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Story activities

All people and cultures in the world have their own special stories. These might be religious or based in folklore. These may tell a story of how the world came to be or the origins of man. These stories may be told to teach a moral code or to pass down the customs and history of a community. Telling stories helps us to make sense of the world around us. Stories help us to connect with and learn about other people.

In school telling and listening to stories help children to become active listeners and can develop language development. Telling stories can develop the imagination and help children order thoughts and ideas.

Stories can be told in many different ways. Children can hear them read from a book, they can be told from memory or made up by the teller. Stories can be acted out in drama or told in the form of a first person narrative or diary. When stories are acted out of pictures are created to illustrate a story children have the opportunity to understand more and to develop their visual literacy skills.

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Story circle

Sitting in a circle each person tells a short part of a story and then passes the story on to the next person to continue. An object like a story scarf or stick can be passed around to give status to the storyteller. If a child struggles with their section of the story the teacher can freeze the game and ask a colleague to help them out. If a section is forgotten or overlooked it can be added later by using a prefix like “meanwhile”.

This technique can be used to retell stories that children know well. It can show how many different variations there are of famous stories. Older children can make up their own stories using this idea.

This method of storytelling helps children to develop narrative skills, sequencing and encourages them to use descriptive language.

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Tableaux

In small groups, or as one big one, children can explore the significant moments of a story they know well. Each of these moments is presented as still picture. This is a moment in time which is presented as if it was a photograph. This can be a frozen moment taken from action, or it can be built as a fixed starting point for further work. The children, or teacher, can decide what the image should show. This way of telling a story can help to develop children’s confidence in becoming a character. It is a good way to focus on the significance of a person’s facial expression and body language. These images can be supported by a narrator or spoken or written captions. By putting images together a live comic strip can be made.

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Physicalising a story

The children become the characters and the objects in a story as the teacher tells it. This works well with both new and familiar stories. It encourages the children to listen carefully to the storyteller and interact spontaneously with their peers. The children sitting in the circle become the audience when they are not in the centre taking part. It is an active introduction to a story in which everyone is able to take part. This works well with large groups and it is a practical and speedy method of exploring a story.

All the children sit in a big circle. The teacher begins the story and each time a character or key object is mentioned she points at a child or several children who must come into the centre and become that element of the story. Once that section of the story is complete a word like “whoosh” can be used to clear the space. All the children in the centre return to their seats and the story continues.

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Stories in a box

Some of the significant events, places and characters from a story are represented by an object and placed in a box or tin. As the story is told the storyteller gets each object out as the moment or person or event it represents is mentioned.

The objects are then returned to the box as the story continues until the lid is replaced at the end of the story. These ‘props’ can help children to visualize the story, especially if it contains anything that may be unfamiliar to them. The children can also re-tell the story using the story box to support them in remembering significant things.
Multisensory items work very well – materials that have evocative smells or rich textures can be very useful. Objects that could be used to provide a key sound effect could also be included.
Children can create their own story boxes to tell stories they have created themselves.

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Creating Story Places in the Classroom

Whilst working on a story in drama or literacy, you can designate an area to transform into an environment from the narrative. Children can then go to this place to test their own ideas about the story and its meaning.

e.g Children build the ship from Mosaic and play out being the crew and also find new places to travel to.

Re-arranging the furniture and building with the children their version of a place can be a very useful way of building belief in a fictitious context.

e.g. Build the inside of monsters cave with all its jewels and rocks etc.

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Familiar stories from a box

Some of the significant events, places and characters from a story are represented by an object and placed in a box or tin. As the story is told the storyteller gets each object out as the moment or person or event it represents is mentioned. The listeners get to handle the objects The objects are then returned to the box as the story continues until the lid is replaced at the end of the story. These props help children to visualize the story, especially if it contains anything that may be unfamiliar to them. The children can also re-tell the story using the story box to support them in remembering significant things.

Multi-sensory items work very well – materials that have evocative smells or rich textures can be very useful. Objects that could be used to provide a key sound effect could also be included.

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Creating new stories

Children can create their own story boxes to tell stories they have created themselves. This method also works well as a way of creating stories. Objects can be themed to suit a thematic project. The questioning from the practitioner needs to be open and not expectant of the right answer.

  • Where does it come from?
  • What does it look like?
  • What does it feel like?
  • What sound does it make?
  • How did it get here?
  • Who does it belong to?
  • What can you use it for?

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