~ STORYTELLING ~ REBECCA JANE FLANAGAN
I believe very strongly in the magic of books and illustrations, but I also believe just as strongly in the power of storytelling - a story from the mouth (and heart !) I almost always use props when storytelling (if not props, then the use of body actions, voices and facial expressions). The best ideas I have come across for storytelling are these:
★ A storytelling apron with lots of little trinkets inside each pocket to spark the imagination and the creation of a new (or well loved) story.
★ Lighting a candle to set the scene for a enchanted atmosphere. Singing a little rhyme or using a chime or windpipe adds to the magic!
★ Start with classic tales and stories from your childhood that you know back to front so that you can focus on your storytelling skills rather than remembering the words to the story.
★ Waldorf texts are a brilliant resource for giving you story ideas (they always focus on stories from each season and include nature as well as magical elements)
★ Keep props in your storybook area so that the children can play with them - a storytelling basket is a fabulous resource that you can collect or make little props for stories the children already know (ie Jack and the Beanstalk, The Gingerbread Man, The Little Red Hen), as well as creative made up stories too.
A PICTURE TELLS A THOUSAND WORDS
I often talk to teachers and parents who ask me, "How do you go about creating stories to tell, if you are not reading them from books?" and another one, "How do you remember all the stories?"
Picture books and classics are wonderful stories to start off with when you are storytelling. By choosing one you know really well you will have the confidence to put down the book, and then use your facial expressions, gestures and body movements, tone and volume in your voice to help "paint a picture" in the children's imaginations. I always break up the stories I tell into little segments and this is an easy way to remember the words. For example, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" can be broken up into:
1 - First two pages (popping out from the egg - I like to use hand actions to show the little caterpillar wiggling on my hand)
2 - Days of the week and fruit (counting, hold up fingers - children love to help in this part!)
3 - Long list of food (use little props to help you! I have a lovely printed artwork of all the food in this section that you can point to as you say it)
4 - Spinning a cocoon (I use movement here, the children spin their cocoons and go to sleep)
5 - Butterfly (I use hand movements and then sing a lovely butterfly song "Flutter Butterfly" - one of the tracks on my CD!) ♪♫
SIMPLE PROPS FOR STORYTELLING
I always use little songs and rhymes if I can, within the story, to give it the added element of music and movement. Props are wonderful to both help you to remember sections, and to give a little visual treat, complimenting the illustrations they have created in their mind. Children love to hear favourite stories over and over, so don't worry if you only have a handful of stories in your storytelling repertoire! repetition is vital for language development, and the more you tell these stories, the more the children will get out of them and be able to play bigger roles. They will even begin to role play the stories without you during play experiences - so make sure you have some little open ended props available for them.
As for making up your own stories, well that is where your amazing creativity can take flight! I have a selection of stories I have made up and acted out with children over the years, some have been sparked by other stories or rhymes, some by nature, some by little moral tales I would like to introduce to support social and emotional development. But my all time favourite thing to do is see where the children's interests are at and make up a story on the spot for them!
MAGICAL STORYTELLING PIXIE RING
This week I went into the Pre Primary class I look after for half a day, armed with a big stuffed dolphin "Diamond Dust", some little jewels wrapped in shimmering blue fabric, and some long lengths of fabric and ribbon for mermaid and mermen tails. I told a story about a lonely dolphin prince who lived in the crystal river where the water sparkles. Many of the children were sure they had seen him ~♥~ I focused on the dolphin's heart as his most precious gift, and little comments were flying all around from the children "I would be his friend!" "I want the mermaids to play with him". I will incorporate little bits and pieces from their comments during the story so they feel connected and thrilled they have the magic in them to be part of the story!
Try some storytelling today, I just know you will love it as much as the children in your care!