Yay summer is here at last and who doesn’t want to take full advantage of those long warm summer days to be outside. Children love all that fresh air but sometimes it’s just too hot to be running around so what better way of helping them to cool down than getting them to create and tell stories outside? May is national Share-A-Story Month, so what better time than to explore how to make up a story ‘on the spot’ without the need for any props?
Stories are everywhere and whether we realise it or not we tell them every day, they are after all what makes us human! But if I asked you to make up a story on the spot, you would probably look at me terrified, I can see the panic in your eyes already! Well don’t worry, I’m going to give you lots of ideas that are guaranteed to spark your imaginations and make you and the children natural storytellers, just by using your location and whatever you can see.
So where to first?
Why not let the children make a den in a corner of the garden just to use for storytelling? It could be somewhere you can all sit in the shade just to tell stories, making it a special and magical place. Or you could have a special storytelling chair where the person who’s telling the story would sit and tell their stories.
Then look around the garden, what do you see? Perhaps you spot a bee buzzing around the flowers, where has he been? Where is he going to next? How many gardens has he visited and what has he seen on his travels? Why not give him a name, you could make up a whole story of what he’s been up to just by asking a few questions. The children will love this and it’s a great way for them to learn about nature.
Perhaps you are near the beach or are planning a day trip with the children – there are no end of possibilities here. You could make up stories about the people you see, like the ice cream seller or the lifeboat crew or even a seagull. You can make up a story about where the seagull has been on his travels and what he’s seen? How many ice creams has he pinched? Perhaps he feels guilty about that and wants to put things right. Or may be you could all make up a story about a magic sandcastle. Who lives there? What’s it like inside? Do you get transported off to another world? What happens there?
Perhaps you will be taking the children for a picnic to the park. What do you see? Is there someone there you can make up a story about like the park keeper or the gardener? Or maybe you could include some of the play equipment like a magic roundabout or a magic swing that transports you off somewhere? The children would find this really exciting!
So as you can see, there are lots of different ideas you can use. The secret is to think about the 5 Ws :
WHO is the story about?
WHAT are they looking for?
WHERE is the story set or where are they going?
WHY are they going? Is it to find something?
WHEN is it set in the past, the present or the future?
The stories you can make up with the children are endless and they will love it as they have got such vivid imaginations. A plant pot might be just a plant pot to you or me but to them it could be a snail’s house or even a rocket launcher.
So now you’ve got a bucket load of ideas, what are the benefits of taking stories outside?
- It gets everyone out in the fresh air
- Improves our understanding of the world around us
- Improves vocabulary
- Improves speaking and listening skills
- It helps us to relax and that’s when the ideas really start to flow
- Helps us to bond with the children and creates some great, long-lasting memories.
For some hands-on experience of how to create stories using the outside world, and to enhance the experience of storytelling, why not join us at the Holiday Inn Express at the Trafford Centre, Manchester on the 28th June when we will be running a workshop on this in partnership with EYR? To book, just go to Little Creative Days.
Don’t forget! You’ve got five senses, smell, touch, sound: sight and taste so use them to really bring your story to life.
About the author
Tonya Meers is the Chief Storyteller at Little Creative Days. Tonya believes that stories are the most versatile and powerful educational tool you can use and there isn’t anything that you can’t teach through a story. She is co-author of the multi-award-winning Pojo series of educational creative storytelling kits, which have won awards for their promotion of communication and language skills for early years and primary school-aged children. In addition, she and her storytelling sister/business partner also deliver training and workshops for early years practitioners, local authorities and primary schools. They offer a range of interactive workshops to encourage, engage and enable children to develop a love of literacy.