Telling stories is a great way of spending time together as a family. Everyone can have the opportunity to speak, there are no real rules and age is no barrier. This idea allows everyone to share in the story telling and works well, even if you are a reluctant story teller and feel embarrassed or nervous about this type of activity.
Story telling is a traditional form of communication that stretches back centuries, probably to the very beginning of time. Storytellers and storytelling have always existed because people enjoy hearing stories and they are so flexible – they can be used to pass on messages, lean lessons, maintain traditions etc.
Being able to understand and create a story is also a fundamental literacy skill for school and life. When we recite or listen to stories, or use art or dance or mime to tell stories, we are learning to understand and appreciate the world in which we live. Stories are usually associated with children today, but adults can benefit too. Storytelling can expand both children and adult’s fluency and confidence with language. This will in turn help with school and work.
The idea is a simple one – everyone brings an object to the floor. It can be anything from a favourite toy, to a flannel or set of car keys. Place them on the middle of the floor so that they are in the centre of the room or space and everyone is able to see them. The general rule of thumb is that the youngest member of the family begins the story, but this is obviously flexible. The opening can be as long or as short as you like and can involve nonverbal communication for those younger ones.
Because this is a communal activity, feel free to chip in if someone is in need of a little help or prompting. Any object in front of you can be used as inspiration but usually the youngest members of the family prefer to stick to their own things first. One of the fun ways to get your child to develop their imaginations is to encourage them to involve the other objects in front of them too.
Everyone takes a turn and the story can only be completed once all family members have had at least one go and every object has featured in sone way. Again it is possible to encourage the story to evolve into more than just a few sentences. Younger children will often need encouragement to develop their ideas into more complex sentences but that’s part of the fun, and younger children will naturally learn from what they see and hear around them. Even if you don’t feel very confident about story telling, having objects in front of you provides the stimulus for thought, plus its good for the adult brain to get creative every so often!
It is possible to record the stories and encourage the children to listen back to the whole story and draw their illustrations for it. This activity can be used on a rainy day or for an evening without TV. It encourages imagination and other key communication skills such as listening to others. It’s fun, doesn’t require anything other than everyday objects and allows parents the time to listen to their children. It can be very interesting to see what comes up in story. It can be helpful if you feel something is bothering your child but they’re reluctant to talk about it, for example. Often problems can come out during story telling as long as it is a safe and friendly environment.
When you get confident at general story telling, it can be fun to mix it up a little. This can be done by specifying the style of story, say a fairy tale, horror, mystery story, for example. This in turn expands and develops imaginations and creativity. Story telling is a fun, inexpensive and educational way to spend some quality family time together.