TIPS FOR FINDING, CREATING AND TELLING STORIES
Finding, creating and telling stories are a fun and rewarding experience.
Storytelling improves children’s literacy, written, oral and listening skills, and gives them the confidence to speak in public. It also allows children to master relationships between symbols – for example sorcerers, animals and heroes – and the values for which they stand. It enables children to build healthy relationships with other symbols, people and experiences that appear in their own lives. Storytelling gives children additional tools to face the challenges of growing up, as family stories, myths, legends and folktales create a space for the child to connect with the characters and find ways to deal with real life’s situations that are mirrored in the story.
How to find and select stories
Visit your library under the 398.2 section. Take the time for children to browse the books and find a story that appeals to them. There are fairytales, folk tales, tall tales and legends. Children can even tell stories about historical events or famous people.
Have them look for a story with a clear beginning, middle and end. They may be able to find more than one source of a story and create an original telling.
Working with the story
Ask the questions:
- Who are the characters in the story?
- What are they doing? What is the problem?
- Where are they?
- Why are they solving the problem?
- When does the story take place?
Have children memorize the beginning and ending line of the story.
Children can create a story “landscape” by moving around a space and entering into each section of the story. Children can have a threshold in which they enter and leave the story.
Ask children to create images in their heads. What happens next? What image helps them to create a stepping stone into the next part of the story? Using the image of stepping stones across a river from the beginning line to the end helps children navigate the story. Emphasize that it is not necessary to memorize text, but to create pictures in their heads about what happens next.
Getting Ready to Tell the Story
- Tell the story many different times to others.
- Tell the story as if they were gossiping.
- Tell the story to somebody while taking a walk
- Tell the stories backwards.
- Tell the story from different points of views, not only the main character.
- Tell the story to a plant or object.
- Tell the story in small groups and then in front of the whole class.
- Tell the story in a plain voice.
Emphasize that the children are telling the story for the listener. It will help them not feel so self-conscious about telling. Help children feel their feet, be in their bodies, and remind them to breathe.
Later, work on performance aspects:
- Help children project their voices loud and clear and to speak slowly.
- Help them vary the pitch, volume and tone of their voice to add emphasize to important aspect of the story, such as suspense, difficulty, or excitement.
- When characters speak, help them develop a special voice for that character.
- Help them to keep their energy centered, yet able to move the body when called for in the story. Use the body to be different characters. Use the body for physical telling, such as running, sneaking up, etc.
- Help characters come alive with details of appearances. Add colors, sounds, scents, touch to the story to help the audience envision the story.
Creating Original Stories
Think of a subject.
Story starters include:
- Stories about family food
- Stories about ancestors. How did they get here? Where do you come from? Tell something about a special relative, grandparent, aunt, etc.
- How did you get your name/ Is there something special about it?
- A story about a special object
- A story about a pet, such as something funny or heroic it did.
- An embarrassing moment.
- The first time you tried a food, tried a sport.
- A special challenge you have had to overcome.
Establish a clear beginning, middle and end.
Help characters come alive with details of appearances. Add colors, sounds, scents, touch to the story to help the audience envision the story.
Come up with a final closing line.
Storycraft – Colorado storyteller Vivian Dubrovin publishes a newsletter for youth storytellers, as well as many fine storytelling resources. (www.storycraft.com)
National Storytelling Network. Publishes Storytelling Magazine. (www.storynet.org)
The Storyteller’s Handbook, by Carolyn Feller Bauer.
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