What are Good Storytelling Activities for the Classroom?
Stories are sometimes excellent resources in the ESL classroom. They can get the students talking and thinking in English about favorite fairytales or other stories they know or create themselves. With this, they can be creative while developing their own stories in class. This can lead to excitement and motivation. There is an endless supply of stories suitable for all ages and levels that could be used to develop English Language skills. And, hopefully, no shortage of imagination in the students to create unique stories.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Leigh K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The website Storyarts, developed by storyteller Heather Forrest, provides activity ideas for including stories into the classroom. "Educators have long known that the arts can contribute to student academic success and emotional well being. The ancient art of storytelling is especially well-suited for student exploration. As a folk art, storytelling is accessible to all ages and abilities." (Forest, 2000)
There are many different story activities listed on Ms. Forrest's site, and all of them would be fun and helpful for students. The activity that could be used as an ongoing activity is the activity called the 1001 Nights Festival. In the form of the Arabian Nights, the students could start a story of any kind. They can take turns, maybe with a pass the ball method, and leave the story open-ended. When they return to class they can continue and conclude the story. Then they can start a new one. The old story can be concluded at the beginning of class, then the day's lesson can commence. Before they leave they can begin the new story trying to incorporate the new knowledge they learned. (Forrest, 2000)
Another fun activity listed on Ms. Forrest's site is called Local Historians. This one could pique the interest of the students because it involves finding local tales and knowledge from their home town. They can find information on historical events, local urban legends, haunted houses, anything. They could work in pairs when gathering the information and then write a story about the history they learned through the eyes of a fictitious character. (Forrest, 2000)
Another great story activity is the story grid explained in the article Story Telling Grid by Fiona Lawrie. She lays out the instructions on the game and how the students could participate. This game can be geared towards the day's lesson. Ms Lawtie explains that the teacher can use grammar the students are learning, combining adverbs, adjectives, and nouns into a grid. The students would then be told to craft a story using the words in the grid. It can be used as a group project, in pairs, or as an individual creative writing task. (Lawrie, n.d.)
Teachers could also develop story activities of their own if they are so inclined. They can make story puzzles, matching games, memory games, flashcards, or the students can create stories from random pictures the teacher brings in. They can have the student create a theatrical skit based on topics they are randomly given if the students feel comfortable acting out a story, or they can just give writing prompts and have the students write creatively.
There are many resources to utilize when looking for ways to incorporate stories into the classroom. Stories provide many benefits to students. They help students develop listening and speaking skills. They can be used to reinforce the lesson of the day, i.e. grammar, vocabulary, sentence structures, tenses, etc. There are many activities involving stories that can be used to help, encourage, motivate, and entertain ESL students.
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"As a learning tool, storytelling can encourage students to explore their unique expressiveness and can heighten a student's ability to communicate thoughts and feelings in an articulate, lucid manner." (Forrest, 2000)
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