Oral stories

Oral Stories for Year 2

These Hamilton tales and fables have been written as oral stories and they form an essential part of any good Speaking and Listening strategy. They serve to increase children's mental bank of characters, settings, story idioms and narrative styles. There's lots of choice too! You get the whole tale plus a shortened bullet-point version for reminders as you tell the tale to children.

Oral stories provide fantastic experiences for children, quite different from the (equally fabulous) experience of being read a written text. As you tell the children the story you can make eye-contact, alter the pace to increase suspense, adapt the sound level of your voice for atmospheric effect and use elaborated descriptions to convey pictures to be imagined rather than seen.

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This is a shorter, simpler version of this much-loved fairy tale. This would be an ideal version for children to mime or act out as part of the story-telling. Perhaps they could add details, e.g. new names for the Ugly Sisters or other objects the fairy-godmother changed with her magic wand!

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Granny Nolan's House

This story with familiar settings tells how Granny Nolan had always loved the views from her house. When she receives a letter from the council, telling her they need to knock down her house to make way for a new road, Granny tells everyone she knows that she has no intention of leaving. In the end Granny is looking out of the window the morning the bulldozers were due to arrive. The story leaves lots open to discussion: what do children think she sees? What will happen next? Do they agree with Granny Nolan’s decision not to leave?

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In this animal story, Hubert the lion cub lives with his mum and many brothers and sisters in a Safari Park in Kenya. Although his life is a happy one, he becomes unhappy to find he is the only lion who cannot roar. The story ends with, ‘But that day, something happened which meant Hubert stopped worrying about growling.’ Children can decide what occurred to make this happen, perhaps writing from the lion cub’s point of view. The story can lead into learning about food ladders and learning about Africa.

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Hunka Munka's Tale

In this animal adventure story, Hunka Munka, the mother mouse, and her family are lying still and quiet as they have heard Jemima Cat enter the house. Her purring is very loud, making the mice’s nest shake. The young mice are too scared to sleep, so Hunka Munka tells them a story about a lion and a mouse. Mouse convinces Lion not to eat her, because after all she is just a small bag of dry bones. She promises Lion that if he spares her, she will repay him. Lion agrees, though laughs that this would surely never happen. When Lion is ensnared in a net, Mouse indeed saves him by chewing through it and freeing him, keeping her promise.

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Jack and the Moon Ride

In this adventure story, we learn that Jack has been obsessed with the moon since she was very young. An opportunity comes to apply for a trip to the moon. However, she cannot think of what to write in her application. She just sends a very careful and accurate picture of the moon and only two lines of writing. She waits for what seems ages but finally hears she has been chosen and takes the trip of a lifetime.

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This story begins in a familiar setting but moves into an imaginary world. Katie has always been a fussy eater and refuses everything and anything that is offered to her. She survives mostly on biscuits. One day, something strange happens: her world becomes reptile like. Everyone appears slightly green and scaly and food includes slug puffs and wasp waffles! Katie cannot eat the slightest morsel and is hungry and miserable all day. The following day goes back to normal and Katie is grateful for any food she is offered!

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Lily and the Lion

In this story with familiar settings, we learn how much Katie enjoys lions. She has a season ticket and visits them at the local zoo every day before and after school. Katie watches the zoo-keepers feeding them and enjoys watching the lions for as long as possible. The story ends with, ‘But one day, something happened that was to change Lily’s life…’ Children can decide on their own endings as well as draw what they think the lions’ enclosure looks like. This is a good springboard into finding out about lions.

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Little Red Riding Hood

This is a shorter version of the traditional fairy tale that children will find easy to learn. Children can join in with the wolf’s response to Red’s comments about his physical features! In this version, Grandmother is hiding in the shed as opposed to being gobbled up whole by the wolf, but the woodcutter still comes to the rescue.

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Message in a Bottle

In this story with familiar settings, many people are enjoying a day at the beach that involves activities such as swimming, building sandcastles and queueing for ice-cream. George, a little boy born with one leg, goes to a quieter part of the beach to avoid unwelcome stares from other people. He comes across a message in a bottle. The story ends with, ‘And inside was a carefully folded piece of paper…’ Who was the message from? What did they ask for? This may inspire children to create their own messages in a bottle. Who will they send it to?

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Rags to Riches

In this autobiographical story, the story-teller relates how she came from a very poor family, with many brothers and sisters. She used to admire the ladies coming in and out of the upscale clothes shops, but especially enjoyed looking at their hats. One day, she finds a bag of chalks and begins to draw the hats she sees. She gains quite a reputation for her hat artwork and begins to earn a few coins from many of the customers. One day, the shopkeeper asks her to draw his new line of spring season hats and we learn this is where the story-teller indeed moves from rags to riches.

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In this imaginary story, the story-teller’s dog, Shadow, eats a handful of crisps and suddenly grows twice his normal size! The story-teller takes him for a walk and he behaves just as normal. However, when they return home, it is clear there is something strange going on with Shadow. The story-teller is worried about what Mum and Dad will say when they see Shadow. The story ends with, ‘But just then something strange happened…’ Children will enjoy discussing their own endings for this one. Also, children could list ideas to answer this question: If crisps make Shadow grow bigger, what food might make him smaller? Discuss how it would feel to grow very large or to shrink. What other stories do they know involving a shrinking/growing character?

