Ideas for Sharing Stories with Children – Part Two
This two-part article discusses the ways in which stories and storytelling play an important role in children's lives. Tips and techniques are offered for using stories to help develop children’s verbal skills and imaginations. This is part two.
6. Let your kids develop their own versions of events that might occur after the printed story ends. What could happen to the characters next ? What further adventures might they have ? What happened to the characters before the story began ? How would the story be different if it had been set in a different locale or time period ? Suppose your child was one of the characters in the book. Which one would he or she choose ?
7. Expand on any creative possibilities that can help your children maximize their intellectual and imaginative powers. For example, follow up a story with a larger art project at a later date. Build a diorama of the story’s setting, or reconstruct the story’s setting utilizing ordinary objects found in your home. A sofa might represent a ship lost at sea, a throw rug could be a magic carpet, a kitchen table might be a stall at an outdoor market, laden with exotic merchandise.
8. Encourage kids to invent their own stories, or retellings of favourite fairy tales. This might be done orally and recorded on a computer or a tape recorder for posterity. Older children might write out their own stories and create fully illustrated books or web pages. Copies could even be made to distribute among family or friends. A few kids might work together to produce a group story in which each child in turn contributes the next element in the tale. Alternatively, each child might contribute one item to a collective work of short stories, or poetry, or jokes.
9. Use puppets to retell an old or a new story. Puppets add a remarkable zest to storytelling, charming both young and old alike. They bring stories to life and encourage kids to convert storylines into dialog, adding an exciting new twist to the development of your children’s verbal skills. Kids might dress up puppets or dolls that they already own or they may even construct their own puppets, costumes and sets. Take it one step further on occasion and write out a script, then perform it for other kids in the neighborhood.
10. Try out a simple, age-old, no fuss technique called ”Draw and Tell” stories. In these brief tales, you draw the elements of a simple story while telling it. For example, the story might make reference to two cookies and a leaf, amongst other things. By the time the story has finished your kids will be delighted to discover that those drawn bits have created one unified drawing that represents the subject of the story. Suddenly those two cookies function as a girl’s two eyes and that leaf appears to be the girl’s mouth and the ensemble of unrelated objects now look like a single simple drawing of a girl. Collections of such easy to use draw and tell stories are readily available from various sources, and no special preparation or materials are required, just a piece of paper and a marker.
11. After reading a book, help your children create their favorite characters in paper, cardboard, fabric scraps, bits of felt, or other materials. Paper plates and the cardboard tubes from used up rolls of toilet paper are two of my favorite craft materials. Kids can add further detailing with leftover bits of yarn, cotton balls, dry macaroni, spangles, and the like. These characters can then be proudly displayed in your child’s room as a monument to the child’s creativity and as jolly reminders of all the great books that have been read. Such figures can also be used to act out stories.
12. Keep a costume box full of odd items, such as old clothing, scarves, other accessories, and jewelry. Add to it regularly, and draw from it whenever your children wish to play dress up and act out a new story. Make character masks, as well, using some paper plates or paper bags or poster board. Add to this treasure trove some relevant props, be they sceptors or swords, magic wands or baskets. Whether they’re homemade or store-bought, the financial investment is negligible. This growing prop box can then be used for everything from impromptu reenactments of new stories to full-blown amateur stage productions at home or at school. Add tamborines, toy drums and the like, and you can also introduce the element of music into such creative play sessions.
I hope that this collection of time-proven ideas for story enhancement will inspire you to revisit techniques you’ve used in the past and expand your repertoire to other activities that may be new to you. There is so much that children can gain from reading, hearing and retelling stories. Stories help children develop languages skills such as vocabulary, oral comprehension, reading and writing. Furthermore, they help kids improve their critical thinking skills, their reasoning abilities and their imaginations. Some of the ideas listed above can also encourage children to appreciate art, to learn how to observe visual environments more closely, and to reach their own artistic and other forms of creative potentials. Give your children’s imaginations free reign and the rewards for both you and your children may surprise you.
There’s nothing quite like a cozy read at bedtime, just you and your child sharing a story while enjoying a few precious minutes of time together at the end of a busy day. No other activities and no fancy props are required but, if you experiment with some of these suggested techniques now and then, you can keep the experience fresh and full of surprises. This, in turn, will keep your children forever enthralled by the magic of stories and of storytelling.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Visit http://babybirdproductions.com/bbpdmsdrawandtellstories.html to see Barbara Freedman-De Vito's Draw and Tell Stories shop, where you will find original draw and tell stories in several volumes of paperback books. Barbara has spent years as a children's librarian, teacher, professional storyteller, puppeteer, author and artist.