During National Storytelling Week, we’re encouraging schools and teachers to get involved and celebrate storytelling through a range of mediums and outlets.
With reading for pleasure on the decline, it’s all the more important we make time for enjoying stories with our friends and families. Stories are a wonderful way to get to know one another, make connections, share information and create meaningful relationships, and have been used as a form of entertainment for centuries.
Whether it’s reading more, sharing more or creating more, why not get involved and celebrate the art of storytelling with these fun classroom activities?
1. Invite students to share their favourite story
Possibly the easiest way to introduce Storytelling Week to children or students is to simply ask them about their favourite stories!
Ask the children to bring their favourite book to school, or (if you’re a parent) choose their favourite one from the family bookshelf or from the library. Ask each of them questions about it – who is the main character? What happens to them? Why is this story their favourite? Are there any similarities between themselves and the hero?
Alternatively, a favourite story can also be one that’s not from a book, but a real-life story. Ask the students to share funny, scary or even sad stories from their own experience. They can enjoy putting in lots of expression and maybe even adding hand gestures to help move it along.
The students can share their favourite stories as part of a group, or with the whole class.
2. Let them dress up as their favourite story character
Invite students to dress up as their favourite story character for one day. You could even hold a competition for the best costume, or do a role play exercise where the students have to communicate as their character.
As with the first exercise, you could ask the students to share why they specifically chose that character and what they would do if they could be their character for a day.
3. Have a regular Story Time every day
Most teachers already have a dedicated storytelling hour each week. But during National Storytelling Week, why not have one every day?
You could choose a book for all the class to read together, or split the students into groups where they can take it in turns to read a page of their favourite story. You may wish to take pauses throughout to ask the students questions about what they have read and what they think is going to happen. Individual silent reading is also great to encourage – but make sure you get in some group collaboration too.
4. Play ‘Name That Story’
Test students’ knowledge of well-known stories by playing ‘Name That Story’! Simply read aloud a disguised description of a traditional story – whether that’s a fairytale, fable or a mythical legend – leaving out certain details or putting in clues. The students can either work in groups or pairs to match the famous story to its description.
For example, the clue for the Gingerbread Man might be:
“A biscuit runs away and is chased by people and animals. He tries to cross over a river with the help of a sneaky fox.”
Of course you can choose the stories based on their age group. Very young children will enjoy guessing stories like The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. Older children, meanwhile, can play the game with stories like Harry Potter or the legend of Perseus and Medusa. You could link the game back to something they have been studying in their lessons, or a book you’ve been reading as a class.
If you’d like to make the game more visual, why not add the descriptions/clues onto cards and ask the children to match each one of them to a picture card?
5. Explore different ways to tell stories
Stories can be told in all different ways – from telling to writing to showing. Talk to your students about the different ways in which we consume stories every day – including newspapers, films, books, magazines, blogs, social media and through talking to our friends.
Then, ask them to share their favourite story in a different way to how it was originally told. Get crafty and make a collage; be bold and act it out, or maybe even turn it into a news report! The opportunities are endless. Encourage students to get creative and then present their story to the class. Then ask the audience – did they do a good job of conveying their favourite story?
6. Book a professional storyteller
Fewer things will thrill the children like listening to a professional storyteller tell their favourite stories. There are many professional storytellers you can ask to come to your school this week and give an assembly or host a workshop.
Many of them will even dress up as a character and have lots of fun games for your students to get involved in. Check your local area for workshops or take a look at this list of storytelling workshops from As Creatives.
7. Let students perform their favourite stories in groups
Acting out their favourite stories is a great way for students to build confidence or get used to speaking aloud.
Encourage their inner actors by splitting the class into groups and giving each of them a simple story to perform. Let the students decide themselves who will play what role and how they can act out the story in a clear and entertaining way.
Afterwards, let them perform their story to the rest of the class and ask them questions about why they made the decisions they did and what they had to do to ensure the story was clear and easy to understand.
8. Read one of our lesson-teaching children’s books
When choosing a story to read with your students, why not choose one that teaches a valuable lesson? We recently put together this list of our favourite children’s books that each teach a valuable lesson. Whatever the age of your students, you can use these books to open up discussion about an important moral, belief or outcome, or ask them to explain what they think the moral of the story is.
9. Hold a story-writing contest
Celebrate story-telling with a story-writing contest! The prize could be a new book of the winner’s choice.
You can leave the competition open-ended or suggest a starting point to help students who may get stuck. A good example is to start off with a place, an object, a person or creature and a year.
After they’ve created their stories, the students can choose to read them aloud, if they’d like.
10. Write a day in the life of your favourite story character
What would they do if they were their favourite character for a day? What would it be like to experience a day in their ordinary life?
This is a great exercise to stimulate students’ imagination and get them thinking about the details of their character, such as where they’d live, what they’d eat, what they’d do all day and who their friends would be. Encourage them to think beyond the standard story their character is from, and what they might do in unusual situations.
Afterwards, the students can have fun sharing their ‘Day In The Life’s with their classmates.
11. Take students to a local Storytelling event
During National Storytelling Week, lots of libraries, museums and bookshops are hosting storytelling events that your children will love. Whether you’re a teacher, parent or carer, have a look in your local area to see what’s on and if you can make it to a nearby event.