Once Upon a Time Festival

Once Upon a Time Festival: Celebrating the Power of Storytelling

We have exciting news from ChatterStars HQ and we wanted you to know first! Our very own founder, Helen Prince, will be hosting a magical reading and storytelling festival in summer 2024, alongside other big names in the educational space.


A vibrant, story-led festival promoting vocabulary development and the power of storytelling in children’s education, Once Upon a Time Festival is coming to Bristol in June 2024. Ready to learn more about this exciting event? Let’s go!

What is Once Upon a Time Festival?

Brought to you by ChatterStars and Mrs Underwood, Once Upon a Time Festival is all about inspiring and empowering teachers to incorporate story-led creativity into their classrooms. Stories have the power to engage, educate and inspire our children like no other medium.

The mission of the festival is to equip educators with the tools and techniques necessary to foster creativity and a love for learning in their students by showcasing story-led, creative teaching methods. We aim to harness the magic and wonder of storytelling to revive and reawaken the passion for teaching.

    • Where? Bristol Beacon
    • When? Saturday 15th June 2024
    • Who? KS1, 2 and 3 teachers and teaching assistants
  • How much?
  • Individual ticket: £149
  • Friends together: early bird offer £165 for 2 people (until end of January 2024), £199 after that
  • Schools package: from £395

Helen Prince (ChatterStars founder) says: “In our mission to boost a powerful voice and vocabulary, story-led creativity is vital, so the Once Upon A Time Festival is essentially the live, face-to-face version of our digital offer.”

What happens at Once Upon a Time Festival?

Empowering educators, embracing storytelling and igniting creativity are just a few of our aims at the magical Once Upon a Time Festival. Here’s what you can expect from our stellar line-up of events and speakers:

  • Interactive workshops: Engaging sessions by leading educators and storytellers, where attendees will learn practical techniques for integrating storytelling, music and drama into their teaching.
  • Inspirational speakers: Interactive presentations from Helen Prince, Rebecca Underwood, Hywel Roberts and Adele: all leading experts in education, creativity, oracy and storytelling.
  • Resource fair: A range of helpful creative products and services designed for educators like you.
  • Networking opportunities: Participants will have the chance to connect and collaborate with like-minded educators and industry professionals.
  • Goodie bags: Lots of treats to take away, including ‘50 Ways With’ drama booklets.
  • Teaching ideas: Countless ideas for games and activities, including SEND-friendly ideas.
  • Treats to enjoy: Refreshments and popcorn!

What do teachers have to say about the speakers at Once Upon a Time Festival?

We’ve been lucky enough to receive glowing feedback from primary and secondary teachers who have attended our events before – thank you to all previous attendees and we look forward to welcoming you if this will be your first time with us!

  • “I loved the session by Rebecca Underwood and Helen Prince. I wish all staff could have attended that, as it was so relevant and could be applied to all lessons.”
  • “Rebecca and Helen are so interesting and both engaging presenters. I have so many ideas to try!”
  • “Rebecca and Helen’s session was fantastic, with lots of key takeaways. A great range of subjects to choose from, too.”
  • “This kind of CPD is crucial to educators.”
  • “The sessions provided me with so many ideas and tools for teaching across the curriculum.”
  • “I really enjoyed the sessions! The speakers were really engaging and upbeat and I found the session really valuable and informative.”
  • “The creativity sessions reinforced my own principles around teaching and delivering the curriculum. Although I am an experienced teacher, I learned lots and will apply these activities and principles to my own practice. This festival will be really beneficial for our profession!”
  • “So many quick, practical tips!”

Experience Once Upon a Time this year!

If Bristol is too far for you to get to, watch this space! We have two more festivals planned for 2024 and 2025, so you may be able to catch us in Sheffield and London in Autumn 2024 and Spring 2025.

Find out more by exploring our Once Upon a Time Facebook page and Once Upon a Time TikTok page.

We look forward to seeing you soon!


Chatterstars Reading Fluency

What is Reading Fluency? + Top Tips to Develop Reading Fluency

By Anna Hart


Image of person walking with an umbrella in a story denoting reading fluency

Learning about reading fluency

Learning about reading fluency, its importance and the link between vocabulary and reading fluency will help you to support your children in developing their word recognition and reading skills. In this blog post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about reading fluency, including our top tips to help children develop their reading fluency over time.

What is Reading Fluency?

First of all, let’s clarify what exactly reading fluency is. Reading fluency is the ability to read fluently, i.e. accurately, smoothly, at an appropriate speed and with expression. Fluent readers sound natural and effortless when reading because their word recognition becomes ‘automatic’.

The three key elements of reading fluency are as follows:

  • Prosody – Reading aloud with the proper intonation, expression and pauses, including reading punctuation accurately and using expression to sound like natural speech.
  • Accuracy – Reading a text correctly without making many errors.
  • Reading speed – Reading at an appropriate rate without going too slowly or too quickly.

Why is Reading Fluency Important?

