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Home LEARNING Show, Music & Rhythms Storytelling For Kids | 5 Magical How To

Storytelling For Kids

If you think that telling a story to kids is very much similar to reading a story to children, then you might want to think again. As long as you have a story book and read out for the kids, word by word or guided by the pictures, that's pretty much reading a story. At bedtime or cuddling time, reading is a moment of get-together thing. Telling a story however is a kind of performance, or a show thing. You and I have came across story telling competitions but have you heard of story reading competitions? Haha..I guess it makes sense why they are two different experience.

Being parents, life is pretty hectic at which leave us very little time to analyze. I love reading to Austin, but I wasn't aware that at times, I do pretend to be a big bad wolf that speaks with grumpy high pitch or a little pig with timid, soft voice. And I do act out some scenes like blowing out air as if I were the big bad wolf in The Three Little Pigs. Before I knew it, I was just telling a story! If that sounds like you, let's aim to master the arts and science of storytelling for kids. Be it sticks to them, a special experience that they are going to enjoy for a long time. And growing up telling stories to others with a crispy starter line "When I was a little boy, my momma used to tell me..." rather than the classical "Once upon a time ago..."

If you want to exercise the magical steps of storytelling for kids, here goes the simple tips that I picked up from a UK born-storyteller. No trick, no wand, no crystal ball, but a personal experience from a sane mom. Thanks to Mark Thompson for a spectacular story about The Gruffalo at Penang International Kids Storytelling Festival 2012.

Storytelling for kids clips

1. Get to know your audience.
Yes, they are children - what is age group? Are they babies, toddlers, preschoolers, tweens or teens? Or they belong to special groups e.g. ADHD? By knowing your audience, you can select the suitable stories to narrate. Nature stories that evolves around woodland creatures, food, shapes and colors are good ones for toddlers and preschoolers. Or stories with lots of repetition such as The Three Little Pigs. I love to tell this story to my boy, over and again. Whether at lunch table, diaper changing time or when he needs something to calm down. But, it'd be silly to repeat The Three Little Pigs when he is a tween, right? Tweens tend to anticipate stories that are mind-cracking, adventurous, imaginative in addition to complex problem solving or analysis variety.

2. Engage with your listeners.
The most effective way to engage your little audience is get them to be a part of you. Introduce key characters in your story then assign a few or a group the kids to 'play' the characters or roles by reading out one to two catchy lines when you sign them to do so. Before you get them to blend into your story, express out the lines to 'show' them. Practice a few times with them before you begin your storytelling for kids. You may not believe it, how enthusiastic they are, awaiting for their lines to arrive! This works best for preschoolers, who are longing to master more vocabulary.   

You see, you can even take a breath while the audience mesmerize you :)

3. Use Props.
Props that includes real thing, drawing or picture are great stuff if you're seriously going to narrate in storytelling for kids event. Otherwise, use whatever you have within reach because storytelling for children is an impromptu kind of thing. Or just nothing, it totally okay.

Human is a unique creature. Some of us tend to connect vocally through speech whilst the others are perhaps better engaged visually, at which visual aid is like a magnet. Thus, supporting objects or activities going around our  five senses are great but audio and visual aids are usually sufficient. For a story in woodland, you can play the low volume background music with sounds of forest - perhaps birds chirping, buzzing insects, and croaking frogs.

4. Expression - Voice, Facial, Gesture.
This is where the arts of storytelling for kids jumps in. It is like a puppet play, the storyteller impersonates a few characters, featuring all kind of expressions that run in the story. Make the best of what God has given to us - hands, voices and facials! If you enjoy theater play, this is the time to playback what you'd watched, showing off to the kids :).

I have been reading and telling Austin the story of The Three Little Pigs since he was a few months old. Without I know it, the lines stick in my mind like glue. When I am telling the story, even before I arrive at line of 'So he huffs and he puffs and he blows the house down', Austin will close his eyes because the next thing he expects is a strip of air brushing his face :D.

5. And Abundance of Smiles!!
What is the ultimate bottom line of storytelling for kids? FUN factor. Do you think the kids are going to enjoy a story from someone who doesn't smile even once? NO way! You must have heard of that it takes much fewer muscles to smile than to frown. Smiling is a sign of friendliness, it is contagious and kids love it! And I made it the first rule in the science of storytelling! Hahaha...Kids are very kind and forgiving. As long as you smile often (though you're pretty amateur), they would never let you go off without a hearty round of applause, the least. Have fun.

p.s. I am going to upload the storytelling for kids videos shortly. Stay tuned.


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