Using Storytelling with Small Groups

I did a storytelling workshop this week on the "One World, Many Stories" SLP theme with librarians from five systems in the southern part of the state.  I wanted to give everyone tips on finding sources for stories, tips on telling and some "can't miss" stories from a few different countries to put in their story bags.

One of the participants blogged later that that while there was good information on handling a beaucoup big crowd, it wasn't very "real-world" helpful for librarians who work with small numbers of kids in storytime - ten or less; or more typically three to five kids, who can be very passive without a crowd to rev them up.  So right!  I skipped that part completely!  So, as a  mea culpa, here are a few tips I use that help when bringing storytelling into storytimes with teeny crowds!

I make it a point in my storytimes to tell a story each and every week.  I believe strongly that kids need more than books and props to excite their imagination.  Stories help them picture the tale on their own.  Magic happens with the use of storytelling no matter how large or how small the crowd. In my years of storytimes, I have kept this practice up whether I have two kids or thirty two and it has always worked.

Although I have some large-cover-your-whole-arm puppets, I don't use these in the intimate atmosphere of storytimes.  I usually tell my stories without puppets or props, letting the magic of the words and the plot carry the tale. That being said, I am also one to make a splash before the story is started to get the kids excited about a form of listening that many of them don't have alot of experience with!

My favorite intro is to put a small prop or puppet that relates to the story inside a bag that I bring out when it is time to tell the story. I reach inside the bag, feel around, do some "oohing" and "aahing" and "Hmmm, what could this be?" before I bring out the prop. This little teasing part gets the kids focused on the what is inside the bag and gets them excited. When the prop comes out, I say, "That reminds me of our story today" and off we go.

Other times I will bring along a finger puppet or two or three to small storytimes and let the kids play with them before or after the story to reinforce the story...or to let the kids engage in story play and re-imagining or telling the story themselves.  When kids are too shy or the group too small to even have them engage in that much play I do a few little retellings of scenes with the puppets and hope that the next week brings more participation.

Small group storytelling can be some of the most rewarding because the stories shared can be quieter and more focused.  Any other tips out there on sharing storytelling with small groups?

Image: 'Day 138' http://www.flickr.com/photos/38451115@N04/4218226857

1 comment:

  1. Can you tell us your "can't miss" stories to tell for SRC? I could use some help.