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Turn a story into a radio play

What’s the Idea?

Take any one of your favourite story books and turn it into a radio play. It’s great fun for kids and easy to do.

What’s the story

I loved to do this when I was a kid with my little brother and sister.

We would take inspiration from our favourite comic books and turn a story into a radio play by recording onto a cassette player.

One of us would be a narrator, and the other two would be the other characters.

We would use household items to make the sound effects.

People should do this because…?

Voices, sound effects and your imagination can take you anywhere.

Turning a story into a radio play is fun because it can involve your whole family.

In fact, you can use as many people or as few people as you like.

If there are just a couple of you, it doesn’t matter how many people are in the story, you can play different characters by changing your voice.

It’s also great fun working out what sound effects you will need in your story and how you can achieve that noise.

These days you don’t just have to rely on what you have around the house, there are a number of websites that offer free sound effects to use.

We like Freesound and the BBC, but there are others to choose from.

There are also free editing apps you can use to make your recordings sound really polished with added effects.

Audacity in particular is really good –

The best thing about these is that you can cut out the bad bits (a lot better than my old cassette recorder days!!).

I love doing this with my husband and our two children (now aged 10 and 7).

They enjoy putting on different voices and hearing back the recording at the end with all the sound effects added.

You can choose pretty much any story and adapt it to radio and once you have done one or two you may be inspired to come up with your own original radio play!

How do you do it?

If you decide to turn a story into a radio play, I suggest starting with a fairly simple, short story.

We chose ‘The Highway Rat’ for our first attempt, which is a children’s book.

Then decide who is going to play which part.

  • For our story we did it like this:
  • one person as a narrator
  • one person as the main character
  • another person to do all the other characters
  • and the final person did all the sound effects.

We then decided which sound effects would be needed.

We got some from the internet and used some items around the house for others.

Then we rehearsed a couple of times before we recorded it using the voice recorder on my mobile phone.

We used a laptop to play the sound effects from the website.

We did it in one take but you can record it as many times as you need because you can edit it later.

You don’t have to edit at all, you could just record, like I used to do on my old cassette player.

But if you do decide to edit, it means you can cut out any bits that you don’t want to keep, such as pauses that are too long, or someone sneezing or stumbling over their words.

Then you can save it and you have your very own piece of theatre for radio!

Stuff you may need

  • A simple, fairly short story
  • Something to record the audio  – a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone are all good
  • Items to create sound effects
  • Free sound effects from websites
  • An app to edit the audio (if you want)

Links to other Stuffer pages

Become a Stuffer

Links to other pages on the web

Watch the animated version of The Highway Rat on BBC iPlayer

BBC Academy – what makes a great radio voice?

Links to other videos on the web

Links to apps

Links to books

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