|Above: Relaxing in her cardboard cubby (Lydia age 4)|
The cardboard cubby was created to her specifications from a box that our new washing machine came in. "I'll have the door here", "the window there". "Can I have a chimney please", and a "one on the roof". "A skylight I asked?". "Yes, of course!"
Imaginative play and storytelling are essential parts of learning. In previous posts I've called this re-creation (i.e. the reconstruction, presentation or retelling of a story in new ways), but it takes many forms.
|Above: The fully furnished cubby|
Story in its own right is critical to learning, communication and well-being. This is something that I've written about many times (for example HERE & HERE). For children, the re-creation or reliving of a story is a critical part of their growing knowledge of narrative as well as a way to gain knowledge.
Young children often quite naturally use imaginative storytelling to support and play with known stories or varied life situations and experiences:
|Above: Beans become tusks for the walrus!|
- Changing rhymes and songs, e.g. 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' to 'Baa Baa White Sheep' as Lydia does often.
Acting out 'Little Red Riding Hood' with the resources of the dress-up box and some friends.
- Dramatizing a well-known children's song from television or CD or a children's picture book.
- Using art or drawing to imagine a story character, mythical creature or story setting.
- Using Lego (or other toys, props and objects) to re-imagine story alone or with others.
- Creating something new that grows out of an experience of story.
Storytelling and imaginative re-creation are powerful learning strategies for children that stretches them as language users and learners. Below are a few examples of how this can be encouraged ate varied ages.
Examples of Imaginative Re-creation by Age Group
a) Toddlers (1-3 years)
- Being encouraged to be a wild thing as the story 'Where the Wild Things Are' reaches the critical moment when Max declares 'Let the wild rumpus start'.
- Finger Plays and rhymes ('This Little Piggy', 'Incy Wincy', 'Round and Round the Garden')
- Retelling Thomas the Tank Engine stories using the various engines that feature in the story.
- Using dolls or soft toys to act out domestic scenarios.
Using dress-up clothes in association with well-known stories.
- Creating a story using toy soldiers, Polly Pocket toys, magnetic boards with characters, fuzzy felt and so on.
- Joining in the television dramatization of a well-known story on a program like 'Playschool'.
b) Early years (4-6 years)
- Many of the better story apps for iPad or android devices are an innovative way for multiple re-created experiences of stories (see my recent post on this HERE).
- Drawing maps, key characters (dragons, people) or scenes.
- Acting out stories with a group of children or with adult family members.
- Creating an adapted text to re-create part of a story (e.g. poetry, a character interview, telling the story from a different point of view).
- Using puppets to re-create a story.
- Using modelling clay or craft materials to create characters to re-create and retell a story.
|Creating knights for storytelling|
c) Later childhood (7-12 years)
- More elaborate dramatization, with involvement in making props and costumes.
- Simple animations using one of the programs readily available (see my previous post on animation HERE).
- Using materials like Lego to re-imagine a well-known story.
- Creating a board game that recreates the plot or a specific part of a story (as Sam did).
- Creating a complex map or plot summary as a device for others to use.
- Create a script to be acted for a specific part of a story.
- Write a newspaper report based on an event within a story.
- Use a variety of written genres to create a new text ('The Jolly Postman' and 'The Jolly Pocket Postman' are published examples of this).