Once Upon a Time in Happisburgh – Storytelling

A storytelling activity based around the Happisburgh footprints and reconstruction of Happisburgh Site 3. Activity supported with images and background information as well as prompts to guide story creation. You can download this activity as a PDF.

This activity could be used to support teaching of prehistory through literacy and storytelling. 

Reconstruction of Happisburgh Site 3
Photograph of the Happisburgh footprints.
The Happisburgh Footprints in situ

Teaching points:  

  • The arrival of people in Britain  
  • Types of archaeological evidence  
  • Environmental change  
  • Sea level change

Supporting material:

Happisburgh Site 3 Background Information to support teaching at Key Stage 2.

Posters designed for our Being Human 2019 event.

Ashton N. (2021) Steps from History. In: Pastoors A., Lenssen-Erz T. (eds) Reading Prehistoric Human Tracks. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60406-6_9


  • Setting the scene: Using the ‘Background Information’ provided for this activity, discuss the reconstruction drawing and talk about some of the animals shown in it.
  • Daydreaming: Ask the children to daydream for a minute or so, imagining what it might have been like to share the landscape with the animals shown in the picture.
  • Capturing ideas: Get the children to quickly note down their daydream. This doesn’t need to be full sentences – encourage them to just quickly capture their ideas using single words or short phrases.
  • Creating: Give the children time to shape their ideas into a story, play or poem.
  • Sharing: Get the children to share their creations. This could be done in pairs or as a group.

Start a story before the story

  • Setting the scene: Using the ‘Background Information’ provided for this activity, discuss the photograph of the Happisburgh footprints and talk about the group that made them.
  • Using past experiences: To get ideas flowing you could get the children to work in pairs talking about walks that they have been on. What did they enjoy about the walk? How did they make them feel? What did they see?
  • Imagining: Ask the children to imagine being part of the group that left the footprints.  Who were the other people in the group? How did they get to Happisburgh? Had they travelled a long way? What adventures had they had on their journey?
  • Storytelling: Ask them to write the story of what happened before the footprints were made.
  • Supporting material: The oldest human footprints in Europe | Natural History Museum video

Sound poems

  • Setting the scene: Using the ‘Background Information’ provided for this activity, discuss the photograph of the Happisburgh footprints and the reconstruction drawing.
  • Soundscapes discussion: Ask the children to think about the sounds that they hear when they go down on to the beach.
  • Michael Rosen has written a great blog post about sound poetry that could be used as inspiration https://www.michaelrosen.co.uk/2019/04/over-my-toes/
  • Imagining: Ask the children to think about the sounds they might have heard if they were part of the group that left the footprints. Get them to note down some ideas.
  • Creation: Give the children time to write their own poem about their imagined soundscape.

About us

The Pathways to Ancient Britain (PAB) project focuses on three chronological periods of human presence in the British Isles, from the earliest occupation (found at Happisburgh!) through to extinction of the Neanderthals and the emergence of modern humans. In partnership with North Norfolk District Council and Norfolk Museums Service the PAB project is currently working with local collectors to record finds at Walcott and Bacton following the recent Sandscaping works. If you are interested in finding out more about this project please visit our website.