Audio story: The Gingerbread Man (11 mins)
Commissioned by Lifebouy for Global Handwashing Day
© 2008 Kevin Graal / Unilever-Lifebouy
Listen to a new version (with a twist!) of a traditional tale, written by Kevin especially for Global Handwashing Day to raise awareness of the benefits of handwashing with soap, which is among the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many viral diseases. This has fresh relevance in light of the current Covid-19 outbreak.
You can also view and download a PDF book of this story with handwashing guidelines & worksheets for children.
Researching and bringing to life the stories, history and science of the periodic table of elements with a group of Year 8 pupils as part of a wider project integrating science, technology, arts, engineering and mathematics.
A challenging but hugely rewarding day of storytelling and word-play for Year 7 pupils with a range of Special Educational Needs & Disabilities including speech, language and communication difficulties and social, emotional and mental health issues.
Kevin is fully booked every day in the week of World Book Day 2020. This year his starting point for each school visit is an inspirational quote from author Philip Pullman: “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
Kevin is excited to be visiting two international bilingual schools in France: Ecole et Lycée Bilingues de Lyon Ombrosa just north of Lyon on the banks of the River Saône and its sister school Ombrosa Savoie half way between Chambéry and Aix les Bains at the southernmost end of the Jura Mountains.
Video clip: Reception in a London primary school (00:16)
© 2020 Sir William Burrough Primary
Kevin’s work in schools encompasses the Early Years Foundation Stage - from Nursery to Reception. Here's a short video clip of an early years storytelling session with a Reception class in the wonderful Sir William Burrough Primary School in East London, where creativity is at the heart of the curriculum.
You can see more early years videos in the video-clips section of the early years page.
Kevin has just finished rehearsing and recording for Grand Playsongs, a 3-volume collection of early years rhymes and songs aimed at grandparents and grand-carers due for release in Spring 2020 by the highly regarded Playsongs Publications. In the meantime, here's a fun new animation from Playsongs Rhyme Time, Kevin’s 2017 album of fingerplays, ticklers, knee bouncers and action songs for babies and toddlers.
You can see more of them in the video-clips section of the early years page.
Video clip: Jelly on the plate (01:27)
From Playsongs Rhyme Time © 2017 Playsongs Ltd
November 2019 saw the launch of Play Circle, an exciting new series of monthly creative sessions enabling toddlers to do what comes naturally to them - PLAY! - without preconceived outcomes but with light-touch guidance and inspiration from Kevin and dance artist and creative practitioner Anne Colvin.
Kevin continues to devise and deliver the increasingly popular Little Adventures - a monthly session of stories, songs, rhymes and creative activities for preschool children inspired by Hastings Contemporary (formerly Jerwood Gallery), its rolling programme of exhibitions and the local seaside environment.
Every Sunday throughout Autumn and Winter 2019 Kevin could be found weaving together amazing stories and mind-boggling science in the Temperate House at Kew Gardens. He'll be back in the Gardens again during the Summer months of 2020 with a different topic and lots of new, eye-opening stories.
During the Autumn 2019 half term, Kevin returned to Shakespeare’s Globe with If This Be Magic – a sold-out performance and follow-up workshop celebrating the magical power of the imagination to create something … out of nothing; transporting audiences to surprising and unforgettable places where nothing is what it seems, and even the impossible seems possible!
In early 2020, Kevin will be providing another day of stories full of wonder and delight for Polka Theatre, London's ground-breaking theatre for children aged 0– 13. The day will be part of Small Size Days – a worldwide initiative celebrating the curiosity and creativity of very young children, co-funded by the EU's Creative Europe Programme.
As the days were getting shorter in the lead up to Christmas 2019, Kevin told tales and sang songs with a wintry theme at a number of popular seasonal festivals including the lantern-filled Robertsbridge Christmas Capers and Rye Christmas Festival.
In October 2019, Kevin was the key-note storyteller at Education for the Soul, a conference for headteachers and school leaders hosted by Integrity Coaching. Sharing a platform with poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, Kevin addressed the theme of 'authentic leadership' through funny and philosophical tales from around the world.
Also in October 2019, Kevin delivered a presentation and training workshop for early years practitioners and KS1 teachers on raising pupils' attainment in communication and language through storytelling and story-making. Feedback from the session was hugely positive - with participants describing the training as “engaging and affirming.”
