Friday, June 27, 2014

Real-life Storytelling in Preschool: Spoken language in the primary classroom

In storytelling, the tone of voice and her language convey a sense of invitation. If it is a personal story, it conveys, You are important enough for me to share these things with you. Children want to feel invited and welcomed to our human society and human culture, and we do this through sharing our human experiences and human knowledge. Every human society across time has this tradition of story telling. The elders in the community will be telling stories about community, places, and experiences. This is how, as human beings, we keep alive the memories of our ancestors, and pass on memories of people who live in different times and different places. We use it to pass on moral lessons and values. So, for the child who is trying to orient herself to this world, it gives context to a world that is just larger than us. What is a story for a young child, a 3 ,4, or 5 year old? It will be the stories of everyday things, as a way of connecting to the environment.

The trick for story telling is to do it quickly with a small group, then dissipate quickly. If you see too many people coming up, they have an irresistible need for more spoken language. There is no other material for spoken language. The presentations are quick, light, and gone. If you do it with 3-4 children, it will be quick and personal. There is no element of questioning afterward. It is not a test, for this activity. It is more for enjoying and practicing with language. Make it casual. You may offer the space for the children who are wandering around.

Perhaps, tell the story of an interesting items that is in the room with the children, such as a model bird. Make sure that when relaying facts about an object that it does not just become a delivery of facts-- we do not want to be wikipedia. It still is an element of experience and discussing their experiences. Put emphasis on the connecting words, like and then, so, after that, because, as a result.

Initially, think about what you want to share. Try it out with a variety of expressions, then think about how you will invite the children to participate in this. It is important to give the child the emotional connection, the context for arousing their interest. You might want to try the gossip tone, of special and secret knowledge. We don't always have to go to the library for books, but we forget that our own lives are very interesting to children. For the three year old, it can be as simple as showing them something and asking them what they see. Even their "mundane" connections will be significant to them. 

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