‘Storytelling is the perfect, most nourishing food for growing minds.’
This book helps parents and teachers to promote storytelling by linking it to 40 craft projects. The prompts or starting points include visual ones – story stones with pictures, those that inspire with words such as word tags written on brightly coloured squares, and some which, like bookmaking, lead to children writing and illustrating their stories and poems. The raw material for the stories is everyday experience in and out of doors. Children are helped to improvise on these experiences by creating characters, plots and settings.
The ideas are imaginative and exciting and show how linking the verbal, the tactile and the visual can inspire creative thinking. Take the story jar prompt: this involves sewing a little felt hillock and placing it in a large jar and then adding things – a tiny bird’s nest perhaps, and trees and small creatures made of material or paper – to make a little scene. A sun or a moon and stars can be made to suggest whether it is night time or daytime. Then children, working on their own or in pairs, can be asked to write a short poem to go with their jar scene. Each child or pair tells their story and reads out the poem to the rest of the group. One of the liveliest outdoor activities is the storytelling walk. Children choose five items while on a supervised walk and make annotated sketches in a notebook as they go. Back indoors they weave a story round the items, tell it to others and then make a little illustrated booklet. It is the collaborative nature of the activities that brings interest and enjoyment whether the shared experience is within a family or as a member of a school group. And, of course, group story telling can help less experienced or shy children gain more confidence.
Preparation for the activities takes between one and three hours. It is important to realise that intensive adult help is needed to carry out the activities, particularly when supporting younger children. However, the resources, once made, can be used again and they can be refined and added to. The author makes it clear there are many ways of telling a story and most of the activities can be adapted for a particular age group and for the time an adult has available. This is a useful resource for the classroom or home bookshelf.