In November 2019, Kevin presented a workshop and keynote speech for teaching professionals at Early Literacy: the Gateway to Lifelong Learning – an inservice training day hosted by Herts for Learning – the largest school company in the UK dedicated to improving education for young people.
In January Kevin was delighted to be storytelling for the launch of Get Hastings Reading, part of the National Literacy Trust’s local hubs programme set up to tackle literacy issues in communities across the UK. Kevin’s sessions included workshops in a school for pupils with emotional, social & mental health difficulties and a high-energy performance for more than 700 children - under one roof! - from primary schools in the Hastings area.
During May this year, Kevin worked on an exciting new school project coaching Year 3 & 4 children to perform poems and stories as part of the English Speaking Board’s Group Speaking examinations. The children passed - and with merits and distinctions! Listen here to part of a recording Kevin made to help them learn his rhyming version of The Lion & The Boar, an Aesop fable which the children performed as a group.
Audio clip: The Lion & The Boar (00:50)
Year 8 students at Norwich School in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral have enjoyed Kevin’s story-writing workshops for the past 3 years. In January this year the Juniors also joined in the fun as part of National Storytelling Week. Here they are warming up with a Japanese version of the game Rock-Paper-Scissors in the school's beautiful medieval chapel.
Kevin’s 2017 publication - Playsongs Rhyme Time - brings together downloadable fingerplays, tickle rhymes, knee bouncers, rocking songs, peekaboo games and lullabies for babies. The publishers Playsongs Publications are still commissioning short animations to accompany some of the rhymes and songs. Here’s the latest - a great little interactive rhyme.
You can see more of them in the video-clips section of the early years page
Video clip: Eye Winker (00:50)
From Playsongs Rhyme Time © 2017 Playsongs Ltd
As part of Little Adventures at the brand-new Hastings Contemporary - formerly Jerwood Gallery - in Hastings, Kevin continues to devise ground-breaking creative experiences for preschool children, inspired by the gallery's wonderful setting beside the sea and its rolling programme of exhibitions.
In response to Still I Rise - an exhibition at Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion exploring issues around gender and power - toddlers created collages subverting the passive roles played by female characters in traditional nursery rhymes. Here Little Miss Muffet and her nursery rhyme sisters usurp the US President's place at the decision-making table in the White House!
In February this year Kevin devised Story School, a storytelling masterclass guiding parents on tips and techniques for bringing story books to life. The masterclass was hosted by Chessington World of Adventures Resort in response to its survey revealing that more than a third of UK parents feel nervous about sharing stories with their children.
A highlight of Kevin’s recent training assignments was a day of workshops for early years teachers and practitioners on raising attainment in communication, language and literacy in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Feedback from participants on the day’s practical impact on their work with children was very positive.
In the Autumn, Kevin will be key note speaking at Literacy: The Gateway to Lifelong Learning - an early literacy conference. He is also excited to be delivering See the Light! - the key note storytelling session at Education for the Soul, a conference for headteachers and school leaders from across the country around the theme of Inspiring Authentic School Leadership.
Video clip: Early Years, Key Stage 1 & Key Stage 2 (01:02)
© 2018 Sir William Burrough Primary
Kevin’s busy schedule of school visits continues to be hugely varied during the first terms of the new school year: from storytelling performances for the whole school to story-writing workshops for targeted Year Groups.
Kevin’s foremost aim during a school visit is to foster learning through playful engagement with the spoken word. Here's a short video clip with highlights of a recent 3-day storytelling project - full of laughter and joy - in the wonderful Sir William Burrough Primary in East London, where creativity is at the heart of the curriculum.
Working with local Children’s Centre volunteers, Kevin has recently launched Little Adventures - Jerwood Gallery’s brand-new early years programme featuring a monthly session of stories, songs, rhymes and hands-on creative activities inspired by the Gallery's collection of artworks and its breathtaking setting beside the sea in Hastings.
After the popular success of Here There & Everywhere - a series of summer storytelling sessions drawing on folktales, legends and myths from around the world - Kevin has now been invited to devise and deliver Museum Minis, a new programme of monthly creative sessions for toddlers - with stories, songs, rhythms and rhymes inspired by the museum's wide-ranging collection of artworks and artefacts.
After the success of Sunday Stories during the summer (celebrating the re-opening of Kew’s refurbished Temperate House), Kevin is telling a new selection of botanical tales throughout the Autumn in the Garden’s stunning Marianne North Gallery surrounded by more than 800 paintings by this intrepid botanical artist of the Victorian age.
