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Aug 212013
 

How to make storytelling interactive

Thanks to a recent reader question about what techniques are there for making stories interactive, I have a new article to publish for the first time in ages! Thank you whoever you are for asking me and I hope this answers your question (sadly their supplied email address bounced).

Making stories interactive is an interesting topic and one I try hard to do all the time. In the purest sense, you can make your stories interactive by delivering them in an engaging way.

Punch and Judy is a classic interactive story

Using facial gestures, tones and moving about, you keep your audience interacting with you: watch their faces, their body language and eyes because they’re telling you that they’re involved (or not) in your story.

Some articles on interactive storytelling

If you want to get them physically involved and “interacting” with the story, then check out the following two articles and try out some of the suggestions:

http://kidmunication.com/telling-stories/telling-childrens-stories-using-storysacks/

This article is all about the concept of story sacks: a “sack” or bag containing props and devices relevant to the story that the children can bring out to use at certain relevant points during the story.

http://kidmunication.com/telling-stories/story-cubes-creating-stories-with-your-children/

Story cubes are effectively picture dice invented by a clever chap in Ireland and which is now doing extremely well which is awesome. Roll the dice and use the pictures to create a story between you. We took some on a family holiday earlier this year and kept us amused and quiet (well, apart from the occasional squeal of delight from my daughter) on the plane on the way out.

Top ideas for making your stories interactive

Other ways you can get your audience involved:

  • Ask them what happens next! They’ll give you something and you can work that into the story. Start with characters’ names and then move on to items, then events and emotions.
  • Play games like Chinese whispers to help children discover how a story can evolve from a simple sentence – people love stories and we like things to be in a nice narrative order so start the whisper with something that is not straight forward to understand or is out of context – those that don’t hear it quite right will fill the blanks with stuff that makes sense in a narrative format.
  • Dress up. Get the kids to dress up and play characters from the story. For older children, you could even get them to act out the parts.
  • Also for older children, you can get them to read character’s lines from a book and then encourage them to use some of the story telling techniques you know to bring it to life rather than read dead-pan from the book.
  • With younger kids who can’t read yet, try giving them musical instruments or sound producing things that they can shake, rub, rattle or blow to indicate various things happening in the story (wind blowing in the trees, the bark of a dog etc.)
  • If you have a small group, you could take them on a story walk and take them around a location telling the story as you go and winding bits of the things and places you see on the walk into the story. Think of tourist walking tours in places like London where you can have a “Ghosts of Whitechapel” walking tour.
  • If you’re reading to your child in bed, you can give them a squeeze at the right moment or grab their toe when the stinagling starts climbing up their leg.
You can make stories interactive in a million ways. You just have to start somewhere and I completely understand how, with a million possibilities, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed with choice.
For me, the secret is planning: I choose two ways I’m going to try (and remember your audience may not want to interact with the story and that’s OK) and encourage them to interact with me and the story. It doesn’t always work but that’s OK, next time I’ll try something else!
Feb 142013
 

A poem from a dad to a daughter for valentines day

As I explained in my Valentine’s poem last year, my Dad was a secret poet and I didn’t find out until after he died so every now and then, I like to do something special for Olivia. Be it drawing a picture and posting it to her or writing and then reading a poem. Below is this year’s attempt at bringing together a game we enjoy playing and referencing places she knows.

It took me an hour to write (on the train from Gravesend to London Waterloo) and I hope it gives you some ideas or the motivation to give it a go yourself. I’m no poet laureate so I hope the effort and personal nature of the poem demonstrates to her that I love her with all my heart.

To Olivia,

From here to the beach at Margate,
(But not stopping there: mustn’t be late!)

Onwards to Paris and further still:
To Italy, Rome and Greece if you will.

On past the place that you love the most:
(that’s Turkey of course and the Turquoise coast)

To Moscow, Berlin and Johannesburg to,
To Canada and Alaska where it’s too cold for you.

To the Moon and back,
And not only that!

Around the Globe, twice
(Or perhaps even thrice!)

To the bottom of the Ocean,
(And that’s a craaazy notion!)

But why all this way?

Why don’t I just say,
I love you how much?

