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Young children learn cause and effect through stories. They also begin to understand the concepts of character, setting and plot, even if they have no idea what those words (character, setting, etc.) mean. Listening to stories gives children practice in understanding unfamiliar words by hearing them in context. Telling stories increases verbal acuity with new words. Storytelling is an important writing skill. By telling a story before writing it down, students learn how to organize the elements of their stories in an understandable and appealing way. Professional storytellers spend as much time with story organization as they do with memorization. A verbal run through of a new story helps point out what is necessary for the sense of the story and where that material should be placed in the context of the story. While storytelling activities can fulﬁll Common Core State Standards, storytelling activities are also fun and creative. (Reference the Storytelling and Common Core Standards document at http://yesalliance.org/resources/storytelling-and-the-commoncore-standards ) What could be better than that?
Here is what you need to start a storytelling club.
1. a group of students 2. a collection of stories 1. a meeting space where noise is allowed 2. a regular meeting time 3. a project* 4. a plan 5. volunteer helpers are...helpful *The project can be as simple as: We will tell stories to the kindergarten classes. Or: We will prepare a storytelling performance for the holidays. Or: We will have an evening of Scary Stories for Halloween Or: We will prepare to tell at a local storytelling event, or take part in a storytelling contest. Once a project is completed, it!s time for the group to ﬁnd a new project. Keep the ball rolling. You should choose the ﬁrst project but the group should be given options for projects after that. If you are in a school, approach the public library about working with them. If
you are in a public library, approach a nearby school to see if your group can work with the school. Other places that might appreciate young storytellers are: nursery schools and daycare centers Senior Citizen groups Assisted Living Centers Nursing Homes Note: the last two audiences can be daunting for very young tellers! However Senior Citizen Centers that serve populations that are independent LOVE young tellers. Your plan can be found in the books and/or websites on the Resource list that offer inschool curriculums that can be trimmed or expanded to ﬁt your group. Here is a simple plan to follow for an hour to an hour and half long meeting: Warm Up: (10 minutes) Gather your group together, preferably in a circle so that everyone can see everyone else. Make sure that all the students know all the other students! names. Play a game that requires concentration and eye contact. Pass the Clap is a game in which each player “passes” a clap to the next player. Player one and two look each other in the eyes and clap simultaneously. Than Player two turns to player three and repeats. Go around the circle a few times passing the clap faster, and faster as you go. Play a game that requires the students to use names. Games that require a person to repeat his name and then another person!s name in quick succession while the group keeps rhythm, such as Cookie Jar, or Zoomah, Zoomah, help the group learn names and cement solidarity. (See Games List for rules) Performance skills: (15 minutes) Good facial expressions and vocal command make for more interesting stories. Play a game that allows students to use body language to tell a story. Gibberish is a game in which a teller makes nonsense noises while telling a story. The teller uses gestures, facial expressions and movement to get the point across. Play a game in which tone of voice tells the story. Give students an ad from the yellow pages and ask them to read it using a certain emotion.
Storytelling and learning: (20 minutes at least!) As a whole group, or in smaller
cells, let the kids tell stories. They can do this by creating group stories, breaking apart and changing well known folktales. Expose students to story sources. For the ﬁrst two weeks, offer a variety of books, photocopies and websites that share simple stories. Some storytelling teachers require their students to read or listen to a minimum number of stories before choosing one to work on. Send stories home with students.
Play storytelling CDs. Some students learn better by listening than by reading. You might want to have something crafty for kids to do while listening. Do an art project around a story. Drawing a storyboard for a well known story is one way to teach a useful memory technique. Let groups of children design a book cover for a story. Model characters or places from clay. Refer to the resource list to ﬁnd other sources for other successful techniques for helping students learn stories. Practice: (10 minutes) As the weeks go on, this segment will take on a larger portion of your meetings. Teach the students simple scripts that they can tell together. This becomes an easy way for a reluctant student to be part of a performance. Check out the upcoming Games List for some simple scripts. Critique. Teach the students to critique each other!s work. Always start with what is good about the performance. A good guideline is to tell each student one good thing; then make a suggestion for improvement. Written critique forms can help with this. Closing: (5 minutes) Your closing should be the same every week. However, you can try out a different closing once in a while. Here are some closing ideas: Sharing. Each young teller and the leader (you) says one thing they liked about the day!s meeting. Compliments. Give the young tellers a chance to weigh in on each other!s performances - positive comments only. And these comments are voluntary. Meditation. There are a few simple meditation exercises that make good closings. The one I like best feels more like a game. Counting out of Silence: The players sit as quietly as possible. When one of them feels the time is right, she says “one”. The players should follow each number with silence. Players call out sequential numbers. If two people speak at the same time, the group must start again with “one”. The game is over when the players count successfully to a pre-determined number. 20 is the usual goal but I often feel 10 is challenging enough. The point of the game is to listen and attempt to “feel” when the time is right to say a number. Sarah Wood offers a couple of simple meditation exercises on her site www.sarahwood.com.
Storytelling Club Resource List. Websites: Karen Chace - storytelling games: http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-games-children-play-storytelling.html Heather Forest - classroom games and activities http://www.storyarts.org/classroom/index.html Dianne de Las Casas - games. Dianne does a lot of work in schools and has written several books. http://diannedelascasas.com/storytelling-games/ Aaron Shepard - Aaron is a storyteller and an author. Please check out other pages on his spare but useful website. http://www.aaronshep.com/storytelling/Tips.html National Storytelling Network YES common core resources http://yesalliance.org/resources/storytelling-and-the-common-core-standards Storytelling in Schools - a NSN sponsored project to encourage and assist tellers and teachers in promoting storytelling in the schools http://www.storynet-advocacy.org/edu/how-to/index.shtml Personal stories starting activities. This article for parents gives very basic one-on-one storytelling ideas http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/tell-me-a-story Books: (*books are “must haves”) *Children Tell Stories: Teaching and Using Storytelling in the Classroom by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss, Richard C. Owen Pub, 2nd ed., 2007, 978-1572746633 This book offers a FULL classroom curriculum and takes the guesswork out of how to proceed with a storytelling unit. The most recent edition includes a DVD. Also by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss: Stories in my Pocket : Tales Kids Can Tell, 978-1555919573 How & Why Stories : World Tales Kids Can Read and Tell, 978-0874835618 Noodlehead Stories : World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell, 978-0874835854 Storytelling Games: Creative Activities for Language, Communication, and Composition Across the Curriculum by Doug Lipman. Oryx Press, 1994. 978-0897748483 Lipman provides a variety of games that can be played with groups from kindergarten through high school. The appendices list the games under grade level and under the skills the games reinforce. *Twenty Tellable Tales : Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller by Margaret Read MacDonald. ALA, 2004. 978-0838908938
The revised edition offers a list of sources that includes videos and American Sign Language information. Margaret Read MacDonald offers geographic sources for all of the stories in this book and suggestions for getting the audience involved. If the story includes a chant or song, MacDonald offers simple music scores. MacDonald!s books are the best!!!
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