Reading to your child is vital to their development, but another skill that is often overlooked, is storytelling. As a preschool teacher, I really had to push many children to talk to me or to the other kids. When I would play make-believe games with them, they were apprehensive and would struggle to use their imagination. Throughout the year, I would implement different activities to encourage the use of storytelling and creativity and it was so rewarding to watch their imaginations bloom. Here are a few of the games I played with my own children and my students to encourage storytelling.
Pass The Story
This is the best game to play to pass time! I have played it with my own kids at restaurants, in cars, at the doctor’s office, pretty much anywhere that I needed to keep them busy. Basically, someone is chosen to begin the story and when they reach the point of their choosing they pass the story on to another. That person can then take the story wherever they choose for it to go and then it progresses from one player to the next. This game is so much fun because you never know what direction the storyteller may take. Listening to children tell stories not only provides you with an opportunity to see their imagination at work, but it also gives you some insight into their fascinating character.
I was obsessed with Barbies when I was young. We had entire cities and story lines, it was definitely intense. Far too often, I have come across children that don’t know how to create storylines for their toys and it makes me sad. Take some time to sit down with your child and some of their toys and encourage them to create dialogue for the characters. Your child will really enjoy spending this time with you and it will improve their vocabulary. You can also sneak in little lessons about social interaction and how they may react in different situations.
Most toddlers, with a few exceptions, cannot read but they love to look at picture books. Encourage your child to tell the story they see on the pages of the book. I let my students read to me, to the class, or even to a toy. Kids really enjoy this activity and become quite animated. My daughter has always enjoyed “reading” to our dogs and the dogs love the attention.
I found storytelling cards in a boutique in my hometown. I was there to purchase a gift for someone, but immediately knew I had to buy the cards. The artwork on the cards is beautiful and perfect for a child’s imagination. We have spent countless hours in my house creating stories with these cards. We take turns choosing a card from the deck, lay it down, and then create our part of the story based on the card. We have had some wild tales come from this game and have laughed until we cried.
Here are our favorite storytelling cards:
Your Own Stories
It can be just this simple, tell your children your personal stories. Kids love to hear about your life as a child or when they were little babies. They just want you to talk to them and to feel they are included in everything. Not only will they begin to learn about people that may be in their lives, but they will learn how to tell stories about the new people they meet. This will be a great advantage as they get older and can tell you about their experiences at school or maybe a friend’s house. It is so important to start that dialogue when they are young so that they are comfortable telling you as they mature.
I hope that you will encourage your child to tell stories and to use their imagination. The skills they learn from storytelling will be applicable to many situations in their future, but honestly, it’s just fun!
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