A stick man I drew in my daughters valentine card to accompany the poem to show her just how much her Dad loves her.

I love you this much.

Dad
Xxx

I should explain that Olivia and I have a little game we play in the car or, thinking about it, pretty much any time where one of us will choose a number and say that they love the other that much.

“Olivia?”

“Yes Daddy?”

“I love you 5!”

“I love you 6!”

etc. etc.

It quickly escalates from there with numbers getting bigger and bigger until we get to physical descriptions of space.

“I love you to Turkey! AND back!” (Olivia has had a couple of holidays there and she has a rough idea of where it is and how long it takes to get there)

Eventually we run out of descriptions of things and go totally abstract:

“I love you chocolate buttons!”

“I love you swings!”

It usually ends in fits of giggles and a big hug (assuming we’re not in the car – that would be dangerous…)

If you’ve written a poem or tale for your kids, do share the story in the comments. I’d love to hear what other parents are making of it.

Jan 032013
 

Introducing Religion and Belief Systems to Children

One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is that of knowledge and awareness.

Making sure that our children understand how people in our world differ and what causes this is an important trait that any young person can have.

Although this is a staple, not all parents have the ability to teach this to their children without some help and guidance from external sources.

There are many resources that can help parents teach their children about religion. Whether you want to just give a general overview or go into great depths, there is something out there to make sure that you are able to give you child the knowledge.

There are many different ways to approach this conversation, whether you chose to use books, classes or just have the conversation on your own, there is something for you that will help make this conversation as simple as possible.

Religious symbols, beliefs and morals can be confusing for children

If you are seeking out assistance from either a book, website or class one of the first and most important things you want to do is research.

You want to make sure that the specific organization you are using is not going to emphasis one religion or, even worse; give your children bigoted or racist opinions. You can always read reviews and testimonials. If you want to make your own opinion, it may be a good idea to review the content before sharing it with your child.

Remember, you want to give your child an overall view on religions and ways they differ from one another, so the last thing you want is to have your child become sectarian.

Children’s books about religion

a great source of information on religions and beliefs for children

The Kids book of World Religions by Jennifer Glossop is a great tool for parents explaining religion to a younger group of children (3-9).

The book is well illustrated and takes a light-hearted approach to explaining different types of religious views including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism. Basic information is given on each of these religions (book includes many more).

Information includes basic teaching, sacred places and events, religious leaders and scriptures. The book‘s well- illustrated pages make it exciting for a younger child to follow along.

A great source of Belief System information and diversity for older children

If your audience is a little older, another great book is One World, Many Religions: The Ways We Worship by Mary Pope Osborne.

This is another book that shows the differences between major religious groups in our world.

The book will introduce six major groups and dedicates an entire chapter to that one group. This is great for any kids between 7 and 10.

Exploring religions and beliefs with your children

There are many different organisations that can provide religious education to children of all ages and certainly in the UK there is a religious awareness built into all state school run curriculum. My daughter has certainly celebrated several different religious festivals in her first two years at school.

If you chose to teach your children about different belief systems and religions yourself, there are a few ground rules you want to follow in order to make sure you are coming across and indifferent and unbiased to the differences.

It may be a good idea to attend some religious services to give your kids a first hand experience of what happens and use the time and place to explain some of the aspects, totems, idols or tenets of the system. The key is to make it a fun outing rather than an enforced trip. I’m planning on taking my daughter to the local Sheikh temple soon and to show her how generous they are the way they provide free food to visitors and to explain some of what they believe and why.

Make sure you’re as open minded and un-biased as possible when explaining and answering questions.

Children often mimic their parents (we are after all their best role models) so of course, if you hold a certain opinion they will surely follow.

It’s also recommended that with younger children you make them aware of what commonalities different religions have. This will help them understand that even though some aspects of faith are different, often times we have views that are alike.

Since religion is such an important subject, it’s important that you are comfortable with how it is being taught to your child. For an older crowd, many community colleges offer believe system classes that are usually open to people that just want to explore and not necessarily obtain a degree.

These are all great options for those wanting to explore with others since they are all classroom environments.

