Storytelling 101 for Children & Parents

My son will be 3 in July. His imagination is running wild. I love it but it is tough to keep up with his stories, imagination and storytelling.Honestly, storytelling is not something that comes easy to me. I have always had to work at telling stories. I thank my son for motivating me to become a better storyteller.

IMG 3498 300x225 Storytelling 101 for Children & Parents

We truly enjoy reading in our home but I have learned that storytelling is so important in a child’s development even beyond early literacy. Storytelling triggers extremely valuable high level literacy skills such as comprehension and, perhaps more importantly, open ended learning and development. I love this post on Mommy Labs on the importance of storytelling. In any event, here are a few ways we’ve integrated imaginary play and storytelling into our home.

Audio Books
We love them, play them in our home and in the car non-stop. and our local library for cds are our one stop shop for these experiences. At home one thing I’ve tried to do is act out the story with my boy. Seriously tons of fun! One of my favorites is Blueberries for Sal and Mike Mulligan’s Steam Shovel. Plus every Magic School Bus book that exists.

Train Table
We love trains. This train table is where the story telling all started for us. I typically leave my son alone to create his own stories by playing independently using ‘private speech.’

Taking Turns
My son and I have gotten into the habit of telling stories together. He will say a sentence like, ‘why hello there octopus. It is nice to meet you. Said the crab,’ and I will say, ‘did you see those snorkelers today? I thought they were going to hug Mr. Sea turtle! Said the crab.’ Easy.

Weather Cards
One very spontaneous story telling activity we’ve done recently happened when we were doing our day of the week and weather chart. We downloaded these weather cards for FREE from Montessori Print Shop. One particular day, as my was searching for the ‘rainy’ card, he started to place each weather card on the magnetic board and began to tell stories with the weather card. It was awesome . Weather is dramatic. Weather I can do. We told stories about a hail storm followed by a beautiful rainbow on a cool winter day. Lovely. Heart melts lovely.

Buddy Reading
We “Buddy Read”, a commonly used early literacy approach within Tools of the Mind. I’ll read a book and he’ll ‘read’ a book. Then I’ll ask him to read a book to me.

What do you see?
When we’re jumping from raft to raft (pillow to pillow) in the middle of the sea (living room rug), we ask one another “what do you see?” Often my son will answer with one word like “Octopus!” So I’ll ask what the octopus is doing, and then when he asks me “What do you see, Mama?” I’ll be more descriptive and dramatic, holding up my binoculars and exclaiming I see a pirate ship with a skull flag and sharks lurking all around it. You get it.

Our Own Song Lyrics
My son loves to make up songs on his own but also use the tune of a well known song and change up the lyrics. For example with “Down By The Station” he might say, “Down by the Creek early in the morning see the little salmon swimming around…”

Here are a few amazing Storytelling activities and ideas courtesy of fellow talented bloggers:


Thanks for choosing to read this post! I hope we have inspired you today!

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  1. What a great post, Marnie!
    Bethany recently posted…Children’s Book ReviewsMy Profile

  2. There are some really great ideas here. I really want to make storytelling a part of our days but it doesn’t come naturally to me either. I like the ‘what do you see?’ game. I think I’ll give it a go.
    Kate – An Everyday Story recently posted…A Mini Atelier: Rotating the Art ActivitiesMy Profile

  3. I love all the ideas you listed! My grandma is an AMAZING storyteller. I am working on it.

    Thanks for sharing Emma’s fingerprint stories!
    maryanne recently posted…All Year Round: Celebrating Summer!My Profile

  4. Thank you so much for including my post! I loved all of your examples of storytelling. I definitely needed practice when I was first starting out. I still remember one of the first times I told R a story when he was little. He very sweetly told me.. “mama, that story wasn’t very good. But that’s okay. You tried.” Lol! I’ve since got better. :)
    Joyce recently posted…15 Outdoor Playdate ActivitiesMy Profile

  5. My son also does a lot of storytelling at the train table and also in the bathtub. My Abuelita is a great book in which the grandmother is a storyteller, so that might also engage and excite a child in telling their own stories. I featured the book on my blog last month. Another thing my toddler loves is when we do variations on the books he knows and loves and have those expand into new stories or extensions of the existing stories. Car time is another great opportunity for storytelling. I often start by reciting a favorite book and then we go on from there.
    Jen Fischer recently posted…S is for…Superhero and…My Profile

  6. Great storytelling tips! One thing we do that works for older kids is that we make books together based on her storytelling.
    Rebekah recently posted…Painting with Bikes {Favorite Friday}My Profile

  7. this is a great post. Goblin is just starting to get into imaginary play and following longer stories in books so I will need to start thinking about brushing up my story telling skills. You post has given me some food for thought. Thanks
    The Monko recently posted…Do you insist your toddler uses manners?My Profile

  8. Love these ideas! I especially love telling stories together! What fun! I’m not the greatest storyteller in the world (though I majored in creative writing!). I’m much better at making up poems, songs and such! I love to sit down with her and a book and ask her to read it to me. :) She doesn’t read, yet so it’s fun to see what she comes up with.
    The Iowa Farmer’s Wife recently posted…Easy White Beans & Greens RecipeMy Profile

  9. I love this post, Marnie! I’m featuring it on my Kids’ Co-Op post tomorrow. Thank you!!
    Malia {Playdough to Plato} recently posted…How to Motivate Reluctant ReadersMy Profile

  10. Thanks, Ness! Awesome stuff. I loved your post on Melissa’s site. Good stuff!

  11. Thanks for the feature on Playdough to Plato, Malia! As always, love your stuff! ~ Marnie


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