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How To Make Story Stones and Facilitate Group Storytelling (Plus Birthday Pics)

story stones storytelling ideas Mommy Labs

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.

Mommy Labs

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.)

how to make story stones

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.

story stones_2

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…

story stones_3

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…

story stones for playful learning ideas Mommy Labs

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.

And now…

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.

story stones for fun storytelling with group of kids Mommy Labs

  • 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)

storytelling fun ideas with children Mommy Labs India

  • 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

innovative story telling techniques Mommy Labs

  • 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.

ideas for storytelling with kids story stones

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…

ideas to upcycle river stones Mommy Labs India blog

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….!

story stones props for storytelling with children

Well, until I had to step in to resolve the matter.

And they lived happily ever after with their story stones….

story telling ideas creative props

Check out some more storytelling ideas in these posts:

What creative ways do you use for storytelling or to have your kids tell stories?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Himadri December 4, 2012, 3:00 pm

    Sending loads of wishes and hugs for pari on her birthday. Sweet pictures. She looks so big. I love these story stones. We have to make these. eagerly waiitng for other stories:))) I have been thinking of calling you for many days now. I just have no idea at what time i should.

  • Rashmie December 4, 2012, 3:11 pm

    Hey, call me anytime, dost! I’ve been thinking of talking to you, too.
    Glad you like our stones. We loved making these and then enjoyed the storytelling with Pari’s friends. Can’t wait to make some more – textured ones may be…

  • pam December 4, 2012, 7:40 pm

    what a great idea for kids and for teacher gifts!! love it and will be doing this with my kids!

    • Rashmie December 5, 2012, 10:44 am

      Thank you, Pam. Yes, you’re right, these will make beautiful teacher gifts too. :-)

  • Sweta December 4, 2012, 9:35 pm

    Very nice idea, Just waiting to get those stones frm somewhere very soon

    • Rashmie December 5, 2012, 10:44 am

      Thank you, Sweta. I hope you find these stones soon. :-)

  • Vandana M Khemka December 6, 2012, 11:36 am

    Rashmie, I <3 yr blog …its just full of ideas…..though you have find inspiration from many other fellow bloggers but still these pictures have so much of your flavor…

    Well, you have given brilliant idea to me :)…would love to handpaint adb on pebbles when my daughter grows little older..



    • Rashmie December 16, 2012, 2:23 pm

      Dear Vandana,
      Sorry for the late reply. Just after this post, I went out of town and had no net access.
      Thank you for your lovely comment. I’m glad our story stones have given you newer ideas to do with your daughter.
      BTW, just saw your blog post about your daughter’s room decoration. Lovely! I have to learn quilling from you. :-)
      Will share that post of yours with my readers….

  • Sadhana Bhagwat December 6, 2012, 2:15 pm

    wonderful idea!! i am sure everyone enjoyed the game. what other interesting games did you have?

    • Rashmie December 16, 2012, 2:26 pm

      Sadhi di, thanks :-)
      We had passing the parcel. Plus, a thrilling game of unlocking locks under water in a minute!
      (Sorry for the late reply – we’d gone to Bharatpur for our wedding anniversary!)

  • Lipi Sachdeva December 14, 2012, 1:32 pm

    Dear rashmie, has anyone told u, you are a net celebrity. I love following your blog all the time wait for your next story. Loved all your concepts but this stone story telling in a kids group is superb.
    I have lots of questions to ask u on unschooling and from where did you got the courage to take this decision. My boy is also approaching 3 and now i am confused whether to admit him in school or homeschool him or unschool…..though there’s lots of info about homeschooling but unschooling i have heard only from you….so dear plz enlighten me with the concept and once again…rashmie u rock….

    • Rashmie December 16, 2012, 2:44 pm

      Lipi – this is the most flattering comment I’ve received in recent times :-) Whoa!
      Net celebrity! Who me?! I’m thrilled and humbled all at the same time….

      About unschooling, glad you’re interested. I’d love to answer your questions. Send me an email at rashmiejaaju {at} gmail dot com

      About how I got the courage to make this decision – I first heard of homeschooling when Pari was 2 or so. And, I was enthused! I mean, it struck a chord. It didn’t seem alien or utterly weird to me that some parents had decided to take control of their children’s education. Afterall, parents and especially mother knows her child best and the child learns most naturally in the home environment.

      But I didn’t take the decision to homeschool then (though I think I should have taken that step then). So, Pari went to nursery and KG though not regularly. We skipped many days when she was more inclined to stay at home or go to school just for an hour. The school that she went to was not rigid either. Even then, I was anxious about how closed-ended the class lessons were. There was no real exploring even in the arts class. It felt like a regimen.

