Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Story Journal and 10 Additional Ideas for Encouraging Storytelling

This photo cracks me up.
This week we debuted a Story Journal.  For now, I write in it for him as he dictates a story to me (unless he's in a fussy mood, and then he keeps demanding to try to write.  I try to confine him to "The End" or illustrating).

How (and Why) We Started to Encourage Storytelling

I can't remember exactly when it was (6 months ago?) that I introduced the idea of storytelling.  I thought other kids his age (the girls, really) seemed to do a bit more imaginative role-playing than he did - mainly with dolls (feeding them, dressing them, etc.).  So one day I suggested that we tell stories with his hotwheels cars.  Wow did that open the floodgates!  There have been a few days when I thought, "What was I thinking?"  Because we hear about 20 times a day: "Tell a story about a blue car!" as he comes running at us with a miniature blue minivan.  His favorite is for us to tell him stories, but he is fairly good about taking turns, so after I tell a story, he will too.  He wants stories while we're driving, during diaper changes, during his bath...  Once he started to try to tell the stories too, he seemed to suddenly speak in full sentences much more often.  I love that it exercises his verbal and creative thinking skills; it makes him think AND is fun for him -- a winning combo.

Story Journal 

I had twin goals for creating a story journal for him.  First, I wanted to capture the cute stories that he has started telling. And, second, and maybe more selfishly, I wanted to encourage him to be the teller more than I am.  It has been working fairly well so far. 

On Monday, I showed him the journal that I bought him, and gave him a drawer full of stickers and said he could decorate it any way he wanted.  I thought I'd ease into the story writing.  He put on one sticker and insisted it was done and he wanted to write a story together!  (I coaxed him into the second sticker).  Then he dictated this to me:

"Once upon a time, there was a bird.  And the bird was flying away upside down!  The bird was silly.  And the bird was meeting a penguin.  The end."
We used the stickers that I had gotten out to encourage him to think of ideas for the story.  Usually, all of his stories are about cars and trucks - probably because that is what he plays with most often.  I plan to put the journal in his "Reading and Storytelling" box every few days with a prompt to tell a story about a certain topic.

10 Additional Ideas for Encouraging Storytelling
  1. Use what they love as a topic.  In our case, that was cars.  But if your child loves horses, then have every story be about horses until they get the hang of it.
  2. Take turns within a story.  You start, then ask them to say a bit, etc.  Also, prompt them with questions.  Who is your story going to be about?  Where are they going?  How does it end?  I try not to do this TOO much, because I don't want it to just be a fill in the blank exercise, but it can definitely help when they're stuck.
  3. Model/copy ideas from other books.  The author will probably forgive you some idea plagiarism if you are only 2.  We blogged about doing something like this recently with a Sneaky Sheep book (he wrote a story called The Sneaky Cat Book).
  4. Use props!  We used a pile of stickers this week for ideas.  We usually use all of his toy cars (or other cars we see on the road when we're driving).  He has a homemade I-spy quilt that would also be great for inspiration.  You could fill a brown paper bag with small items and let them pick a few each time they tell a story.  Here are some other great examples of storytelling props that we have starred in our google reader for "someday": 
  5. Story Stones from Frugal Family Fun Blog (maybe we'll do this one this week!)
  6. Tell Me a Story Blocks from Chasing Cheerios
  7. I Spy Blocks or Storytelling Dice from Obsessively Stitching 
  8. There's always Google.  This looks like a fun list of activities 
  9. Keep reading!  Books will not only fill their heads with ideas, but teach them about the essential elements (character, setting, plot, resolution, etc.) and the evolution of a story.
  10. Games?  (Of course, we love games!).  I love the sound of this Nanofictionary game, which is unfortunately out of print.  Until they reprint it, how about making your own preschooler version?  There are other board game examples here, probably mostly suited for older kids.
This list isn't anywhere near exhaustive; I'm sure there are many more fantastic ideas out there for encouraging creative storytelling.  The important thing, as always, is that you make it fun!  Then they will want to keep doing it.  Again and again and ... don't blame me.

Comment!  Have an idea for encouraging your storytelling?  Have a link to your blog or someone else's about storytelling that you want to share?   Leave us a comment! 

