Storytime has become a wonderful ritual at our school. It brings the morning to a close in a wonderfully peaceful way. In morning circle, when we first arrive, we read books. In story circle the children listen as I tell them a story. It is a skill I am slowly learning and developing, but the children are so forgiving! Each day they seem to watch with awe, which fills me with the confidence to try again another day!
Through trial and error (and observation of other storytellers) I have learned the usefulness of simple props. Most of these props are not story specific and can actually be used for so many stories. Like the little people in the photo above. They were very simple gnomes, with instructions from the wonderful little book “Toymaking with children“. The gnomes are loved by the children and have been the main characters in so many of my stories.
I am following the Waldorf tradition of telling the same story for 1-2 weeks. Each time I tell it the children are becoming more familiar with it and this truly does seem to build their confidence in the familiarity of the school day. I assess how the children are doing with the story and some weeks it just feels like one week is enough, other times two weeks feels more appropriate. I have to be conscious to distance myself from the assessment – although I may feel ‘done’ with the story after a few days, the children really do seem to benefit from further repetition!
We have created wonderful rituals around the storytelling, which add to it’s specialness. We have a story display within the classroom. It started off as a seasonal display and seems to have morphed over time! Here I display the story props, on a simple silk. The display is at children’s height and they are free to play with the props – I do request that they ask me first, as this seems to add more of a magical quality to these items. As the week (or fortnight) progress, I often see the story being integrated into the children’s imaginative play.
Recently we have been through some major transitions at school – my maternity leave, family situations changing, and simply reaching different developmental milestones. I discovered a wonderful book which has been guiding my storytelling through this period. “Healing stories for challenging behavior” is a wonderful compilation of stories directed at different behaviors. The themes within the stories are often subtle, and so far the children have loved them. This week we have been reading the “noisy gnome story”. It is a simple story about four gnomes, one of whom does not like noise. Through these stories I am able to talk about behaviors in the classroom (disruptive behaviors are addressed in this story) by relating to the story. This really does seem to help the children understand.