With this learning in mind, I recently set up a laminator, paper, pens, scissors and wooden stands at one of our drawing tables. Naturally some of the children were very intrigued, and in answer to their questions I spoke about the idea of drawing pictures to create ‘characters’. “Characters” I explained “are people or things which do things in stories”
This simple explanation soon led to a flurry of drawing, cutting and laminating and the table began to burst with a colourful array of images which included a cat named pepper, a unicorn, fairies, children, little sisters, dogs, trees (which were magic!) a mountain, a giant, two monsters, my daughter Phoebe and me.
Stories encourage active participation and can increase children’s willingness to communicate their thoughts, feelings and ideas.
Later in the morning, I used some of the newly developed characters to tell a story to the children. This story started with ‘Once upon a time’ and as the plot un-folded told the story of a girl (Phoebe) who met a Unicorn in the forest and was granted one wish (by touching the Unicorn’s magic horn)…
And so the scene was set and over the next two weeks with the purposeful support and interest of the teaching team; storytelling acted as fuel for the fire in our children’s literacy development.
As children listen to stories, they become familiar with the art and practice of storytelling itself. They internalise the rhythms and tones of a storyteller's words and, through those elements, come to know what makes stories interesting, exciting, funny and sad. They learn through observation how to pair gestures and words to bring characters and their actions to life. They hear unfamiliar words whose meanings they can piece together through the context of the story, increasing their vocabularies in a meaningful, lasting way.
“Once upon a time there was a little dog and he found a unicorn and then the dog was on top of the unicorn, and then you came Kim, you got magic from the unicorns horn – you have to wish – and then you can fly…” Wyatt
“So once upon a time there was a unicorn that was flying up in the air and then he heard something, boo hoo hoo hoo, and along came Reese…” Reese
Both telling a story and listening to a well-told tale encourages children to use their imaginations to consider new and inventive ideas. As the days passed and different children arrived at the storytelling area to contribute their ideas to the character scene, new plots and increased knowledge began to emerge. Many of the stories began to depict good, bad and in-between characters; storytelling helps children to process the way that real life works, including accepted styles of behavior.
Stories help children grow in academic learning. Storytelling introduces new vocabulary and encourages children to explore their unique expressiveness as they communicate their thoughts and feelings in an articulate manner.
The art of storytelling has been around since humans began; however the venues for storytelling have changed significantly since then. Television, movies, computers and smartphones present shinier, flashier, more technologically impressive stories. Storytelling, nevertheless, still has huge importance for children, in particular it provides children with real, live human interaction and most importantly it develops both knowledge and a love for stories themselves.
Thank you Christine for another great clip which captures the essence and inspiration of our future storytellers.