I am linking this post up with ABC and 123, Tot Tuesdays at My Delicious Ambiguity, and Red Ted Art's new Kids Get Crafty link-up.

Disclosure: If you click on any of the links in this post and purchase anything, we may earn a small commission through our affiliate relationship with Amazon.com.


Ticia said...

I totally forgot about the storytelling dice. I should do that. We don't have rocks that would be able to do that, but we can get wooden blocks.

momnivore said...

Esme Raji Codell has an amazing book filled with ideas on stories and connecting them to activities...


It was a key reference when I was teaching, and as soon as my Moose and Monkey talk, it will be dog-eared again...

TheRockerMom said...

Robbie loves to role play and come up with wonderful stories to tell me and his Daddy... and anyone else who might listen. I really enjoyed this post. I like the idea of a journal... I don't know if it would work here, though. He doesn't stop talking long enough for me to write while I still remember. LOL!

Cara said...

This is such a fantastic idea. I love the idea of a story-telling journal! My son (who turned 3 today!) has recently started telling some very brief stories...usually involving cars, Buzz Lightyear, Curious George, dogs, or stories from when Mom and Dad were little girls and boys. I'd love to capture some of these stories to share later on, and to encourage his vivid little imagination.

Joyful Learner said...

I love the idea of using props! I haven't used stickers yet but may try it! Our daughter loves to tell stories using the homemade puppets and puppet theater I made for her using duct tape. We also keep a journal but her stories tend to go on and on and on. I try to get her to conclude the story but she rather let it go on and on and on. Any tips on this?

I'm so glad I discovered your blog! It's fantastic! Now, I just need to find the I'm the follower button.

Debbie said...

I love your idea of a story journal. We always take turns making up stories at bed time. I tell a story first, then it is Selena's turn to tell us a story. They have to be made up stories, that is the only rule.

Infant Bibliophile said...

@Joyful My son has the opposite problem. Everything goes to "the end!" very quickly. :) I'm not much of a "follower" expert... I prefer subscribing through google reader. Happy to have you as a regular reader, though!

RedTedArt said...

Oh we love storytelling over our way and I think it is so under "utilised" great book!!

Why not link it up to the new Kid's Get Crafty (in the loosest) sense. Would love to see you over my way :-) http://www.redtedart.com/?p=3056

Maggy, Red Ted Art

RedTedArt said...

Oh we love storytelling over our way and I think it is so under "utilised" great book!!

Why not link it up to the new Kid's Get Crafty (in the loosest) sense. Would love to see you over my way :-) http://www.redtedart.com/?p=3056

Maggy, Red Ted Art

Raising a Happy Child said...

We love storytelling here and do it quite often. Anna loves to see her stories written down, and I think she learned to read cursive by rereading her own stories. Elise at Inspiration Surrounds has a lot of terrific ideas - here is a link to one of her posts about storytelling dice that you might like - http://etadventures.blogspot.com/2010/08/storytelling-dice-plus-link-to-make.html

Infant Bibliophile said...

@momnivore I'm glad you recommended it, because just by the title I would have thought we didn't need it (since my son already loves reading). It sounds like a great resource.

@Ticia we have a rock filled walkway, so we have no excuses here!

@therockermom sounds like you'll have to tape record him! :) I bet his stories are adorable.

@cara I'd love to read some of his stories!

@debbie I love the idea of doing it at bedtime! But that would definitely make for some very loooong stories by our son, the master bedtime scammer. :)

@redtedart I'll come take a look and try to link something up! I probably have craftier old posts, and i'll try to participate from now on. So many memes to keep track of! But fun.

@Reading thank you for telling me about the site! I always enjoy when you share Anna's stories on your blog too.

MaryAnne said...

This post is full of great ideas - thanks!

RedTedArt said...

"Thank you" for stopping by!! So pleased to have you join in Kids Get Crafty!!!

See you again next week! And I know.. so many memes and link up parties..... I have a whole page of badges to remind where to go each week!

Maggy, Red Ted Art

Britt said...

This is such an awesome idea! Boo's favorite homework activity so far has been bringing home the class "pet" and writing a story about what they did at home.