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Ideas For Sharing Stories With Children – Part Two
In part one, we looked at five suggested variations on the bedtime story concept and some additional ways parents and others can both share precious moments and create precious memories with their children. Let’s continue with recommendation 6.
6. Let your children develop their own versions of the events that might happen after the printed story ends. What could happen to the characters next? What future adventures might they have? What happened to the characters before the story started? How would the story be different if it were set in a different place or time period? Let’s say your child was one of the characters in the book. Which would he or she choose?
7. Expand all creative opportunities that can help your children maximize their intellectual and imaginative powers. For example, follow up the story with a larger art project later. Create a diorama of a story setting or reconstruct a story setting using common objects found around your home. A sofa can represent a ship lost at sea, a carpet can be a magic carpet, a kitchen table can be a stall in an outdoor market, loaded with exotic goods.
8. Encourage children to make up their own stories or retellings of their favorite fairy tales. This can be done orally and recorded on a computer or tape recorder for posterity. Older children can write their own stories and create fully illustrated books or web pages. You can even make copies to distribute among family or friends. Some children could work together to create a group story where each child takes turns contributing the next element of the story. Alternatively, each child can add one item to a collective work of short stories, poetry or jokes.
9. Use puppets to retell an old or new story. Puppets add considerable excitement to storytelling, enthralling young and old alike. They bring stories to life and encourage children to turn scenes into dialogue, adding an exciting new twist to your children’s verbal development. Kids can dress up dolls or dolls they already own, or even create their own dolls, costumes and decorations. Sometimes take it a step further and write a script, then perform it for other kids in the neighborhood.
10. Try a simple, age-old, no-nonsense technique called “Draw and Tell” stories. In these short stories, you draw the elements of a simple story as you tell it. For example, a story may refer to two cookies and a leaf, among other things. When the story is finished, your children will be delighted to discover that these drawn pieces have made one cohesive drawing that represents the theme of the story. Suddenly, those two cookies act as the girl’s two eyes, and the page appears to be the girl’s mouth, and a collection of unrelated objects now looks like one simple drawing of a girl. These easy-to-use drawing and story collections are readily available from a variety of sources and require no special preparation or materials, just a piece of paper and a marker.
11. After reading the book, help the children to create their favorite characters from paper, cardboard, scraps of fabric, pieces of felt or other materials. Paper plates and cardboard tubes from used toilet paper rolls are two of my favorite craft materials. Kids can add extra details using scraps of leftover yarn, cotton balls, dry pasta, spangles, and the like. These characters can then be proudly displayed in your child’s room as a monument to your child’s creativity and as fun reminders of all the great books they’ve read. Such figures can also be used to act out stories.
12. Keep a costume box full of quirky items such as old clothes, scarves, other accessories and jewellery. Add to it regularly and draw from it whenever your kids want to dress up and act out a new story. Also make character masks using paper plates or paper bags or poster board. Add some matching props to this treasure trove, be it sceptres or swords, wands or baskets. Whether home-made or store-bought, the financial investment is negligible. This growing prop box can then be used for everything from impromptu retellings of new stories to full-fledged amateur stage productions at home or school. Add tambourines, toy drums and the like and you can also introduce an element of music into these creative play sessions.
I hope this collection of time-tested ideas for improving your stories will inspire you to revisit the techniques you’ve used before and expand your repertoire to include other activities that may be new to you. Children can gain so much from reading, hearing and telling stories. Stories help children develop language skills such as vocabulary, oral comprehension, reading and writing. In addition, they help children improve critical thinking skills, reasoning and imagination. Some of the ideas mentioned above can also encourage children to appreciate art, learn to observe the visual environment more closely, and reach their artistic and other creative potential. Let your children’s imaginations run wild, and the reward for both you and your children may surprise you.
There’s nothing quite like a cozy bedtime read, just you and your child sharing a story while enjoying a few precious minutes together at the end of a busy day. No other activities or fancy props are required, but experimenting with some of these suggested techniques every now and then can keep the experience fresh and full of surprises. This in turn will keep your kids hooked on the magic of stories and storytelling forever.
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