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Storytelling is kind of a big thing in our family. The girl used to get nightly made up bedtime stories (from husband, not me, I’m not great at on-the-spot storytelling), we have always read a lot and she has liked to make her own books with “stories” in them since probably before she could even really write words.
One easy way to encourage storytelling in kids (and adults) who might not be as free with their storytelling is by making a storytelling tin or box, which is really just a collection of items that might or might not be related that can be used as the basis for telling a story.
Christmas Storytelling Tin
If you’ve never made a storytelling tin before, an easy place to start is with a Christmas storytelling tin. You’ve probably got an old tin from some past holiday’s cookies in the back of the cupboard, so pull it out and start building.
I added big fluffy cotton balls to make snow, and some tiny bottle brush trees I just bought at Hobby Lobby. A little sprinkle of fake snow, which I will probably regret but it looks pretty.
A felt gingerbread man from her big felt Christmas tree. Some miniature ornaments. Peg people. A couple of little animal shapes from a game.
Or just make it a forest scene with little animals and pieces of felt to stand in for water and forest.
Put in a tiny box that can be a fireplace, a piece of fabric to be a quilt and a felt Christmas tree. Cut pictures out from a holiday magazine to make backgrounds. Or just put in a couple of things and let your child choose what else should go in the tin.
Kids pretty naturally will start making up stories about the items in the storytelling tin, but you should jump in with your own story if you need to in order to get things started.
Ask questions about what the people or animals might be doing and how you can use the other props in the box to act out a scene or further the story.
You could also set up your tin with items from a familiar story like The Gingerbread Man, which might include people, the gingerbread man, a box to serve as the oven, a fox and other animals (depending on the version of the story you own). Then you can read the story and act it out with the items in the tin. This might inspire a reluctant storyteller to build on that story and tell their own.
Another idea is to write up some story starters like “a snowy night,” “the night before Christmas,” or “animals getting ready for winter” that your child could use to help develop their story.
I wrote more about setting up storytelling tins, boxes and bins in the brand-new ebook titled Make Your Mark. This book is a collaboration among kid bloggers full of activities to get kids excited about writing their names, telling stories, writing their own stories and books, using art as a means of self-expression and making their mark on their communities through charting water conservation, committing random acts of kindness and more.
In all the book includes more than 30 activities and six sets of printables — interview sheets, comic book templates, pattern cards and more — for use with kids from pre-writers through elementary school. The book is designed to help your child develop a love of writing, creative storytelling, self-confidence and compassion. Through play, art, language and writing, this book will help your child discover themself, and make their mark on the world.
The regular price for the ebook is $14.99, but for the rest of December you can get it at the launch price of $11.25, no promo code needed. It’s an ebook, so it is available worldwide for instant download, and you’ll be so inspired I’m sure you’ll start using these activities right away (I’m planning a few for winter break, for sure).
The Make Your Mark ebook is published and sold by Cathy James at NurtureStore.co.uk. Please direct any customer service queries regarding purchases of the ebook to firstname.lastname@example.org or refer to the NurtureStore FAQ.
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