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2 Story Telling - Activities

Monica Johannessen (NO)

Here, we propose a number of activities and games that may help to create stories. Activities and games have a much greater effect if you have any provisions prepared in advance and when you first practice them yourself. The room or space you want to work in should be large enough for all your participants, it should be comfortable enough to sit, and it should be appropriate for the activities or games you want to carry out.

It may be helpful to use a sign, such as (counting, naming, verses, rhythms or songs, to reorganize the group, for example if you want to ask for silence when someone needs to speak, or when everyone has to come together, or when they have to split up into smaller groups.

Memory Game 1

Purpose of Activity: This exercise shows that talking about an event, can turn the recollection it into a story that can be communicated as a story. It shows that everyone is a storyteller.

Before the Activity: This activity is an experiment, as in science. Participants will find out that thinking and talking about a personal memory can change that memory into a story, and involves storytelling. They will discover that they do tell stories without even knowing it. There is no right or wrong way to do so.

Description of Activity: Participants are asked to think of something that really happened to them, a memory that is easy to evoke, such as coming late for work, what they had for breakfast, shopping, or visiting a museum. They are asked to close their eyes, recall that memory, play it a few times in their minds, each time trying to remember more details. Encourage them to use all five senses – sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste. Ask participants to find a partner. The couples then should find a place where they can sit facing each other. Next they have to choose a number, one or two. Then, they should close their eyes and recall their memory. After a few moments of concentration, call out “one” or “two” to announce who start to tell their memory to their partner. After a few minutes, once they’ve had a chance to share the memory, ask everyone to sit quietly for a moment and ask the others to recall their memory, and to relate it.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Reflect Upon After Activity: Acknowledge that the activity passed off satisfactory —it always does. Ask who think they were telling a story when they recounted the memory. Usually very few raise their hands. Then ask who think they were listening to a story when it was their turn to listen. Usually everyone raises hands. At that point, one can explain that the activity worked well, and that the participants actually told stories. Point out that people commonly put themselves down and will say they don’t know any stories and cannot tell or remember stories, or even jokes. Point out that this exercise shows that they can, and that the mental imagery they used to recall and relate the memory of a personal experience is the same kind of mental process one uses in remembering and telling any spoken narrative.

Memory Game 2

Purpose of Activity: The exercise can be a starter-activity, or can build upon the previous one. Like the previous one, it shows how personal experiences are remembered and communicated as stories. It also shows how we can imagine someone else’s story as we listen to it, and then tell it again as part of our own memory.

Description of Activity: Participants are asked to remember a specific place that is easy to recall and that means something to them. As before, encourage them to use all five senses. First, the participants work in couples and follow the steps described for Memory Game 1. After they have recalled and related their memory in couples, they all come together in a circle or semi-circle. Then someone is asked to volunteer, not tell about his or her own favorite place, but to relate the memory they just heard about from their partner. Let as many people talk to the group as are willing and as there is time for.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: This is a ‘double memory’ experiment since the participants are asked not only to relate their own recollection, but also someone else’s.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Reflect Upon After Activity: As before, point out that everyone is telling and listening to stories. Also point out the ease with which participants remembered and communicated their partner’s memory of a specific place. Learning, remembering and telling a story that one didn’t create oneself, is the mental process to aim for.

Object Story

Purpose of Activity: As with the two memory games, this activity develops the ability to recall and describe. It is also a means for developing skills such as characterization and dialogue.

Description of Activity: The participant thinks of an object in his or her room, office or house. The participant is encouraged to think about qualities of the object and words to describe it. Then the participant is encouraged to imagine what that object would say to the owner if it could speak. About what would it complain? What would it praise or encourage? Has it seen anything to talk about? As before, encourage participants to use all five senses and to recall what they see, feel (emotions and physical sensations), hear, smell, and taste.
Ask participants to find a partner. Partners should find a place to sit facing each other, close to each other but not too close to other couples. Then they choose a number, one or two. Ask them to close their eyes and recall the object. After a few moments of concentration, call out “one” or “two” to announce who start to talk about the object they remember. When they have finished their story, ask everyone to sit quietly for a moment, and change roles subsequently.
There can be variations to this exercise. It could be one to start a workshop with. Or the listeners re-tell the stories they just heard, thus making the exercise an activity to develop description, characterization and memory.