Inspired by a Polish folktale, the premiere of this musical story performed by the Barbican Piano Trio with a text and narration by Kevin and music by composer Joseph Phibbs was very well-received. A performance in Walton Oak Primary School - whose recorded children's voices feature in the composition's overall soundscape - was noticed in the Times Educational Supplement in a glowing article: Polish to English: how one school is bridging the gap. There will be further concert hall performances in 2019 and the musical score and text will be published by renowned music publishers G Ricordi & Co.
Video clip: The Remarkable Tale of Prince Unexpected (01:12)
at Walton Oak Primary School
Photo: Premiere at Frinton Festival in Frinton-on-Sea
photo: Claude Darmon
Devising and delivering a whole-day of training for frontline library assistants and children & young people's librarians as part of Spine Festival 2018 - an annual programme initiated by Apples & Snakes, the leading UK organisation for performance poetry and the verbal arts.
A half-day training workshop - part of a wider training and action-research project devised by East Sussex Standards and Learning Effectiveness Service - for Early Years Foundation Stage teachers and early years practitioners to promote storytelling and creativity in early language development, and to improve participants' storytelling skills.
Kevin’s work in schools in the first three terms of the year is richly varied with topics ranging far and wide: from the animal tales of Beatrix Potter to the 1960s space race between America and the Soviet Union! New workshops focus on developing fluent use of descriptive language and transforming story texts into playscripts (for Key Stage 1), and creating atmosphere and writing from a character's point of view (for Keys Stages 2 & 3).
During World Book Week in March, Kevin helped to celebrate the magic of stories and the power and beauty of words with well over a 1000 children and young people in schools in Croydon, Haringey, Sevenoaks, Eastbourne and Bexhill-on-Sea.
Video clip: Early Years Foundation Stage 00:30
© 2018 Sir William Burrough Primary
Here’s a short clip of storytelling sessions with Early Years Foundation Stage children in Kevin’s favourite school - the brilliant Sir William Burrough Primary in Limehouse, East London, where music, storytelling and dance are at the heart of the curriculum. The emphasis of Kevin's sessions here is on interaction and involving the children in the story-making process - from joining in with action-songs to role-playing scenes from the story and predicting story outcomes.
A project devised by the National Children’s Bureau involving a partnership between early years professionals, arts practitioners and cultural organisations. Working closely with small groups of toddlers and their families, Kevin and his partners are exploring 4 strands of literacy - books, oral language, environmental print and early writing. Kevin's main focus is on modelling the key role stories can play in children's social and emotional development.
Kevin continues to contribute to this popular series of monthly activities for very young children and their parents and carers at the De La Warr Pavilion, a masterpiece of modernist architecture on the Sussex coast. Sessions are linked to current exhibitions of artworks in the building's gallery spaces and are designed to nurture creativity, communication and confidence.
Video: Five Little Peas 00:57
From Playsongs Rhyme Time © 2017 Playsongs Ltd
Last year saw the release of Playsongs Rhyme Time, a series of downloadable recordings of fingerplays, tickle rhymes, knee bouncers, rocking songs, peekaboo games and lullabies for babies performed by Kevin with music by award-winning composer and producer Stephen Chadwick. This year the publishers Playsongs Publications are also commissioning short animations to accompany some of the rhymes and songs. Here's one of the animations. You can see more of them in the early years section.
To celebrate the opening of the refurbished Temperate House, Kevin is researching and performing a series - throughout the summer from May to September - of fun and interactive storytelling sessions featuring tales from temperate lands at the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
A reprise of Kevin’s popular family workshop at the British Library in London, where he presents a close-up look at some of the library's legendary holdings: from books, stamps, maps and manuscripts to treasures of the sound archive - all with extraordinary stories to tell.
Kevin is busy undertaking research for a series of summer holiday storytelling sessions at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, where he will be exploring traditional stories linked to images and objects in the museum's amazing international collection: from a colourful Japanese print to a rare Hawaiian feather cloak.
Working with Year 8 pupils at Norwich School to produce and share a piece of creative writing inspired by two gruesome traditional tales!
Presenting an interactive celebration of stories, songs, rhymes and games from around the world as part of a series of invited primary school visits to libraries in the London Borough of Brent.
A day of storytelling for Bexley Library Services as part of Bexley Book Buzz Literary Festival.
Storytelling at the British Library as part of an Activity Day exploring Harry Potter: A History of Magic, an exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.