Social and emotional wellbeing through storytelling

person icon Merlin's Magical London

We speak to Joanne from DreamWorks Tours: Shrek's Adventure! London who gives us an insight as to what happens in the realm of Far Far Away...

Hi Joanne, social and emotional wellbeing is at the forefront of most teachers minds when it comes to teaching, how does Shrek's Adventure! London implement this into their school trips?

"You may be familiar with SEL modelling from CASEL (, it outlines five core areas of a socially and emotionally competent young person and indeed adult.

  • They are self-aware
  • They are able to regulate their emotions through self-management
  • They are socially aware and have empathy for others
  • They have good relationship skills and understand how to handle conflict and challenges
  • They demonstrate responsible decision-making, problem solving in particular

"There are then various layers to the environments in which a young person can develop these skills - in the classroom, in the school as a whole, and at home and in the community. But learning outside the classroom and educational visits can also play a vital role in supporting how educators approach developing these skills.

Take Shrek's Adventure! for example, the experience taps into a young person's imagination by taking them on an immersive journey to Far Far Away where they will meet famous fairy-tale characters such as Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Puss in Boots... An educational visit will naturally challenge a young person's self-confidence and responsibility as they are transported from their normal learning environment into a world riddled with good vs evil, they will have to work together as a team to make decisions and locate magical ingredients to cast a spell to help find Shrek, outwit Rumpelstiltskin and eventually make their way back to London all before tea time!

shrek storytelling

How does Shrek's Adventure! increase children's willingness to communicate thoughts and feelings?

"I am sure you can agree that 'The Arts' are a brilliant platform for nurturing relationships, self-efficacy, and self-discipline whilst crafting powerful communication skills, positive mind-sets and self-belief. They provide an outlet for a young person to express their ideas, opinions and stories. Shrek's Adventure! is a live theatrical experience; students will literally be stepping into story construction creating a great opportunity to take an indirect approach to introducing feelings through performance but then also experiencing unfamiliar situations/surroundings and challenging students to overcome their own thoughts/feelings, there and then. It also opens up the realms for group discussion post visit on how the various rooms/setting made them feel, share emotional reactions and learn to have empathy for how their peers felt. Our workshops incorporate role play and drama another method for fostering assertiveness and empathy by becoming a character and thinking about how that person would feel, what they would say, what is their tone, expression.

How is a trip to Shrek's Adventure! an immersive learning experience for the students?

"Thinking about learning styles it is probably true to say that some children just don't take to learning in the classroom as well as others do, they are simply active learners and will always learn best by doing - Shrek's Adventure! offers a 'real life context' learning environment. 'The beginning' of the adventure involves a 4D cinematic bus journey to Far Far Away, look out for Shrek's DreamWorks friends along the way! 'The middle' of the journey will take your pupils through 10 live theatrical shows as you make your way through Far Far Way to find Shrek and escape the clutches of Rumpelstiltskin's army of witches. 'The End', well I won't ruin the ending for you! You will just have to book your educational visit and experience the wondrous, magical world Shrek's Adventure! offers students!

That sounds like lots of fun, tell me more about the workshops educators can combine into their trip?

"While the tour itself offers a rich environment for inspiring pupils' active imaginations our story construction workshops are then the perfect platform to revisit aspects of the experience, appreciate the plot and enhance the learning pupils can take away from it. Our KS1 'Once Upon a Time...' workshop is an hour story starter session; your students will discover the tools behind creating a story, explore sequence of events and identify with characters through role play. Our KS2 'Build your Story' workshop is for budding story tellers and will delve deeper into the role of character feelings, thoughts and motives, recognise plot, the triumph of good over evil and the importance of setting.

school group at Shreks Adventure

Storytelling it can be used to enhance children's understanding of language, what type of resources do you offer on site to help with this?

"We currently offer a selection of cross curriculum lesson activities for use in the classroom before and/or after your visit to Shrek's Adventure!, these include D&T Swamp in a Shoe Box, Geography 'Holiday to Far Far Away' and English 'Review & Writing'. However exciting news!! Watch this space for our new pre- and post- visit lessons launching in Spring 2019. Free for teachers to download the 'Building Stories' lesson pack will provide material for at least three, hour-long sessions. For ages 5-9 (adaptable for older ages) the first two lessons will be focused on introducing Fairy Tales and the characters within Fairy Tales, the post visit activity will explore 'Magical Settings' and descriptive writing.

Because the children are interacting with characters they know and love do you feel that this gives better learning outcomes and why?

"Definitely, it offers an enhanced engagement in learning by bringing well-loved fairy tales to life through performance. Pupils can identify with various characters in a completely different environment to reading a book or watching a film. They can compare and contrast their own thoughts of how they believe this character would walk, talk, behave. They get to interact with the character and be immersed as part of the experience and feel like they have been whisked away to Far Far Away. I also believe the experience brings a sense of happiness and well-being to pupils, I guarantee you will see them laugh, be joyful and make new memories as they are introduced to each character and their setting.

Is Shrek's Adventure! experience suitable for all Key Stages?

"The attraction is suitable for children aged 5-12years. Our educational offering is appropriate for both KS1 and KS2 pupils.

What is your favourite part of Shrek's Adventure! experience and why?

"My favourite part of the adventure has to be the Muffin Man's Bakery, namely because it smells of cinnamon - delicious! But also because it combines script, animation and immersive effects to create a performance which brings such delight to each and every face. This part of the experience begins with Sleeping Beauty rescuing you from the depths of the mirror maze, she stays awake just long enough to request Gingy grants you access to the bakery where you then meet the Muffin Man himself too concoct a magic spell to find Shrek and get you back to London from Far Far Away! But to be fair the whole experience just makes you smile thinking about it.

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