Tag Archives: How to tell a story

The Importance of Story Time Effectiveness

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!

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

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!

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

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

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

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

Why you should tell a childrens story rather than read one

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.


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.

Completion of the storytelling technique course


You’ve completed 15 weeks of storytelling training!

You’ve had 19 separate sets of homework!

Thank you for sticking with it and we hope your kids and you have discovered some awesome new ways of sharing story time together!
If you missed a week or you would like to revisit any of the ideas and homework, here’s the full list of articles and guides you have been sent:

Good storytelling technique leads to happy, peaceful children and happy, rested parents

We truely hope you got a lot out of this free course and we would love to hear about any story time experiences you’ve had or changes you’ve noticed as a result of reading and practicing the content here.

If you’ve had any ideas or think there’s stuff that should be added or raised questions in your mind, we’d love to know.

There’s more to come!

Please stay tuned and keep an eye on the site for new articles and content. Here’s a few things you can expect to see going up:

  • Great articles and advice for specific areas of storytelling (storytelling with autistic kids for example)
  • Instructional articles from choosing books to creating your own stories.
  • Recommendations from us and other parents and childcare professionals
  • Guides and How-to type information
  • Exclusive/Special offers for stuff that is relevant to the site.
  • Free children’s stories and poems to share with your kids

Learning can be tough and wading through armfuls of stuff you already know or isn’t of interest can definately take the fun out of it. Putting this course and website together has certainly had its tough moments I can tell you. One thing always got me back on course though: Why I am doing it.

I want the time I spend with my daughter to be the best I can make it. I want to be a great dad and storytelling is both a fantastic way of entertaining her and also an amazing way of teaching her about the world, it’s ideas, difficulties, issues and how to deal with all of those.

The stories that I share with my daughter, be they made up or read from a book, bring us closer together both physically and emotionally. For me, there’s no greater pleasure, after the bustle of the day and the stresses and strains of working or entertaining my daughter than to snuggle quietly and comfortably together on the sofa and spend twenty minutes engrossed in a story or two.

The amazing thing about putting all the stuff from this course into action is that it’s actually made me a better play mate as well. I’ve managed to shake off some of my adult-ness and engage more in the made up characters and roll-play that makes up a lot of my daughter’s (and her friends) play time.

Stay in touch

I’m open to guest posts and discussions, so please do get in contact if you would like to share your own stories or ideas.

Thank you and see you on Twitter, Facebook or here on the Kidmunication site.

A Free Children’s story with a lesson – Perseverance

A children’s story with a lesson about Perseverance

The following story I wrote for my daughter to help her with learning to stick at something and keep trying even if it is extremely frustrating and difficult.  I wrote it because my daughter is being taught to write at school so we’re practicing at weekends though she’s struggling to find the ability to keep at it and it’s turning into a bit of a battle.

We actually started this story together and the two young fairies were named by my daughter. She loves it when we tell stories together and she’ll often suggest which direction the story should go or what the characters are doing or what they’re like. It’s a great storytelling technique and I’m constantly amazed at where my daughter’s imagination takes us!

Creating stories for and indeed with our kids isn’t really that difficult and can be both educational and fun not to mention the closeness that imagining together fosters between us. Continue reading A Free Children’s story with a lesson – Perseverance

Tools of the Tale – getting to grips with how to speak with our body

Tools of the Tale – getting to grips with how to speak with our body

Your entire body tells the story with you which is why learning about body language is so important

Body language is generally mostly an unconscious process, but with some simple understanding you can quickly create huge changes in your story telling by consciously bringing in some key gestures.

The discipline of controlling our gestures can be quite challenging. Most of our movements are reflexive in nature, automatically matching up to what our minds are thinking at any given moment.

“We speak with our vocal organs, but we converse with our entire bodies; conversation consists of much more than a simple interchange of spoken words.”

Elements of General Phonetics. David Abercrombie

There are three different ways that we use body language to communicate with others

  • As a direct replacement for words.
  • As a reinforcement of our words – we gesture to emphasize speech.
  • As a mirror of our inner emotions and attitudes – people read our faces, body angles, distance etc.

In the art of storytelling, you can use all three of these ways to communicate effectively with your audience, be they your dearest offspring or a class of sullen teenagers.

By now, you are aware that you are always communicating with your children through body language.

Think about what you’re communicating to a child when you give them a big smile, crouch to their level and open your arms wide.

  • You are pleased to see them.
  • You are going to give them some of your time.
  • You are offering a place of safety, warmth and comfort in your embrace.
  • You are going to give them a dose of love and affection.
  • You are telling them that they are good, appreciated and a joy to know.
  • You consider them an equal.

I’m sure you can think of more, and you’ve not even said a word!

