This winter try something different with your children to cure the winter blues. Instead of simply reading to them from the books on their shelf, why not come up with your own story? Storytelling is a time-honored tradition, handed down from generation to generation. In some cases, handed-down stories turn into beautifully written-down tales, decades later as in case of my Lima Bear Stories*.
You, too, can create stories either on your own or with the help of your family. The result will not only be entertaining but a source of family memories as palpable as any family vacation photo album.
To get started in creating your family storytelling memories keep these tips in mind:
- Do not be intimidated. Anything you have to share is going to be interesting to your children.
- Use what is important to you. If you are super clean, for example, create a character who learns the hard way why cleaning up is important.
- Use humor. Goofy=happy children.
- Create catchy character names. Catchy names make the story come alive and easily remembered.
Another way to create terrific tales is to let the story unravel by having your family add the content along with you. For example, why not turn the television off on a cold winter's night and simply start a story much like the old children's game "whisper down the lane"? Start with a funny scene using material that is obvious to you. Let each family member add to the story and take the story over for a while. Enjoy as you witness the creative juices flowing. Each family member gets a chance to add and embellish until finally a completed story is created. After you get to the end of the story see if family members can repeat the story back. Did the story change? Try the story again using the new embellishments to see if the changes may become permanent changes.
One of the hardest tasks in creating any story is coming up with a beginning to the story. Below are some ideas of story starters to get you on your storytelling way:
- Is a holiday near or around a corner? Make your story a holiday tale.
- Put a twist on a famous fairy tale. If the writers of Shrek and Enchanted can do it, you can too!
- Use a topic from the news. A young hero story, for example.
- A famous writer instructor once said "write what you know," in this case, "tell what you know." Use what interests you: a football story, a story about your favorite animal, etc.
- Tell a story based, loosely or closely, on a relative who your children may have never met—what a wonderful way to teach them about someone special who is actually a part of them.
No matter what you decided to base your story on or how you choose to create it, remember that by storytelling you are sharing not only time with your child but a part of yourself. Enjoy making your very own storytelling memories.
Thomas Weck is the author/creator of the *Lima Bear Stories. Originally made-up bedtime stories he told his four children, the Lima Bear tales resurfaced when Weck's son Peter had children. Peter remembered the stories and wanted to have his father write them down so that he could share them with his children. Father and son took it one step further and created Lima Bear Press to produce the stories as books that children everywhere can enjoy. The first three titles in this award-winning series were released in 2011: The Megasaurus, How Back-Back Got His Name, and The Cave Monster. The books are not only fun and funny with great illustrations, they also have an underlying message such as such as tolerance, honesty, courage, etc. Additionally, each book has an Extend the Learning and an Activity section at the end where children can become active participants in the story experience. More books in the series will be released in 2012.
Do you make up stories and tell them to your children?