This blog is part of our “Summer Sparks” series where we will give you tips to inspire a summer of wonder! For more ideas on how to encourage imagination all summer long check out more blogs and toys!
Get your kids’ creative juices flowing by setting up a storytelling center with art and writing supplies in easy-access bins by our Blog Ambassador Julie of Happy Strong Home!
Children view their worlds through the lens of story – the who, when, where, what, why, how of daily living. Story elements show up in their questions and explorations. In our digital world, where action and reaction happen so quickly, the art of storytelling gets lost in the shuffle.
I want my children to savor the slow passage of time that oral and written storytelling affords, so I set up a storytelling station to spark their imaginations. Each aspect of storytelling is covered, with creative outlets for them to shape their own stories.
Using our grocery stand as a hub to collect our props and craft items (because those little green bins are so handy for storage and so inviting for little hands!), we set up a storytelling station. Here’s what went into our collection:
Art and writing supplies:
Construction paper pre-folded into booklet covers, blank drawing paper, markers and crayons, stamps.
Puppets, stickers, stamp sets, coloring books (more on that later), and wooden story block sets.
Introducing Kids to Storytelling
A key part of storytelling is telling a story verbally first, which helps kids work out the details before they start to write or draw. So we focused on the play aspect of storytelling for a while.
My youngest adored being able to make a story without writing, using stackable wooden story blocks, which prompt kids through key story elements like character, setting, and problem. When the blocks were lined up to their satisfaction, they invented tales of knights who rode out at sunrise to fight a dragon and bring back treasures.
A goofy faces googly eyes coloring pad inspired conversations between sets of “characters” – the boys colored and gave them names and situations. In our case, a pair of robot friends named Wheelie and Rocket went to a birthday party!
Hand puppets allowed them to playact various scenes. The boys had fun trying out different voices and interactions together and by themselves.
The Plot Thickens: Adding Action to Kids’ Storytelling
To inspire dynamic plot ideas, I set the boys up with a 3-D reusable stickers adventure pad. The knights’ scene showed a group of characters in action. Now instead of just saying “the knights fought the dragons,” they positioned knights climbing walls, throwing arrows and spears, dragons breathing fire and leaping from ramparts. The action came alive on the background and added depth to their story ideas. Side note: reusable stickers allow for instant editing and revising of a story!
Once we’d played with our story ideas, telling and retelling various versions, I asked them if they’d draw or write out their stories for me.
Oh boy! By this time, they were fully invested in the stories they’d created, since they’d colored, stickered, and acted them out several times. So they set to work.
Bringing Their Stories to Life
My oldest son used a Magiccolor storybook pad to write a quick story of his robots at their birthday party. He drew a scene to illustrate his one-sentence story. Small successes at telling stories are important when kids are starting out.
My youngest drew a wordless book depicting his knight waking to find treasure and bury it safely away. Then he moved on to another story, which he stamped with our farm stamp-a-scene stamp set and narrated to me.
Storytelling can take many forms for small children. The young ones may be content to act out stories with puppets. As they grow, drawing and narrating stories is often a next step. Grade school children will enjoy writing out stories or captioning the pictures they draw to tell the story.
We’ve left our storytelling station up in the house to spark little imaginations, and I find the boys return to it most days to do a little work on their stories, or begin new ones. With all the materials handy, it’s fun and exciting to work on building a story out of their imaginations and onto the page!
After completing his first book, my four year old proudly marched over to our bookshelf and filed it right alongside those of our favorite authors. Which is as it should be. He truly sees himself as a little author. We’ll enjoy pulling out his book at reading time along with classic favorites!