There are lots of subtleties to the language of the body.

If for example, you’d bent at the waist instead of crouching, you’d be telling them that you don’t consider them an equal, you’re not going to give them much time and the incoming hug will be brief and a little distant.

You’ve probably seen such hugs in action.

Thinking about it, what do you read from that sort of hug?

You don’t need to verbalise the invitation for your child to understand.

By focusing on your voice and facial expression, you’ll probably find that you naturally start to gesticulate and use your body more, so why not put even more focus on dramatizing the story?

By adding in this element you quite literally bring movement into the story.

Your story moves into a new realm of expression, similar to acting where everything you are communicating to your audience is congruent and their young minds can absorb the story and let any lessons sink in.

Think what an open and fluid kind or person they’ll think you are and what an amazing role model you’ll be for them.

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Storytelling homework

  • Observe. Now that we’ve introduced body language in storytelling, the first piece of homework is to keep an eye open in your everyday encounters with people (adults and children alike) and notice what kinds of body language gestures accompany different situations. Pay particular attention to the body language of people sharing stories of events or things they’ve done.
  • Think. Consider the gestures you use with your kids. What do you notice about them? What do you think your kids will get from your gesture?

Head back to the start of this chapter on using body language in storytelling and keep an eye on your inbox for the next section on how to use your head as a prop in your stories.

Using your head as a prop in storytelling

An old head on young shoulders – Attitude and using your head as a prop

So far, we’ve looked at why body language is important and the three main ways we need to aware of it in terms of telling and sharing stories and books with our kids.

This next section starts off with a recommendation that many will find difficult to do. Do try it though, even if it’s just in a small way : it will make a huge difference to story time with your kids.

When telling a story to your son or daughter, the first thing you need to do is shrug off the ‘adult’ in you.

Put away your sense of decorum and your maturity and embrace your inner child!

We were much more fluent in body language as children. The first lesson in learning to master it is to let go.

Cliché as that may sound, the most successful part of telling a story to your child is to become over indulgent to your humorous, silly side.

No matter what genre of story you want to tell; horror, adventure, mystery or fairy tale, all require you to be willing to pack away your inhibitions and put on your playful side.

If you are unwilling to do this, then you are unlikely to be able to successfully manipulate your body language for your tale, and any actions you do attempt will come across as rigid and stiff.

Children love to see their parents turn into this crazy ridiculous person who will ‘become’ a monster, a witch or a cowboy.

It fills them with giggles to see this complete change in you.

Even teenagers love to see their parents try to seriously impress them with convincing acting during a story (though they’ll deny it all of course, mostly because they’re too busy trying to learn to hold it all in like real “adults”, but that’s somewhat off topic).

focus on speaking with your head as a body language skill when telling stories

Let’s take a closer look at how you can use your head during your story

  • How would you show a dog is listening to something with curiosity or interest?
  • How would you show that Pinocchio is ashamed when he is caught lying?
  • How would you show that you that are thinking deeply about something?
  • How would you show that the student is feeling inspired?
  • How would you show the nervous excitement of Lucy as she discovers that there is no back to this cupboard?

The way you move your head combined with your facial expression is an excellent way to dramatize your movements and make them more pronounced.

Subtle movements and expressions should be used deliberately, when the time is perfect for them, such as during a scary scene or when your character is up to mischief.

A superhero who tilts his head back and narrows his eyes conveys deep suspicion…

Father Christmas throws his head back with a deep bellowing laugh…

A bored, slouching school student propping up their head on one hand

A princess resting her head on her hand with fluttering eyelashes and a smile for the prince…

Captain Flint might quickly flick up his head to express a surprised interest into a discussion he overhears in the sailors’ tavern about a journey to a Treasure Island…

Your characters can even impress a range of meanings and attitudes into simple ‘yes’ and ‘no’ by using head gestures.

  • A powerful king may give just a curt nod of approval (my mother is particularly good at this one), retaining distance and words from his lowly subject, who bows their head low in a gesture of submission.
  • A panicking girl may give her friend a very subtle shake of the head with wide eyes to silently discourage her from telling the secret truth to the mother looming over her with arms firmly folded.

Don’t forget that your hair (if you have any – I have sadly run out) is also a useful device that you can incorporate into your body language brilliance.

  • A woman’s deft flick of the hair can indicate a sense of superiority or even arrogance. Even if you don’t have any hair, kids will know what you mean and a man pretending to be a woman in a story is always guaranteed a laugh.
  • A teenage girl chewing and twirling a lock of her hair immediately conveys attitude or stupidity depending on the accompanying facial expression.
  • Become the mad scientist or crazy person with wildly messed up hair.
  • Tossing your head and hair back with arms folded gives a great impression of stubbornness (think Princess Fiona from Shrek).
  • Scratching the back of your head is a typical look of confusion or uncertainty which can be hilarious when combined with a hapless expression of bewilderment.

