Your Choice: Mouthy Teenagers or Little Angels?
Working wtih young children is a pleasure that only the most dedicated teachers deserve. Why? Because it's truly one of the most interesting and rewarding groups to teach. Early childhood educators must help young children learn and develop skills that are important to proper social and intellectual development. In fact, working with small children so that they can get the best start in life and will be ready to begin their school careers successfully is what early childhood education is all about.
Early childhood education teachers must enjoy working with young children, have excellent interpersonal skills, be creative, and know how to teach through play or other participatory methods.
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Story telling is much more than reciting a quick anecdote or funny tale. Simply put, storytelling is an art form that can be used to inspire, teach, and record history. Stories can be found everywhere. They exist in books, films, news media, religions, artworks, and even arquitecture. The influence of a good story is immeasurable and the history of storytelling goes back to ancient times. The first story ever told? Well, we can only creatively imagine that it was a primitive hunter telling of a successful hunt or a dangerous battle for the kill. Maybe it was a story of heroic events or a story used as an excuse for failure.
Traditionally, before writing existed, people listened. They listened to the elders or the “spirit doctors” tell stories of social, cultural and historical news to the community. People listened to these stories for their entertainment value or for the current news of their surroundings. They listened to hear traveler´s tales of exotic places and cultures different than their own. Children were taught the traditions and customs of their families and of their cultures. The role of the storyteller was crucial to a culture´s survival because these stories and customs were retold and passed down from parents to children throughout the generations.
Nowadays, one could consider the Internet as “the modern-day storyteller”. It has an endless index of stories that can be used in any context. For teachers, the Internet can be used as a tool to complement the storytelling process. However, the Internet cannot speak the words, or at least, it cannot relate the emotions and creativity that make a good story.
Why tell stories?
- It is great for stimulating imagination and creativity.
- It helps children develop listening skills, vocabulary, and memory skills.
- Sharing a story with a child creates the ability to interpret events beyond their immediate world. It expands the imagination and creativity.
- Telling stories sparks curiosity and can be a great way to introduce books to children.
- It can teach children about their own cultural heritages as well as the impacts of other cultures.
How to Become a Storyteller:
Here are some tips for beginner storytellers:
Choose stories from anywhere- it can be urban legends, fantasy, biography, or historical. But make sure that the plot is interesting. You don’t have the special effects of Steven Spielberg to maintain the interest of five year olds for two hours. Therefore, you have to choose a story that grabs the attention and holds it until the end. Be wary of stories that advertise “easy reading”. An easy read can be boring to listen to.
It helps children develop listening skills, vocabulary, and memory skills.
Sharing a story with a child creates the ability to interpret events beyond their immediate world. It expands the imagination and creativity.
Telling stories sparks curiosity and can be a great way to introduce books to children.
It can teach children about their own cultural heritages as well as the impacts of other cultures.
- Choose a story that interests you personally. You, as the storyteller, have to be involved in the story. Your role as a storyteller is as important as the story itself.
- Know your audience. If you know the ages, the interests, and number of listeners, you will have a better understanding of what they want to hear. How well you tell a story is directly related to how well you know the audience.
- Read a wide variety of literature and keep an index of stories that you have read. Make lists of great stories that you would like to tell. Be organized! Keep of record of all stories in order to keep a detailed record of dates, authors, resources used.
- Listen. Go to storytelling performances to listen to other storytellers. Listen and learn from their styles. It is not uncommon to ask permission to record storytellers or perhaps they have a CD for sale.
- Practice and record yourself. This is an unpleasant chore for most, but it can be useful. It helps you refine your skills where necessary.
Learning your Story:
- Find a story that you like and that interests you. Read and reread the story aloud whenever you have the opportunity.
- In addition to memorizing the story, try to analyze the story. It is a great to memorize, but it is best to have a true and in-depth knowledge of the story. Many times, it is easy to get “blocked” in the middle of telling a memorized story. Analyzing the story beforehand will help you find your place in the story and pick up where you left off.
- Work on coordinating physical movements, voice inflection, and visuals. You must schedule these things so that the story telling process goes smoothly. If you work with a script, use a color system to mark what resources you are going to use and when.
Prepare to Tell a Story:
It is important to arrange your environment for storytelling. Follow these basic steps::
- It is best to tell stories in small groups. This helps the attention level of the children. Small group=less distraction.
- Comfortable seating is a must. If the kids sit on the floor, you must put down a mat, rug, pillows, etc.
- The story teller should always be at the children´s eye level so they can see your facial expressions and so that you can see theirs.
- The lighting should not be too bright or too dark. You want a relaxed environment, but not sleep-inducing!
- It’s always a good idea to have a few visuals on hand to show the children.
- Be ready for anything. ANYTHING!
Telling your Story:
- Be relaxed! This means that the more prepared you are, the more relaxed you will be. So:
- Be Prepared!
- Always welcome the children. Set the tone of the event from the beginning. Use a firm, but modulated voice- not too high or too low.
- You may want to give a little introduction about the story that you have chosen. You can give a little background information of the story and always give the source of the story: the author, another storyteller, etc.
- It is an old story teller’s tradition to have an expression or phrase that signals the beginning of the story. Try This! Have something that the students can interact with. For example: You: “Start your listening engines, but close your motor mouths!” Students: “Voom, Voom, Voom!” or you can chose something more traditional. Use a bell or a piece of music. The point is to use something significant to let the students know that the story is about to begin.
- Maintain eye contact with your audience. Move your eyes around the room to let the kids know that you are watching them as they are watching you. This is very useful for holding attention.
- For younger audiences, you might want to use shorter stories and more body movement. Physical movement can be more useful in order to hold attention.
- Don’t let one restless child ruin it for the rest of the group! If possible, it is always a good idea to have a helper with you. If one child seems restless and doesn’t want to participate, an assistant can help with that child.
Where to find a Story:
- Tim Sheppard’s Storytelling Resources
- The Story Telling Resource Center
- Story Arts Online
- Story Teller
- National Storytelling Network
- Story Telling Websites and Resources
- Digital Storytelling Resources
- Children´s Literature for Storytellers
- The Arts of Story Telling
- Story-Telling Center
- National Storytelling Network