Reading fluency is an essential skill for children to learn, so they can understand texts and be able to navigate the world around them. We all need to read during our daily lives. As children go through school, reading on their own becomes more and more important. Reading skills can be thought of like a master key that helps them learn, think better and understand others, setting them up for a lifelong adventure of learning and exploring the world.

Being able to read fluently means learners can focus on the meaning of a text and understanding what they’re reading, rather than how to pronounce each individual word. The more a child reads, the more they’ll learn about all sorts of different topics, which will help to broaden their knowledge.

Word recognition, comprehension and vocabulary development will all improve when reading fluency improves, so it’s a win-win all round!

How Are Reading Fluency and Vocabulary Connected?

Having a developed vocabulary is a key indicator of future academic success and is intricately linked to reading fluency. This is because the wider a learner’s vocabulary is, the more easily they will recognise words in a text and, thus, the more fluent their reading will become.

Supporting a learner to develop their vocabulary is a key way to encourage them to read more because reading becomes more fun when we understand more words – the easier reading is, the more we’ll want to do it!

Completing vocabulary activities in the classroom or doing some fun vocabulary practice at home is a really important (and fun!) way to help children develop their reading fluency.

The Development of Reading Fluency

When first learning to read, a learner’s fluency is usually low, meaning their reading can sound ‘choppy’. This is because their attention is focused on decoding and figuring out each word one by one.

As learners develop their language comprehension and speaking skills throughout Reception and Key Stage 1, their word recognition and vocabulary will naturally expand. By practising their reading skills throughout Key Stage 2 and 3, alongside continuing to develop their vocabulary, learners will become more and more fluent when reading aloud.

How to Support Children to Develop Their Reading Fluency

There are some important things that we can do as educators, parents and carers to support children with developing their reading fluency. Here are our top tips and ideas to help you get started:

  • Choose engaging texts – It’s vital to select exciting books that will encourage children to explore further, including allowing children to choose their own next read. Fluency develops progressively as pupils encounter and re-read books with new vocabulary and language structures, so it’s especially helpful for pupils to re-read books they liked, as familiarity with a text supports the development of reading fluency.
  • Read aloud regularly – As the latest findings from the Department of Education’s 2023 Reading Framework indicate, regularly reading aloud to children is a very important factor in helping them develop their reading fluency: ‘The more frequently teachers read aloud across the curriculum, the more pupils experience the impact of fluent reading – what it sounds like and how it makes them feel.’
  • Practise expression – Encourage children to practise natural pace, intonation and expression by both reading aloud to them and encouraging them to read aloud, too. Then, ‘over time, they begin to understand how a reader might share meaning through choosing which words to emphasise, and how pace, intonation and volume can be controlled’ (DfE Reading Framework).
  • Provide time to read – Prioritising reading time during class and at home will ensure children have ample time to practise their reading skills and naturally develop fluency over time. Even taking 15 minutes at the end of the day to read aloud to your children can make a big difference.
  • Create sociable reading environments – Reading together and sharing books, talking about their favourite books and giving or receiving recommendations (from peers and adults) can all help children get excited about reading. Social reading environments are a great motivator for children to pursue reading and, therefore, develop reading fluency.
  • Encourage library use – Both local public libraries and school libraries are wonderful places for children to explore books they’re interested in and discover new titles to continue their reading adventure. Perhaps you can set aside a day a week to take a trip to the library and do some reading together – perfect for quality time and boosting reading fluency at the same time!
  • Support vocabulary development – Developing their vocabulary is a really important way for children to improve their reading fluency. Thankfully, we’ve made vocabulary development fun with our award-winning ChatterStars app. Children can earn stars by playing games and completing activities designed to boost their vocabulary, making learning fun, easy and accessible.
  • Keep a word book – Children can keep a log of all the words they learn in their very own word book, which is a book with a section for each letter from A to Z where children can write down all the new words they come across while reading. This will help children remember new words and steadily build their vocabulary and, thus, their reading fluency over time.

So, now we’ve shared all our top tips to help children develop their reading fluency, we’d like to leave you with a parting thought about the value of reading and stories:

Happy reading, from all of us here at ChatterStars!


ChatterStars Autumn Webinar Series

Free vocab webinars – ChatterStars and Bookmark Autumn Series

We are delighted to announce a series of webinars for schools and families!

Over the coming weeks, ChatterStars will be hosting 4 free webinars to help schools and families boost vocabulary and build a powerful voice.


Webinar agenda – register and watch.


4th October 4pm BST, 30 mins + 10mins Q&A  – The Art of Reading

ChatterStars LogoHosted by our founder and CEO, Helen Prince, this webinar will look at how the ‘art’ of reading can be used to boost vocabulary, through drama, echo reading and music.


11th October 4pm BST, 30 mins + 10mins Q&A  – Reading Games

ChatterStars LogoThis webinar will explore games and activities that build a love of reading.


