Storytelling Techniques – Focus on your volume

Using Volume to enhance your storytelling technique

As a storytelling technique, the volume of your voice speaks er… volumes about the emotions you are conveying.

Generally a story is comprised of a narrative along with dialogue between characters, or dialogue representing the thoughts of characters in the story.

So during any story you tell, you will need to change the volume of your voice to match the scenario within the story.

It would be fairly unconvincing if you were whispering while telling the most exciting part of an adventure story right? (Well unless of course it happens to be while the mice a sneaking past the sleeping cat…)

Controlling the volume knob is extremely important in how to tell a story

You also use the volume of your voice to reflect the type of story you are telling, to build the atmosphere and mood, as we have already discussed.

The volume of your voice can also differentiate for your child’s ear, which character you are portraying in the story. This is especially important when the story is your own and there are no pictures for the child to follow.

Remember too that at bedtime, you most likely want to soothe your child into a tranquil, happy state, and not make them too excited or agitated so they become wide awake, when you are expecting them to drop off to the land of nod soon after! Check out the following page if you want help finding some suitable bedtime story books. This also will be managed by both your volume and your tone, which we will look at a little later.

Setting the volume for your story scenarios

  • A loud booming voice is often used to voice big animals, grown men characters or a character expressing surprise or anger.
  • A low quiet voice is often used to voice small animals such as mice, shy little girls and boys or a character expressing sadness, confusion, fear or wisdom.
  • An even, normal volume is mostly used during happy, interesting and amused speech. It is also best for the parts of the narrative between the dialogue, to distinguish this from characters talking. Don’t forget to raise or lower your volume as you approach eventful episodes within the story, as appropriate. It raises your child’s anticipation for what is to come and leaves them hanging on your every word.
  • Volume in laughter also portrays the type of laugh appropriate to a character…a mischievous witch, for example, would have a loud cackle, while a character who has played a sneaky trick would probably have a low secret laugh to himself. So don’t forget to adjust the volume of laughter according to your story.
  • Whispering parts of the dialogue is a very effective means of lowering your volume to show nervousness, fear, danger or characters simply being mischievous.

As I hope you are starting to see; the elements of voice control in storytelling technique is hard to adress as a single element. You can’t address volume without also talking about tone and emphasis in your story recital (which is the next lesson).

Storytelling homework

  • Now you need to do something counter-intuitive: Do what you’re not supposed to. Speak loudly when the story is describing something quiet and speak quietly when something big or bold or loud is happening in the story. This will give you an idea of how uncomfortable it can be when it’s not right. It will also help you become aware of your own natural use of volume.
  • Now for the easier bit: Read a few stories with your kids and just be aware of the volumes that you use naturally.
  • Lastly, now that you’ve a good focus on what you do naturally, you can start to emphasise the volume in the right places . See what difference it makes to your child’s enjoyment of and engagement in the story.

Chapter summary: Using your voice in storytelling – techniques to make the stories magical.

in the next section: How best to tell a story by using tone and emphasis

Storytelling Techniques – Focus on your voice

Using your voice to it’s full potential

In terms of storytelling techniques, how to use your voice is possibly the first thing people think of when talking about how to tell stories and tales.

Unsurprisingly a bit of training on the best and most effective ways to use your voice during a story recital is also one of the easiest ways to really bring the tale to life for your listener(s).

Spending some time on using your voice when reading or telling children's stories

In this Chapter on using your voice when telling or reading stories with your kids

  • How to use the volume and why it is important to use it at the right time.
  • The use of tone and emphasis in storytelling and how you can use both to achieve completely different meanings.
  • Give your characters distinct personalities and separate them clearly by using pitch.
  • You’ll be amazed at how much changing the speed of the tale can add depth and help illustrate an otherwise verbal story.
  • I have a bonus that fits in here as well – Should you or should you not introduce sound effects?

Draw your audience into the story with you

Have a listen to advertisements on the radio or the TV.

Compare the difference in technique between say, the voiceover used to promote luxury beds and the voiceover used to promote sales of electronic gadgets at your nearest dealer.

Advertising companies are only too aware of the importance of the sound of the voice as part of creating the “mood”. The “mood” makes the listener anticipate and accept more readily what is being said.

You will hear a soft, gentle and relaxing voice that wants to soothe you into a tranquil state to sell the luxury bed – the voice in itself is promising you a good night’s sleep. Whereas the voice for the electronic gadgets advert will be loud, excited and high pitched, trying to excite you off your sofa and down to the store.

The way you modulate your voice portrays your emotion and stimulates a reactive emotion in your audience. This reactive emotion is what draws your child into the story. They “feel” the story and remain encapsulated in it, away from reality, charmed and enchanted by the sound of your voice.

