Story time is always fun-time! Children eagerly await their turn in school or at home, when they finally get to listen to stories narrated by their teacher or grandparents. It is much like an unwinding activity after a tiresome day they had studying in school.
Research suggests that most of what we learn in classrooms is not remembered, but a ‘good story’ sticks with the child for a lifetime. Moreover, if the story has a ‘moral’, it helps us learn important lessons. In today’s fast-paced world, we agree that scheduling time to narrate a story can be a tedious task, nonetheless it won’t be a futile exercise. Here are some tips to help you prepare beforehand and make storytelling an absolute pleasurable session for kids.
#1 Create a Conducive Environment
When you walk into a movie theater there is an instant change of ambience which makes you excited about watching it in the first place. In the same way, a storytelling session should be held at a place where the environment is calming, there are no distractions, and the storyteller should stand at a spot which is visible by all children. Place some cushions on the floor to make students comfortably seated in a circle. Dimming the lights and drawing the curtains, further enhances the appeal. Spray some room freshener to enhance the mood of children naturally. Reading Eggs is a great app that makes reading fun for kids. The app captures 3,000 digital stories and is widely used in the UAE across the Middle East regions.
#2 Keep Objects and Props Ready
Using props in storytelling can really enrich the entire session, as children feel more involved in the process. Their imagination is fueled by seeing an actual prop and they further make strong connections with the scenes, thanks to a tangible puppet before them. Props can be anything like; a sock puppet, flower, maps, etc. basically anything that is related to the story. For example; in the story ‘lion & the mouse’ one can arrange props such as; a net where the lion gets trapped, minifigures of lion & mouse, a make-do paper den for the lion to sleep, a few trees to represent the jungle, and hunter clothes to indicate the hunting scene. With props, your story comes to life and children are able to better visualize the plot, rather than seeing 2D printed pictures from the story book. For vocabulary enrichment, the Reading Eggs app takes it a step further by showcasing phonics lessons in all its 120 modules. To download the Reading Eggs platform for your region in GCC or Dubai, visit our website https://knowledge-hub.com/
#3 Memorize the Story Well
This is a tough one! Remembering the whole story line-to-line may require little skill and memorization power. A simple tip here is to read the story twice or thrice and then imagine or visualize it happening in your mind scene by scene. Think of what is the most important part of the story and pay greater emphasis to it, rather than focusing on the smaller details. For example; the old man opened the door and shouted help! Help! Is a more important fact linked to the story, rather than focusing on things like; the garden was in its full bloom that day and the boy took one step at a time to get to the park. Though every little detail is important, just try to pay little more attention to the main parts. Writing down the plot scene by scene is a great exercise that most ‘theater personalities’ and ‘actors’ follow.
#4 Know when to use Voice Modulation and Expressions
Now that you know the plot and kind-of are confident with the wordings, the next step is to act it out. Kids won’t get excited by a flat narration, they like drama, action, enaction. Voice modulation makes simple words turn into articulated modules. It draws emphasis on certain ‘phrases’ such that the story doesn’t sound too dull or boring. A good storyteller does his research and knows how to imbibe the character within himself. For example; the sound of an evil witch is screechy and loud, while to enact a poor peasant you would use a soft-spoken tone. You should also focus on when to speak slowly with emphasis on every word and when to speak fast, depending on your storyline. Similarly showing the right facial expression & body gestures is a great plus point. However, don’t forget to sustain that eye contact with your children.
#5 Time the Story
All good things have to come to an end! While practicing in the mirror, time your act so that you don’t go overboard on the main day. If you are allocated a 20 minutes time-slot, add a buffer of +/- 10 minutes, but don’t exceed it. Also, remember to leave some time for questions, as children get super excited to know more about their favorite character from the story and ask questions related to him/her. Structure your story well, because it shouldn’t be that you are rushing at the time of conclusion, just because you spent too much time in narrating the introduction.
Finally, wear your most precious gift, a smile, and present yourself before your tiny audiences with confidence.