Ten kilometres away from Pune, five couples, including my husband and I, gathered at a farmhouse. This was to be a holiday to laze around and relax. However, the children had other plans. Their concept of relaxing was boisterous. One of my friends suddenly suggested that perhaps some quiet story time will calm them down and for reasons I am not sure of even today, I was entrusted with this job. The idea excited me but I was not sure how helpful this exercise would be in controlling the ruckus. Anyway, I began reading from a storybook and attempted to engage them in what seemed like a fruitless exercise.
But then, children are very flexible when it comes to having a good time, and before I realized, the chaotic atmosphere had turned into a quiet group of children listening to me. For the next couple of hours, we read stories about animals, fairies, and magic.
I am sure the children won’t remember this incident, but those couple of hours helped me realize that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – become a professional storyteller. But when I was moulding myself into a storyteller I realized that I had a problem to deal with – iPads and iPhones. Children spend so much time hooked to these screens that they are reading fewer and fewer storybooks. Keeping this in mind, I decided to stick to storytelling with books.
The idea of stimulating not just the listening ability but the other senses as well was important to achieve my goal. Therefore, I started incorporating arts, crafts, and simple worksheets as part of my storytelling sessions. The craft activities helped to raise their interest in listening to stories. Stories and crafts together can do wonders for a child’s imagination. While the stories contribute to the child’s listening ability and imagination, the craft activities enhance their motor skills and creativity.
The Gingerbread Man is a personal favourite. This simple story when followed up with an activity of making a model of the Gingerbread man livens up the session and makes it fun and exciting for the children.
Some other stories can be followed by craft activities:
- Life Cycle of a Butterfly followed by a butterfly paper craft.
- Mickey Mouse stories followed by Mickey and Minnie Mouse stick puppets.
- Kung Fu Panda followed by a Panda made from paper plates.
- The story of Ranganna can be followed by a colourful rainbow activity.
- Owl stories can be fun if added with an Owl Puppet from a Paper Bag.
- The story of the Rainbow Fish can be added with a bright fish craft.
- A Rainy Day story with making a craft which has cotton clouds and an umbrella made of straw and cupcake liners.
- Fox and the Hen can be followed by a little chicken craft.
To make your classes a little more exciting you could also give them random materials and ask them to weave a story on the spot. This will help shy kids come out of their cocoon and express themselves. Who would have thought that in their stories not all tigers are brave and some dragons do cry?
The author is founder of Storyhouse in Mumbai www.facebook.com/storyhousemumbai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.