Now we will go on to explore how you can modulate your voice to effectively tell stories and stimulate the required emotions. If you follow the tips in this chapter, you can look forward to a future of affectionate evenings, with your child tucked up cosily in beside you, and falling asleep happily after a fantastical story.

Becoming aware of your own abilities and just keeping an eye or ear open for when you’re naturally using these storytelling techniques is the most important step in learning how to tell a story. Read each of the articles on the links below and make sure you follow any homework given to really get the most out of your time.

Storytelling technique focus

So now we’ve introduced the concept, you’ll be keen to be given some homework right? Well, first of all lets set a focus. Read the following section on controlling the volume of your voice in storytelling and follow (and practice) the suggested homework at the bottom.

Storytelling Techniques – Sound Effects in children’s stories

Sound Effects in storytelling

Storytelling technique is all about getting your audience to connect and become involved in the story and for children, there is only one thing they love more than listening to a good tale: becoming involved in it.

Give them that opportunity by vocalising sound effects in your story and letting your child copy your sounds in the predictable place. So, for example, every time a horse is mentioned, say “Clip, Clop, Clip, Clop” and after a couple of repetitions, your child will naturally join in with you, as they become familiar with the pattern.

Using sound effects during a story is a great technique to bring it to life and engage the audience Continue reading Storytelling Techniques – Sound Effects in children’s stories

Using story time to help children with vocabulary and rhythm and rhyme

Using story time to help children with vocabulary and rhythm and rhyme

Children’s stories and books are fantastic at helping children with vocabulary, rhythm and rhyme. This article is has a few suggestions on those three themes. Do let us know if you have your own great stories that help your kids’ vocab.

Rhythm and Rhyme can easily be encouraged through stories as well as improving vocabulary Continue reading Using story time to help children with vocabulary and rhythm and rhyme

Emotional and Behavioural themes in children’s stories

Emotional and Behavioural themes in children’s stories

In this third article in this series, we look at some common emotional and behavioural themes that can be adressed through carefully chosen children’s stories and books.

Children with emotional or behavioural difficulties can benefit from stories Continue reading Emotional and Behavioural themes in children’s stories

A Poem for my Daughter on Valentines

A Poem for my Daughter on Valentines day

I wrote the following poem for my daughter for valentines this year. She may only be four, but I hope that her mum puts it (I wrote it on a nice letter) somewhere safe for her so that when she’s much older, she comes across it and is reminded just how much she is loved by her soppy old dad. Continue reading A Poem for my Daughter on Valentines

Childrens stories are good for the soul

Children’s stories are good for the soul

We are all told through the media and parenting magazines that story time is very important and that (depending on which study you read) a minimum of 15-20 minutes a day or reading time is essential to helping our children develop. Other benefits that are perhaps a little less obvious or publicised :

Stories provide a “safe” environment in which to explore strong emotions and situations

The stories we share with our children provide a safe environment for them to explore the world

Your child lives in a world of unknowns where each day is filled with new learning experiences.

As they grow they are faced not only with the scary world around them, but new social situations as they encounter new friends, lose friends, attend school, learn what criticism is from their peers and learn to speak up for themselves.

It is a constant “trial by error” situation without the maturity or adult skills to deal with these pressures.

Adults get frustrated when they cannot succeed immediately, and we (try to) live by the old adage “if you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

If we adults get frustrated, imagine how your child must be feeling! Children do not have this same adult ability to cope with failure and rejection.

By being aware of this and sharing stories which mirror their experiences, you can help your kids relate to characters they can identify with. They can learn to express their emotions through these characters, and ask questions on how the characters act. Our children can in turn understand how to deal with these turbulant feelings.

Another added benefit to this type of story is that your child learns what is “normal” and that certain negative feelings are “OK” to express and needn’t be hidden.

You can also use the mirror effect in the story to discover your child’s emotions without risk of being humiliated or worse.

Ask your child about the character in the story : “And how do you think Charlie the dog feels?”  You may be surprised by the response you get!

 

Stories deal with the emotions your child is already having, but is struggling to handle or communicate

So you understand that your child is silently worried or fearful in a given situation, but you’re not sure she knows how to deal with or communicate how they’re feeling.

Stories provide children a safe place to deal with the emotions they are feeling

How do you address that?

Children often remain silent, avoiding eye contact and evading direct questions on how they feel. Other children may “play up” or constantly throw tantrums…

Why?The reason is because the child does not know if it is wrong or right to feel this way, and they are afraid they will be humiliated or disciplined for their feelings.

They also have trouble vocalising the fear itself, as this just provokes their anxious uncomfortable feelings. For younger children, they may not even know what the “feeling” is, just that it’s very strong and they don’t like it.

Stories are a great way to personify their fears and worries as “monsters” that can be overcome and even befriended, so that objects of fear or worry can be diminished with patterns of thought and behaviour trained through a character’s reactions.