Things to look for: Just like the Memory Games above, this exercise helps to observe how much of the body language shows the degree of involvement. It shows how much listeners and speakers are engaged in the storytelling experience, or hypnogogic trance. In case the participants retell the object stories they heard from their partner, one could mention point at good examples of descriptive language and characterization.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: Explain the point of this exercise. Encourage participants not to fuss too much about which object they choose, just choose something that is easy to imagine, something they know well and can describe easily.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: If this is one of the first story telling activities, one can bring up that difference in body language shows who is telling and who is listening, and how it differs from body language during conversation. If participants share their story with the entire group, point out effective and vivid descriptions, the use of descriptive language rather than dialogue, and characterization.

Crazy Titles

Purpose of Activity: This game provides participants with a structure (that is: a story they already know), and it shows how imagination and creativity can emerge from playing with words. Combining the two, the result is a new story.

Description of Activity: Materials Needed: blackboard, white board, flip chart, or overhead projector. Paper and writing materials.
Explain that a new story will be created out of the title of a well-known story, such as Little Red Riding Hood. Point out that the game works best when the title is protracted. In this case, write on the writing board: Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. The next step is to change the title into something wild, by using antonyms (opposites) or synonyms (the same) for nouns and adjectives. Ask the participants for ideas. This may result in Big Black Chief Helmet and the Small Grumpy Pig.
The next step is to ask for more titles. Emphasize the importance of protracting the title. Participants may come up with:

Cinderella and the Mean Sisters and the Pumpkin Coach
The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf
Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Walk in the Woods
Jack and the Beanstalk and the Big Ugly Evil Giant

Then ask the participants to change these titles into wild ones.
Once this is done, demonstrate how the title can be turned into a story. Take the first wild example, Big Black Chief Helmet and the Small Grumpy Pig, and explain that a story needs characters, in this case Big Black Chief Helmet and a Small Grumpy Pig. A story also needs a problem. Quickly improvise a story based on the new title, the characters and the problem, and share it with the participants.
Then, the participants continue in couples or groups of three or four. They choose a title to devise a new story. After the groups have devised their stories, volunteers can be asked to tell the new stories to the entire group.

Things to look for: This is a complex activity; each step should carefully be made clear.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: Explain that ideas for new stories can emerge from well-known stories, and that it is amusing to play with titles.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: Once the participants have the knack of creating new titles, encourage and praise unusual words and descriptions they come up with. For example when someone replaces the usual ‘Little’ in Little Red Riding Hood with ‘Huge’, ‘Ginormous’, ‘Humongous’ or another exaggerated adjective.

Built up Story

Purpose of Activity: This activity provides a good structure and a good practice to edit and reshape a story. It also helps to develop listening skills and to use the concepts of plot and subplot. It is also a good exercise to rehearse, practice, develop and sharpen stories.

Description of Activity: Ask the participants to make up the shortest story they can. Remind them a story only needs characters and something to happen. It helps to have a problem for the characters.

Give a few examples of very short stories, such as:

A boy went to a shop. The boy bought sweets. The boy shared the sweets.
A girl got a bicycle for her birthday. She rode the bike through the park. She came home.
A scientist built a spaceship. She flew it to the moon. She came back again.

Emphasise that the story can be that short.

Participants work in couples, Only when there is an odd number of participants there can be one group of three. Partners choose a number, one, two or three.
Make clear that story should be told without gestures, so hands and arms must be kept behind the back. Explain that unfortunately, not everyone is going to get to tell their story. This is a listening game, so one person will tell a story and the other will have to listen very careful. The listeners have to listen very careful , because they have to retell the story exactly and precisely as it was told, word for word. Call out “one”, “two” or “three” to announce who start to tell their stories.
When the stories are told, the leader explains that he or she lied. The listener will not retell the story exactly as it was told. He will make additions, by adding adjectives or descriptive words. Give an example. If the story they just heard was:

A boy went to a shop. The boy bought sweets. The boy shared the sweets.

Now they might say:

A tiny little boy went into a great big shop. The tiny little boy bought some lovely delicious chocolate sweets. The tiny little boy shared the lovely delicious chocolate sweets with his friends.