Budda is a representative of a particular religion. How would you discuss it with your kids?

As you are going through the journey of teaching your child about the different types of religions around the world, it’s important to always remember to approach this with an open mind and allow for your child to explore and ask questions about the different types of faith.

However you decide to introduce them, it’s important that you keep an open mind and leave all prior thoughts and opinions out of the conversation.

You want to make sure that your child feels comfortable and is able to ask any questions they want without feeling bad for asking.

Nov 282012
 

Story Cubes – Have fun creating and telling stories with your kids

Reading children’s stories from books or even reciting them from memory are both excellent ways of sharing stories and making the most of story time but I recently came across a wonderful tool for making story telling a brilliant joint activity for my daughter and me.

I also thought that they’d make excellent Christmas presents for anyone with kids in the 5-10yr old range.

Using Story Cubes to create a children's story on-the-fly and with your kids.

This is my daughter and I creating a story together using the story dice.

Flying back from a business trip to Dublin where I had spent a month working with an insurance company to map their business processes, I had to switch off my iPad for take-off and resorted to picking up the in-flight magazine for the airline.

Flicking through the magazine, I inevitably came across the section for the stuff that you can buy for ridiculous prices while on-board the aircraft. My eye was drawn to a headline piece about an “Irish Success Story” and a whole page dedicated to Rory’s Story Cubes.

A great Christmas gift - Rory's Story Cubes

I was genuinely really excited! The name of the product and the picture alone told me at once that I should buy some (though I must confess to being a cheapskate and taking a photo with my phone so I would remember to buy them from somewhere cheaper than the aeroplane).

What are story dice?

The premise is you have 9 dice each with a different image on each face (making a total of 10 million possible combinations). You roll the dice and start a story with “Once upon a time…” and use the face up images to prompt you with ideas to create a story from scratch.

This will be amazing to share with Olivia! I thought.

Creating a story with my daughter

A week later and I’m sitting down with O to have a go at creating a story. Now, technically, Story Cubes are for ages 6 and up but O has a great imagination and I was keen to have a go at creating a story with her.

The instructions are plain and simple : tell a story based on the images that come up on the cubes. Every story starts “once upon a time…”

So, I roll a dice and immediately Olivia wants to tell a story about a princess called Olivia…

Fair enough.

The first cube shows a flower, so I start talking about how Princess Olivia was walking in her garden in at the palace among all her favourite flowers…

Now it’s O’s turn to roll a cube, and it comes up with the image of fire. Of course this meant that the flower was on fire and the princess was devastated!

What fun and now we’ve had more practice together using the Story Cubes to create fun stories, she’s starting to get the hang of embellishing the story beyond the short and literal interpretation of the image that is displayed.

What’s great is that she really loves playing with them and it’s something that we do together and not only is she learning how to create and tell a story, but we have a laugh about it and I’m getting to practice shaping the stories we make so that they have a better self-contained structure (ie beginning, middle and end).

Experiment and develop your storytelling

For some reason, O and I have taken to rolling one dice at a time and telling the element of the story that corresponds to the image. We end up creating a linear stack of the face up dice along the table and we can look back at the images we used to progress the tale.

So far, we’ve only told stories that last for a single roll of all 9 story dice but there’s nothing to say that we won’t start wrapping around and creating stories that are longer.

This last weekend, Olivia even started adding events and characters outside of the dice and I have a suspicion it won’t be long before we’re wiling away car journey spinning yarns and making up wild and wonderful adventures.

I can’t wait and I can certainly recommend anyone with kids or who has friends with kids to get some of these. Rory has even produced additional sets for different scenarios :

Voyages

Start your stories with “Far, far away…”

The Voyages set of Story Cubes

Actions

Depictions of verbs allowing real adventure stories to be made. Why not combine it with drawing or acting out the story at the same time

The Actions set of Story Cubes
Just before I wrote this article, I rolled the dice and took this photo. What story would you tell from it?

What children's story would you create from this?

Once upon a time…

 

Oct 202012
 

The Importance of Story Time Effectiveness

Parents bring children to story time sessions at libraries for many reasons, just as teachers have many different lessons to teach their class through stories and it is absolutely the responsibility of the storyteller or educator to to get the most out of a story through reading or telling techniques.