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The Apple Tree

This fairy tale may remind children of Jack and the Beanstalk. Mary and her dad are very poor. When they run out of food, her dad says it’s time to sell Filbert the cat. As Mary heads to Farmer Philips’ farm an old lady offers to ‘buy’ the cat in exchange for a small parcel. The old lady says, ‘If you take care of this, it will take care of you.’ The parcel contains one apple. Later, Mary and her dad eat it, though Mary then plants the core in the ground and waters it. The tree grows and grows but no apples appear. One day, Mary climbs high up the tree and encounters the old lady who returns Filbert. When Mary arrives home to the cottage, her dad shows her what has appeared on the kitchen table: a solid gold apple!

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The Binoculars

In this adventure, Harry is given a pair of binoculars for his birthday. From the top of the valley, he enjoys watching people and seeing all the familiar buildings in the village. However, one evening Harry is looking through the binoculars and sees his house on fire. When he removes the binoculars, his house is perfectly fine, not a flame in sight. He looks again, and the house is surely burning down. The story ends with, ‘What could it mean? Was it a warning? Harry hurried on down the path…’ This story will surely get children’s imaginations going. What do they think? The activities suggest ideas about the concept of views with accompanying artwork.

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The Crow's Nest

In this sea-faring adventure story, a boy stows away on the ship, Merryweather, and is put to work in the crow’s nest. Before long, the Merryweather is attacked and taken over by pirates. The crew is enslaved on the pirate ship and the boy is made to help the lookout in the crow’s nest. The pirates continue destroying and plundering other ships. One day, the boy thinks he sees some ships in the mist but can’t be sure. Eventually he sees them: they are Navy ships. He jumps from the pirate ship and is hauled to safety by the Navy ship.

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The Fat Controller

This adventure story begins with a four-lined rhyme which sums up the story. Children will enjoy learning the rhyme. Jim, the dog, is always hungry and will eat absolutely anything, even rotten items on the street, in the gutter and anywhere else. One day, Jim spies an old, grey disgusting pasty in a gutter and pulls free of his owner. In so doing, he runs in front of a rather large gentleman, knocking him flat. The story ends with, ‘…as the old fat gentleman lifted his head, I saw that he was…’ Children can offer suggestions as to who he is: a long lost uncle? A retired footballer? A film director who is looking for a hungry dog?!

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The Letter

This is a story with familiar settings in which Gita will do anything to avoid writing: she absolutely hates it. One day, for the first time ever, a letter arrives for Gita. The story ends with, ‘And what the letter contained changed Gita’s attitude to writing forever…’ What do the children think was in the envelope? Children can suggest their own endings. Another activity would be to write a letter to someone they know or to someone at a place they have visited. Perhaps they want to write a letter to Gita persuading her why it is important to keep writing.

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The Magic Feather

In this imaginary tale, a large egg in an isolated nest hatches into the most beautiful and colourful bird imaginable. When an intrepid sailor is blown off course, he finds a feather that has landed in the water. He picks it up, and later believes it is a magic feather that helped him find his way home. The story ends with, ‘Here is that magic feather.’ Children could pass around a feather and each say what magical thing it can do and they could draw and describe what they think the bird looked like.

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The Paw Prints

This is a mysterious adventure story about Jim, who walks his dog on the moor each evening. He gets to see the deer, wild ponies, kestrels and buzzards. One evening, he watches a news report on TV about sightings of large, unusual paw prints on the route that he walks. Jim keeps a watchful eye out for any strange beasts, but nothing seems out of the ordinary. Then, one evening, he spots a black shape in the bracken. When the dog barks, the shape vanishes, but Jim finds a half-eaten hare and two large paw prints where the shape had been. Children could discuss who or what they think the paw prints belong to, and talk about the wildlife they see when they go for a walk. 

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The Prize Sunflower

In this story with familiar settings, a girl and her mum are gardening. They clear out old flowers, including a sunflower full of seeds. The girl and her sister each plant a sunflower seed. Their mum tells them that whoever’s grows tallest can choose a tree to plant in the garden. The story ends with, ‘When it was time to choose my prize, I knew exactly what I wanted.’ The activities suggest making a list of what tree they think the girl might choose, and encourage children to look at a range of trees and discover what is different about them. Use this story as a springboard into a unit on plants and growth.

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The Scroll

In this quest story, Lindi lives alone in a remote village as his mother has died and his father has left. One day a hawk brings a scroll to Lindi but he cannot read it. Lindi sets out in search of the city to find someone who can read the scroll. On the way, Lindi encounters a bear, a python and a bird that are in need of help. Lindi stops to help each creature and in return they give him things that help him on his way. When he reaches the city, he discovers it is his long lost father that sent him the scroll.

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The Sea Horses

In this mystery story, Fred absolutely adores sea creatures and gets a job cleaning the outside of the fish tank at an aquarium. One day, five sea horses are delivered from the Mediterranean and Fred names each of them Monday to Friday. Weeks later, men posing as Water Board workers steal the sea horses. Fred discovers a trail of blood stains which lead him and George (his favourite aquarium worker) to the culprits. Not all of the sea horses have survived, but they save the remaining ones.  Later a special delivery arrives at the aquarium with four more, so there is one for every day of the week!

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The Three Little Pigs

This is a simple version of the traditional fairy tale, and children will enjoy joining in with the repeating pattern of the little pigs’ chant. Children can act out some of the dialogue or take turns being the pigs and the wolf. 

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Vernon Turns Veggie

This is an adventure story about two dinosaurs that become friends against all odds. Vernon, a T-Rex, has never enjoyed meat and would prefer to be an herbivore. He makes friends with Steve, a stegosaurus, despite the opposition of their families. Their friendship flourishes and they both learn valuable lessons from each other. In the end, their families come around and accept the friendship. This story includes some cleverly inserted facts about dinosaurs; it can also lead to discussions about how it’s alright to be different and to always be yourself.