As the year progresses, and the toddlers’ language, literacy, social, and imaginative capacities become more refined, we introduce formal storytelling during meal times. Some children were finding meal times to be difficult to sit through, and in an effort to entice story-fascinated children to sit at the table, we experimented with using songs and stories as a way to engage children long enough for them to fill their bellies. Teachers and college students have been telling stories about their homes, children, pets, and past experiences as children, as well as revisiting stories and observations of the children during the day. Very often, during these stories, children would impart their own wisdom, and some children would interject with their own stories. As a way of displaying respect and audience skills, we requested that rather than interrupt the stories, the children remain quiet and listen to others’ stories, while being assured that others will have opportunities to retell theirs.
The tales that have arisen from the children vary in length, subject matter, language, and creativity. We have been transcribing these stories for the children to revisit in the form of a book on their reading shelf, and have shared copies of the stories for the preschoolers to read and collaborate on artistically.
We hope that revisiting these stories will not only show the value in the words told by the children, but will also allow for elaboration, reflection, and more engagement with children in other classes, and a continuing interest in storytelling.
Additionally, Hampshire College’s professor of storytelling and children’s theater, Natalie Sowell, will be engaging our children with her retellings of tales from around the world. We wonder what impact these stories will have on those our children choose to tell.
When I was an elephant I waked up in March. And then I fell down and I got a booboo.
Flowers. All the flowers at home melted on the snow.
This is California today.
Yes. This is California. This is Cali-bobo! (draws another shape) This is Hawaii. This is Pennsylvania. This is Pennsyl-bite-oboto. This is Penta-bate-boto. (continues drawing shapes and naming each one). This is Hawaii-boto. This is Hawaii-little-boto. This is Nani’s house in Pennsylvania. This is Tompa-tompa. This is Twan-dak-a-dika. Have you been there? I went to… I’m going to Binka-doinka on Monday. I drove there. The little red car has no lights on. The grey lights are up there! The grey car has gas. It was very far away.
-Mason (drawing and describing his artwork)
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