Activity: Steps for Developing Storytelling Skills

We have been practicing the art of storytelling. For beginning writers, retelling the best stories is the first step in developing writing skills. Even when it comes to writing nonfiction pieces, the art of storytelling helps us focus on details and organize them logically.

So far we have covered the basics of storytelling and creating your own storytelling prompts.

We all love stories. And it is most frequently in the storytelling that we learn what the facts are, to empathize with another’s situation, and remember the consequences. Most of the work in demand these days contain an element of storytelling. It is a skill to cultivate.

And, really, we are all storytellers. We relate elements of our lives to others, tell about what we have just read, and become excited to exchange our experiences with others. Pastors, scientists, and other speakers use stories to illustrate their points. Teachers often segue into a story. (On a side note, we can carry this a bit too far. I could tell you many things about Holland and bird nest soup that did not help with 8th grade math.)

Again, we are all storytellers. But some may be more natural at telling stories than others. But each of us can develop our storytelling skills by focus and practice.

Where to Start

The easiest way to begin practicing the art of storytelling is through narrations. Once a child can tell you what he knows, then he can begin telling someone else in a way that is interesting. For example, telling a younger sibling and being rewarded with a smile.

You’ll find many tips in the Narrating section of our Language Arts the Natural Way series.

When I was taking piano lessons and eventually reached my teen years, my teacher realized I would need a “bold” piece to play in the recital. If I was going to perform for someone else, I would need a medium that would suit. Similarly, our students will find it much easier to narrate a piece that fits them: especially if the goal is to become a good storyteller (rather than narrating what we know from reading a history or biography, for example).

Steps for Developing Storytelling Skills

  • With this in mind, provide a few options for your children to choose from. You can use those provided below or something you already have on the shelf. Because of their depth, old classics tend to be the best. You’ll want to provide at least five for your child to choose from.
  • Read five stories out loud. Pay attention to the reactions of your children. Different stories will resonate with different students.
  • Let each child choose one they really enjoy.
  • Reread that story (or have your student read the story depending on age). The story will need to be clear in the student’s mind.
  • Ask the student to tell the story to someone younger in age. If this isn’t possible, a favorite stuffed toy may do the trick.

Eventually your children will be telling everyone their story. And the skill will improve in the retelling.

Old Classic Stories for Retelling

Free downloads ready for the reading:

Tips for Storytelling

  • If your student has difficulty keeping events in order, have him start by writing a sequencing sheet. Write the main events on slips of paper and have your student put the slips in the correct order.
  • Some stories are written to be retold or are retellings themselves. Have your student choose one of these to emulate.
  • Once your student is telling the stories in a clear and interesting way, it is time to write!

Additional Resources

Fifty Famous Stories Retold {Free eBook & Activities}
Many wonderful stories ready for the retelling — especially for younger students. Of special interest:

8 Writing Activities for the Younger Student
Tips and resources for moving on to the next step!

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