Stories Are Everywhere
We tell stories all the time. We tell stories on purpose – hushed and giggling at teenage sleepovers, delighting in frightening our friends; gathered around a smoking campfire; tucking our children up in bed. And we tell stories without really knowing we’re doing it – beyond these delicious and timeless rites of passage, storytelling is woven into the most mundane moments of our everyday lives. The vent to a friend or partner after a hard day at work, the “You’ll never guess what I just did” text after a mortifying faux pas, the sharing of our trials and triumphs over coffee or social media.
Storytelling as an art form predates written literacy and is an enormous part of our cultural and literary heritage. It fulfills an inherent human need to connect meaningfully with each other and to make sense of our lives, through retelling real events or exploring fantastical or imaginary tales. Telling stories with our children gives them the space to discover how to construct a coherent narrative, how to develop characters, build their vocabulary, discover the thrill of an immediate impact on their audience. All without having to put pen to paper.
Enjoying Storytelling With Your Family
Love the idea but not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas.
Nothing is so inspiring as nature. Storytelling can be as simple as heading to a park or your garden or local woodland, finding a hole in the ground and telling a tale about the animal who might live there, or looking up at the sky and making shapes out of the clouds.
Open-ended objects can be magically inspiring. Wood is a wonderfully warm and tactile medium, either toys or objects from nature. A stick can be a stick, an antler, a sword, a wand, a pen. Try collecting a handful of objects and inviting your child to join you in creating a story together. The children at my workshops love using toys like the Grimm’s Rainbow or Lanka Kade wooden animals.*
Storytelling cards, cubes or other games can be a good way to get inspired.**
Get the fancy dress box out! Find silly hats and props to help move the narrative along.
Take It In Turns
Storytelling in a circle or a pair is inclusive and a great way to keep the momentum going. Take it in turns to say a sentence or two each and watch your story blossom.
Learn to Let Go
I have sat in a room full of children all laughing uproariously at a story told by their peers. I did not get it. My colleague didn’t get it. We tried to nudge them gently towards something which made more sense to us. Their story felt, somehow, wrong. Now, in hindsight, I think if there are 50 people in a room, two of them don’t understand a story but the other 48 think it’s great, I realise it wasn’t the children who were wrong, and it would have been more respectful to them to go with the majority and maybe learn from them a little.
Wishing you all a wonderful week telling tales with your families.
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*For the toys suggested above, as well as ethical clothing and household products, check out www.babipur.co.uk
**Storytelling cards available to download and print from our website imaginationshed.co.uk