The Art of Storytelling


It has been three weeks or so since our nation entered a lockdown, and in that time I’m sure many of you have endured reading a favourite book many times. You probably know it off by heart and you might have even tried to unsuccessfully skip a page or two before bed!!!! When you have one of those stories that have been read a thousand times, you may wonder how you can extend on this. At Bear Park we often try out a variety of storytelling techniques, designed to share with children the possibilities of bringing a story off the pages of a book.

Children adore stories for a number of reasons. It creates a time for just you and them, where your attention is devoted to having that experience together. Stories also bring to life their imaginations and provide a world to escape into. Stories can be humorous, informative, thought-provoking and heartwarming.

For this weeks tip, I will use Lynley Dodd’s popular “Hairy McClary from Donaldson’s Dairy” as an example, but these ideas could easily be adapted to suit any story your child is passionate about at the moment.


Create your own character: Hairy McClary has so many friends in his stories, could you create a new friend for him? Perhaps you have a pet at home that would make a good addition to the story? Take time to draw this new character and come up with a way they could be introduced.

Consider a new way to tell the story: Your child knows the story inside out so challenge them to tell the story without the book at hand. In our preschool using the whiteboard as an interactive tool is very popular and engaging. As teachers or children tell the story characters and details are drawn on the whiteboard. The whiteboard enables for dynamic and transformative storytelling, allowing children the opportunity to extend their imaginations and add their own twist to the story. You could try this technique outside using chalk on the driveway/pavement, or utilize a drawing app on a tablet on a rainy day.

Bring the characters to life: Another idea is to bring the characters to life. Consider ways they could be represented, for example using drawings, play dough/clay or even toys you may have. Set a scene for the characters, perhaps using fabrics as a backdrop and act out your story. You could even try out your stop-motion moviemaking skills!

Create a spin-off or sequel: Ask your child who their favourite character is and then support them to create a story about what that character might do in their own story. “I know you love Bottomly Potts, I wonder what he was doing before he decided to follow Hairy McClary? I wonder what kind of adventures he would get up to on his own?” Work together to write and illustrate the story and hold a book launch for the other members of your bubble to celebrate your work!

Here is a link to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reading Hairy McClary to enjoy.

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