Stories can be used to avoid tantrums and confrontation while getting your children to behave

As we’ve discovered through this introduction already, our children identify and learn from characters and situations in stories. You can use your story to teach your child what behaviour is acceptable and not acceptable.

It’s bath time.

Your daughter is point blank refusing to get undressed for the bath.

You’re both getting frustrated and you can feel the heat rising in your cheeks as you start to get angry.

“GET IN THE BATH” you bellow at her.

She bursts into tears and runs from the room, buying herself under the duvet on the bed.

You’re cross, she’s upset and she’s STILL not in the bath!

It doesn’t have to be like this!

It’s bath time.

Your daughter is point blank refusing to get undressed for the bath.

Taking a calm breath, you start telling her about little Princess Elizabeth who loved to be filthy dirty…

… A couple of minutes and a short, carefully targeted, story later…

“Quack Quack” says your daughter as she has one of the baby ducks rescuing the other from the foam as they all frolic in the bath…

That is a real-life example of one situation where I was able to swallow my natural frustration and impatience and help us both out with a short story (that she actually asked me to repeat).

A well delivered story can create real and profound behaviour changes in children if crafted and delivered in the right way.

Stories build connection and understanding between you

Children love stories and they love spending time with their parents. Combine the two and you are creating wonderful childhood memories

Children are sponges for love and affection.

They absorb as much as they can and still come back for more.

Storytelling is more than just a story for a child : It’s a physical closeness with their protector and their source of love, as you sit tight beside them on their bed at bedtime.

It is being given that all important attention.

The child is often indecisive at bedtime about which story they want read to them, and usually you will find they will try to pick the longest story they can find, or else keep requesting another and another.

It’s tempting to think that they’re just trying to delay having to go to bed and to sleep. It’s not!

Your amazing, wonderful, loving son or daughter just wants to be with you for as long as possible.

The story itself is less important than your company! So use this time, whether short or long to bond with your child.

Storytelling opens up an opportunity for you to delight all their senses and imagination and leave them with happy thoughts and a warm fuzzy feeling before they curl up to sleep.

We will explore further how to make the best advantage of all your faculties to appeal to all their senses in the next lessons.

Remember, you do this naturally in conversation with your friends, it’s just as easy, if not easier, to do this with your child.

Remember your childhood? You’re in your son or daughter’s!

Can you remember being told a story as a child? Is it something that you look back on with rosy nostalgia like mine from the start of this introduction?

Storytelling is a special type of activity that your child will love, and will become happy memories in your child’s mind that they too will carry forward into their adult life and then on into their children’s (your grandchildren!).

We all want that for our children right??

It is also a great way for you as a parent to enjoy the precious time you have with your child while they are young. Those years seem to fly by and all too soon your child will stop asking for a story, so enjoy the opportunity while you have it.

Enjoy what is to come, put some of the ideas and suggestions from this course into story time with them and I know you’ll all appreciate it.

In Summary

Children’s stories go way beyond the basics of helping develop language and understanding and sit at the core of the family way of life. They enable our kids to explore ideas and feelings, discover ways of communicating their emotions and bring you closer together both physically and emotionally.

Homework for becoming a better storyteller :

  • Look out for the deeper meanings in the story you read. Not just the “moral”, but also the environment. Is it humans or animals in the story? Are they in the real world, or a fantasy world? What mechanisms can you spot that keeps the audience safe from the events in the story?
  • Be aware of the emotional elements in the story. What are they? How are they communicated? How are they dealt with? One book I read with my daughter is “Happy Birthday, Blue Kangaroo!” which has covers several key emotions including rejection and acceptance and communicates them from two points of view and then goes on to address the feelings very well.
  • Easier said than done, next time your son or daughter is throwing a wobbly, have a think about some of the stories you know and see if you can think of one that would be a parallel for the current situation. Not the wobbly, but the emotional reason behind it.
  • Think about how your children will remember story time for the rest of their lives and in turn use it as a model for story time with their own kids. Make the most of the time and continue to make story time the best time.
  • Enjoy storytime with your children! We want you to become a better storyteller, but if it’s not fun for you, it’s never going to happen, so do what you can, when you can and forgive yourself for not getting it perfect first time.

Previous sections

Building a story time routine and how to make the most of a picture book at bedtime

Building a story time routine and how to make the most of a picture book at bedtime

In the last article, we introduced the importance of storytelling and reading books and briefly discussed the importance of the story time environment. In this the second in this series and examines to difficulty facing parents who don’t yet have a story time routine and the problems of simply getting started. We then go on to discuss some options for reading picture books with younger children and how they don’t just have to be for the non-readers in our families. Continue reading Building a story time routine and how to make the most of a picture book at bedtime

Why tell magical stories to our children

Can you imagine a world without storytelling?

