Become a great story-teller: bring the characters to life!
Put some drama into your stories
- Make some noise to capture the attention: snap your fingers, clap your hands, stamp your feet to show a new character has either arrived, or moved from one place to another for example.
- Imitate the sound of the water, the rain or the storm as the leaves rustle in the trees
- Use musical instruments such as the rainstick.
- Introduce sounds to trigger emotions: don’t hesitate to laugh for real and pretend to cry, to be afraid or angry.
- Include details: “it was very warm”, “very cold”, speak very fast when danger is lurking. The kids will live this story, and you can also ask them to participate: laugh and cry with you, imitate the noises, give them the instruments…
- Use objects to make it all real: some coins when you talk about money, sunglasses and sun hat when you pretend to be on holidays…
- Be visual: kids will love seeing images of the characters and key elements. You can used stuffed animals, the ones that come with the Big Fabric Theater. It can be a hen, a castle or Tom Thumb, but also a wolf, a house, a tree, the sun… The objective is only to illustrate what we say.
- Integrate timing elements: all of a sudden, unexpectedly, a long long time ago….
- Integrate rhythm: slow down, accelerate according the unfolding of events
- Don’t start over if you have forgotten something: if the idea was forgotten just include it later on or keep it for another story!
Tell your kids a story - get into the story
Before you start: set up the room – tell the kids to settle down
- Create a comfy little corner
- Place symbolic borders with a carpet and some cushions
- Let the kids sit down or even lie down if they want to
During the story: change your posture to attract attention
- Stand up every time something important happens, every time a new character steps in…the group will focus on you
- Sit down when the story becomes scary or when the kids become distracted, you will get them back on board more easily.
- If you need to read your story, lower down your book, don’t keep it in front of your face. The kids should see your face all the time.
Motivate your children and get them to participate
- You can start your story with a question to get the kids’ attention. Be careful, do not startle the toddlers.
- Lower your voice to create some “tension”
- Match one word with one action. Always pull the same funny face for the villains
- Use simple movements, and only one at a time
GET THE CHILDREN TO INTERACT OFTEN
- Adapt the story to their reactions: Answer them! It’s not a problem to go off topic for a couple of minutes. Kids have so much imagination, go with the flow of their ideas, questions and suggestions.
- Include a little song to bring some rhythm into the story. You can also use musical instruments.
TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THEIR CONCENTRATION SPAN
0 to 1 year old: 5 minutes
1 to 3 year old: 10 minutes
3 to 4 year old: 15 minutes
4 to 5 year old: 20 minutes
5 to 7 year old: 30 minutes
WHEN SHALL I STOP TELLING THE STORY
- When they start wriggling about and looking around, then it is time to stop. Prepare the ending and wrap it up quickly ( 3 to 4 minutes)
- Lower you voice to tell the ending
- Finish with an open question: “what do YOU think about this? What would have done if you were the butterfly?”
AFTER THE STORY – A FEW IDEAS
- Stop before the end, and ask them how the story finishes. They can even invent a sequel!
- Change character: “imagine that the princess IS the frog”, how would that go?
- Start a discussion: What was your favorite thing in the story? Which character/ event did you like most?
- Give him/her your objects and ask him/her to tell the same story or another one with this material.
Sources to prepare this professional training and article: (in French)