Once upon a time, storytelling was a way to pass the time. Now, it’s an excellent way to entertain and teach each other new ideas. This is why National Storytelling Week is celebrated by people of all ages who read the likes of folktales, fairytales, love stories and more. National Storytelling Week is celebrated for a full week in February. Stories are chosen and are told between the teller and the listener. It’s a fantastic way for people to share their own story, or even invent something entirely new – it’s also endlessly entertaining! Finding the time to read with children can often be difficult, especially with of modern life’s pressures. However, it’s an important part of every child’s education so we’ve come up with 5 ways to enjoy storytelling at home.
“That’s what storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instil hope again and again.”Walt Disney
Why is storytelling so important?
There’s evidence to suggest that the benefits of being read to frequently as a child go way beyond just literacy skills:
- Shapes their world: Most small children live their lives in quite a limited environment. Reading stories to children can show them far-flung places, extraordinary people and eye-opening situations to expand and enrich their world.
- Helps them deal with real life situations: Researchers have found that the brain activity that occurs when we read fiction is very similar to experiencing that situation in real life, so reading about a situation helps children work out how to solve it in reality.
- Helps makes them nicer people: Scientists have found that children who have fiction read to them regularly find it easier to understand other people – they show more empathy and have better developed theory of mind (the ability to understand that other people have different thoughts and feelings to us, which is essential for understanding and predicting other people’s thoughts and behaviour).
“Stories are memory aids, instruction manuals and moral compass”Aleks Krotoski
Take a look at these 5 ways to enjoy storytelling at home:
#1 Make a story chain
This can be done anywhere and are great for car journeys, or out on a walk. One person begins a story with a sentence, the next person adds another sentence and so it goes on. Children often love it when they and people they know are included in the plot and it is very personalised!
What about these for beginnings for young children….
“The young girl could hear piano music coming from her parents’ bedroom…”
“The fluffy duck jumped through the puddle when he noticed his favourite snack sitting on the pavement next to him…”
“The astronaut looked out of the window of his spaceship to see the moon had changed colour…”
What about these for beginnings for young children….
“As he crumbled his fortune cookie he found a tiny map inside, and realised it was of his neighbourhood…”
“The three friends sat around the dinner table in disbelief at what had just happened…”
“‘Shh be quiet, or they’ll hear us!’ hissed the bank robber to the policeman….”
These sentences contain more complicated words and have less context which will make your adolescent child work harder to imagine a scenario that could be happening….
“As she looked up in disbelief she watched as the moon appeared to be falling from the sky…”
“The date that he was supposed to die had been tattooed on his right arm for as long as he could remember and that date was yesterday…”
“He looked at her peacefully sleeping face and bent down to kiss her, knowing he would never see her again…”
#2 Storytelling Chair
Allocate a chair to be your ‘storytelling chair’ and decorate it to look a bit special, perhaps by covering it with some sort of material and adding cushions! Anyone who sits in it becomes the storyteller with powers to entrance their listeners!
Use very well-known stories and tell them together. Many children (and adults) feel more confident telling stories when they know them inside out and know exactly what comes next. Fairy tales are great for this because there is often lots of repetition, providing a hook for children.
#3 Create their own
These beautiful Story Writing Activity Books (paperback) aims to guide children through the story writing process with lots of helpful tips, exercises and activities along the way. This creative writing tool is something that they can treasure and is designed to help a child’s imagination shine. These story writing activity books are ideal for ages 7+, but by no means exclusively for this age group.
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today”Robert McAfee Brown
#4 Choose three random items
Choose 3 random items from around the room. The storyteller must tell a short story (you might even set a time limit of 2 minutes) incorporating the 3 objects! Can they mention them all in a way that makes sense? This is a real tester of quick thinking and creativity.
“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”Native American Proverb
#5 Use Puppets or props
Imagine that it is a different character telling the story. Children often feel more confident telling a story using a puppet. It doesn’t have to be a real puppet. It could be a cuddly toy or perhaps a sock with a couple of eyes glued on. Set up a makeshift puppet theatre, using a cardboard box or whatever you can think of. Children love performing stories in this way.