      And then, in class 1, one month into the session, and my anxiety and restlessness came apart. All those textbookish learning, the homework, the regimented drill even in that so-called progressive and visionary school was not how I’d visualized for Pari.
      Plus, I felt that even though I could do open-ended creative things with her after school, it would be an over-kill. The child is not an entity to be trained for such long hours – first at school and then at home. I wanted her to play a lot, explore on her own without being instructed. I wanted us to have slow days – without the mad rush. All this made me take that decision without much difficulty.

      We started with some amount of structured study at home. But, gradually, we transitioned into natural learning or unschooling as many call it. So, natural learning happens all the time. Every interaction and opportunity is seen as a moment to learn and explore and connect. Life is a curriculum and every space and activity allows a chance to get hands-on and figure it out for yourself with support from the parent.

      I’d love to share more on this in an exclusive post soon enough. Keep an eye out. :-)
      Where are you based out of, Lipi? If Delhi, feel free to call me and come meet me if you’d like to. Send me an email and I can send you my phone number.

  • Manish December 16, 2012, 1:25 pm

    this was a wonderful idea, and the kids left “no stones unturned” (well, literally!!) to come up with interesting twists to their on-the-spot tales! was great fun for me personally to see the kids’ enthusiasm and their involvement!

    • Rashmie December 16, 2012, 2:48 pm

      I like how you put it, Mannu – “no stoned unturned”! It was exactly like that – wasn’t it!
      I can see we family members doing a session of story stones sometime. It’ll be fun for us adults too, I think! :-)
      I could use some different visuals on the stones to suit our temperament and age. ;-)

  • Lipi Sachdeva December 19, 2012, 12:29 am

    I’s so eagerly waiting for your reply……n m so happy as if aishwarya rai has replied to my comment. I hope now you can imagine the amount of happiness i feel…..plus you said that i can visit you and call you…how did you guessed it….i wanted to do this from so many months when i first started following you….read each and every article of yours from your visit to sattal to banana roti and till date i wait for your next article as a peacock waits for rainfall….will mail you soon…
    I also want to know how do you come to know about all the seminars and workshop about homeschooling and book fairs in delhi?
    And once again rashmie you really rock….keep enlighting us with all the gyaan you have….

  • Rashmie December 20, 2012, 11:28 am

    O my Gosh, Lipi, I’m overwhelmed. And, feel blessed and honoured to have readers like you. :-)
    Thank you for so much support, love and encouragement.
    Got your email about homeschooling. Will call you today at the number you’ve given.

    About the events and seminars in Delhi – I keep track through websites, word of mouth, Saturday newspaper (the ‘What’s Hot’ supplement that comes with Times of India). Sites such as ‘buzz in town’ and ‘Delhi Events’ are very helpful.

  • Shayatri March 14, 2013, 12:01 pm

    just when i was thinking no Indian blogs about DIY arts and crafts-voila! i discovered your blog :) a very inspirational idea to home school your kid-hopefully everyone is courageous enough to go on your path sooner :)
    Happy birthday to Pari :) (i must be the last one to wish her! :) )
    Mod-Podge- its a pity we don’t get it here in India! :( but i found a way you can make it at home :) materials needed: fevicol, cheap (really really cheap) talc powder ,water, bowl and a brush. Mix equal parts of fevicol and talc powder and add a little bit of water to make a gooey mixture :) and there is your mod-podge :)
    I collect various boxes from bought things for various arty stuff (i m a hoarder ) and when i want a layer that covers the names and the infos on the box i use this mixture :) i hope this works if u try making these story stones again :)
    i like painting my stones-more grown up i guess:P

    Glad to have stopped by here :)



  • Umm Safiya March 16, 2013, 4:41 am

    This is such a cute idea – I love it.

    My eldest has a big rock collection, maybe we could use some of them for story stones ^_^

  • Cariann May 19, 2013, 2:33 am

    What a wonderful idea. Your story stones have inspired my son and I to make a set for Creative Writing. I will be teaching a class of 3rd graders Creative Writing in the fall and this will be a fun activity to get them thinking about stories.

  • Hodge Podge June 20, 2013, 4:11 pm

    I love these – what a fantastic idea – so simple! It’s amazing to see the photos and hear how you used the stones at Pari’s party to encourage the children to think creatively.

    I have linked your post at my craft blog, as I wanted to share it with others. I hope you don’t mind! Here’s the link: http://hodgepodgecraft.com/2013/06/20-reasons-to-paint-rocks-i-kid-you-not-part-2/

    Rock on! ;)

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  • TheBargainBabe April 4, 2014, 4:42 am

    Saw you on Pinterest and had to click through. LOVE your story telling stones and that they were a party favor gift!

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