Children are natural storytellers. They love sharing their observations of the world around them, their experiences, their joys and their sorrows with just about anyone who will listen! Sometimes their stories are encounters from real life, and other times they’re born from their wonderfully vivid imaginations.
There are many benefits of storytelling with young children. Story telling improves language skills (both vocabulary and sentence structure), develops listening skills, helps with memory and recall, fosters creativity and imagination, and helps to build confidence too. Perhaps most importantly, storytelling gives children a voice and teaches them that their words are a powerful form of self-expression. By giving children opportunities to retell familiar stories or create their own, teachers send children the important message that their ideas, thoughts and feelings are worth listening to.
Here are a few ways to explore storytelling with your class
Make a story telling circle with the children. Draw a circle on the ground (chalk rubs off carpet easily) and put some interesting props in the middle. Start with some props that relate to a familiar, favourite story of the children’s. Then, invite the children to help retell the story.
Create some magic when you tell stories. Set the intention by having a special scarf for the children to wear, or a magic wand to hold when they’re sharing their part of the story. Make a story telling chest that holds the special props needed for the story. Create some mystery and excitement for story time!
Use felt pieces to retell favourite stories. Give a few pieces to each child so everyone can participate. Here is an example of making felt story sets.
Tell a string-a-long story together. In the story telling circle, one person begins the story, and the next person adds to the storyline.
Encourage story telling by having the children make their own books. You could make blank books together for the children to illustrate their story in. Then, either scribe their story for them, or have them write the words if they’re able to. Here’s a tutorial for making simple books with children.
Set up a “tell the story” area on the drawing table or at the easel. Place a few props (for example a small boat, some shells and some toy marine animals) in the area and encourage the children to paint the story of what happens.
Retell familiar stories with music. Stories such as Mem Fox’s “Wombat Stew” have catchy, repetitive phrases that can be sung with the children and accompanied by instruments too.
Devise a rescue plan! Superheroes are idolised by lots of children, so take advantage of this interest and have the children make the Ninja Turtles and Batman the stars of their own story telling. Take photos of the action heroes in rescue-mode, print them out, and then get the kids to retell the story of how the day was saved!
Use story telling cubes. Story telling cubes are great as a visual prompt, and can be hand-made or purchased. The idea is simple…throw the cubes and string the pictures together to tell a story! Roy’s Story Cubes are available here or make your own with wooden cubes or by drawing or adding stickers to a paper template.
This article is written by Wenone Hope (Australia).
Wenone was born and raised in the farming region of Wagga Wagga. Being a teacher for 13 years, she has a background in Early Childhood education, Special Education, Early Intervention and ESL Teaching.
Wenone is currently teaching in the Blue Mountains of Australia, abd is also an Early Childhood Consultant at Lipa Learning. In the past she has developed a curriculum for young ES learners, and has also been a Preschool Educational Leader in the Blue Mountains, an ESL teacher in the Czech Republic, and a Primary School Educational Director in Canberra.
Wenone is an advocate for inclusive education, where diversity in the classroom (and life) is celebrated. When she’s not in the classroom, she’s out hiking and camping, playing roller-derby, travelling, or enjoying a good book.