We are all storytellers and as the Society for Storytelling celebrates the start of its 10th annual national storytelling week this weekend, Emma Patterson, Nursery Manager at Little Einstein’s Kindergarten reveals her storytelling tips and some of the lesser known benefits of this much loved past-time.
“Storytelling needs to take place in a relaxed, comfortable and cosy atmosphere where children can engage fully with the story” said Ms Patterson. “Stories need to be fun, and questions and discussion about favourite parts of the story which will help the children to build links between the written and spoken language. Linking interesting stories with relevant family occasions or key milestones in one’s lifetime, also helps children to recognise different social contexts which are essential to their learning.
“Props and visual aids along with stories which have elements of repetition will accommodate children with additional support needs. For these children, participating in the art of storytelling gives them the freedom to be creative, and we find is particularly effective when combined with activities which engage different areas of the brain such as dancing, music, or arts and crafts.
“The way you tell a story, creates a unique version of the story in the child’s mind, usually with pictures first. As we all know, young children will happily listen to a story again and again. Once they have developed their understanding of the story, and grapple with this idea of whether a story is ‘true’ or not, only then they will then start to focus on the words. All of these stages prompt key learning points including recognition skills. For example, even if children have had few experiences of storytelling they will recognise popular introductions or statements such as ‘fie fie foe fum…’ or ‘once upon a time’ This knowledge helps to empower children and create a bond between them and the storyteller which evokes positive emotions. It is this sense of sharing – sharing of words, meanings and emotions, which is at the heart of this much loved pastime.
Concluding Emma Patterson says, “Storytelling is an ancient form of communication that has survived from generation to generation and is a much loved pastime, but it also gives us the opportunity to express our emotions, gives us the freedom to stretch our creativity and our imagination, and it equips young children with important learning and educational gifts for life.”
Little Einstein’s top tips for successful storytelling
- Find a book that interests you – if you are not captured by the story then why would you listeners be?
- Read the text over to yourself several times to familiarise yourself with the text.
- Visualise the characters and their intentions, what kind of voices they might have, how the plot evolves and what emotions this provokes.
- Make notes to yourself about the story and what images and emotions it provokes.
- Practise your storytelling by finding a quiet, comfortable space and reading the book aloud to yourself. Experiment with how you can bring the story to life for your listeners.
- Find somewhere cosy where the children will feel engaged and start clearly, making sure you have their attention.
- Tell the story in your own words – don’t worry if you make mistakes -storytelling by its nature is subject to interpretation and improvisation.
- Alter the rhythm of your voice and bring your emotions into play. Keep a visual image of the unfolding story in your head so that you can deliver the storytelling with conviction.
- Finish strongly – create an appetite for more.
- Creating a ‘Story of the week’ helps to build repetition and create an interest in early literacy and reading skills.