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Family Activities
Tell Me a Story

Most of us do not consider ourselves great storytellers, but each of us has a wealth of stories to share with our children. You don't have to be Mark Twain to tell wonderful stories and you don't have to try to make them up on the spot.

Tell About What You Know

Children are fascinated by your personal stories.

  • Tell stories about when you were young:
    • Going on a trip with their grandma and grandpa
    • Playing games with their aunts and uncles
    • A favorite teacher or class in school
    • Learning to ride a bicycle
    • Losing a tooth.

  • Tell stories about when they were younger:
    • The day they were born
    • Their first words
    • Their first pets.

  • Tell stories about a family adventure:
    • The big storm
    • The trip to __________________
    • The day of the _______________.

A Story of "Me"

Put your child in the center of a familiar story or setting.

  • Think of characters from your child's favorite books and have your child interact with them in further adventures—"Zoe and the 'Cat in the Hat' Go for a Swim" or "Mike Goes for a Ride with 'Thomas the Train.'" Don't worry about whether the plot is exciting; young children are fascinated by stories that revolve around them.

  • Re-tell a story from a favorite book or television program and let your child take the place of a favorite character—"The Adventures of Super Sam," "Maria on Sesame Street," "Seyoum and Arthur's Big Trip."

Now, It's Your Turn

Sometimes when your child says "tell me a story," turn the tables and help him or her tell the story.

  • Story-Go-Round
    Begin a familiar story and stop in the middle of a sentence. Have your child finish the sentence. Then, when your child has added an idea, pick up the storyline and continue to take turns telling the story. It doesn't matter if your story follows the original or goes off in many different directions.

  • "A Day In the Life of ____________"
    Ask your child to role play being a favorite pet or animal. What is the animal thinking, doing, or feeling as it goes through the day? Or ask your child to role play being an everyday item—rain boots, a toothbrush, a cell phone. What makes the life of one of these items funny or difficult? Take part in the storytelling to help your child come up with words and actions to share.

  • Stories With Props
    Sometimes a few props can trigger a great story. Give your child several items that he or she must weave into a story—an umbrella, a spoon, a telephone, some tape. The more different the items, the funnier or more elaborate the story has to be in order to get them all to fit in.

  • What If . . .?
    Help your child's imagination soar. Build stories around what ifs: What if you had wings? What if you could talk to animals? What if you were as tiny as an ant?

  • Picture Stories
    Find pictures of people in magazines and newspapers or photos from your own albums. Ask your child to tell the story of what happened right before or right after the picture was taken.
    • Why is this person smiling?
    • What is this person feeling? Why?
    • What do you think this person will do next? Why?

  • Stories With the Friends
    Building Blocks is an excellent tool to use for storytelling. Just go online to find picture story starters.
    • Use the Character Cards (PDF) or Know-Kit Cards for 3- to 4- or 5- to 6- year-olds to set up the characters and/or situations for telling a story about Wally Bear, Miguel Tiger, Mee Possum, Sandy Squirrel, Ali Rabbit, Thurgood Turtle, and/or Kristi Kitty.
    • Use the ABC Coloring Book (PDF) to help children tell a picture story. Challenge them to use as many words as they can that start with the letter of their page.

Please note—to view documents in PDF format, you must have Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader software. If you do not already have this software installed on your computer, please download it from Adobe's website.

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Updated on 3/22/2014