As time passes, many parents find that their children, who absolutely enjoyed storytelling as a way to connect with their family, get more reluctant to participate in such face to face activities. Many start to get embarrassed or feel that they are too old for pretend play. The fact is, there is no such thing as being “too old” for storytelling.
Storytelling as an Activity
Children are innately designed to love stories. Stories have a sense of magic and open up doors of wonder to an entirely new world. Furthermore, stories teach us about life, people around us, and even about ourselves. Storytelling as an activity has proven to help children develop language skills, comprehension and sense of respect for others.
- Improving language and communication skills
Story telling is a great tool to increase a child’s willingness to communicate one’s own feelings and thoughts. Furthermore, it encourages active participation which has a direct effect on verbal proficiency. Storytelling encourages creativity, imagination and, when done as a group activity, increases cooperation between children while improving their listening skills.
- Inter-cultural Understanding
Enhanced communication and intercultural understanding are probably the most evident effects storytelling can have on a child. Stories allow children to strengthen their own culture roots while also experiencing diverse cultures. It enables children to empathise with situations, people and places that are unfamiliar to them. Storytelling helps children gain insights on universal life experiences while taking into consideration new ideas.
Making Storytelling Activities a Way of Life
As parents and educators, we can bring together a number of elements to make storytelling a fascinating bonding and learning activity for all. Here are some of them –
- Mapping the plot as a memory building technique
- Remembering and retelling the plot of the story
- Using story skeletons to help remember all the key events
- Reciting the story in your own words
- Thinking of the plot as a series of connected images or a film
- Adapting and improvising by creating your own version of a story
Using LEGO as a Storytelling Tool for Kids
- We often think of LEGO as a tool to build mechanical objects, and not so much as something to express thoughts and develop language and communication skills. Including LEGO in your storytelling adventure is a great way to bring your child’s imagination to life. Every LEGO brick can be translated into a story; it’s really upon the imagination and creativity of the child. The best part about LEGO is that each child can build something and have a story to it. The idea is to encourage them to explain what they have built.Seymour Papert, the father of the constructionism theory, argued that learning happens best when tangible objects are made, making building, and thereby learning, experiential. Children use the information they already have to create new knowledge. Extending on this philosophy, when we let children build models to express their thoughts, the stories become a lot more elaborate than they were when children started building them. Children are essentially creating stories with their hands!Here are a few tips to consider when you are relying on these bricks as a part of your storytelling activities.
- Encouraging Touch and Feel
After working on the creation, encourage your child to move it around, make it walk, flip it, roll it. Anything that gives your child’s creation some life. Don’t worry about the creation crumbling in his hands.
- Asking Questions
For some kids, storytelling may get easier if you ask them a few leading questions. Find ways to bring out the details that may be rolling around in the mind of the creator. This may be just the way to get the story started. Ask open ended questions such as, “I notice that the bunny has one green and one blue ear, can you tell me more about that?” or “I bet this aeroplane has been to many places, can you tell me about all the wonderful places it has travelled to?”.
- Getting a Story Started
Give children themes to start with, for instance, “What did you do this weekend?” “once upon a time” Or a feild trip from school. Use the LEGO creation as a source of inspiration when creating a story. Assess how far you can go into a story before the child who created it chooses to jump in to add plots, details and other information into your story. If you ended up completing the entire story on your own, that is fine as well. You may have sown a seed of an idea in your little one about how to create his own story the next time around.
- Inventing your Own Version of a Story
Showcase to the kids that a single subject can inspire a number of other plotlines or ideas for stories. Ask every child to create their own version and then have go yourself after everyone is done. You can choose to change the entire story based on the LEGO creations or just change a few parts. However, remember the focus shouldn’t be on improving their storylines. The idea is to maintain the same length and being conservative about the amazing details you may be able to put in with a mind of an adult.
- Creating Stop Action Movies
Blending technology with LEGO is a fun way to keep the millennial child interested. Prop up a camera right by your child’s favourite building space. You may even want to teach him how to make a simple stop action movie. This technique is amazing for children who are shy or embarrassed to participate in a face to face storytelling session. Furthermore, children find satisfaction in being able to go back and revisit their creation and watch it come to life.
Consider adding a round of group storytelling into your list of activities even if it is a small family participating or a group of neighbourhood kids. With LEGO the world is your oyster!