This past weekend, I was talking to a set of parents, since next week I will be babysitting their children for a couple of days. This was a first time meet up and if you are going to work well with our needs, sort of thing. One of the first points that I brought up is that there are two camps on how children are being raised, there is the camp that says children need to be put in front of an electronic device and that is what stimulates them, and then there is the camp that is no electronic devices and we want them to see the world and use their imagination. They are in the second camp, for their children really do not watch television a whole lot. So I’m like that is fantastic, for this means that for the days that I am watching them I can show them, or rather invite them into the world of story and getting them to use their imagination.
Before, I get too far the children are ages 5 and 4. This is the age when I was young when I was first introduced to stories like fairy tales and nursery rhymes. This is also when you start the building blocks of what needs to be in a story, such as character, setting, plot, the light versus the dark, good and evil, and how do you get to the happily ever after. They should be at this age listening to stories that are either told to them or read to them, furthermore, they should be able to orally tell a story but they may not be writing the story down. So with all this in mind, how do you invite children into the world or stories?
There are many answers to this, the best that I have found from seeing this is that you get them to close their eyes and you tell them that they are going to a magical place, you describe the place that you want them to be at, either a forest or a beach somewhere where the magic of story can be experienced. You ask them what do they see? If they say a castle or a cottage then you have them open their eyes and you they may say that we are still at home but you try to convince them that yes were are still in the house but we together moved the house. It’s first getting them to use their imagination. While they are still using their imagination, you tell a story. As you tell the story you ask them to add things of their own creation. They might struggle at first and that’s fine but once you get them to engage you really start getting into the story and they do too. Then you have a fun activity like you get them to retell the story or you have them draw a scene from the story. Remember, imagination and creativity is the key for right now. Once you are done, you get them to close your eyes and move the house and their minds back to where you originally started. Then when they open their eyes and see that the house is back and they are back where they started and this is when they are excited about the magic, for it worked.
Granted, you will have a harder time pulling this off when the kids get older but when they are young they will go for it. The other idea that you can do is make a list and everyone takes turns adding to the list like a bear, chair, black, and so forth once you have a good list you make a story out of that list and that is another way to get them to see how you tell stories. The other great thing that you can do is have the kids act the story out, once they are familiar with the story. You are the narrator and they are the characters of the story. These are all great things to get them to embark into the world of story.
Once they have entered the world of story, they will want to come back for more. I hope that you found these suggestions helpful. Also, this can work whether they are being put in front of a mobile device or not.