I argue this point with my business clients as well as friends, family and even people I don’t really know:

It is not up to the listener to understand the communication – it is up to the communicator to do so in a way that is understood

In more than one book I have read the definition of effective communication as “The response you receive from the other person as a result of your communication.”

So, how do we make sure that our story time is effective?

Choice of story, sufficient preparation, and enthusiasm make for a great story time for all participants.

Reading stories introduces a plethora of ideas to a child.  Also, emotions and thoughts can be (remember that this is entirely at the control of the storyteller) conveyed in easy to understand concepts that helps provide amusement, fascination and fun.

Simply put, telling stories offers a stimulus to a child’s imagination that no other medium can provide.

Making storytelling effective is no mean feat and children are the most vulnerable and least forgiving of poor story telling performance

Let Their Imagination Run Wild!

Imagination must be encouraged to help a child develop into their own person.

Without imagination a child is bound by an environment consisting of only what he can see, hear and touch! This concept sends shudders down my spine at the thought: I imagine it would be much like the experience of those who have been lobotomised.

Telling stories gives a child a chance to unlock a world which has never been seen before, where just about anything is possible.

Imagination enables a child to see vast landscapes, take part in adventures, share people’s life stories and develop a sense of compassion and understanding about the ways in which different people and cultures live.

The best way to provide stimulus for the imagination is to prepare an effective story time and this is accomplished by knowing when to read or tell, knowing your audience and story, using your voice correctly and engaging with the listeners.

When choosing to read or tell there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Personal stories are always a favourite to children and would work well told.
  •  Books that use long, descriptive sentences to tell their stories may not be the best choice for telling simply because remembering would be difficult and much of the story may get lost in the teller’s interpretation. Not to say that it can’t be done, however there is no denying the beauty and poetry of the written word and how it can not only enrich a child’s vocabulary but can train the ear to respond to the rhythm of words.
  • Telling stories should be less complicated with a plot and setting that are easy to comprehend for the listener.
  • Short sentences with a familiar vocabulary should be the focus when telling a story as it makes it easier to understand.

Knowing your audience is also key to story choice.

The story choice should be personal to the reader, something the reader can get behind and enjoy telling just as much as the listener enjoys hearing.

However, the age groups of the audience will influence the choice as well.

  • Preschoolers will have more of a limited vocabulary while school aged children’s knowledge base will be broader and their experience base will be richer.
  • Preschoolers may enjoy shorter stories because keeping their attention can sometimes be a challenge.
  • Suspenseful stories seem to work well for all aged groups because of their ability to grasp attention and hold it.

The voice can also be an effective tool during a story time.  Knowing how to change your voice to capture emotion and rhythm can take practice.  Knowing your story well will help train the voice to react a certain way when trying to convey different feelings or characters.

However knowing your characters well and the story well will prepare the reader to project the most enthusiasm about the story to the listeners while making it easier to comprehend.

Most importantly, engaging with the audience and treating them as equals will encourage their participation in the story time session.

Each child will take from the session what they are ready to on an individual developmental level, making it fun and entertaining for all is up to the educator.

Happy Storytelling!

Aug 142012
 

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy with stories to help children develop cognitive skills

I heard about Bloom’s Taxonomy a while ago and I decided to look into it to see how I could apply it to reading stories with my daughter and try to devise ways of helping her develop her cognitive skills.

I am hoping that this article will give you an insight into what Bloom’s Taxonomy is and provide some simple ways you can use it when reading children’s stories with your kids. Essentially, I’m hoping that by the end of this article you will :

  • Have an idea of what Bloom’s taxonomy is and why it is useful
  • Have some ideas on how you can help your kids build their cognitive skills by using some simple questions when sharing a children’s story together.
As a parent, I want my daughter to be able to think for herself, form and defend opinion and forge her own path in life. Understanding what is involved in performing that kind of attitude and thinking and knowing how to help her develop those abilities is another way I reckon I can do my best as her Dad.

What is Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Bloom’s Taxonomy is one of the most widely used references in education and, over the years, has even been translated into 22 different languages and is in use around the world.

Psychologist Benjamin S. Bloom was known for contemplating and extensively studying the process of how things worked and this included the process of “thinking”.

He believed that there was specific behaviours that could be noticed and were important in the in the process of learning and in 1956, Bloom’s Taxonomy was created.

There are actually three different domains that make up Bloom’s Taxonomy:

  • Cognitive – Mental skills and Flexibility (Knowledge);
  • Affective – Growth in Feelings or Emotional capacity (Attitude)
  • Psychomotor – Manual or Physical skills (Skills).

Each domain is then segmented into different levels for educational goals and objectives.

The Cognitive Domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy

The “Cognitive” domain is what is focused on when helping children learn how to read and think and this is what teachers put a lot of emphasis on in schools.

It is also the focus of this article and, if people would like to know more, I might follow up with the other domains in separate articles (so please do let me know in the comments).

Bloom’s Cognitive domain focuses on the knowledge, comprehension and critical thinking that a child uses or displays during reading time.

Bloom created six different levels of cognitive learning and suggested that each level must be mastered before the child can move onto the next level.

In the 1990’s, a former student of Bloom’s revised the Taxonomy which brought it into the 21st century and it was again updated in 2001.

The only thing altered in the revision is the names of the levels which now look like this:

Reading childrens stories is an ideal opportunity to explore the concepts and cognitive skills they'll need to develop. Using Bloom's Taxonomy, you can easily structure this development

Every child’s critical and cognitive thinking starts with the lowest level and gradually works up to the highest level

There are definite signs that a child shows when they have mastered each level and there are specific questions that you can ask of your kids which will encourage the mental stimulation needed to obtain the next level.

Here is a quick guide for each level that shows the signs a child might exhibit when they have mastered it and example questions that can be asked to encourage mental growth.

By noticing the child’s reactions and answers you will be able to tell when the child has reached a new level in learning and reward accordingly.

To give us a children’s story base line, I am using Little Red Riding Hood as the example book we’re reading. It is important to note that this applies throughout childhood and adolescence and arguably, we never stop developing these levels, so if you have a 4yr old, a 10yr old or even a stroppy teenager, you can and should still apply all of these idea.

Bloom’s First Level : Remembering

In this level the child will be able to recall basic facts about the book through memorising and be able to answer general questions about the book or objects that are in the book.

Help your kids master the remembering level by asking questions like :

  • Who is Red Riding Hood going to see?
  • What is little Red Riding Hood wearing?
  • What did she have in her basket?

If you were reading the Gruffalo for example, you could encourage them to remember the rhythm and rhyme of the story.

Bloom’s Second Level : Understanding

At this level, our kids will be able to understand the main idea of the book, recognise characters and organise the facts.

Ask questions such as :

  • Why was Little Red Riding Hood walking through the woods?
  • Why did the wolf put on Grandma’s clothes?

These questions will help your child master understanding of the situation and concepts in the book.

Bloom’s Third Level : Applying

At this level, our kids should be able to show that they can use the knowledge and facts acquired from the book and apply it to other situations.

Ask questions such as :

  • Besides going through the woods, how could Little Red Riding Hood have made it to Grandma’s house?
  • Why is it dark in the woods?
  • What would happen if Red Riding hood had gone with a friend?

These kind of how and why and what if questions will encourage your kids to apply what they have learned from other aspects in life equipping them with the ability to do it at any time.

Bloom’s Fourth Level : Analysing

This level encourages the mind of the child to examine the facts of the book, distinguish differences and gather evidence to support what they think.

Questions around the ideas of :

  • Why is walking through the woods alone dangerous
  • If you were Little Red Riding Hood what would you do?

These kind of questions make your child concentrate on the scenario to gather important facts which will lead to a conclusion.

Classroom debates at school are specifically designed to develop this analysis and reasoning ability and having constructive discussions from different positions on a topic is a skill that’s well worth encouraging.

Make a game of it and challenge your kids to argue a counter position to an opinion they hold dear – Why Pop music is a bad influence, or why mobile phones should be banned from use at school for example. Make it fun and tongue-in-cheek (this is very important).