1st November 4pm BST, 30 mins + 10mins Q&A  – Fluency

ChatterStars LogoThis webinar will explore ways to secure reading fluency, building vital comprehension and oracy skill.


8th November 4pm BST, 30 mins + 10mins Q&A  – Word Power

ChatterStars LogoThis webinar will explore ways to build and boost vocabulary through reading.


We look forward to having you join us!

Thank you for your fantastic support. 😊

Team ChatterStars

Free Webinar with CEO Helen Prince – The Art of Reading

The Art of Reading Webinar – register now for free

ChatterStars LogoIn this session, we will unpick the ‘art’ involved in reading.  ‘Words mean more than what is set down on paper, it takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning’  (Maya Angelou).  We will explore this vital hinterland of what it means to read with fluency.

4th October 2022, 4:00 PM – 4th October 2022, 5:00 PM

Register for the free webinar here


We look forward to having you join us!

Thank you for your fantastic support. 😊

Team ChatterStars

Not another education podcast – Twinkl

Our very own Helen Prince, founder of ChatterStars, joins the Twinkl podcast to talk all things reading.

Bringing you the best reading hacks to get your kids interested in reading over the summer break. As well as giving you teachers, ways to boost vocab in the classroom.

Listen to the podcast on Spotify

Want to know more about our AMAZING READING HACKS?!

Free 11+ Webinar with CEO Helen Prince and Liz Loly

Are you thinking about the 11+? Then join us for a free, interactive 11+ vocabulary webinar, on Thursday 11th August, 10-11am!


11+ Webinar – register now

ChatterStars LogoCreated by leading vocabulary experts, this game-packed session is for pupils and parents/tutors to participate together, with the chance for Q&A at the end. All who register can either join us live or will receive a recording later.

Register for the free webinar here


We look forward to having you join us!

Thank you for your fantastic support. 😊

Team ChatterStars

Are you welcoming children from Ukraine in your primary school?

ChatterStars is collaborating with Bookmark Reading Charity to deliver the Bookmark Box for Ukraine to children arriving in the UK from Ukraine.


Bookmark Ukraine Smiles


The box has been designed with the help of teachers, literacy experts and the Ukrainian Embassy in London. It is suitable for children aged 5-9 (one per family) and includes a tablet pre-loaded with ChatterStars, Duo Lingo, Rhino Readers and multilingual eBooks. It also includes lots of books, magazines and activities in Ukrainian and English together with a school stationery set and sensory games and activities for therapeutic play.

We’ve had some wonderful feedback from schools to date, a headteacher from the Nottingham Ukrainian School sent this kind message earlier this week “I must compliment you on how thoughtfully your boxes are compiled, it is a pure treasure chest for a child and surely a great help in mastering the language, and especially appreciate a leaflet translated in Ukrainian – that means so much to the new families.”

You can apply for a Bookmark Box for Ukraine here or contact Bookmark at [email protected] .


4 Free Webinars

All event replays are now available on our YouTube Channel, or by following the links below.


We are delighted to announce a series of webinars for schools and families!

Over the coming weeks, ChatterStars will be hosting 4 free webinars to help schools and families boost vocabulary and build a powerful voice.

In collaboration with some of our fabulous partners, these webinars will provide you with top tips, resources and games to play with your children.

Webinar agenda – register and watch.


Tuesday  24th May 19.00-19.30  – Ways into words

ChatterStars LogoHosted by our founder and CEO, Helen Prince, this webinar will look at how the ‘art’ of reading can be used to boost vocabulary, through drama, echo reading and music.


Tuesday 7th June 19.00-19.30 – Ways into poetry

Poetry by Heart logoIn collaboration with our partner Poetry by Heart, this webinar will explore the ways poetry can add depth and clarity to our spoken and written expression.


Tuesday 21st June 19.00-19.30 – Using image to boost vocabulary

Pobble logoIn collaboration with our partner Pobble, this webinar will explore the ways we can use image as a catalyst for developing the confident, insightful talk that leads to improved written expression.


Tuesday 28th June 19.00-19.30  – A wealth of vocabulary resources

Twinkl logoIn collaboration with our partner Twinkl, this webinar will explore a wealth of games and resources that schools and families can use to boost vocabulary and build a powerful voice.


We look forward to having you join us!

Thank you for your fantastic support. 😊

Team ChatterStars

Our New School Platform is Live!

This month, we’ve been very busy working on our school’s package to make ChatterStars the ideal platform for your teaching toolkit. We’ve added some great new features for the classroom creating a more robust and comprehensive solution for improving vocabulary for all. We also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has joined us on our journey so far.

We’re so excited to offer you our improved platform. Join our community now to make a difference for your pupils!

To get started, start a free trial or contact our school experts.

TechRound's Startups to Watch

We’re in TechRound’s top 10 Startups to Watch!

It’s official – ChatterStars is a start-up to watch! Thankyou TechRound for supporting our mission to equip our children with an eloquent, brave, world-changing voice. We’re so excited to make the list! You can view this list of startups here.