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Stifford Clays Primary School becomes our 5th Helicopter Centre of Excellence

stiffold clays cofe

On Wednesday 28th January 2015 Stifford Clays Primary School in Thurrock was awarded Helicopter Centre of Excellence. They are only the 5th in the UK to be awarded this status and the 1st in Thurrock.

Parents were invited along for the presention from MakeBelieve Arts Creative Director, Isla Hill and Harli Green from Stifford Clays. Isla gave a short presentation on what Helicopter Stories is and how it works then Harli gave some examples of stories their children have been telling and linking them to the EYFS and their development.

This was then followed by a fantastic demonstration of the approach with a few of the Early Years children and their teacher Lynn. It was a great opportunity for the parents to see a live demonstration of Helicopter Stories in action and as the school staff put it ‘put some of the exciting, flamboyant and often bizarre, stories into context.’ The storytelling and story acting demonstration certainly got many laughs and smiles from the parents.

Finally there was the presentation of the plaque where Isla explained what they had done to achieve this award and Harli talked about how thrilled the school are to be a Centre of Excellence.

The Helicopter Stories journey of two children at Chisenhale Primary School

‘K’s Helicopter Stories

The Journey so far…

‘K’ is a Summer baby who came to us last September having just turned 3.She has some speech and language difficulties but has made huge progress through interventions as well as the experience of spending a year in EYFS. Now she is in Reception and is still having S&L interventions but I thought it was interesting to show how her stories have developed. The last story links to a show we went to see called One Snowy Night. I love the way she has connected it with her own interests (Peppa Pig) as well as adding her own twist to the the story. In the real version the animals were cold so went inside Percy’s shed, but in her version they were scared of the forest. This shows that she has really grasped the original story and then is able to make it her own.



Me go helicopter, me go airplane, me go moon.

Me crash! Boing boing bash bash!


I saw helicopter in the sky.


Once upon a time there’s a cat. I ranfaster but I can walk. There’s a dog in the park and there’s a cat in the park too. There’s a sheep and a cow and a pig “koko” like Peppa Pig. They go on a holiday.


Once upon a time there was a princess Peppa Pig in the castle, and Peppa Pig go to sleep in the castle. And a dinosaur go to sleep in the garden and Peppa Pig go to sleep with Mummy.


There was a Snowy Night and Percy go to sleep and the animals came inside and then was scared of the forest and the fox gonna get the duck. A big one and he does get some hot chocolate and get popcorn and watch Peppa Pig. And he played the game with a duck and it was fun.



‘G’s Helicopter Stories

The Journey so far…

‘G’ is another Reception child who came to us in Nursery last year with very little language. he mumbles a lot, says the bare minimum and doesn’t open his mouth very much when he speaks. However he has also made lots of progress. His stories are always linked to real experiences such as the Runner Bean game and all his friends. He is a very sensitive child and so I thought it was interesting that he talks about ‘best friends’ – a term that lots of children are currently using with each other. by making his sister his best friend he is removing any anxiety about his friendship with his peers.



The sun down, it’s cold out there. It’s the bikes, three bikes, big bike, and number 4 bike, little bike. And the wheelbarrow and 4 bikes 6 bikes and 7 bikes 8 bikes 9 bikes 10 bikes 11 bikes, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.


Bigger, bigger, smaller, bigger, smaller, bigger, smaller.


Spider web, train, numicon, sun, a bed, ice cream, peach, duck, key.


Spider, train, triangle. Triangle did it. The sun did it. Zebra, bus, pie because I play running bean game. Bee is just hitting everybody. The boy sleeping. He said goodbye.


I’m playing racing games with Spider Umair. My spider game catched the ladybird. It climbed over the roof. The ladybird falled it, bumped it head, then it cried. He need to tell the doctor because it feel better and I counted to 20 and found Umair and Maurice. I counted to 18. I count 19 and then Snail bumped his head.


We’re playing baddies and goodies with Hamzah and Umair. We are playing baddies with the cars in the playground. I’m playing Runner Bean game with Maurice. I like playing roller disco and I waited for the bus to come. The 276. The 214 can drive then I went into the bus stop. We are learning 3D shapes and 2D shapes. We’re playing 277 with a big bus.


I’m a baddie to catch Hamzah. I’m going to be the goodies with Umair. Maurice and Kobi will play runner Bean game. Then Kobi is the goodie. I’ve played with the bike. Then I see a polar bear. Percy’s in the shed, the Park Keeper. Then he opened the door. Then I saw letters and words. My sister came to be my best friend.