When telling your story, try to engage as many possible head gestures into your characters.

They don’t necessarily need to be speaking; they could be performing an action such as searching for something or simply sitting exhausted with a sagging heavy head.

Include a head gesture into the action and accompany it with an appropriate facial expression (you can learn more about these in the chapter on facial expressions) and you will imbue life and energy into your characters.

When your children see you not only telling a tale but acting it out colourfully, they will be truly ‘in’ the tale.

Storytelling homework

  • Try it out. Quite simply try out the above ideas when telling stories and as you come across particular characters with certain traits or attitudes, see if you can compliment the words (and possibly pictures) on the page with some dramatisation using your body.
  • Share your results.
    • What have you observed?
    • What have you experienced?
    • How do you overcome the adult and release the inner child?
    • What do your kids think about it!?

It’s really not as hard as you think and it can be a lot of fun to bring into every day fun and play with your kids.

Head back to the start of the chapter to find the next section on using your hads, arms, legs and feet as storytelling props.

Reach out to your kids – Using your arms and legs in storytelling

Reach out to your kids – Using your arms and legs in storytelling

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In the last section, we talked about using your head in storytelling. Now we’re going to bring some of your other appendages into it.

Have you ever punched the air with delight for winning a race or beating your competition?

Have you ever patted your child on the back in pride?

Have you ever stood angrily with your hands on your hips?

Have you found yourself holding your hand in front of your mouth in nervous reservation?

You are already armed with the best body language tools in the business of storytelling and you unconsciously use them all the time in your life to exhibit your emotion, even just gesturing normally during a chat with your friend.

Your arms and hands can be very versatile tools for communicating your emotions during a story. Exploit these tools during storytelling and you avail of a huge opportunity to elevate your story into real entertainment.

Use your arms more in the stories you tell. You hands and arms convey a huge array of messages

You can use your arms and hands to invite, reject, persuade, control, comfort, approve, ask or accuse and to show fear, anxiety, aggression, domination, submission, boredom, pride, joy and love. They’re pretty handy for playing animal characters too!

Imagine how you might use your hands and arms to convey any of the meanings listed?

A nervous criminal is wringing his hands, while having a finger pointed at him accusing him of the crime.

A demanding princess might be crossing her arms and stamping her foot when she doesn’t get her own way.

The football legend might clench his fists and punch the air in satisfaction as he scores another winning goal.

The forgiving mother might open her arms wide, inviting her child into her close embrace.

The scared little piglet might be shaking and trembling, afraid that the farmer is coming to take him away.

The exasperated teacher might throw her hands up in the air, palms up, while glowering at the mischievous child.

  • The big brother might put his hands on his hips and berate his little sister for telling lies about a snow covered land she found in the back of the wardrobe.
  • The happy child might clap excitedly, delighted at the magician’s trick.
  • The angry tiger might whip out his claws to scare the little mouse away.
  • The baby bird might flap its wings madly as it plummets out of the nest for the first time.

You can effectively embody almost every emotion conceivable using your hands and your arms.

Your audience will love your physical expressions, not only are you the teller of the tale but you transform into each and every character effectively.

You’ll also make the story unforgettable so they can share it with their friends.

A step in the right direction

A rarely considered facet of body language in storytelling, your legs and feet are just as capable of expressing emotion, albeit perhaps through a more limited set of movements.

You may wonder how you could possibly incorporate any leg gestures into your stories but here a few suggestions.

stamp your feet, cross your legs, hop on one foot. There are a million things you can communicate through your legs and feet when telling a story
  • Tapping your foot off the floor is a great way to convey impatience.
  • Sitting with your knees tightly together indicates anxiousness.
  • Give your peg leg pirate a limp and increase his authenticity.
  • Shifting your weight from leg to leg will show how nervous or confused your character is.
  • Stretching your legs out in front of you when sitting shows your character is relaxed and care-free
  • Your Wild West cowboy may slap his leg in satisfaction when he finally figures out a problem.
  • Stamping your foot shows frustration or stubbornness.
  • Kicking the ground can show frustrated defeat.
  • If your character is dragging his feet, it shows his unwillingness to do something.

By involving your legs in your body language you can create some pretty convincing or hilarious effects for your child.

You are become an actor, not just a storyteller.

Storytelling homework

  • Practice. As for the section on using your head as a prop when telling a story, practice the ideas above and keep an eye open for opportunities to use your arms, hands, legs and feet to make the story you’re sharing with your kids that much better.

Oh, and remember to have fun!

Now head back to the chapter summary or wait for the final part of this storytelling course to arrive in your inbox.