Storytelling with PRE-K to Kindergarten
A preschool classroom is a community of learners. These young students are rapidly developing in all areas of growth: physically, cognitively, socially, emotionally, and linguistically. Their main modality of learning is play. Just like all learners the learning is best done in context. Young children are trying to make sense of the world and stories are the way we all do this. Traditional stories, no matter the culture, put language, emotions, and society’s lessons in context. When young children hear and discuss stories from diverse cultures and then play with those stories, they are trying out new vocabulary and new life skills in a joyful creative way.
Storytelling with Elementary and Middle School Students
Storytelling Arts uses time-honored folktales as vehicles to help students assess and interpret events and experiences, from minor moments of daily life to the grand nature of the human condition. Listening to the oral telling of folktales is a fun and engaging exercise for students, regardless of their literacy skills or learning style. In an age when texts and tweets have all but replaced conversation, storytelling provides tech-free, person-to-person experiences enabling students to get to know one another through oral rather than digital expression. Like metaphor, folktales provide a bridge between the abstract and the concrete, making them powerful and developmentally appropriate educational tools.
Storytelling residences build, strengthen and support:
• Grade-appropriate curriculum
• Social/emotional learning
• Listening and speaking skills
Each residency is planned and customized in collaboration with teachers and administrators. Follow up discussions, improvisational games, and writing activities are developed to extend opportunities to explore important and relevant social issues by developing both inner- and inter-personal skills. Residencies are also a natural springboard for creative writing lessons.
Storytelling with High School Students
“I just wanted to truly thank you for all you did. Your stories meant a lot to me. You definitely taught me the purpose of a story and how it can affect others. Thank you so much again for everything.”12th Grader, Passaic Valley High School
Teenagers face unique problems that can negatively impact their learning. High school teachers find that their students feel increasingly alienated from mentors, disinterested in learning beyond what they glean from social media, and afraid to have honest conversations with peers. Storytelling Arts offers student-centered programs to help teachers create a classroom environment that draws on the diverse personal experiences of students to engage them in learning.
Stories not only allow people to describe and understand the world around them, they also have the power to change lives. When students hear folktales and myths, they find in them the stories of their own lives, stories which enable them to talk about things they have never talked about and recognize things about themselves and their environment that they have never noticed. Using the art of oral storytelling to engage students in discussions about myth, folktales, and history develops active listening and creative problem-solving skills. The process both supports academic curricula and transforms student thinking.
Storytelling with Children with Special Needs
“Storytelling changed his whole demeanor about learning because he felt positive success. This is a kid who can barely function in an inclusive classroom, but storytelling opened the whole world to him.”
Ellen Zakian, Teacher, Alexander Hamilton Academy, Paterson
Children with special needs respond to the intimacy of storytelling, encouraging and enriching the modalities of multiple intelligences whether expressed through linguistic, musical, gestural, image, or kinesthetic connections. Organizational anthropologist Judith E. Glaser has demonstrated that training in speaking and listening, the basic art of storytelling, supports engagement and collaboration and building an educational and social community. Storytelling also supports conversational skills, strengthening tools, habits, and rituals, to increase social sensibilities of empathy and responding to one another.
Storytelling with Gifted and Talented Students
Whether individually in the classroom or as a performing troupe reaching out to libraries, schools, and community organizations, the process of storytelling, the art of listening and responding, strengthens creative productive thinking and problem solving, developing both affective and cognitive learning skills. Storytelling engages multiple learning styles, – conceptual, perceptual, metaphoric, intuitive, and kinesthetic modes of learning. Guided fantasies, meditation, relaxation exercises, theater games, storytelling, and creating narratives are all a part of a process that engages the student’s whole learning ability and encourages individual and peer voices to find expression.
Storytelling as A Springboard for Creative Writing
The teaching artists at Storytelling Arts use journaling, poetry, personal story, playwriting, and fiction writing, as tools to connect the archetypal images of traditional story to the contemporary lives and studies of the students with whom we work. The dividend is craft. The more a student can articulate the lessons in a story, the better they become at interpreting those lessons. The more they exercise the development of their own new narratives the better they become at the craft of creative writing.