As I mentioned in a post from last week (Partners In Creation) the children in our 3-5 class have begun telling their own stories.
When I got out my story clipboard, the younger children had no idea what it was all about, so I started by soliciting stories from our 4-year-olds, who know how the process works. They take a few minutes out of free-play time to dictate a story to me. I write it down word-for-word, asking only open-ended questions like, “What’s next?” and then the child stands beside me in front of his classmates as I read the stories at Circle Time.
I was both proud and surprised when Josephine was my first storytelling volunteer. It took her the better part of last year, taking One Thing At A Time, to summon up the courage to tell stories for Circle Time, and this year she was first in line! Her story might not be long, but the tale behind it is an epic:
I’m thinking something to Ella.
Ella followed her friend with a seasonal story:
About a spooky little ghost that was really a pumpkin. And then it was just being silly.
I’m grateful to the girls for getting the ball rolling. Thomas was next. Last year his stories were all enthusiastic, rhyming poetry, but this year he's starting off with enthusiastic, full-body prose:
The forklift bought some tools and 100 hard hats and 100 tools. It forklifted it up the way and then it bumped his head into a dump truck. He met a caterpillar, but then it got squooshed. Then it got run over by a dump truck. And then it bought more tools and hard hats. Then it bought a million tools. And then it couldn’t even build. Then it built a whole new forklift.
Katherine was next with our first princess story of the year:
It’s about a beautiful princess. At first everybody thought the princess was a ghost. But then they noticed it was really a princess! And then along came a prince. And then it had a wedding with the princess. And then they lived happily ever after.
I love the way she used the pronoun “it” for the prince. He’s so secondary to the princess that he’s not even a full person.
And Jack got the silly story ball rolling:
There was two men and then I got eaten! And then he falled down and then he ate the other one. And then he bite the bear’s tummy and said, “Aaaaa!” And then he falled down.
Then Sarah took the silliness up a notch:
Once upon a time there was a kitty who ate a chair. And then she goed and he ate a shelf. And then he goed and walked on a meal.
Our first 3-year-old storyteller was Lachlan, who is a deeply empathetic kid with an abiding interest in emotions. Even as a very young 2-year-old he credibly imitated any facial expression I made while singing songs. They were so believable that I stopped a couple of times to ask if he was really sad or angry. I introduced this to the class as a “sad” story, and he agreed:
It’s a loud story. Every time Mama doesn’t give me a marshmallow I wanted, Daddy said “No” and Mommy said “No.” Her didn’t put me in time out. I had a feel.
You should have seen the droopy face he gave the class as I read this.
Isak is another of our 3-year-old storytellers. Following in the footsteps of his older brother Jarin, he told a non-fiction story:
The squirrels eat flowers, plants and mushrooms.
Finn V. scared us with this creepy Halloween story:
A dark, dark night. A dark, dark night. There was a ghost in a haunted house. And another ghost. And then a big monster came!
The repetition of the first sentence was a terrific intuitive literary device for setting the mood.
There are really two parts to this process. The first is the actual storytelling which is typically done alone with Teacher Tom in the corner of the classroom, while the reading part takes place in front of an audience. When 3-year-old Dennis told his story, he had no way of knowing about the second part, but man he had them rolling in the aisles with this second-person narrative:
A giraffe got on your head. An owl set on your head and your sunglasses. A tiger sat on your teeth. An elephant sat on your computer. And elephant sat on your pen. A elephant broke a computer.
His classmates loved that the story was about them.
If you’re interested, here are some past posts about the children’s storytelling: