day 3 

Settled in comfy position quickly. Most children quite calm. A few slight movements during story. Recalled main plot – few children know the details 

Day 4 

Settled well, children chose their preferred positions. Very calm – some children snuggling together. All children recall plot – some recall detail 

Day 5 

Settled quickly in preferred spot. Calm – some children snuggled together. Relaxed atmosphere. All children recall plot – some more detail, favourite parts and characters 


By reading stories in this way, both children and staff can be comfy, relaxed and happy - and children are involved in potentially significant sensory and movement activity at the same time. Most of the children can now recall intricate details of a story. 

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