April 25, 2015

The Power of Story-Telling

Storytelling is a talent.
Yes, and one that I never desired or thought I had. I was always one of those that wished people would tell stories, but never had one readily available to share. And even if I could think of one, I never knew how to share it with energy and imaginative detail.

There is a storyteller within us all.
And it's been so fun discovering that within myself. I still haven't gotten to the oober creative detail level, but I am getting more filled with energy and detail and snippets into those beautiful realms of imagination and discovery.

Story telling is a gradually learned talent.
Storytelling is built by many small steps of practice and experience. Its a willingness to let go of unknowns and others' judgments. That is liberating in and of itself. And it's a desire to share something of meaning for others. This is a true experience of connection.

For me, it started by reading by reading to my little boy. As I did so, I began to add more animation and character voices and sound effects. Actually, I've always enjoyed sound effects. For me, that was the easiest part! Then I started reading short fables or tales to my little boy. And we'd use some of his animals to recreate the story. This developed our ability to recall and sequence. Soon I didn't need a book. We'd use puppets to do the acting, so we didn't have to feel completely fooling in all the various ways of performance. Certain stories we felt super familiar with became ones we could act out completely. And then a love for theater and performance started emerging.

Our Little Boy Series....
While we were going through this process I started telling stories to my little boy at bedtime. All of them began and ended the same way..."Once there was a little boy in the forest..." and then "...and then he went to bed (happy, dreaming of his adventure he'd just enjoyed)." I'll start the story, but if I can't think of things, I just ask my son to fill in some details. This helps us both increase our story-telling abilities, problem solving skills and imagination.

And since they all begin the same way he find security and almost a deep friendship with the main character. I see my boy's eyes light up as he feels connected to this character and the things that happen to him. It's a great way for him to experience things through story so he can learn lessons without having to go through the real experience...or at least being better equipped when the real experiences happen.

I typically tell him holiday type stories during holidays to help Ethan see that other people do similar or different things than what he might do...to give him perspective or to help him feel anticipation. And the cool thing is that we are building a autonomous story/place/ etc. that we will can actually see and recall.

I've wanted to document some of it and draw a map of the places the Little Boy plays at and has his adventures, etc. I see it in my head now, but Ethan may see it differently. So I hope to keep telling stories and help Ethan one day journal pieces he wants to and create his own map.

I also end up tying in good morals and attributes of how the little boy should or shouldn't act. OR in how he treats his family. The Little Boy becomes a relate-able example for Ethan that is powerful for helping with behavioral issues.

Anyway...the possibilities are endless, but it's such a great way to bond with my son and I don't do it nearly enough these days. So this is a reminder to me to get back to it because I felt our relationship so much closer those weeks I focused on making time for him and for being willing to open my heart and mind to this precious unknown that is becoming less of an unknown the more I reach for it (though will always have some unknowns--which is how life is meant to be).

Why am I sharing all this...?
So...I've come to realize that I want more than books with and for my children. I want connection through stories. I want deep connection--that joins us together, that deepens our relating to nature and people, that deepens our imagination and love for creation--empowering us to do more of those things.

The Key is to start.
Start somewhere. Start small. It's helpful to start with something very simple and/or very familiar. You remember what you love. So share a story you love, but keep it simple. Kids are great to practice on, for this reason. They have no judgment when they are super little. They're just happy you're with them! So be with them and go on a simple story adventure hand in hand with your child.

Here are a few notes and resources for exploring storytelling....

I liked the idea of the story-teller's triangle:
storyteller must be familiar (somehow) with both parts in order to connect them well

Story      ------------------------------   Audience

Nourishing Story Telling for Kids...
  1. A Communal and Bonding Event (as siblings and parents gather together)
  2. Transfers Commitment to Good Values (without lectures needed)
  3. Gives Common Experiences and Victories (without needing own experiences to learn)
  4. Using animals allows relate-ability, while still maintaining some realm of fantasy (so kids don't have to face "the world is not perfect"-view right in the face)

Fun Stories to start with... (click on them to get examples)
  • Fingerplays (http://lilbumblebeeadventures.blogspot.com/2013/08/music-time-songs.html)
  • These are great for so many reasons! They are short. They rhyme. They are generally about nature or animals. They are easy to remember. They don't involve props except your body...which actually empowers kids to be able to retell them easily too. And they just pure cute.
  • Draw & Tell Stories/Cut and Tell Stories (These you draw or cut as you go until the end result is a picture that finishes the story. Did you know Hans Christen Andersen was known for the most intricate and impressive storytelling cuttings ever!)
  • Tangram Tales (create tangram shapes/characters as you tell the story. love this book!)
Image result for tangram tales

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