How To Be The Best Storytelling School You Can Be
As it’s National Storytelling Week, it got me thinking… when was the last time you told a story to your class? That’s told, not read! Some people seem to have a natural flare for storytelling, where they can effortlessly come up with gripping plots on the spot and have the audience hanging on their every word. My husband is definitely one of those people. Every morning I hear him telling a made up story to our daughter and I’m always impressed that he manages to come up with such exciting, original ideas at the top of his head like that!
Me, on the other hand, would much prefer to read from a book instead or at least have some props to help me out! To be honest, I shy away from storytelling because it takes me out of my comfort zone. When I tell a story, it helps if I’m already familiar with it and I like to take my time to get the ideas just right before unveiling the finished, polished version to the world.
So how can you nurture a love of storytelling in your class? It’s so important to give children plenty of opportunities to have a go themselves to develop essential Literacy skills.
To celebrate National Storytelling Week, we’d like to share 10 creative ideas to be the best Storytelling school you can be!
- Be a positive role model and verbally share stories to your class on a regular basis, whether it’s just a short, impromptu one at the end of the day while you’re waiting for home time or a longer, rehearsed one during a whole school assembly. The more you practise, the better you will get at it. Telling stories will not only expand your children’s imaginations and vocabulary, but it will teach them how to use entertaining actions, facial expressions, intonation and expression in their own stories.
- Involve other role models so children can hear different styles of storytelling from a range of cultures. You could ask any willing parents if they would like to come into school and share a story of their choice to the children or arrange a storytelling workshop with your class ran by a professional company.
- Encourage the children to tell an autobiographical story about themselves to build up their storytelling skills and confidence. They will be able to speak about their life or a special memory off by heart and include lots of familiar detail. This idea would work really well with a partner, where one child talks and the other one listens.
- Play a fun Storytelling game. The children all sit in a circle and someone begins the game by verbally saying a story starter (e.g. Long ago there was a dragon called Scorch). Each child contributes the next part of the story until everyone has had a go. I used to play this game with my KS1 after school drama club and it was always exciting to see what twists and turns happened in the story based on the children’s creative imaginations!
- Decorate a special storytelling chair for your book corner using materials linked to your theme or class story. Your children will love taking it in turns to tell a story to their friends. If it’s in your outside area, you could use small tree stumps as seats for everyone to gather round and listen.
- Make 3 storytelling bags or boxes for your book corner and label them “where”, “who” and “what”. Inside each one, have a collection of objects or pictures to spark their ideas and give them inspiration. These can be completely random or topic based. You could also record story starters on talking tins or talking postcards for children to know how to start their story (e.g. Once upon a time…)
- Have a basket of props, costumes, puppets and masks for the children to retell the story linked to your topic, either on a stage made out of wooden pallets in your outside area or behind a puppet theatre in the classroom. We love the idea of decorating wooden ‘story spoons’ as different characters too – it’s such a simple idea to make them yourself or a lovely art activity for your creative table! Acting out stories will help the children to develop social skills as it encourages them to work together and learn from each other.
- Make a ‘Storytelling Stick’. Find a long stick and attach objects along it that are linked to the story you will be retelling. For example, for The Three Little Pigs, you could use string to dangle a toy pig, a piece of straw, a stick, a lego brick etc. These will act as visual clues to help younger children to remember the order of events. Once you have modelled what a story stick is and how it is used, children could have a go at making their own by drawing the pictures or making things to attach to the stick.
- Plan a ‘Stories Under The Stars’ outdoor event after school for parents to come too. Telling stories around a small campfire with hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows will make the experience even more magical and memorable.
- During National Storytelling Week, host a whole school Storytelling Day and squeeze in as many of the ideas above as possible!