Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dialogue and Dancing! New Storytelling Activities

Children Playing Musical Chairs
Antique Postcard, 1910
I have taught storytelling for almost 13 years and have noticed that combining written assignments for a specific storytelling tool, followed by a game that reinforces their writing, is very effective. This week I decided to try new written and interactive activity to help my students balance narrative and dialogue in their stories.
First, I gave them the Language Ladder exercise to help them recognize where they could use dialogue on sections too heavy with narration.


I shared the examples on the handout, asking them to change narrative to dialogue to be sure they understood the process.  They were then instructed to find three places in their stories where they could do the same. Some needed a bit of guidance while others immediately found ways to move the story forward.  Here are some of the changes they made:

  • Original sentence: When the old woman saw what had happened, she was very discouraged about raising bananas.
  • New Sentence: The old woman was very discouraged. “What will I ever do? I can no longer raise bananas!” 
  • Original Sentence: The monkey with the loudest voice was to shout his loudest to the sun and ask for help.
  • New Sentence: “Sun! Come help us! Our friend is stuck!” 
  • Original Sentence: She avoided reflections and mirrors at all costs.
  • New Sentence: “I must never look in a mirror again.”

After they shared their work we moved to an interactive exercise.  I arranged the chairs, front to back, for the game Musical Chairs. Joey, one of my students, cued up the song Happy by Pharrell Williams on his IPhone and the game began.  They had a blast singing and dancing to the music as they tried their best to ensure they were not the one left without a chair. When I stopped the music, the student left standing chose a line of dialogue from their written works, delivering it as the character, complete with vocal expression and body language. Everyone had a great time and the students left to watch the game danced and cheered everyone on.

Afterwards, we stepped outside into the enclosed, library courtyard. (It was a beautiful, warm day and they were delighted to be in the fresh air!)
 I lined everyone up with enough space between them so they wouldn’t bump into each other, tandem students with their partners. They were then asked to tell their stories aloud as they circled the courtyard, adding the new dialogue they created from the written exercise. Not only did this reinforce the previous activities, but it had the added benefit of helping them find additional, natural gestures to include in their telling. 

It was a good day! It reinforced the storytelling tools and added fun and camaraderie to our time together. In this season of thanks I am grateful for the opportunity to work with these amazing children who are always willing to work and play!

ou can find more original written and interactive exercises for your storytelling troupe in my new book, Story by Story: Creating a School Storytelling Troupe. And if you missed last week's new storytelling activity, Dicing Up Your Story, you can find it at the link.

Please let
me know if you find these activities useful in your work; I would love to hear your thoughts.

Karen Chace 2014 ©

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