Year 5 case study: The adventures of Perseus

Pupils at Crown Lane Primary School in London worked with the painting 'Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone' by Luca Giordano, to hone their storytelling skills. 

Watch the animation the pupils produced, working with the Lambeth City Learning Centre, and see the storyboards they used to create the animation.

Storytelling: Perseus
Working with the Lambeth City Learning Centre, pupils produced this animation of 'The Adventures of Perseus', with improvised voice-over.
A tale of forced weddings, heroes and vengeance
Animation by Crown Lane pupils at Lambeth City Learning Centre – 6 mins


Pupils from Year 5 at Crown Lane Primary School did the voiceover for an animation produced as part of the Out of Art into Storytelling project


Narrator: Perseus vowed to give Medusa's head as a wedding gift. With one look, Medusa's head would turn anybody to stone. 

[Sound of rattlesnakes and hissing]


Narrator: Perseus was given a shield and winged sandals. 


[Sound of footsteps]

[Music reaching crescendo]

Perseus: You fair lady, would you mind telling me where Medusa lives?

The Graeae: He's talking to me.

The Graeae: I'm not, I'm the…

The Graeae: No, no, I'm the prettiest.

[The Graeae arguing]

Perseus: I'll ask you one more time. Tell me where Medusa lives or I'll throw this bright bauble to the seagulls.

Graeae: Okay, I will tell you, just don't throw the eye away.


[The three sisters told Perseus where to find Medusa]

Perseus: Yes. I'll soon have Medusa's head. 

[Sound of thunder]

[Sounds of fighting]

Perseus: Out of the way. I want Medusa's head.

Medusa's sister: Are you trying to get our sister?

[Sound of thunder]

Perseus: The stone mouse! She must be here. 

Narrator: Using his shield as a mirror he avoided Medusa's stare. 

[Sound of rattlesnakes and hissing]

Perseus: Aargh!

Medusa: [Screams]

Perseus: Ah-ha, I've got the head. Polydectes will be in trouble.

[Bells ringing]

[Horse neighing]

Narrator: Pegasus was born from Medusa's body.

[Sound of wings flapping]

Narrator: Perseus saw Andromeda about to be sacrificed.    

Andromeda: Someone save me. Help, help.

[Sound of wings flapping]

[Horse neighing]

Andromeda: My hero.

[Once Perseus had saved Andromeda, they decided to get married, but her father and her Uncle Phineas had other ideas.]

Narrator: Andromeda's father summoned Perseus to the banqueting hall. 

[Sound of footsteps]

Phineas: Soldiers, come now. Come help me attack Perseus.

Soldiers: Charge.  Beat him!  Grab him! 

Phineas: Kill him, kill him! 

Perseus: Take this.

[Sound of rattlesnakes and hissing]

Soldiers: Aah.

Perseus: And now you, Phineas.

[Sound of rattlesnakes and hissing]

Phineas: Oh, no. Aah.

Narrator: Perseus took Andromeda to safety. 

[Sound of wings flapping]

Narrator: Danaë was about to be forced into a marriage with Polydectes.


Wedding guests: What a great feast.

Wedding guests: Oh, it's a beautiful day for it.

Wedding guests: How lucky the bride is.

Wedding guests: Oh, I wish I was getting married.


Andromeda: Now you must save Danaë

Perseus: Polydectes, I have a present for you.

Polydectes: Give me your gift then, Perseus.

Perseus: Here. Danaë, look away.

Danaë: I shouldn't look or I'll turn into stone.

Polydectes: Aah.

[Sound of rattlesnakes and hissing]

[Sound of thunder]

Narrator: Now Danaë was free from the marriage.


Perseus: I love you, Mum.

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Storyboarding the animation


Watch a Year 5 pupil's storytelling performance and read how the pupils changed from reluctant learners to fluent storytellers.

Storytelling: Medusa
A cape of invisibility and a pair of shoes that can fly
A pupil from Crown Lane Primary School retells the story of Perseus – 6 mins


A pupil from Crown Lane Primary School retells the story of Perseus and Medusa, as part of the Out of Art into Storytelling project 

Crown Lane Primary School pupil:

This is the story of Perseus. Perseus has been on a quest to save his mother, but before he went, the gods gave him five gifts to help him destroy Medusa. 

First, they gave him a sword to cut Medusa's head. Second, they gave him a sack to put Medusa’s head in. Third, a shield to see the reflection of Medusa. Fourth, a cape of invisibility so that no one could spot him. And fifth, shoes so he could fly up in the sky.

On his way back, when he had killed Medusa, he had saved Andromeda from the sea monster. Now, they're in their wedding. The feast was rudely interrupted by Phineas, her old, jealous lover. Bang! The door swung open. 

"So what? Andromeda, do you think you can just leave me like that? Haven't you thought of other people, like me?"

"But you were the one standing there. You were the one who didn't even bother to save me. Perseus was the one who saved me, not you, so that's why I'm getting married to Perseus!"

"Well, number one, you're supposed to be getting married with me. Number two, I won't let you marry him. And number three, he's going to get killed by my army. Come on." And they stepped forward.

Andromeda burst into tears: "Oh please, oh please, you don't have to. Oh please don't kill him, please."

Perseus whispered: "Andromeda, it's okay. Just close your eyes. I have a plan."

So, as they stepped forward, Perseus just stood there like nothing was going to happen.  But as they made one more step, bang! Medusa’s head swung from side to side. 

"What's happening to me?  I can't..."

There his army froze as they turned into grey old stone.

Andromeda was full of joy. "Oh Perseus, you're the best husband I've ever had. Thank you." And then they carried on with their wedding.

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Mapping out the story

Pupils made story maps to help them remember the story of Perseus. After practising, they could then tell the whole story without the maps.

Story Map
A story map by Crown Lane pupils 


Year 5 teacher Ruth Grimwood:

"The project really fired the imaginations of both my class and myself. Using the painting of 'Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone', we explored the disrupted wedding feast of Perseus and Andromeda, a really engaging way of introducing the myth. After searching for clues, the children were keen to discover the actual story."

Oral storytelling

"With their story maps as prompts, we used oral storytelling and drama to make the story our own. We developed oral techniques such as using dramatic pauses, maintaining eye contact and varying volume and pace. This gave even the most reluctant writers confidence to write extended, quality stories.

"Oral storytelling engages the listener far more than just reading it. So much so that when I paused halfway through a story, one child leapt up and shouted: 'What is wrong with you, Miss! You can’t stop there!'"

Tension and drama

"Children learned about tension, drama and, most of all, keeping the reader hooked. They particularly loved the idea that they could make stories their own. When I corrected a detail in one child's story, he looked at me and said, 'That happens in your story, not mine.'"

Awe and wonder

"The trip to the National Gallery inspired them in so many ways. As we walked in, I didn't think my class had followed at first, because of the silence behind me. Turning around, I could see the awe and wonder on their faces as they saw all the paintings."

Teacher development

"As for me, I have realised the massive potential for different creative starting points in literacy. I have also developed, alongside my class, an awareness of all the stories hidden in paintings, just waiting for someone to pick them out and make them their own."