telling tales

How do you encourage small children to create and tell their own stories?

The local Sure Start Centre has recently begun a session aiming to support children in doing just this. “Children are the best storytellers so why not let them lead the way!” It’s been running for a few weeks but we only made it for the first time last week.

As an adult you could see a clear structure through the session. Children who had been in previous weeks also knew what to expect. Everything began with warm ups – warming up our bodies by jiggling – warming up our voices talking at different pitches. The only rule was that there is no shouting when telling stories.

We thought about emotions by taking masks from a magic pot showing different feelings. The children filled in gaps as the story teller told a story ‘Once upon a ….. there was a ….’ As they shouted out words she constructed a story around their responses.

Then we opened the suitcase! Inside were a number of everyday household items to choose from, a wooden spoon came out this session. And this was the basis for encouraging the children to tell their own stories and listen to one another’s. First the children suggested what the object could be. E’s suggestion was a guitar. Then a puppet told a story using the spoon, as a parcel. Finally the children were asked if they wanted to tell a story. 2 did. For one the spoon was a butterfly and he told a simple tale of a ‘mean butterfly’. For the second child it was a dog.

It was amazing watching 3 and 4 year olds creating and having the confidence to tell their own stories in a group. This was the first time they had told stories in the session. Over previous weeks a lot had been done to give the children the tools and the confidence to tell the stories. As in a lot of work with pre school children it was that element of repetition which gave them the security they needed to be so creative.

A lot to learn from this inspiring session. The magic pot with feelings masks will certainly find its way into my work as will lots of other elements.

But best of all as we walked away G turned to me and said ‘I think we’ll come to stories next time’. You can’t argue with that now can you!

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