Literacy Spot #16: Extending the Story Experience

One fun way to engage children with literacy is to take aspects of favourite stories and create playful learning opportunities from them. Here are three fun suggestions to get you started…

1. Make an object which relates to the story
Immy is currently in love with book, I Want a Trumpet! by Tony Ross (though I must say it is one of those books that I am not in love with). In the story the Little Princess improvises to make her own trumpet using a funnel. Immy wanted to make a trumpet of her own and a cardboard tube, piece of paper and roll of tape did the job (see top photograph).

2. Representing an idea from the story with creative materials
Using art materials can be a wonderful way of engaging with a book. You could try;

  • Drawing, painting or modelling a favourite part of the story
  • Drawing, painting or modelling a favourite character from the story
  • Drawing, painting or modelling an alternative ending to the story
  • Creating with similar art techniques as those used in the illustrations. For example, collage is used by Eric Carle and a number of other well regarded picture book illustrators.

3. Re-enacting a story with toys or other props

Above: Immy retells the story of Who Sank the Boat by Pamela Allen using soft toys and a toy boat

Choose characters from toys you already own or make some simple props to represent the characters of the stories. Try;

(Click the links above for inspiration, examples or more information)

Above: An invitation to play for Goldilocks and the Three Bears all set up and ready for fun

Extending the story experience and encouraging story retelling assists a child’s learning by;

  • Developing vocabulary,
  • Improving comprehension, and
  • Increasing their interest in books and (later) interest in learning to read.

Have you created a fun way for your child to engage with a favourite story recently?

What is Childhood 101′s Literacy Spot? It is a weekly reminder of the importance of young children learning playfully as each week I share one idea for playing around with literacy, taken from my many years working as an early childhood teacher. Visit the previous Literacy Spot posts for more fun ideas for playing with literacy.

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  1. I love making a story come to life! I need to do that some more this week! Last week we did the Three Little Pigs! We made puppets and a play house. It was so fun, and it didn’t just end when we finished the craft, she kept playing with it for multiple days.

  2. With a very busy 3.5 year old boy, getting him to sit still long enough to read to him was starting to become a challenge. Once I started having themed crafting days that were linked to a story I found he was more interested in reading and is now able to recognise most of the letters of the alphabet. We also like to make food together that is somehow linked to the story. Last week was Pirate Day and we read Mem Fox’s Tough Boris – so much fun!

  3. We love ‘How to Catch A Star’, and go out at night and lay in the backyard to look at the stars and moon. My little boy will stand out the back, reaching one hand up saying ‘help mummy, i want to catch a star, a star of my very own. i love stars very much’. He did this himself, I never realised it was the next ‘step’ until I read your post 🙂

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  6. I love these ideas! A link to your post will be in the May 3rd issue of our weekly newsletter, Parenting News You Can Use, so that more parents will be excited about extending the story experience with their children! I hope this brings you many more readers!

    Thank you!
    Maggie Macaulay, MS Ed

  7. So many great ideas. We like to replay the story from time to time and also find alternative endings…

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