One of the many anti-bullying techniques used in schools in the uk is to have kids arguefroth for and against the motivations of a fictious classroom bully.

Bloom’s Fifth Level : Evaluating

In this level the child will learn how to evaluate the evidence that they use to draw their conclusion and justify or defend their opinion on the story.

To encourage the development of this cognitive skill, ask opinion questions such as :

  • Do you think it was wrong for the wolf to try to trick Little Red Riding Hood?
  • Do you think it what the wolf tried to do was fair?

Get your kids to justify their opinion by asking them why they think it was wrong or fair etc.

For older or moore developed kids: ask them whether they think there were any mistakes or assumptions made by the author (or screen writer if discussing a film). Where there any inconsistencies in the opinions or actions of the characters or story?

For those at exam age, these kinds of critical evaluative discussions often take the form of English or Science homework.

Bloom’s Sixth Level : Creating

In my opinion, this is perhaps the most fun level and because of that I think it’s actually easier than some of the earlier ones.

At this level, our children will be able to gather the information they have learned and create an alternative ending or construct a new scenario for the story.

Encourage the child to write a poem or song from the story or maybe have Little Red Riding Hood on the moon.

It is up to the child’s imagination what they develop from the story because the basis has already been set up through the original story.

I just want to point out that while there are 6 levels, it is in fact a sliding scale and kids will develop different skills at different levels at different times, and you will also notice how each level stacks on top: requiring our children to use the skills developed at the lower levels in order to be able to develop the new ones.

Other bonuses of asking questions about a children’s story you’re reading together

As my daughter and I have discovered, there are all sorts of other bonuses from making this part of story time!

We have great little games where I ask question after question until she makes a big dramatic show and goes “Daddy, enough questions!”.

We make up alternative stories from scratch which leads to all sorts of adventures and games. It also gives me a chance to guide the story to deliver other morals or lessons.

Boring books and stories suddenly become more interesting as you explore possible made up back stories to the characters’ and situations and believe me : your kids will come up with some weird and wacky ideas!

A good Google session will reveal all sorts of articles and resources on this, but don’t get bogged down with trying to learn all there is to know. The best thing you can do for your kids is to learn a little bit and give it a go with them. If you want a quick reference guide, then chthout this PDF which gives both hints at the kinds of words to be using as well as suggested questions and outcomes to aim for when following the taxonomy.

Whatever you do, enjoy story time. It should be fun and not “work” or a chore or else our kids won’t enjoy it. They’ll soon tell you they’ve had enough!

Jun 202012
 

Improving children’s literacy through pointing and karaoke style closed captions

My daughter is learning to read and write at school and her teachers have said that she struggles at times and may be a little behind in her literacy.

In an effort to improve her reading and writing skills, I’m obviously spending more time with her practicing writing and reading books, spelling out words and playing I spy.

None of these are easy for my daughter (or me and we’ve had an argument or two about it) and for some reason elephant still starts with an ‘H’…

We can help our kids learn to read by pointing at the words as we read children's stories with them Continue reading »

Jun 122012
 

Making a princess cake from scratch…

This post contains the complete recipe and methods from start to finish that I used to make my daughter’s Princess Birthday cake.

It was a tough challenge to set myself for my daughter’s 5th Birthday party but it meant a lot to her, so it meant a lot to me too.

I know this is completely off topic for this website, but it may be useful/interesting even if it’s only to mock my poor cake decorating skills ;-)

I hunted for a recipe or in fact recipes around the internet and they all either lead to spam sites or overly complex and just-plain-weird sites.

But I did it in the end and it was certainly extremely popular! (One mum even said to me “Ben, you’ve set the bar very high for Birthday parties among Olivia’s friends…”)

 

Making a princess cake from scratch can be difficult. Here's the full recipe to make a beautiful princess birthday cake

I should point out (in case it wasn’t obvious from the photo) that I’m not a professional cake maker; I’m just a regular dad who loves his daughter and loves a challenge :-)

In case you fancied a go at making one too, I brought together several recipes for the different elements for you here on this page (original recipes referenced as well). Continue reading »

Jun 042012
 

Is TELLING children’s stories more beneficial than READING them?

