15 Tips for Using Stories to Enhance Quality Family Time

Mother telling stories

Everyone loves stories.

Telling stories is part of what makes us human—built into our DNA.

For millions of years, our ancestors ended the day by sharing stories around the campfire.

Before we had the Internet and Facebook, we passed down, learned and taught our traditions, wisdom and skills through stories.

Children naturally love stories too. Even young children beg their parents to “tell me a story.”

Many parents read to their children, which is certainly a valuable and enjoyable family activity.

But the children will get even more out of stories, if they create their own.

They will develop their imagination and creativity, understanding of people and the results of actions, and even their logical thinking process.

Much of our feeling nature is developed through story telling.

How many of you cried over Bambi like I did?

Sharing stories will also deepen a bond with your children, the same way that sharing “real” experiences deepens any relationship.

But everyone will get more out of it, if you enable and encourage your children to actively participate and not just passively listen to you.

Here are some helpful ideas on how to create stories with your kids and get the most from it:

  1. Give your child a leading role. Writing and telling their own stories will help your child develop social skills and feel more talented.
  2. Develop the plot together. Take turns composing your tale. Assign each child one part of the story to put together. Give one child the beginning, one the middle, and another the end. If you have fewer children, you can take one part. For younger kids, you can supply much of the language and let them fill in the blanks.
  3. Be enthusiastic and willing to let go of your ideas. Narratives may take surprising turns when kids lead the way. Working to make everyone feel appreciated is more important than worrying about whether the details of the story make [adult] sense [to you].
  4. Weave in events from real life. Add to the excitement by making the story about your child. Incorporate references to their pet guinea pig or Little League games.
  5. Focus on constructive themes. For example, a story about sharing. Ask them questions about letting a friend play with their toys or dividing up household chores.
  6. Design opening and closing rituals. Establish your own routine. Put the most special stuffed toys into a circle for your audience or wear funny hats. Take a bow when you’re done. Laugh often. Have fun.
  7. Assemble your own books. Preserve your masterpieces. Staple together colored paper or lace the covers from old books around a pile of blank pages.
  8. Draw the characters. Sketching your characters is a great way to bring them to life. Some kids will find drawing to be an easier way to express thoughts and feelings that they have difficulty putting into words.
  9. Select accompanying images. Even the smallest children can help search for pictures that will go along with your text. Use magazines or catalogs. You can even browse online.
  10. Move around. Kids can only sit still for so long. Take a break to stretch or change positions. Walk around the room or dance a while.
  11. Act out the parts. Stage a performance. Give everyone a part to play, and let the kids organize and promote their production. They’ll learn valuable work skills in the process.
  12. Talk things over. Discussion is an important part of processing any experience. Ask your kids to tell you what the story is about. Find out what parts everyone likes best. Try to figure out why the characters make certain choices.
  13. Plan related activities. Have follow-up plans handy that’ll reinforce the fun and learning. Go on an outing or view other materials on relevant subjects. For example, if your story is about ice skating, watch the Winter Olympics on television and visit your local skating rink.
  14. Build a story bin. Put together a collection of your best works and the materials you need to make more. A big colorful tote bag or wooden chest works well. It will save time searching for supplies, and you can build on old favorites if you get stuck coming up with a new topic.
  15. Hand out gifts. Presents and prizes will teach your kids how much fun creating can be. Use the books you make as birthday presents for grandparents. Offer small treats to thank everyone for contributing.

Your children will love coming up with their own stories and taking part in all the activities that go along with them.

Encourage their creativity and show them the value of collaboration.

As you enjoy your time together, you'll be creating cherished memories and forging a bond that can bring all of you joy for years to come.

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