Friday, July 24, 2009

Cultivating a Storyteller

Children can be great storytellers
"By the age of four most children can tell complex stories. You would be surprised to learn, however, that the beginnings of storytelling can start much earlier. As early as age two, children begin to tell stories as a way to organize their experiences, hold on to their memories and understand their culture" (Storytelling, Story Acting, and Writing: Essential Language Experience for All Children from Many Paths to Literacy: Language, Literature, and Learning in the Primary Classroom by Rebecca Novick;

Adults support children's growing storytelling abilities through everyday conversations about past and future events. Using photographs or pictures from magazines can serve as story starters. Very young children enjoy hearing and participating in stories related to everyday events. Creating stories that involve movement will also keep a young child's interest. Preschool-age children will be interested in using their imaginations to tell stories about animals, friendships, and stories about daily events. "Being a hero in the story affirms a child's abilities and creates a sense of adventure," says our volunteer storyteller, Joanne Chase.

Story blocks
Here's a unique storytelling opportunity you can enjoy at the Museum. Story blocks are part of the storytelling experience in the Family Resource Center on Wednesday and Friday mornings. For each story, two to four children are asked to choose a block. Each of the blocks has a familiar picture that children might recognize, such as types of transportation, animals, vegetables, ice cream, etc. Our storyteller uses suggestions for the story from the children who chose the blocks. For instance, Joanne suggests having the children name the animals or describe what the animals can do. This keeps the child involved in creating the story.

Some of our visitors have mentioned wanting to create story blocks to use at home. We purchased unfinished 2.5 inch hardwood blocks online at Wood and Shop Inc. First we rounded the corners with an electric sander. Then we developed a list of pictures that children might recognize. You can use stencils or draw and paint familiar subjects such as animals, favorite foods and things found in nature. The blocks were then coated with a clear wood veneer finish. Joanne has made a set of blocks for each one of her 5 grandchildren. "They have become quite a family tradition," she says. They are sure to last for future generations.

Start a family tradition by visiting the Family Resource Center on Wednesday or Friday mornings for story telling with these creative story blocks.

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