If you live in the UK, you may know that this is National Storytelling Week!! My two and a half year old can’t yet read, but she truly loves a good yarn. For the past month or so, she’s been enamored by this awesome set of cards, Tell Me a Story – Circus Animal’s Adventure, a beautifully illustrated “book” that encourage children and adults to craft creative and original stories. These were a gift from my husband, who learned about them in preparation for a storytelling course he teaches at Stanford. (He should be writing this post, right!). While he can tell a great story, I don’t consider myself a natural storyteller at all! However, the cards are really easy to use, and I’m finding that my own ability to improvise, build suspense, and think outside the box has improved through the process of using them.
There are so many ways to use the cards. When I first introduced them, I’d pull out random cards, one by one, and weave a story until I decided we were done. After a few days of this, my daughter wanted in on the fun and now she chooses the cards — sometimes deliberately and sometimes blindly. I still tell the stories, but I notice that as the storytelling process unfolds, she’s more inclined to chime in. I may say “The mouse whispered to the lion, ‘I have a surprise for you. We’re going to take a trip!” And then I’ll ask her, “Where could they be they going?” “Virginia,” she replies.
Sometimes our stories are literal representations of the cards we pull, and other times I try to push myself to think more abstractly about the imagery. Last night, the circus tent (above) became an itty-bitty toy tent, plopped in the middle of a dandelion field. Initially, N said, “That’s not a dandelion, it’s a firework!” and I replied, “In this story it could be a dandelion. What do you think?” And she agreed!
Happy National Storytelling Week, friends!
Ideas to get you started on Storytelling: from Simple Kids
Storytelling Games: A fun list of almost twenty games to play with kids of all ages
Listen to stories online at the Storybook Online Network