5 fun ideas to develop storytelling with your child.

5 fun ideas to develop storytelling with your child.

National Storytelling week runs from 30th January until 4th February 2021 and it’s an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the value of stories. If you’ve followed us for a while you will know we’re huge book fans, as teachers for many moons we have spent hundreds of hours reading to and with children. We plan the majority of our learning with stories and books as a starting point and in our home lives we read to our own children as much as we can. But what Storytelling week helps us to remember is that stories don’t always have to come from books. For thousands of years  stories have been told as a way of passing on important messages from generation to generation. Many cultures are famous for their storytelling, it’s a skill, a talent to be taught and learnt.

Storytelling for our children is a wonderful learning experience whether it starts from a book or something made up in the minds of a tired adult at bedtime (mine are always epically random but Lily seems to love these ones the best!) For children hearing stories being told and re-telling some themselves has so many benefits, here’s just a few:

– vocabulary acquisition

– speech development

– cultural understanding

– develops imagination and creativity

– increased concentration and focus

– develops senses and, depending on the story, increased understanding of their own and the feelings of others

I could go on but you get the idea; stories are great! We value storytelling hugely and have based all of our School Readiness programme session on the Character of Ted to create story led learning for the children. Be in our Facebook community School Starters Hub to hear about our next launch of the School Ready with Teddy programme.

Books can be a brilliant place to start but it’s great to have some other story ideas up your sleeve and if you have a child who has an allergy to sitting still then books aren’t always where they find the story magic! So here we’ve collected just 5 easy ways to use stories and storytelling to have all the great outcomes listed above but without needing to sit still and listen!

1. Act it out

Some stories are made to be acted out, especially ones with a journey. Going on a Bear Hunt is the perfect story to re-tell on a walk. To act out stories just start to re-tell them. “Oh no, grass, long wavy grass…..” You can do it on a walk or just pretend in the garden or inside. Ask your child what props they could find to set it up. Develop their imagination by using the sofa as the mud and a blanket on the floor as the river etc! You can also involve puppets and masks to add to the performance!

Other books that are great to be acted out:

Room on the broom

What the Ladybird Heard

Peace at Last

 

2. Role Play a Scene

Stories can be brilliant as a lead in to playful activities. Use your child’s favourite story to inspire some role play. The Tiger who came to Tea is a brilliant example. Set up a mini tea party/ picnic. You can have a tiger or other unusual animal already there or ready to knock on the door. Explore the story, role play what happened or let your child lead however they have been inspired.

Other great book/ set ups:

3. Story Cubes

Making up stories is loads of fun, but sometimes children can get stuck for ideas. Story cubes bought or homemade versions are a great way to give some structure to story telling. The idea if you have a set of storytelling cubes or dice with pictures on. You can roll them out and tell a story using the ones which are face up or you can pick/ roll one at a time to tell the next part of the story.  If you don’t have story cubes you can use post it notes with simple stick drawings or words, use flashcards with pictures if you have some or if you’re creative make some story stones by drawing on pebbles.

Some useful story elements for making your own prompts:

  • different characters 
  • a few settings 
  • some objects
  • different weather/ time options

4. Imitate a favourite story

This is a top teacher tactic, we’re giving you the inside scoop! Children can find it hard to make up their own completely unique story, actually adults can too! And there’s a huge amount to think about when trying to tell a story; charatcers, setting, plot etc. A great idea is to take a story you know and love and retell it just changing one or two details. For example imagine how ‘The Very Hungry Dinosaur’ story goes (instead of The very Hungry Caterpillar.) Fairy tales work well for this idea too; The Three Little Hedgehogs (Pigs,) Little Blue Riding Hood, Three Billy Cows Gruff. 

Imitating is a great conversation as you can ask questions about what changes you should make, explore how it changes the story. You can come back to your ideas over a few days and re-tell in different ways.

5. Turn Taking Stories

Often the best stories are the funny ones. And there’s nothing funnier than when you can’t control where the story is going. Take it in turns to tell a part of a story, it could be a sentence each or a few sentences. Here’s what happened when I tried this with Lily at dinner the other day:

Me: Once upon a time there was a….

Lily: Dragon called Lily…

Me: who was brave and fierce. One sunny morning Lily went exploring…

Lily: and she found a cave with treasure and some poo!

It only took two sentences to get some toilet humour in there!! She always names characters after herself and other family members too which makes me laugh. We did carry the story on and I tried to make it a cleaner version but children will be children! 

If your child finds it hard to think of ideas, in addition to the story cubes mentioned above, the You Choose books are a brilliant way to engage their creativity, develop vocabulary and explore new ideas. Each book has no words but a huge range of pictures to choose from.

 

So there’s 5 storytelling ideas with not one mention of reading or writing! Perfect for home schooling, developing vocabulary, creativity, connection and fun.

The pictures in this blog involve the wonderful Ted from our school readiness programme designed to get children ready for school in a fun and engaging way. Pop to our facebook community School Starters Hub to find out more about how we support families to prepare for school and to hear about the upcoming launch.

We’d love to know if you try some of these and what you think? Or if you have any of your own brilliant storytelling tips please share with us via the comment box or on social media.

Wishing you your version of a ‘happily ever after!’

Em xx

Brilliant Books to buys as gifts!

Brilliant Books to buys as gifts!

I love children’s books, probably a little too much! Each bookcase in the girls’ bedrooms is overflowing and there are little stashes of books all over the house! I’ve read nearly 100 books for children in our Facebook group which started during lockdown to provide free teaching for children in Reception, year 1 and year 2. I’m still reading on the group just weekly now but I still love it, even though my bank balance is less keen as I use it as an excuse to buy more! I often get asked for book recommendations and with Christmas on the horizon (looming a little too fast for my liking) I thought I’d share my top recommendations for books as gifts, just click on the images to buy striaght from Amazon.

