Talk With Tales for Children (TWiTCH)

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TWiTCH, a professional development programme to promote high quality adult-child interactions in early years settings. 

Rabbit in a field with books in the foreground

How do you find out more information?

For more information please view the TWiTCH Information Sheet for Early Year's Settings.

If you have any further questions about the project please email the TWiTCH Team at Sheffield Hallam University via their TWiTCH inbox at

How do you take part?

To register your interest in taking part in the project please complete the expression of interest form, in the 'Register your interest' section on the Education Endowment Foundation TWiTCH website.

Which centres are eligible to take part?

We are looking to work with 25 nursery settings from South and West Yorkshire. We would like to work with a range of setting types. Priority may be given to settings categorised by an Ofsted grade below Good or are located within areas of high social deprivation. The recruitment window closes on Friday 30th June 2023 however this may be sooner depending on availability.

 To take part in the project, nurseries need to:
  • offer funded places for 3-to- 4- year-olds
  • be located within one of the following Local Authorities: Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, Bradford, Calderdale, Leeds, Kirklees, Harrogate and Wakefield
  • have at least three practitioners who are working with the 3- to 4-year-old pre-school cohort
  • have onsite access to a computer with an internet connection, webcam and microphone to take part in online live workshops
  • have access to a device which can record videos of staff-pupil interactions and upload onto a secure online access point for the video review sessions
  • able to host 2x 3-hour in house staff training sessions with our TWiTCH Coach
  • provide time for staff working at the setting to support the delivery and evaluation requirements of the programme
  • after the initial training nominate a member of staff (such as a nursery teacher, room lead or experienced practitioner) to act as the TWiTCH champion to take part in the training and to support other colleagues with the programme. 

Settings currently taking part in the Early Years Professional Development programme are excluded from taking part in this study due to the overlapping elements of the programme with TWiTCH. 

Background to the TWiTCH programme

Experts in children’s language and development have shown that when adults really listen and genuinely respond to what they say, children are more likely to engage in extended interactions and as a result develop their language. In the TWiTCH programme, we train practitioners to adopt interaction styles that engage young children in meaningful conversations to support their language development. The TWiTCH programme is based on one traditional story every three weeks and uses repeated reading and additional language games and activities to create a rich language environment.

The TWiTCH Offer

The TWiTCH programme involves two training sessions, coaching visits and the development of a setting-based TWiTCH champion. At the end of the programme the practice should be firmly embedded, and practitioners will have the confidence and skills to continue delivering TWiTCH using the stories provided or ones of their own choice. 

The training course 

Day 1: Introduce to/review key ideas of TWiTCH as a dialogic reading approach 
Day 2: Introduction to practical activities to support the 3-week cycle  
In addition, the training is supported by an internal TWiTCH champion and an external coach who will visit the setting three times across the course of the programme.  
As part of the training course, practitioners are expected to engage in peer observation/ reflection and the coach visits will support the team in developing their practice.  

Week 1: Getting to know the story 

The main objective is to build children's knowledge and understanding of the story through daily reading of the story and related activities such as predicting, describing characters, sequencing and predicting.  

Week 2 activities: Developing language through critical thinking and reflection 

The objective is to extend the children’s language and thinking through choice-based language activities that relate to a theme/dilemma in the story. In week 2, practitioners carry out three activities and continue to read the story if the children need further repetition or request it. The choice-based language activities encourage the children to make a choice, give reasons and reflect on their reasons though language such as ‘I agree because’, ‘I disagree because’. For example, the practitioner poses questions and encourage the children to choose an idea (e.g. Did Goldilocks make a good choice?), give reasons and reflect on their reasons. 

Week 3 activities: Embedding the story in continuous provision and focused input 

The purpose of the week 3 activities is to extend and deepen children’s engagement with the story by integrating activities and resources in the learning environment. Week3 also provides a valuable opportunity to undertake TWiTCH activities (from week 1 and 2) for children who may  

The practitioner manual provides four suggested activities and further activities are provided in the appendices. Practitioners undertake at least 3 activities whilst the story can be read on other days based on children's interests. 
Each cycle comes with a resource pack that includes: 
⦁ The storybook 
⦁ Wooden puppet sticks 
⦁ Printed cards with key phrases 
⦁ Rabbit puppet 
⦁ A selection of resources 

 TWiTCH training and support
 TWiTCH Programm
Autumn Term 2023

2 x in house staff training sessions

Initial coach visit 1

Online coach support for setting 1

Champions' training 1

Champions' network meeting 1

 3 cycles of the 3-week TWiTCH programme

 Term 2

Coach Visit 2

Online coach support for setting 2

Champions' training 2

Champions' network meeting 2

 3 cycles of the 3-week TWiTCH programme

 Term 3

 Coach Visit 3

Online coach support for setting 3

Champions' network meeting 3

 3 cycles of the 3-week TWiTCH programme


This project is funded by the EEF and the Department for Education's Early Years Recovery Programme (SY SPH). Researchers at Durham University and University of Manchester will independently evaluate the TWiTCH programme looking at how the programme is received and delivered across different settings, the impact on practitioners’ confidence and practice in using dialogic reading strategies, and their views of the impact on children’s language.   


Funding partners

Education Endowment Foundation logo

Education Endowment Foundation

Education Endowment Foundation website

Research Partners


St Edmund’s Early Years Stronger Practice Hub

St Edmund’s Early Years Stronger Practice Hub
University of Manchester logo

The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester
Durham university logo

Durham University

Durham University

About this project

Explore the people, research centres and partner organisations behind this project.

Get in touch

Contact us to discuss facilities, partnerships, doctoral research and more

Email us

Research team

Fufy Demissie 121043

Fufy Demissie

Project Director

Fufy Demissie
Louisa Wall Profile image

Louisa Wall

Project Manager