Grow a Storyteller

The goal?  To grow a storyteller;  for young children to learn to tell simple, imaginative stories.

There are no rules – except to have fun.   Moms and Dads, you must take turns as well – but keep the stories simple, so that your little ones feel that their stories are equal to your efforts.   Enjoy, laugh, create legacy family memories around a great children’s book and a storytelling prompt. You may want to use a minute timer for those who tend to create the story “that never ends”, or the child who needs to be rescued by a timer.   You know your children – just create a safe environment for storytelling…no TV, no cell phones, no computers – just family members and maybe some popcorn!  ENJOY!

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1.  Keep a recorder close by and capture each TMAS [Tell Me a Story] experience.  You don’t want to miss a single family legacy storytelling gem.
2.  After you have shared together one of this month’s Chasing Fireflies book selection, or your own favorite books about libraries and books, engage your child in conversations about the book(s) before asking them to tell their own story.  Children must have a reference point; information and pre-knowledge on which to hang their ideas.
  • Who are the characters in this book?
  • Describe each of the main characters.   What adjectives would you use to describe _____?  You want future storytellers to recognize how to paint a verbal picture of each of their characters.  Begin by having them point out the differences in the characters from the book you read together.
  • What happened in the book?   Discuss events and the order those events happened.
  • What is the setting(s) described in the book?
  • Paraphrase the plot.  Tell me what happened – problem & resolution.

Please don’t go through these questions as if you are preparing them for a test.   These questions should flow through an engaging conversation..”Who do you think……”   “How would you?”   Again – let the interest and engagement of your child guide you.   If he/she is enjoying the conversation – carry on.    If he/she is annoyed at all the questions and it is obvious you are sucking every bit of the joy out of reading the book – STOP!  I beg you – STOP!

3.  This month I didn’t fill the Chasing Fireflies’ Tell Me a Story Box with several small prompts (more on that next month for those of you who don’t know what a TMAS Box is..).   Instead, I chose to purchase a replica of the main character of Library Lion and use it as the prompt.   I just really love this book and decided to encourage children to come up with additional adventures the lion may have had.   Perhaps you can think of a great “reveal” for your lion.   Perhaps he does fit in your TMAS box (if you follow FirefliesBlog and have one)!   I purchased this one from Amazon and just love it!  Great quality and price.
4.  Be sure to make your storytelling time an event.   Your voice and body language should express excitement and anticipation.  Both should convey that something magical is about to happen!
5.  Keep storytelling time short.  Make sure your child is engaged by having them tell just one story and then pass the storytelling microphone on to the rest of the family.  Setting a timer works for some, depending on the ages of the children.  For 5-year-olds, aim for a 10 – 20 minute total experience and add 5 minutes for every year.  The bottom line? You know your child(ren) better than anyone else.  You will be able to sense when they are becoming disinterested or frustrated.  Try to end before the storytelling experience becomes a negative one.   Leave them wanting more.

Follow up:

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As I was walking through the grocery store, I spotted these and decided to try them for storytelling.  I’m not sure any of the animals are recognizable – but I’m determined to find a lion in the bag!    I’ll let you know if they were a storytelling hit – if I don’t eat them all first…a real possibility.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

Choose 2 animals and share the conversation they are having.   I just have to come up with the context for the conversation.   I’m going to create 10 situations, type them up, and put them in a jar.    Example – “Your two animals are walking home discussing their first visit to the library.”  “The animals are meeting for the first time and are describing their families to each other.”

After you tell your story – you may eat the characters in your story!  Talk about motivation.

I need to work on these obviously, but you get the idea.    I think it has real potential for storytelling fun!

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