Storytellers--Encouraging our Kids to Let Their Imaginations Roam
We're all storytellers in our household, but I know that storytelling doesn't come as easily for all little ones. Of course, one of the milestones I often ask about when a patient comes in for their 4 or 5 year old check-up is "Does your child tell stories?"
Sometimes I have to clarify: does he/she tell you about their day? About recess? About the rolly polly that they picked up in the garden?
Usually, unless there is a speech delay, the answer is 'Yes'.
We are taught to tell stories when we are young.
But there is some point where some of us say "I can't". Or "I don't like to write". Or we don't say anything at all, we just stare at a piece of blank paper (or blank Scrivener document)....for days.
How can we continue to spark the imagination? How can we encourage our kids to write?
Here are some fun ideas for the summer:
1) Picture prompts: I think there are many teachers who use this tactic in writing class, but it's a great one so I'm reminding you here. Look for some inspiration on Instagram--either photography or illustrations. There are so many children's book illustrators on Instagram right now, and a lot of them share warm-up sketches or their current works-in-progress. You may even look for one of your little ones' favorite authors and illustrators and see if their pictures spark something creative inside them.
2) Mini notebooks: The girls and I carry many different notebooks with us for when we want to jot down some ideas, or a story, or even doodle a little bit. We have some leftover mini notebooks that we had purchased for a birthday party, so we're always grabbing these pocket-sized goodies for when we're on the go. If we forget them, Little Lion has been known to usurp my notebook so she can get some creative ideas down. Sometimes it's just a list of chapter titles, sometimes it's a doodle of some of her favorite book or film characters, which brings me to my next idea, re-tellings.
3) Re-tellings: You can have your little one write a story that's already been written! Do they love Finding Dory or Paw Patrol? Or maybe they think certain scenes in Harry Potter should have gone differently. They can tell you what they think happened! My girls write their own versions (fanfictions) all the time. In fact, when Mini Me was four-years-old, she wrote and illustrated her own version of fairy tale, inspired Sleeping Beauty. See example below. (She dictated the story and I wrote it down for her.)
4) Story dice aka Story cubes: My cousin and his wife bought a set of these for our girls. They are a perfect way to start a story. There are nine di (dice?) and you shake them up and throw them on the ground. Then the challenge is to make up a story that incorporates all the symbols. You can use as few or as many dice as you like. We have been known to incorporate the dice symbols along with whatever is on our pajamas. These are also fun to take along camping for some bonfire stories.
5) Once Upon a Time flashcards or Story Starter Cards: Mr. Bookworm bought two sets of these story starter cards when Mini Me was little. They are a great way to spark an imagination. I'll admit though that when Mini Me was younger, she felt a bit stifled by them, but that may be because she has such an active imagination that she has always wanted to share her own stories.
6) We Are Story: We Are Story has its first 'book' or story starter out which focuses on an adventure. The package is like a deconstructed book with a map, a plushie of the main character, a fox mask, and ten story cards. I love the idea of this story starter because it is interactive and tactile. And I love maps.
Once your little ones have their creative juices flowing, there's no limit to what they can do. Have they written or illustrated something you are particularly proud of? Send me a picture or link if you want me to share them (with their permission, of course). Or, even better, enter them in a contest or submit to Stone Soup magazine. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Stone Soup, the stories, poems, book reviews and illustrations are done by kids ages 8-13.
Tell Dr. Bookworm!
What's your favorite way to get your little one to tell or write a story?