It’s such a simple request – “tell me a story” – yet finding the right words isn’t always easy. Sometimes you need a little prompt to get the words flowing. David Sewell McCann, from Sparkle Stories, offered 4 tips on how to follow the thread and tell an intuitive story, the most important being – let go, allow your story to be whatever it is and trust that it is right. Beautiful, sage advice – advice I want to put into practice – but I admit, sometimes trying to tell a story is still, well, trying! So perhaps a couple more prompts would be helpful?
Tell me a story about me.
Children love hearing about adventures – real or pretend – they have been on. Whether it is the recounting of a specific event from the day, or a make believe land they’ve journeyed across, stories that include my little ones as the main protagonists are always favorites. On a more serious note, retelling difficult events in story form – and adding in your own age-appropriate grown-up interpretation – can help your little one to process and make sense of otherwise confusing or scary events. These types of stories are often requested again and again until your child feels emotionally confident dealing with the story on their own.
Tell me a tried-and-true story, but change the ending.
If you find yourself telling the same story again and again, a fun way to shakes things up is to change the ending. Make it silly, suspenseful, or just plain different – and see how your little one responds. You can also invite your little one to help you come up with an ending they would prefer. Changing the ending of recurrent stories can also help with childhood fears or anxieties, especially around times of transition. A story is a safe way for your little one to both experience and succeed over things or situations that may scare them.
Use story shells (or stones) as a physical prompt.
Story shells – or stones – can be created as your stories call for them. You can start your own set by following this lovely story shells tutorial or you can use these story stones. A core set of familiar characters can easily set you and your little one up for a variety of fun and imaginative stories. The easily-identifiable graphic nature of story shells also encourage your little one along the path of language learning, offering a visual depiction of objects that are simultaneously appearing in your oral stories. But best of all, it is a special moment when your little one is able to use their story shells to tell you a story.
Start with “Once Upon a Time…”
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best one. Take a peek at how the most popular story in our home – you know, the one I shared about the dinosaur – starts, nearly every single time: