Today I’m sharing how to make storytime more fun for you and your kids.
I’m guessing your bedtime routine with your kids involves storytime. Am I right?
If you’re saying no, maybe it’s because you think your kids are “too old” for bedtime stories, right? Wrong. Even when your child can read well, it’s important to still read together aloud. It helps with pronunciation and getting words into their brain, it also associates reading with pleasure and together-time, and allows you to talk about and analyze the story together.
You should be incorporating more stories into your child’s life, not less and not just at bedtime.
Here’s 3 reasons why:
1. You are literally teaching your child to THINK when you are telling stories.
All conceptual thought depends on us creating or remembering pictures in our head of what we are thinking of.
When you are thinking of a dog, you have in your mind’s eye, what a dog looks like. You are creating that picture in your head when you are talking about it or thinking about it.
2. Stories help kids make sense of their world. They help kids find solutions to problems, teach them what’s good and bad, wrong and right. They learn about character traits and life lessons.
3. Builds language and vocabulary. It also helps young children learn to name their feelings, which is really important in life and in conflict resolution.
3 Ways to Mix Up Storytime
1. Don’t Read A Story From A Book!
Reading and telling stories takes effort for us parents. I love to read, but I don’t always love to read the same books my kids pick out. My husband is an auditory learner. He listens to books but rarely reads an actual hard copy book. So when the kids pick out chapter books he defers to me!
Don’t feel you have to read a book. Telling stories “by heart” is a great way to connect with your kids. When you tell a story eye to eye, heart to heart by memory or from your imagination, it makes a big impact on the kids. Retell an old story or make one up in your head. If you’re short on inspiration, instead of reading from a book, tell a story of something you already know. My husband loved the television series on years ago, “Lost.” He found the soundtrack and recalls the episodes by heart for an exciting bedtime story event almost like a chapter book.
You can make up stories that help your child through things you know they are going through. Our youngest boy has decided it’s not “cool” to talk to girls, so we’ve been telling him stories of boy animal characters playing with girl ones and helping them. If you have a child under age four, keep it really simple and familiar. Recreate activities from their day by using animals or nature as the main characters. You can give guidance through your stories.
You can also tell stories from your past that are about you. Fill it with sensory details, adventure and when your kids ask you to repeat it, tell it again in the same way. If you want to add to it, that’s fine, but let your kids hear the same story over and over so they can make sense of it and add it to their memory.
Don’t forget about fairy tales. For children over five-years-old, fairy tales are wonderful because they teach character qualities. Good versus evil and how to overcome problems. It always ends happily and each character stands for one quality, like good, evil, or smart. It’s easier for children to understand this way, instead of having characters that are complex.
2. Have Your Child Tell the Story
Co-create the stories at first. You can make storytime really fun by playing story games. We love these story dice. You shake them and then tell a story using the images that come up. Or you can play “Pass the Story” where you start it and then stop and the next person continues it. Or use photos or draw a picture and have your kids tell you a story about what they see, or they draw the picture and you tell the story.
3. Extend Reading Into Play
Make sure to read books about what your child is currently into. If you run out, head to the bookstore or library and get the librarian to help you find books specifically about what that subject. Our son read only non-fiction books about wild cats for years before he finally learned to like to read stories. Take the story series your kids really enjoy and turn it into playtime. Put together a story box, and fill it with items from their favorite story. If they love “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” fill a box with red and green pom poms, pipe cleaners, felt and glue along with play or real food and leaves gathered from outside. If they love Harry Potter, get some figurines and leave them out with some blocks or a castle playset. Or, grab some sticks and some ribbon and invite them to make wands and add a feather, ink, and paper to write magical messages.
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