Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Story stones and story rollers

As a writer and an early childhood teacher, I believe that storytelling is a key to emergent literacy. I found this little ghost at a yard sale for fifty cents and placed our Halloween story stones in it, (I have an assortment of general ones and also holiday theme ones). I turn them over so the kids cannot see the pictures (stickers). They select one at random and tell me something about it. The very young children in my three year old class simply label them, or say, "The ghost ate the pumpkin." There after, the next object eats the next and so on. That tells me something about individual students' language development. I want them to have fun, so I don't lead them. I listen. There are about thirty story stones, and some children will stop at three and others will use all thirty. It gets very redundant if all they do is eat each other :)

However, the four year olds are learning about sequencing stories, pictures and events: first, next, then, and last. When they begin, their stories are mostly basic, somewhat creative, and my only questions are, "What happened first? What happened last? What was your story about?

The more verbal children, especially the older fours and early five year olds, elaborate. They tell very creative stories and want to use all of the story stones.
They do this on their own, with me, or with a friend.


To further enhance language development, I bring in a Halloween theme decorated popcorn tin. I place a few objects inside and the children shake it and guess what COULD be inside. I lift the lid and expose one portion of the object at a time until someone guesses it. They use descriptive words.

Next, I roll the decorative can to each child and the class tells a continuing, group story as they touch a section on the tin. Sometimes I write their words and hang the story in the hall, and sometimes, we just do an impromptu story for fun. I pretend I am amazed when they add a great vocabulary word or I act frightened if they tell a scary detail.

A ghost saw a pumpkin on the ground.
The bats were flying in the sky.
A witch took the pumpkin. (Ohhh, don't make this too scary for ME.)
The scarecrow scared the mouse.
The witch cackled. (What a good word!)

The children laugh and think they are just playing, but you and I know that they are LEARNING. Did you ever try to roll a popcorn tin straight ahead? Sometimes it goes sideways and the kids have to do a lot of reasoning to figure out just how to roll it back.

One of these days, some of my students will be best selling authors. I know it!


K9friend said...

I'll bet those kids love having a teacher that encourages their imagination like you do, Linda!


Kim said...

What a great way to encourage vocabulary and storytelling!

And you catch them before their stories contain tales they've seen on DVDs and cartoons.

irishoma said...

What an inspirating teacher you are!

Bookie said...

Story stones! What a great idea, one new to me!

Sioux said...

So, you STILL don't have an opening in your class for me? What lucky kids your students are.

Thisisme. said...

I agree Linda - you are such an inspiring and creative teacher. I'm sure your students remember you for years to come. I've never heard of story stones either, but it certainly does sound like a good idea. Wonderful that the children just think that they are playing, but, really, they are learning all the time!

Pam said...

Hello Linda!
Creativity and Imagination IS what its all about! YOu are a great teacher because you are an authentic human being. Congratulations on your publication in Writers Journal Magazine.
That is fantastic!
I wonder if I will hear from Chicken Soup but I've been thinking, off and on, that my story (Emptying the Closet) might be too sad for their liking. I'll see.
Take Care,

Peggy Frezon said...

I love this, and you are right you might just encourage a student to become a writer. I will never forget my third grade teacher who encouraged me. I loved her file of pictures she'd ripped from magazines and glued to construction paper to help us start stories.