Storytelling is a traditional art form that's existed in nearly every generation and never gets old. Help your kids get their imaginations running wild with simple, fun storytelling prompts and activities.
Ideas for Ages Three to Five
As soon as children can put together words, they can tell stories. You can use famous fairy tales or popular children's books as a launching point for kids this age by asking them to change one element of the story like the main character or the ending.
Broken Book Surprise
Every family or classroom library eventually breaks down from the wear and tear of young readers, ending up with a stack of books whose bindings are broken or pages are missing. Instead of throwing these broken books away, keep parts of them in a bin. Ask your child to pick one of the broken books. Start reading what's there, then when you get to the missing part ask him or her to fill in what happens for the rest of the story.
Not Like the Others
Many classic children's books feature a character who is different from everyone else. Use your child's toys to infuse this concept into a story. Choose a specific type of toy, like blocks or stuffed animals. Pick three toys from that category and place them in front of your child. Ask him to tell you about which toy is different, why it is different, and how it might try to look like the others. Don't worry about choosing toys with explicit differences; kids are great at finding details you never noticed.
Ideas for Kids Ages Six to Eight
Kids in this age range are now reading on their own and learning more about the elements of a story. Choose activities that focus on specific elements like characters or setting.
Mixed Up Characters
Gather a variety of toy characters like Lego minifigures, Barbies, or zoo animals. Put each toy in a location around the room that is completely different than that character's normal surroundings. For example, if you are in a classroom you might put a giraffe in the toy house and a Barbie in the sink. Pair students up or walk around with your child and ask them to tell you about why the character is in this weird location.
A Walk Around That World
As you walk around your yard or town, ask your child to imagine you are in another world. What would that world be called, and what might it be made out of? Point out different buildings and ask what it would be made of or look like in that other world. For example, if you're in the world of ice cream, a black top driveway might be a river of hot fudge. Once her imagination takes over, allow her to keep pointing out different world elements.
Ideas for Kids Ages Nine to Twelve
This is the time when children can fully match their creativity with a cohesive storyline. Give them a small piece of inspiration then see what they come up with.
Flea Market Portrait Personas
Old photographs make great story inspiration; just ask famous author Ransom Riggs, who wrote Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children based on weird old pictures. Take your child to a local thrift store or flea market where you'll find hanging portraits and old photographs. Ask him to make up a story about who the person in the photo was or why the person was doing what he or she is doing.
Write uncommon words that sound silly on separate slips of paper. Have kids pick a slip of paper and write their own definition of that word. Then have kids create a story that uses imagery and context clues to show their definitions. In a classroom setting, enhance the activity by having each student share his or her word and story, then asking the audience to guess the definition.
Tell Your Story
Most fictional stories are inspired by real people, places, events, and experiences. Encourage children to tap into their everyday lives, then add in unusual elements to create a unique, creative story. Use writing prompts to help kids get started then turn their story into a simple book they can share with friends and family.