Telling stories to young children is fundamental for developing their communication, language and literacy skills, which in turn has a profound impact on their social, emotional and educational development. Storytelling is not only about listening to stories but sharing experiences and encouraging good mental health. Stories told by a family member or carer can have a positive impact on the relationship with that person which can in turn support the development of peer relationships. Play reduces stress and encourages exploration in children.
Parents and early years practitioners are not always confident or forthcoming storytellers. This was further amplified during the pandemic when live storytelling sessions were cancelled. Makers of imaginary Worlds responded with ‘The Gift’, a project that created a practical resource to support parents and practitioners to be more confident storytellers. A few performance companies also created pre-recorded audio experiences for families that merged the physical with the auditory experience. These were helpful guides but could not be changed and were only available for a limited period. More than ever the interactive nature of digital technologies has transformed the way children access stories, however much too often the virtual cancels the ordinary reality for children. A hybrid digital system which cohabitates with analogue storytelling can potentially provide more autonomy, imaginative play and language rich interactions for both the storyteller and the child.
This project will research, develop and evaluate an easily accessible digital storytelling voice assistant (DSVA) that enables children (under 10 years including early years, i.e. under 5 years) and storytellers to grow their own adventure.
It is envisaged that the DVSA will create an immersive experience within a physical environment that allows users to interact and shape the story, and is intended to be usable on a smartphone, to include soundscapes, sound effects and characters; recording and repeating experiences; and prompts.
Project Team: Chris Greenhalgh, Chris James Carter, Tom Lodge, Virginia Portillo, Adrian Hazzard, Velvet Sports, Roma Patel, Rachel Ramchurn
Start date: June 2021 (18 months)
This project sits within Horizon’s Co-Production Campaign
Co-Production Campaign blogsite