015 – Story Telling With Your Kids

In episode #12 of the Raising smART kids podcast 2.0, we strategized some ways that busy families can incorporate the arts into their every day lives.

This week we’re going to dive a little deeper into one of those strategies – creating stories with your kids.

015 - Storytelling - Raising smART Kids Podcast

I love reading to my kids and having them read to me. It’s always been about bonding and sharing my love of reading with my kids. It also allows me to check in with their reading levels and demonstrates their different interests.

When kids are first learning to read, they often develop a favorite book or two which parents read night after night. I’m sure all you parents with preschools know what I’m talking about very well!

When my kids were that age, I would sometimes request that we make up stories together at bedtime in addition to or instead of these favorite books.

To be honest, this gave me a break from reading the same stories night after night and quickly became a bedtime favorite.

I would often start with the traditional “Once Upon A Time” as my kids were familiar with this description. As our stories evolved, this beginning line would change frequently depending on my kids moods.

I would use their names in the stories to help them engage and get excited about the and make them the lead characters. I would always focus on positive uplifting stories that had happy endings as we would often create stories right before bed. Often my kids were the heroes, inventors, artists, performers, that did or made something great happen.

For example, one of my youngest daughter’s favorite beginning lines was, “Once Upon a time, there was a brave princess named Daphne that loved to build castles. One day she..”

I would pause intentionally and leave a cliff hanger so to speak so that she could add on the next bit of the story. We would go back and forth several times and would create a number of stories. Often times my girls would get so excited about their stories they wouldn’t want to go to bed.

To entice them to go to sleep, we started talking about chapters. I would say something to the effect of “this part of the story has come to an end but tomorrow we can create a new chapter.”

The promise of creating a new chapter the next night was usually enough to get them to relax, fall asleep, and dream up the next adventure.

Sometimes, we’d use their favorite short story as a way to segue into bedtime. Don’t worry if at first the stories you create together are similar. Just enjoy the process of being creative together.

A word of advice though, don’t let yourself be distracted by things like TV or your smartphone when creating stories. Kids can tell when you’re truly interested in what they are doing and since the point is to engage with your kids on a deeper level, lose the distractions.

When I ran an arts learning program for preschool-aged kids, I spoke with many parents that were stressed out and overwhelmed at the prospect of creating stories with your kids. Don’t let the fear you feel stop you from experiencing the world through your child’s imagination. Just like many worthwhile endeavors in life, there may be an element of fear, and facing your fears is the first step in growing. You’re listening to this because you want to connect with your kids and help foster their creativity.

Many of us need to reconnect with our creative sides as we’ve lost some by going through the school system or working in jobs where there are few requests to be creative.

I can’t think of a better or easier way to engage your creativity than through creating with your kids. Once you start creating stories with your, your kids’ creativity will astonish you and allow you to relax and put on your creativity cap at the same time.

If you’re not ready to dive right into story creating with your kids, you can set the stage by reading some of your kids favorite books and talking about the parts of the stories.

Discuss what happens at beginning, middle, and end. Who were the characters? What happens in the story?

If your kids are little older and ready for some new challenges, you can start incorporating terminology such as the plot, themes, protagonists, antagonists, conflict, resolution, morale, and, more.

Once you’ve established parts of a story, you can suggest 3 random things such as a castle, a cowboy, and a soccer ball. Encourage your kids to create a story using these items. These story elements can come from anywhere – his or her bedroom, something outside or at work, or simply dream up some elements to get the story started.

It’s always amazing to me how kids can easily weave various objects together into a beautiful, sometime, serious, sometime comical stories and everything in between!

After you’ve tackled bedtime stories, you can move into creating stories at other times or for special occasions. Even for pre-readers, creating a story can be as simple as drawing pictures to represent the story. You could take this one step further by having them narrate their pictures and writing out the story for them.

If you want to take story creation to a new level, you can have you kids narrate the story as you write it or better yet, use some of the great technology tools out there such as voice recorders and record your kids narrating their very own stories! Not only will you have the physical pictures of the story you’ll have your kids own voices recorded which is a priceless memory!

I recently found an incredible website called Storybird.com. Once you register for this free website you and your kids can login and create stories and poems using drop and drag images. Talk about your stories coming to life!

This will take a bit of time on your part to type in the story but when you think about the outcome of kids getting super excited by creating their very own stories, you just can’t pass up the opportunity.

The reality is that if you’re able to listen to these podcasts, get on the internet, and use a simple word-processing program, you’re well on your way to publishing your very own stories!

So now there are no more excuses. You have the tools to begin creating stories with YOUR kids.

I would love to read the stories you create with your kids! Be sure to share your stories below for all to enjoy!

Since we’re talking about stories, don’t forget my new story if you’re looking for more ways to Unleash Your Child’s Super Powers, grab my new book on Amazon!