Give Storytime a New Twist
Give Storytime a New Twist
by Sue Douglass Fliess
Once upon a time, there were three monkeys.
They lived in a big car. One day the driver said, "Let's drive to Mars."
What, you haven't heard this one before? Of course not. It was written by a 4
year old, somewhere in a California living room.
We all know that story-time is
important. But story-time doesn't have to always mean sitting down with child
and book in lap, and reading. Why not change it up a bit? Toss the books aside,
sit across from your child and create your own story together.
According to the National Reading
Panel, children learn the meanings of most words indirectly, through everyday
experiences with oral and written language. Children not only learn word
meanings from listening to adults read to them, but through conversations with
them. During these exchanges, children will often hear adults repeat words
several times. They may also hear new and interesting words that stick out to
them. The more oral language experiences children have, the more word meanings
Reading packs a power punch of
vocabulary building and one-on-one time. But for imagination, homemade
storytelling can't be beat. First, ask your child to pick a main character and
something he would like that character to do. Next, take turns adding words to
create the story together. For preschoolers, this may mean you begin the story
with a sentence and let her fill in the noun or verb. Like a childproofed,
sanitized version of Mad Libs, your child is free to insert silly answers or to
make an effort to tell a logical story, with a beginning, middle, and end. For
an older child, alternate sentences with him. The story can go in fun and
surprising directions. This activity also makes for a great travel game. And it
definitely beats letting him watch (or more importantly, you having to endure)
mindless cartoons in the mini-van.
Feeling ambitious? Write it all down. Break it up into pages and make a mini
picture book. Use a different color marker for your child's responses so he can
clearly see how he's contributed to the story. Ask your child to draw a picture
for each page, corresponding to the actions in the story. This is a wonderful
piece of work to share with other family members and something your child can
be proud of. Not to mention – a great keepsake for the baby book!
So the next time your child asks you
to read The Polar Express to him for the thousandth time, suggest that
you and he compose your own story. It can be as boundless as his imagination or
as silly as Dorothy the Dinosaur. As a parent, you're not only expanding his
vocabulary and encouraging creativity, but secretly sneaking in educational
quality time for you both.