What kid doesn't love a good story? As many children prepare for their favorite dress-up holiday, I am reminded that the story corner is a favorite area in many classrooms.
Reading to children is something most parents do every day. Storytelling can take this one step further. Whether you use story props, put on costumes to role-play, or use figurines, by storytelling you are helping your child develop a strong foundation for future creative writing, language, imagination and reading comprehension. You can create a simple box full of fun props to retell stories together.
This activity can be used for toddlers up to elementary age. You can extend the activity by adding paper to the box to have children dictate or write their own ideas and adaptations to the stories.
CREATING A STORYTELLING BOX
Clean Rubbermaid with a lid
Old scarves and fabric scraps to use for costumes
Characters (see below to create your own) or use toys you may already own
Small boxes and blocks to create homes for characters
Child-made props to correspond to favorite story
1. Engage your child with props from their favorite story. Tell them you are going to retell it together. They may want to hold and move props around as you tell the story.
2. You can either tell the whole story or stop and have them join in. If the child is reluctant about forgetting major parts you may encourage them to "correct" you.
3. Afterward, you can encourage them to retell the story to you or another family member. It may take several retellings before they are comfortable.
4. You can adapt this for songs or to go along with books on tape.
MAKING STORY CHARACTERS
If you feel you are not artistic, do not worry. Your child will love whatever you made because you made it. You can cut pictures from magazines or use photographs. This is an activity you may want to do alone when kids are napping.
There is a reason children's work does not look like ours. It takes time to develop fine motor skills and control. When children see us draw a person, oftentimes they will ask us to do the drawing for them. So if you work alone first, you can encourage them later to add characters to the box themselves. Gentle prompts, like "start with a head," "make a body" helps to encourage them to create by themselves.
1. Fold paper in half and draw character on one side.
2. Cut out character leaving the top fold connected and straight edge on the bottom so it can stand
3. Decorate character and add it to your story telling box.
Laura Elson is a Westerly-based preschool teacher, artist, and mother of two.