I hope that the fact that reading to children is essential for their literacy and language development is no surprise to you. One thing that I’m quite keen on is telling stories to my daughter and it occured that there is some discussion around the pros and cons of both.

There should also be no confusion that reading stories to your children and/or classroom is an integral part of their educational platform and that storytime in schools is a standard in most education establishments from an early age.

Research shows that even babies benefit through hearing, seeing and touching books during the crucial stages of their development.   The first four years of a child’s life is when they learn at the most breathtaking speeds and absorb the most new information with ease.

It is through books that children become aware that words even exist  and how they can relate to pictures or events.  For children to excel at literacy and the written word, reading books is a must.

Reading children's stories with our kids is important, but what about telling stories with our children? Continue reading »

May 162012
 

Story Telling Vs Reading Stories

There is more to telling stories than meets the eye.

I spend a good deal of time and effort finding and recommending books for you guys to read with your kids and parents and teachers around the world are likewise encouraged to read stories to their children and classrooms to enrich the imagination and introduce literacy.

However…

There is so much more to explore through storytelling than simply reading the words aloud off the page of a good book!

Of course, reading is essential to literacy development but storytelling delights and encourages children to listen to the music of words in different ways.

There is more to storytelling technique than might at first meet the eye

Why Tell a story as opposed to Reading one?

 

Both reading and telling are great ways to communicate stories to children but the differences between the two are quite considerable for both the parent/teacher and the children listening.

When reading stories, the reader must always be focused on the printed words while occasionally looking at the audience.

In contrast, telling a story gives the teller freedom to speak directly to the children, remaining in eye contact while having the opportunity to watch for their reactions to the story.

It is the teller who makes the story come to life through the sound of their voice and personality combined.

The storytelling becomes almost a personal experience for all involved.

 

3 Basic rules of children’s stories

  1. There are three essential elements involved in storytelling;
    • the story
    • the storyteller
    • the audience
  2. The story itself should be a narrative short enough to be told in one sitting.
  3. It can be a fiction or non-fiction but more importantly something that the teller is interested in and enjoys.

There really are no limits to what type of story can be told.

Before the written word, storytelling was the only way a person could relate events to other people.

Traditions were passed down from one generation to the next with the use of oral stories.

Even today, libraries are filled with books containing the different folk tales from cultures all over the world.

If it were not for storytelling, these may have been lost and never recorded.

Linking the story to your audience

Linking the story to the audience is up to the storyteller.

The best stories are personal stories because they come from within the teller and I find that my memory (and imaginative additions) is much clearer and provides a wider base for everything from descriptive surroundings to sub-plots and hidden lessons.

However, an experienced teller can learn any story and make it their own (and reading and practicing the tips and hints in the free storytelling technique course will set you on the right path).

The beginner may feel more comfortable with a traditional well known story like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, or Little Red Riding Hood.

Personal stories however, usually hold the greatest interest for a teller and have the potential to produce the inner most enthusiasm while reciting remembered events – plus : The audience will enjoy the story just as much as the teller enjoys telling it.

Some people are natural born storytellers, but anyone who is willing to practice and devote time and study can become a good one.

In order to become a great children's storyteller, there are various skills you master and attributes you must gain.

There are certain characteristics that a natural storyteller may possess that gives them an advantage.

A creative imagination and a flair for drama will help bring a story to life so the children will be able to visualize in their own minds the characters and setting of the story.

It is also better to be prepared for the sometimes unexpected tidbits the children will want to add to the story themselves.  Including their ideas and engaging with the audience will truly make for a successful storytelling session.

There is clearly more to telling children’s stories than one at first thinks and indeed the same can be said of reading stories, but you have to start somewhere right?

I want you to be able to feel confident to tell stories to your children from your memory or made up from your incredible imagination that speak directly to the third piece of the storytelling : your audience!

The great thing is that generally we know our audience quite well which gets us off to a great start and I hope that in coming weeks you’ll start to gain some ideas and confidence and a structure around how you can formulate and tell your own stories to your kids.