Teachers as Storytellers

How to tell terrific stories in the classroom

  • Grades: PreK–K

Every teacher develops a personal style as a storyteller. Some teachers like to add arm and hand gestures. That's great. But telling stories in a more straightforward way can be just as effective. Don't let "stage fright" or concerns about holding the children's attention stop you. If you relax and enjoy yourself, children will respond to your enthusiasm and have fun too. Here are some ideas to try.

1. Select a simple story, one that you like and know well. For many teachers, vivid childhood stories are the easiest and most enjoyable to tell. Children are fascinated by stories about their teachers when they were young. Some easy story starters include "Once upon a time," "When I was little," or "Did I ever tell you about my dog, Spot?"

2. Make your initial efforts brief -- from three to five minutes. If your group has a longer attention span, you can always add more details later on.

3. Try telling stories based on favorite picture books. Think of a book you read to your class year after year. Review plot details and language tempo ahead of time. Then, during storytime, let children know you are going to tell them a story, not read it. Some children will wonder where you're hiding your book, and they'll all be captivated when you tell it from memory. Encouraging the group to join in almost guarantees success.

4. But don't limit yourself to storytime. Opportunities abound throughout the day for you and your children to tell stories -- at group time, in the block corner, in the dramatic-play area, at the art table.

5. Branch out! As your comfort level increases, feel free to enhance your storytelling. You can change your voice to fit different characters and moods; use props, such as a piece of fabric that you wave to portray a gusty wind; and create sound effects that match events in the story. Encourage children to join in!

  • Subjects:
    Listening Comprehension, Child Development and Behavior
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