‘R’s Helicopter Stories

The Journey so far…


Once upon a time there was a little girl and we all played together. And then a monster came and then we got runned away and got into our palace. And then a princess came and her name was called Rapunzel and then a knight came to save Rapunzel from her tower. And then they all had a picnic together. And then another monster came and then we all settled down but we didn’t even look at the monster.



‘A’s Helicopter Stories

The Journey so far…

Aishah arrived in Nursery with very little English language. Look how far she has come.



Pig blue and then red and then blue book.


What can I say first. Once upon a time theres’s a little Goldilocks live in a castle. She had a cat hugging her. It’s a girl cat and her cat run away. Now the bear came and give it to Goldiclocks. And then now she give it t the princess. Now she didn’t give it to the wolf and then she run away from the wolf. The wolf came, another wolf, then so many wolves came, loads of wolves. Now Goldilcoks found the cat.

Kemsley’s New Interactive Helicopter Reading Area

Both reception and nursery at Kemsley have been developing the reading areas in their classrooms.

We have made them interactive by creating books using the children’s helicopter stories, so the children can continue to share and enjoy the stories they have created during their play.

Take a look at the slideshow below to see how it looks …




Helicopter Stories from Northfleet Nursery School

Northfleet Nursery School, a MakeBelieve Arts Helicopter Technique Centre of Excellence, has been collating Helicopter Stories into fantastically illustrated books. A fantastic idea and beautiful record of their story development.

Take a look at these 3 wonder examples:

Please do send your children’s Helicopter stories over to Louise at MakeBelieve Arts (, we would love to see them and display them on our blog.

Helicopter Stories from Chisenhale Primary School

9th May 2014

Natalie – Reception Class


Once upon a time there was a magical jungle where the animals could talk. One day lion was walking across the jungle when there was a piece of wood up above and he didn’t notice it, and got caught. Natalie came and looked at the lion if he did break any bones. And she said “you’re okay lion”. One day the monkey was swinging on the trees and fell down. Natalie came again and saw that he had broken his leg. Natalie said “you can’t go anywhere for 3 weeks”.


This was such an interesting story from Natalie on so many levels. Firstly, our current topic is People Who Help Us, so it’s lovely to see the way that she has incorporated that into her story. Secondly, Natalie wants to be a doctor so it is wonderful to see how she has placed her own character in the story, as something she would like to be in the future. When I mentioned this to the rest of the class after we had acted out her story, one child said that maybe she could be a vet instead! This was also interesting because Natalie is a very shy and complex character. She sometimes finds it hard to interact with her peers and is much happier playing with her many teddies, engaging in role-play and imaginative play. That’s perhaps why her story revolved around helping animals rather than people. Lastly, one of the children remembered that in her previous story Natalie had told another character that they “couldn’t go anywhere for 3 weeks!” I thought that was very well remembered by the other child but was perhaps also something that Natalie had been told by someone at some stage – or heard someone being told?

I love the way that so much can come out from one helicopter story!


We currently have a bit of a distinction between girl and boy stories, The girls seem to like picnics, towers, princesses and fairies and the boys like superheroes and action characters, as well as fighting and weapons of some description. This is something we intend to dilute, especially as it involves some boys refusing to act in some of the girls stories and vice-versa (although not so much with girls acting in boys stories). During our Helicopter Training update we were helped in ways to try and combat this gender divide. We shall put those ideas into practice and let you know the outcome in a couple of months!


2nd May 2014

Ben – Nursery class

Spider man went up a house and then Venom comes up and then Hulk punch him to the Moooon! And then the crocodile comes and then Iron Man comes and smashed all of the goodies. And then Amazing Spiderman comes and then the big T-Rex and then Jacks come. I come with Jacks. Bonnie comes as well. And then all the lights was off because they was broken and then mummy come. Then Daddy come.


Jacks is Ben’s baby brother and Bonnie is Ben’s teacher.

Ben really enjoys telling his stories and is always keen to have his heard. I love the way he has incorporated all his favourite people into his story!


9th May 2014

Maria – Reception Class

Once upon a time there was a little girl and she lives in a tower and she’s playing with her friends. Then they had a picnic and then we play Simon Says. Then they played pass the parcel and then we ate chocolate cake and then there’s another little girl coming. And her name was called Rosie. And then we had a cup of tea. And then we had some hot chocolate. And then we played musical statue again. Then it was night time.


This was a great story by Maria, not just because of its lovely detailed narrative. But because it got the rest of the children so involved too. This is one of those stories that you don’t necessarily expect to be as engaging as it was. The children loved passing around a pretend pass the parcel, enjoying a game of Simon Says, then finally all singing and stopping for musical statues. It was great fun!