Useful, actionable ways to prompt rich storytelling in your Early Years classroom.

There are many different ways to encourage rich storytelling in early childhood. 

Studies show the development of strong oral language skills strongly influences a child's ability to write well later but, as a teacher, I often see children draw a blank when asked to tell or write a story. 

Thankfully there are many ways through play and classroom invitations to empower young children to become capable, confident storytellers.

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How To Promote Rich Storytelling by Young Children | you clever monkey

Before children reach school, storytelling skills can easily be developed through play at home. 

While reading provides a library of storytelling material for preschoolers, pretend play is perfect for building narratives. Whether it be dinosaurs, animals, fairies or people, children can make believe and start to tell their own stories during play. Just a handful of things either found or purchased can spark such rich imaginative play.

Story stones are a favourite DIY resource of mine and are ideal for storytelling and easy to make. You can just use stickers or print our pictures to use. You can find out how we make ours in this post.

How To Promote Rich Story Telling by Young Children | you clever monkey

Making anything into a game is always going to be a hit with any aged child. My students love when we have a 'mystery bag' in class. Add some story stones, objects, letters or pictures to a bag then choose out an item at a time and create a story. 

Dress-ups or puppets are another way to develop storytelling skills. Both allow children to step into the role of other characters. They can collaborate to retell familiar and unfamiliar stories in a way that encourages activity. 

Many of these activities are favourites among the preschool crowd and are great activities to add to literacy centres in those first weeks of school. Focusing on building oral language skills before written work, activities such as these also help build communication between the small groups of children, many who might still be learning how to work together co-operatively.

Another favourite activity are these 'Tell Me A Story' cards. Designed to make differentiation easy between groups, I created them with different levels of support and expectations of task.

Tell Me A Story Writing Center | you clever monkey

When introducing these, we just use the cards. They're similar enough to our other creative story cards but with both visual prompt and text, they provide perfect support for beginning writers who are wanting to take that next step. 

For those pre-writers, they can just 'tell' each other the story but for the beginning writers, they can start recording their story. 

For older more capable writers, I provide a different sheet with more space for their writing and room for an illustration.

Tell Me A Story Cards | you clever monkey

After using these in our literacy stations, I use this same Tell Me A Story pack to create an independent writing center in class.

My students love trying to make the silliest stories they can with these. One minute there's hula-hooping dinosaurs on school buses and next there's unicorns on the moon eating too much icecream. You can see why this proves to be irresistible to 6 and 7 year olds!

Want to create your own writing center in class or at home? Grab our Tell Me A Story pack!

Tell Me A Story Writing Center | you clever monkey

This set includes:
  • 140+ picture cards with text support (setting/character/event)
  • 3 different 'Tell Me A Story' mats

Ideal for literacy or writing centers in the Early Years.

US $6

Or you might also like our Roll Me A Story Writing Centre

Roll Me A Story Writing Center | you clever monkey

This set includes:
  • 10 different 'Tell Me A Story' mats - 1 per A4 page (UK/Aust + USA spelling included)
  • 'How To Use' instruction cards - 2 per A4 page
  • 2 different writing templates - 1 per A4 page
  • 30 different time (when?) cards - 15 per A4 page

Ideal for literacy or writing centers in the Early Years.

US $5

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If you're looking for more ideas to use in class or at home, I highly recommend the book 'Show Me A Story' by Emily K Neuburger. I bought it years ago and it's full of simple inspirational projects you can do to engage children in rich storytelling.