Project 27: Storytelling Ideas for Kids & Parents
‘Storytelling Stones’. Make your own story starters!
Time: One hour, give or take
Difficulty: Choosing what pictures you’ll use is the biggest barricade!
We busy parents don’t have time for lots and lots of stories at bedtime. Especially NOT those long, long, long ones. Short stories are good. Our days are so jammed pack with work, play, after school activities, playgroup, appointments, phone calls, cooking, cleaning, sweeping, hanging out and then folding the washing, that I’m so grateful to those author’s who write a short and sweet book with lovely pictures.
But children often want, and need, more than that from us. As part of my job as a kindergarten teacher and playgroup leader, I had the energy and the will to lovingly create or “learn by heart” stories that I truly believed would meet the needs and consciousness of the children in my group. Oftentimes, along with purpose-made props. But the reality of this memo is that I was PAID to do this. “Storytelling” was a learning tool and had to happen sometime between 9am and 3pm as part of my daily rhythm.
Home life is not quite so perfect or harmonious or rhythmical, (as much as we’d like it or plan it to be!) and despite the best of my intentions, I’m not always Mrs Story-At-The-Tip-Of-My-Fingers. I’m lucky that all my years of early childhood teaching means I have more than a few old trustworthy’s up my sleeve, locked in memory, but even still, I can’t always be bothered to unpack them! Sometimes, I’m just way too lazy after a busy day of chores, work, and home life.
BUT if you are like me, wanting to give them a more loving, present, in-the-now, eye-to-eye experience than just half-heartedly reading a book (nothing against books of course. We LOVE and NEED books here!) there is something else you CAN do. Yes. Really. This is my go-to strategy for win-win oral storytelling. These stories allow me to use a prop (these handmade and personalised-to-suit-my-child’s-interests stones) that ‘fires up my creative spark!’ and provides me with ready-made stimulus. All I have to do is weave the objects together in some kind of order, usually flavoured by what has been happening in our daily life.
Weaving. We can all do that. It takes no more energy than reading a book, and may just bring us a jolt of new creative energy we can then steer to our own endeavours too! How about it? Think you’d like to join me in a bit of storytelling fun?
Anyone can make their own ‘story stones’. I think it must be the world’s most perfect nature craft. Here’s how.
1. Gather up a bunch of at least 10 light-coloured stones. (Polished stones need to be sanded back first.) River stones work best.
2. Paint the top of each stone with white acrylic paint. Leave to dry.
3. When super dry, draw simple designs on to the stone using STAEDTLER’s fine line fibre-tip markers. Children can help too.
The final step is to add a coat of sealer of some kind to protect your drawings and give them longevity. Don’t skip this!
You can see that Ned REALLY wanted to help me draw his story stones. I went to make a cuppa and came back to this scribbly tree you can see in the picture. When I asked him why he had drawn all over my tree, he said, “but Mum, trees have big bushy branches”.
Hmmm… I’d love to allow that sweet and true comment to melt my heart but my head suggests that I should actually quietly applaud his sneaky comeback. What a little devil!
Regardless of his true motive, I decided to embrace his efforts in good faith and keep the tree exactly as is. I really think this simple act alone will do wonders for his self-esteem and grow his love of story even more.
Your drawings can be really simple like mine. I’ve been inspired by those cute Japanese drawing motifs I often use for my hand-carved stamps too. Nature themes like these ones- flowers, trees, animals, eco-friendly transport, camping stuff- also give me plenty of scope for making up short stories that have meaning for our lives in this lovely little community.