I’ve listed the ages that they would be most suitable for and the best bits but all children are different so the age ranges could expand. I’d love to know if you have extra recommendations too, we will share all comments and contributions on social media!

Just to let you know the links in this blog are affiliate links which means we earn a very tiny amount if you click through and buy from here. We won’t be offended if you’d rather search direct for the books but it helps us to keep creating content for you if you do buy through here.

Ok, here’s my top 10 (it’s actually 11 and possibly more with box sets, oops!)

 

Search and Find Alphabet of Alphabets

What’s it all about? A brilliant book with engaging pictures, words and ideas. Think ‘Where’s Wally but more educational. There are 26 pages and on each 26 objects to search for. It is our the current favourite in our house, my 1 year old loves finding the mouse that is hiding on each page and my four year old loves discovering new words and searching for things that begins with sounds she has learnt at school. 

Perfect for: Age 1-6

Best bits: Great gift for siblings as it suits a wide age range and lovely because it will last so long, the ways to use it are really vast.

 

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals

What’s it all about? This is the most beautiful children’s encyclopaedia of animals that I’ve ever seen. I’ve bought it for so many friend’s children and it seems to have become a favourite in their houses too. This book has a page per animal and the text is well written, it is short and sweet but gives interesting and sometimes funny factual information. For each animal there are stunning photographs and incredible illustrations which is such a lovely mix to see in a book. 

Perfect for: Age 4-8 (the text is appropriate for approximately age 5/6 to begin to read depending on how competent they are)

Best bits: The pictures! This could easily be a coffee table book it’s so beautiful.

 

The Invisible String

 What’s it all about? A story about human connection. This is such a wonderful story about we are connected to others by love and in 2020 it’s message could not be more helpful and perfect. My four year old adores this as a bedtime read and will talk about all of the people who she has invisible strings with, it’s a tear jerker for sure!

Perfect for: Age 3-8 and for any children who are missing friends and family (also helpful for talking about grief and loss)

Best bits: The message, this is a story which will form part of your family conversations about love and connection to others. This would be a lovely gift for those you are unable to be physically with this year.

 

Goose Books by Laura Wall

What’s it all about? The Goose stories are created by Devon Artist Laura Wall. They are brightly coloured with simple and engaging text and illustrations. Both my girls love the stories and Goose goes to School is a big hit. We’ve got lots of the collection, other favourites include – Goose Gets Ready (a baby book) Goose Goes to the Zoo and Goose goes Shopping!

Perfect for: Ages 0-6 (The text would be appropriate for age 5/6 to begin to read depending on their competence)

Best bits: These books would be really lovely if you always buy for a family or child and want to start a tradition. There are a huge number of stories and you could buy one per birthday, Christmas and other celebrations.

Not all of the books are available on amazon, here’s a link to Laura’s Goose shop – this isn’t an affiliate link:

 

Storyteller's Word a Day

What’s it all about? This book is from a company called Mrs Wordsmith which I regularly recommend to parents and teachers alike. They have brilliant resources to support children learning new words and developing their language from phonics games to dictionaries. This word a day book is brilliant for helping children to learn new words, understand their meaning and put them into context. The illustrations are bright and funny, they are really engaging for all.

Perfect for: Ages 4-8 (The storytellers dictionary is fab for older children and really supports reluctant writers to develop their use of language. It’s especially popular with boys)

Best bits: A great gift for a child or teacher and something that is fun yet really educational.

 

Julia Donaldson Audio Story Collection

What’s it all about? Ok so not technically a book but instead a collection of stories and songs by the very wonderful Julia Donaldson. We were given the older version as a gift when Lily was 1 and it’s been so well used. Great stories and songs to listen to in the car and on children’s CD players. You can also get versions on audible and Amazon are offering a free trial which could be timed perfectly if you’ve got a long journey coming up!

Perfect for: Ages 1-6 

Best bits: A lovely gift for siblings or a younger child as the stories are entertaining for years. I still love them!

 

Clem and Crab

What’s it all about? A beautifully illustrated story about cleaning up our beaches. This is the only book in the list which we don’t own yet, it’s Vix’s family favourite and as beach lovers it looks perfect.

(edit: I have just ordered it, I really don’t need any more books but I couldn’t resist)

Perfect for: Ages 1-6 

Best bits: A powerful and important message told in a lovely way for children to understand.

Another story I love with a powerful message about protecting our planet is Elephant in my Kitchen, here’s a little link to that one too!)

 

Oliver Jeffers collection

What’s it all about? I just can’t pick a favourite book from Oliver Jeffers. All of his stories are incredible; they are moving, funny and relatable. The illustrations are captivating and engaging for children and adults alike. This link is to a collection of four stories about discoveries and friendships. You can buy them separately too and he is an author I would definitely recommend if you’re looking to start buying a collection for a gifts. One Oliver Jeffers book for each celebration would be such a lovely idea.

Perfect for: Ages 1-7 but wonderful for older children too (I’ve used the stories with children aged 11 and know as an adult I love to read them too!)

Best bits: Thought provoking and interesting stories that will spark discussion, curiosity and imagination. 

I also love ‘Here we are’ and Oliver has new book out – ‘What we’ll Build’ Links here:

Ok, I’ve had to force myself to stop here. I could go on listing my favourites for another 50 or so books. I think these give a good mix of fiction and non-fiction, age range and suitability. If you don’t think any of these would suit and want some more ideas just pop us a message giving some details about the child/ family you’re hoping to buy for. I promise I’ll have something to recommend!

I really hope this list has given you some inspiration, wishing you happy shopping!

Em x

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