Do you remember, as a child, hearing adults tell you stories? Perhaps they were fairy tales that took you to far off places to meet mystical creatures, or perhaps they were family stories that took you back in time. While much of our world has changed since we were children, the magic of storytelling has not. Children are still entranced when we as parents take the time to develop a good story and tell it with all of our attention.
Storytelling speaks strongly to the inner person and has many benefits for a child. Family stories provide inspiration and a feeling of belonging for the child as they see they are part of a long legacy. Pretend stories set flight to the imagination yet are very grounding as the child makes the story their own. Stories that have a lesson within, from the Bible or Aesop’s Fables, for example, help guide a child’s moral compass and sense of truth.
For many parents, myself included, it takes time to learn how to spin a story. To help me get started, I used moving pictures as visual aids to tell stories from my life, imaginary adventures, and books we had borrowed from our local library, (such as Elsa Beskow’s The Sun Egg and Ollie’s New Skis). The moving pictures allow us to develop a relationship with the story because we can manipulate it any way we like. Affirming Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education, and his thoughts on the effects moving pictures have on children, our four-year-old likes to watch the movement transform the inanimate image into “living” action before his eyes. So much so that he will ask for the same story and motions time after time. He is developing his imagination by helping me decide which way the story should go (i.e. Is it day or night? What adventures are the animals having? etc.) At the same time, our seven-year-old is learning that a story has characters, plots, beginning, middle and an end. Both boys also use the moving picture pages to tell us stories about themselves as they process the day’s events.
Moving picture pages are quite easy to make.
Begin by painting a background scene with watercolors. As the painting dries, draw or paint a small image, copy pictures of characters from books, or cut out animal pictures from magazines to be the characters of your story. For people, we simply drew a face on the stick so it could be anyone — mama, baby, daddy, gnome, king, etc. Glue or tape the images onto popsicle sticks.
After the watercolor background has dried, use a craft knife to cut a slit long enough to provide space for movement for your characters. You can cut curved lines for animals coming down a mountain or a diagonal line for a bird flying in the sky.
If you want additional movement in your picture, paint a blue circle, divide it into quarters and on each quarter, paint a sun, full moon, clouds, or sliver of a moon. Using a craft knife, cut a 1/4 circle window in the sky. Attach the circle near the window using a brad. Now your little one can turn the circle to make the scene day or night, sunny or cloudy.
Now you have a venue to encourage imaginative play. Who knows what adventures will be told?
Lynn Nash is a park ranger for the National Park Service who homeschools her sons and shares how she celebrates childhood with creative learning, the wonders of nature, and the delight of discovery on her blog How the Sun Rose.