Me using Hyoshigi at a storytelling session with a reception class.

Kamishibai are a great teaching resource. The large cards (382 x 270mm) can be used to reveal the story in a variety of ways, adding drama and intrigue, which allow a large group or an entire class to enjoy the story together. Kamishibai combine multiple literacies – visual, oral, gestural, and sometimes written.

Our kamishibai have repetitive and predictable patterns occurring throughout the story. This allows the story teller to involve the audience in the telling of the story, as they already know or anticipate what will happen next.

Kamishibai tell stories through dramatic images that allow children to follow along, even if they are unable to catch all the spoken phrases. The phrases become reinforced in listeners’ minds by being associated with the images, so it becomes easier for children not only to remember the words, but to use them in meaningful context.

Speaking and listening skills underpin all learning and are the start of all other literacy skills. Children will still learn valuable pre-reading and pre-writing skills even when the text is not visible.

Reception classroom display of sequencing my Gingerbread Man kamishibai.

Kamishibai can be used to teach the writing process. Drawing, telling and revising are part of the pre-writing process. Telling a story orally before committing it to paper helps to cement the understanding of the process, ensuring the story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and that it follows a logical sequence.

Sequencing is the process of putting events, ideas and objects in a logical order. Why is sequencing important? We sequence all day long – we divide our time into what we need to do first, second and last; we understand events in our lives by understanding the order in which they occur. Sequencing can be emphasised by exercises where the children work together to create a sequence familiar to them, getting ready to come to nursery or school, brushing your teeth. What happens when part of the sequence is omitted or is not in order? Forgetting to take the cap off the toothpaste, not changing out of pyjamas and into school uniform.

Sid reading our Planning Ideas Pack.


Our Planning Ideas Pack, which is included in every set of kamishibai and is compatible with the EYFS or Curriculum of Excellence, is full of activity ideas to enhance the learning that kamishibai provides.

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Christie Burnett – Childhood 101 has some great posts about the importance of reading to children and tips to help you if this is something you don’t feel that confident about doing.

For further reading about multiple literacies: The Kamishibai Classroom: Engaging Multiple Literacies Through the Art of “Paper Theater” by Tara M McGowan or visit