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Year 4 case study: 'Bacchus and Ariadne'

Pupils' work from Archbishop Sumner School, Lambeth, taking inspiration from Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne'

Work from the project

Pupils wrote letters inspired by the story of Bacchus and Ariadne, as painted by Titian. View the letters and teacher's journal, and listen to a Year 4 pupil read her story:

Storytelling: Letter to Ariadne

A child reads her letter of consolation to her friend, Ariadne – 2 mins
A child reads her letter of consolation to her friend, Ariadne – 2 mins


Year 5 pupils from Archbishop Sumner School, Lambeth took inspiration from 'Bacchus and Ariadne' as part of the Out of Art into Storytelling project.

Didi, a Year 5 pupil, readers her letter to Ariadne:


Dear Ariadne,

I have heard your cry for help. I will help you. Of course we are all going to make a mistake someday. Maybe Theseus did not want to go but all I know is Theseus really loved you.

I know that you feel remorse about betraying your half brother, so that doesn't mean you are a bad person if you have a conscience. Anyway, that is all part of life. Ariadne, it is time to move on, so you can have a better life and a better future.

Ariadne, stop beating yourself up about what happened, because sometimes in life you will get a broken heart. If you continue to mourn Theseus, the right man for you is going to pass you by.

You are a strong and independent woman. You do not need Theseus to make you happy. Do you know the saying there are plenty of fish in the sea? Well, with your beauty, with the click of your fingers, the right man for you will come running.

Be careful not to cry your heart out to a stranger because you never know what they are capable of, but vent to a friend. Sometimes it helps to take a breath. Take it deep, close your eyes and it will help. And if you continue to get scary thoughts, write back to me and I will help.

Just focus your mind on a happy world. Try to smile and you will forget. Remember how happy you were, then everything will be okay. Eventually, a smile will grow on your face. I know what you mean, it happened to me.

Personally, I would have sent the person a letter giving them a piece of my mind. You are a beautiful, talented and sophisticated person. Look forward to a new life, with new friends.

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Impact on children

Year 4 teachers Jenny Hopkins and Marcia Mason explain the impact of the project

"Children were so focused, that, at times, you could hear a pin drop in the classroom, you couldn’t stop them working, and staff and children lost track of time."

"They even rushed home to tell the stories to their families who would approach the school asking questions about the story behind the painting and the National Gallery. Since the project, children naturally look for a story behind a painting, approaching teachers with confidence to tell them, in no uncertain terms, what a character is doing and where they are going beyond the painting!"

Impact on staff

"Those involved found that the planning of this narrative unit developed naturally as ideas flowed and children led the direction of writing. It has inspired teachers to make connections with paintings in their own classroom and use 'story seeds' to instigate a starting point. Since the project, children regularly tell stories upon the large wooden story seat in our eco-garden and love to tell stories to each other using story maps."

"Being involved in this project has completely changed both adults' and children's approaches to story telling. It is no longer about the teacher delivering how to write but is about all adults and children writing together and enjoying the creative process. A truly inspirational and empowering approach to teaching.  and we will never look back."