“Can you tell me a story?”
Chances are that if your children love stories, you get asked this question numerous times a day.
After hearing many stories, it doesn’t take long for children to pick-up and understand the features of good stories. With a little guidance and prompting (not to mention a wild imagination), these children will be able to create their own wonderful stories to share.
We’ve previously shared our Little Golden Book Story-Stones on the blog, but I’m just delighted that Susan Stephenson (a.k.a. The Book Chook) has stopped by to share a range of other creative story-telling activities that will help bring out the little story-teller in your child.
Teachers and parents from all over the world visit The Book Chook (www.thebookchook.com) to find tips on encouraging kids to read, write and create; articles about using technology to motivate kids’ learning; and links to games, learning activities and online fun.
Story is at the heart of all communication. If you think of dinner-table chat, of advertisements, of movies, even of railway station announcements, story is at their heart. By encouraging our kids to tell stories, we are contributing to the development of their communication skills, and helping them along the road to reading.
Story connects us and defines who we really are. When we tell our stories, we share part of ourselves. This is so important for kids. We need to make sure to not only share our own stories with them, but really listen when they share their stories with us. I believe we should honour all story-tellers, big or small, with our undivided attention.
It’s a wonderful idea to begin storytelling with babies and continue through their childhood and teen years. Even tiny babies gain from the closeness, the rhythm of language and the sound of our voices.
When children are old enough to talk, storytelling is a great activity to try in the car, when out on a walk, or after sharing a read-aloud. This kind of storytelling is a natural extension of chat – we just make sure to include storytelling when we talk to our kids. Stories have a beginning, middle and end. They can be make-believe or about a true event. Because kids imitate us, they learn all sorts of things by listening to and watching our stories. They pick up facial expressions, body language, voice changes, vocabulary, story structure – and begin to apply those things to their own stories.
It’s fun to try different storytelling activities with your kids. Here are some Book Chook favourites:
- Storybox: Find a special box. Collect small things for it. Encourage your kids to use those things as props to help them tell stories. Consider including found objects like stones, shells or seed pods, tiny books, small toys, blocks and bricks, plastic animals and characters, puzzle pieces, cookie cutter shapes, cake decorations, finger puppets, anything small that might stimulate interest, curiosity and creativity. The box ideally should have a way to fasten it, so you won’t lose the bits. I’ve used story boxes with special themes like Zoo, Circus or Pirates. It’s also nice to keep a special notebook and pencil handy, for jotting down stories urgently.
- Puppets: Choose a well-known fairy or folk tale, and encourage your kids to manipulate hand puppets while you tell the story aloud. Once children are comfortable with the process, change roles.
- Art: Make an inkblot by folding a blob of paint or ink inside a piece of paper. Tell a story about what your imagination sees in the result. Or start with a squiggly line and swap back and forth adding more lines to it with a partner until one person says stop and begins to tell a story they can “see” in the drawing.
- Music: Listen to music and see what story arrives in your imaginations. Or listen to a ballad and re-tell the story in your own words.
- Dress-ups: Encourage your child to tell you about who they are when they’re dressed up. Lots of spontaneous stories arise when your youngster takes on a role.