Live Action Storytelling

In EL 3 we are inquiring into STORIES. Our big question for the week is; what makes a story great? The children had various answers which we were then able to narrow down into a succinct list.

SETTING - the place where the story happens
CHARACTERS - the people involved in the story
PROBLEM - what the main conflict of the story is
FEELING - how the story makes us feel as listeners

Elements of Great Stories
Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type
Putting into a real context
Each child is at a different stage of understanding these concepts. To help them experience STORIES at a deeper and more personal level, we decided to do some Live Action Storytelling. We discussed a format that would help them experience a mixture of adult guided instruction, and child directed play.

1) PLAN and DISCUSS - the teacher meets with the class and helps them to organize their story using a graphic organizer. The ideas come from the children, but the teacher question and probes to aid understanding of the main elements of a story.

2) PREPARE - the children and the teacher then discuss how they can set up the room to make the story more believable. What areas will be used for what purpose? What costumes do we need? What props can we use? After the children PLAN and DISCUSS, they PREPARE the room.

3) ACT - once the room is PREPARED, the story begins. Each child goes into a character and stays in that character until the story is done. The teacher then retreats to a quiet corner and uses the graphic organizer to take notes, specifically looking for how the students are enacting the elements of story. Are they staying in CHARACTER? Are they keeping to the agreed on SETTING? Do they understand and try to solve the PROBLEM?

Bears (CHARACTERS) hiding in the cave (SETTING) trying to avoid the Typhoon (PROBLEM)

4) REFLECT - using the notes and observations, the teacher leads the children through a reflection about how he/she witnessed the story. The teacher asks questions and probes thinking and understanding about the main elements of the story. The class discusses how successful at following the story structure, and how they can make the story better next time.

Making Learning visible for school community


Story Structure - Kendall Haven in his book Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story presents evidence that human minds perceive the world in specific story terms (or key elements), understand and create meaning through those story elements, and remember and recall in and through story structures. Our story elements that we are using in class are a simplified version (for an Early Learning context) of his list. Haven argues that understanding the structure and elements of stories is more than just a lesson in literacy, but how we perceive and interact with the world.

Socio-Dramatic Play - Vivian Gussin Paley makes the case for the critical role of fantasy play in the psychological, intellectual, and social development of young children in her book, A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play. This type of play is an important part of growing up, and develops a long list of skills, social, mental, and academic.

Elements of Play - Leong and Bodrova, writing for the NAEYC, outline a number important elements of child's fantasy play that we have begun to use to explicitly teach our children to improve the depth and quality of their play. For this activity, they were reflecting on their ability to stay in ROLE. Eventually, once they children are used to the routine of this type of socio-dramatic play, we can use this rubric as a tool to help them develop their ability to PLAY.

There are so many more skills present when we let children play and act out roles. Collaboration, sharing, language development, critical thinking, creative problem solving, etc. This type of activity can be used as a provocation for literacy, numeracy, or any other subject related outcomes. The possibilities are endless.


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