Take a moment and try and imagine that now. I bet you can’t.

Stories are an integral part of culture and growing up. Without them, the world would be a very sterile place

 

If you could imagine such a world, it would probably bring to mind a more sterile and rigid society, where the imagination is restrained, leaving a vacuum where dreams and hope should be (I do believe there is a film out there that already explores this).

The truth is that stories are a part of human everyday life because the life of each person is their personal story.

As we learn from the adventures and experiences in our own lives, so too we learn from the stories and tales of the adventures (both real and fictional) of others. It is the compressed and emotional content of these stories that is the most fundamental benefit of storytelling for children. Stories are a fantastical reflection of life, where anything is possible!

You are already a natural storyteller…

Think about this : Could even the gossip we have over a cup of tea or a pint could be classified as a story? Whether true or false, do we not usually embellish it?

Give it added humour?

A tone of suspicion?

A pause of anticipation…

We love to deliver a juicy morsel, and to see the appreciative response, the laugh, the shock.

So, whether you know it or not, you are already a natural storyteller.

Become aware of your own natural ability, hone and finesse this skill and you’ll communicate effectively, successfully and enjoyably with your son or daughter.

Continue and discover why I should tell stories to my child.

Why should I tell stories to my child?

…children no longer grow up within the security of an extended family, or of a well-integrated community. Therefore, even more than at the times fairy tales were invented, it is important to provide the modern child with images of heroes who have to go out into the world by themselves and who, although originally ignorant of the ultimate things, find secure places in the world by following their right way with deep inner confidence.”

Sharing stories with children helps us share our experience and teach our kids about the world

Bruno Bettelheim, The Use of Enchantment

In the society we live in, “family” is very often only known to the child as the people under the roof of their home.

It is nowadays a much smaller group of people, from whom they must extract their knowledge of the world, their examples of acceptable behaviour, their moral code and their source of love.

It is our responsibility to as parents, family, educators to make up for this change in society and culture for our children.

Stories open a world where there are endless examples from which children can learn from and follow.

 

Stories for children are usually of three types :

  • Stories that communicate messages or morals as a way of educating your child.
  • Adventures designed to purely amuse and stimulate your child’s imagination.
  • Tales designed to present the world “as it is”, to broaden your child’s awareness of the world around them.

All these types of stories serve a purpose, whether they are purely for pleasure, to soothe your child’s fears or to educate them. Think of a story as a vehicle between you and your child.

What you choose to load that vehicle with will impress deeply upon your child’s formative mind, so choose wisely.

Homework for becoming a better storyteller

This first lesson has some easy homework for you to become a better story teller : simply observe.

  • Listen to other people reciting their experiences and put them in a “story telling” context. Listen to how the form the story. Listen to what works and what doesn’t work to make the story better/funnier/scarier/more shocking.
  • Become aware of when you’re sharing your experiences with others and see if you can spot how you embelish your own tales of adventure and mischief (assuming you get up to mischief that is).

Keep an eye on your inbox for the next lesson and in the mean time, why not browse the site a little and see what other storytelling advice and ideas you can find.

Previous Sections

Magical Storytelling – Introduction to telling stories with kids

Supercharge story time and become the master storyteller

Thank you for signing up to receive this free course helping you make story time the best time.

I’d like to take this first piece to talk us through why we’re here and if I may, before we dive into the good stuff of the storytelling techniques and methods, tell you a brief story…

I’m seven.

Gran is here and it’s dark outside on a cold winter afternoon.

The fire will be lit soon and there’s the possibility of roast chestnuts later.

The dogs are curled up on their beds, noses tucked under their tails, and I’m snuggled on the sofa next to my sisters with the blanket from the dressing up box wrapped around us.

It’s story time and my sister’s and I already know the story that Gran is going to read to us. We’re in that magical place of half excitement and anticipation of the adventure to come and yet also sleepy, warm and full of an unusual snugglyness that makes me feel closer to my sisters than at any other time of my childhood.

There’s something about the way Gran reads the stories that makes them somehow more real than the ones they read at school. Somehow more fun that the ones that Dad reads and somehow more vivid and clear than even the ones Mum reads at bed time.

bedtime storytelling with children and the family time that stories create.

What is it that makes story time with Gran so different from story time with anyone else?

What is it about the way she tells tales of fun and adventure that will make me drop whatever chaos I’ve been engrossed in and come running, ready to be completely quiet and calm and loving?

Now, I have a daughter of my own and I am discovering just how wonderful it is to be telling and creating worlds and fantastical adventures that capture her and whisk her off to the world of imagination.

Can you imagine a world without storytelling? follow the link read the first lesson in this course and find out why stories are so important to us

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