I think that everyone is a story teller at heart, here are some of the methods I use at story time to keep the children engaged and interested:
I find that adding puppets can add a whole new dimension to the story! There are many ways that puppets can be used:
If you are using a book, you could hold up the puppets as they are mentioned in the story allowing the children to visualise the character as you read about them. You could even pause the story to have the puppet 'speak' to the children about their thoughts/ feelings at that point. Or let the children ask the puppet questions.
If you are telling a story from memory you can get really creative and have the puppets act it out.
You could use one large puppet to hold the book as you tell the story, or the puppet could be the story teller - just having this character involved can make story time different and exciting for the children!
You could also give puppets to the children, and let them act out the story as you tell it. This is great fun and gives the children something to hold which can help to stop them fiddling with themselves/everything around them!
This is one of my favourites!
You could also allow the children to have a go at drawing the characters.
The great thing about whiteboards is that you can continually edit your picture to fit with what is happening in the story.
Using the children's names
Imagine finding yourself as a character in your favourite story! Well you can do this for your children by cleverly replacing the names of some of the characters with their own names! For example instead of Goldilocks discovering the 3 bears house, it could be little Susan discovering the house of Fred, Ted and Billy! Simple!
Making up a story
If you're particularly imaginative, you could have a go at making up your own story! I find the best ones involve the children, the nursery, their own homes or something else that is well known to them.
Maybe you could even add in some familiar characters like Bob the Builder or Peppa Pig!
You may even want to let the children help to create/ tell the story in their own words. This usually works better with slightly older children and can be used as a fun circle time activity where each child takes a turn to add a little more to the story. You'll be amazed at what they can come up with!
Reading from the book
Of course, you can't beat a traditional story time with a good book. It's so important to get children interested and excited about books at an early age. It makes me sad to think that some children miss out on the wonder of getting sucked into another world full of adventure and magic and grow into young people who think books are 'boring'!
While reading from a book you could try:
- holding your finger underneath each word as you read - showing the children at you read from left to right and encouraging them to begin to recognise some simple words.
- Using different voices for the characters
- Using songs and music throughout the story
After reading the story a few times, and when the children have an understanding of the story, you can pause at certain points and ask questions such as...
"What do you think ___ is feeling?"
"Why do you think ___ did/said that?"
"What would you do?"
"What do you think will happen next?" (This one can also work on first reading of a story, if you are developing the children's ability to predict and guess)
Children telling the story
My children LOVE to play teachers. So sometimes I allow them to take turns sitting on the teacher's chair and using a familiar book to tell the story to their friends.
Some other ideas
- Use a particular 'Story chair' (decorated perhaps) that the children will associate with story time
- In the same way, you could have a special 'story apron' or other item of clothing that when you put on, the children understand that it is time to sit and listen to a story. If you use an apron, you could keep puppets or other props in the pockets!
Please let me know if you have any other ideas or methods that you find helpful. I'm always looking for inspiration!
Good luck Story Tellers!