Do you love stories? I absolutely do! Today (as I appear here after nearly two weeks) my head is buzzing with dozens of stories to tell you all from the past two weeks – stories about the Bookaroo storytelling festival, stories about the Hindi Plays (based on Munshi Premchand’s stories) that we saw, stories about the guests that we hosted and their curious questions about why we homeschool Pari, AND stories from Pari’s 7th birthday party. BUT, I’ll keep this post focused on ‘story stones’ (an interesting way to tell/generate stories) and save those other stories for future posts. Is that okay with you?
As some of you know (from that question/help I asked on my Facebook Page. Thank you all of you who shared those amazing ideas), November 30 was Pari’s birthday. And though I didn’t have much time to make elaborate arrangements for the party (due to the events I mentioned above), I still wanted to make it special and lots of fun for Pari and her friends.
Avie and I managed to set up some interesting games for the kids. And one of those was a fun storytelling session that I facilitated using story stones. Ever since I saw these delightful story stones made by Happy Hooligans (she was inspired by the story stones at the Preschool Play blog, I knew I’d make these along with Pari to have fun with storytelling.
This birthday party was a perfect opportunity to use story stones.
The best part was that I could use the stones to have the kids drive the storytelling sessions and be actively engaged rather than they being passive listeners.
Sensory play, art, stories, group activity – story stones made this birthday girl’s party extra special.
But, first – how to make the story stones.
To make story stones, we used the river stones that we’d collected last year from a trip to Dharamsala and recently from Himachal Pradesh. (So, whenever you get a chance to visit a stream or a river, don’t forget to pick up some stones. There are so many creative things you can do with them.)
On Nov. 30 morning, Pari’s birthday, we sat down for an hour facing the sunny window and set off to bring those rocks/stones to life. As we were leafing through the pages of children’s magazines and activity books (from when Pari was 3 or so), we were exchanging thoughts with each other over every eye-catching picture and if that would make an interesting character for the stories to be told.
An elephant – yes! A devil – for sure! A cat – I said, “ummmm…” but Pari said, “yes, cat would be interesting for my story!” A woman dressed in sari – yes, let’s keep it. A parrot – great! And so on…
We cut out the pictures and pasted using white PVA (Fevikol) glue. Also, applied a coat of glue over the image too, to seal it nicely and help adhere to the stone. For those of you in the U.S., Mod Podge would work beautifully. We don’t get it over here. Too bad…
So, we went on to make some two dozen story stones! The idea was for each kid to have couple of stones during storytelling and then they could take those home as party favours (return gifts as we call here).
What Else Can We do Next Time
When pasting the pictures, we found that the think and non-glossy pictures from Children’s magazines (like Magic Pot) was easiest to stick without wrinkles and air-bubbles compared to the stiff paper of the colouring book. I think flimsy fabric scraps will work well too and if they have some textures, that could be a bonus as it’ll offer sensory feeling to touch.
Next time, I’d like to explore some more sensory material to paste, such as – string, rice grains, wool, pom-pom, dried flower petals/leaves etc. Let’s see how it goes…
If you have smaller kids, I think you could have them use stickers too. Just peel and paste and then apply a coat of white-glue/mod- podge or even varnish to seal the stickers.
How to Use Story Stones for Storytelling in a Group
I’m sure there would be many ways to use story stones, but I wanted the kids themselves to drive their story. And do it collectively – as part of a group activity.
- So, I had the kids sit down in a circle
- I placed the stones (picture side down) in the center of the circle (placed the stones picture-side down so I’m distributing in a fair way and the kids don’t fight over who’d like which stone)
- Then, I distributed the stones one by one among all the kids. Each got two but you can choose to give more.
- The storytelling begins with one child fabricating a story around one of the two pictures on the stones that she/he has. So, if the child has a parrot and a devil, she/he can choose to start the story with either the parrot or the devil. When she/he gets a second turn, she/he can incorporate the second picture.
- This storyteller will continue her/his story till the time the child sitting next gets bored/impatient/eager to stop him so she/can can take over the story.
- The child continues the story by incorporating the picture (character/situation) from the stones she’s/he’s got and so on
- Every child in the group gets a chance to build on the story using the pictures on her/his stone
- All pictures can be used in one turn or they can be used on subsequent turns – one by one
Before the story began, I talked to the children about using the pictures to introduce a new character or to build a new situation. I encouraged them to introduce twists and turns in the story, use emotions and tones to make the story comic, scary, happy, thrilling etc.
I must say, the children did a wonderful job at storytelling on the spot. Some of the twists in the tale were pretty unexpected. Like, when one of the girls gave it a rather violent turn! Eewwww….Nevertheless, we all enjoyed this to the hilt.
The Sensory Pleasure of Playing with Story Stones
I could see how the kids loved holding the stones in their palms. The touch and feel of the stones is so special. Plus, they were clanking the stones together all the time. The sound – it felt nice to the ears. Moving your fingers over the pasted picture is a joy in itself.
Plus, all the vibrant colours and pictures and the imagination that these sights trigger in young minds – what a wonderful way to explore your own mind and also get a peep into your friends’ through stories…
There were plenty of laughable moments too. Oh, and not to mention some moments of stress and anxiety when at the end of it a few stones got mixed up and the girls had to negotiate with each other over who owns the “Elephant Stone”and who got the “Parrot Stone” and who….!
Well, until I had to step in to resolve the matter.
And they lived happily ever after with their story stones….
Check out some more storytelling ideas in these posts:
- Make a Shadow Box to Tell Stories
- Make a Small World Scene for Storytelling
- Make Paper Bag Puppets to Bring Stories to Life