Chatta: Our Story

Chatta evolved from a long term project with nurseries and childminders across Hull, as Chris Williams led a project with the city’s Early Years Team. The aim of the project was to support parents and practitioners in helping children develop essential early skills in language and communication.

The ‘chatta’ approach was developed based on strong evidence of what matters most and designed to be accessible and simple, whilst using technology as a medium for storytelling. 

Chris recognised that parents were spending time on social media and that society is becoming increasingly ‘digitally distracted’ with interactions with children becoming reduced in number as a direct consequence, leading to worrying impacts on children’s communication, social and emotional development. The fact that Chatta uses technology to increase the frequency and quality of interactions has led to the approach being welcomed by practitioners and parents alike.

Chatta uses technology as a tool to provide parents, practitioners and children with a very simple  teaching method which helps young children develop their early communication and language. Chatta is supported by a unique mobile app and online training and resources.

Chatta provides a variety of options to upload photographs and record a story. Images are chosen to enhance understanding and encourage expressive language. We know that children are motivated to use language if it is meaningful and shared with others. The adult or the child then records to fit in with the picture.

Schools and early years settings use chatta to share stories with families, which are retold at home and children develop language, understanding and sequencing skills. Parents also make their own stories quickly and easily using smartphones.

The goal of ‘chatta’ is oral narrative competence, an essential prerequisite of progress in learning, reading and writing as children move through school.

Chatta has hundreds of  activity ideas and includes resources for:

  • All Early Years Settings
  • Outdoor Learning
  • Special Needs Interventions
  • Teaching English As An Additional Language.

Practitioners are consistently excited about how easy and effective the method is. They see immediate impact on the skills of the staff, the outcomes of the children and the positive involvement of the parents. Chatta addresses early education’s prime needs in a digital age in a unique way which brings benefits to all areas of learning and development.

Chatta is so simple yet so powerful. It uses current technology, children’s innate need to share stories and real experiences to develop language and communication. Based on research and in line with current Government thinking, it allows parents and practitioners to support children’s development through sharing stories and songs. 

Despite children in the Early Years Foundation Stage being supported to develop their skills in communication and language it is clear that too many children are still arriving at school struggling with language and social skills. We know this puts them at a disadvantage when they begin their formal education. Chatta enables children to master the fundamentals of communication through storytelling that other children take for granted. Chatta’s key strength lies with supporting children who are disadvantaged in some way. Research shows that three year olds from certain backgrounds are less likely to be read to every day than their peers. Chatta gives parents and carers the tool to widen children’s language, vocabulary and social skills in the pre-school years and beyond.

Chatta is the perfect way to maximise the impact of SEND interventions as any activities carried out in the setting can be easily replicated in the home increasing the impact and ensuring progress. Chatta is frequently used by practitioners to support children with speech and language difficulties, autism, hearing impairments, emotional difficulties  and  a range of additional needs. The flexibility of the approach can be easily used to develop visual timetables, social stories and transition supports.

Chatta recognises that practitioners and parents care very much about the future of their children. Chatta supports all families and is very aware that it can sometimes be difficult to get them involved in their child’s learning. Chatta, developed by people who know and understand the challenges, enables all parents and carers to do this well. Providers can purchase this tool using their Early Years Pupil Premium as the investment really does make a difference.

It is without doubt that Chatta has changed the lives of children and families and is a brilliant way to develop the very best practice in all early years settings and schools.


Chatta is a great way of documenting children’s language and sharing it with parents and others. I’ve seen some fascinating images and heard the children retelling stories, talking about their play, and expressing their ideas. To hear a 4 year old who arrived in England only a few months ago being able to retell a story she had been listening to was pretty inspiring!

Andrew Shimmin, Headteacher / McMillan Nursery School, Hull

The ‘Chatta’ approach has had a huge impact on the progress of the children I look after. The parents have been very positive and really value the way Chatta allows us to work in partnership.

Margaret Lonsdale, Registered Childminder

Thank you so much for giving us a tool that can help my son move forward. I am speechless! Absolutely excited to see what he can achieve with this tool! All I can say is WOW! You have created something amazing. It’s so simple yet the results are instant! I can’t get my head around why nobody else has come up with this method of teaching.

Laura Stenton-Slater, Parent and Education Blogger, Sheffield

The little girl I look after is almost 3 years old and I have heard more language from her in the last few weeks by using chatta than she has ever used in independent play. Chatta is a fantastic tool; it is current, interesting and children love it!

Karen Shaw, Respite, Foster Carer