Here too, the story has to be told without gestures, with arms and hands behind the back.

The ones who were listeners first, will tell the protracted story to the ones who spoke first. Then, the protracted story will be repeated by the ones who listened to it.
The next step is to add even more. With each step, listeners and speakers change roles. Again, give an example. If partner number two said:

A tiny little boy went into a great big shop. The tiny little boy bought some lovely delicious chocolate sweets. The tiny little boy shared the lovely delicious chocolate sweets with his friends.

Partner number one will repeat this and adds to this:

A very, very, very tiny little boy went very quickly into a very, very great big huge shop. The very, very, very tiny little boy bought lots and lots and lots of some lovely delicious gooey yummy chocolate sweets. The very, very, very tiny little boy generously and graciously and kindly and wonderfully shared the very, very, lovely delicious gooey yummy chocolate sweets with his very, very, very, very best, best, best of best friends.

Once more, the storyteller does not use gestures and keep hands and arms behind the back. The story is passed back and forth this way.
The following step is to add sound effects and silly voices:

A very, very, very tiny little boy went very quickly (zoom) into a very, very great big huge shop (‘Oh wow!’. The very, very, very tiny little boy bought lots and lots and lots of some lovely delicious gooey yummy chocolate sweets (‘Yum yum yummy yum yum!’). The very, very, very tiny little boy generously and graciously and kindly and wonderfully shared the very, very lovely delicious gooey yummy chocolate sweets with his very, very, very, very best, best, best of best friends (‘Hip hip hurrah!’).

The final step is to add actions. The storytellers may take their hands and arms from behind their backs and make exaggerated gestures. Explain that it’s not a drama; they may stay seated or stand up.

The activity can finish here.
However, as a variation and as an extra challenge, new groups may be created by joining two couples. One couple will tell its story to the other. As soon as they are ready, the other couple will tell their story. Once both couples have told their story, the two stories will be merged, but all descriptions, actions and sound effects should be kept in place. So if one couple has a story about a boy buying sweets and the other has a story about a scientist and a space ship, somehow they must come together. Give them no more than 10-15 minutes to do this and tell them in advance how much time they get.
When the two stories are merged, they can be shared with the entire group.

Things to look for: Some participants may hesitate to start. Explain they can take one of the examples given at the start and work from that.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: Explain that this is a very good exercise to develop listening skills. If participants can’t come up with their own short story, they may use and adapt one of the examples given at the start.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: At the end, ask whether the participants think they have come up with a complicated and rather wild story. Explain that they have come up with a rather complex story: if the first versions would have been written down, it would only take a few lines on the paper. But the final story would have taken an entire page or even more.

If couples merge their stories, explain that this is often done by writers who make the stories for films and television. In many television series several stories may occur in one episode. One writer perhaps writes a more serious story and another a comical one. Then the writers meet and figure out how to put two or three or four stories together.
A further exercise is to count how many stories happen in an episode of a TV show.

Salad Story

Purpose of Activity: This activity shows the participants how to manipulate elements of a narrative by combining them in new patterns, so that new stories can be created out of familiar ones. It can be adapted to create stories in different genres.

Description of Activity: Materials Needed: Approximately 30-40 cards or slips of paper, each with a different motif written on it. Motifs are the smallest, simplest recognizable elements in a folk or fairy tale, such as a magic mirror, known from Snow White and The Beauty & The Beast. Motifs of fairy tale are listed below. A list of motifs for other genres such as murder mysteries, historical fiction, and science fiction, can be applied to create stories in those genres.
Explain that stories are like food, made up of different ingredients. Often, we already know what we get when we know the ingredients. For example, if something is made of flour, sugar, cream, eggs, chocolate end butter, we know it is probably a chocolate cake. If something is made of pasta, tomatoes, cheese, garlic and mushrooms, we know it is spaghetti Bolognese. If a story has a magic mirror we know it is Snow White. A stepmother and going to a ball, tells us it is about Cinderella.
This game plays with ingredients from well known stories, and mixes them up to make a new story. Ask one participant to draw three cards from the stack, or ask three participants to draw one card each. Then the three motifs on the cards are read out loud.
Explain that these three motifs are the ingredients for a new story. The motifs may already suggest who the characters are, where it takes place, and what the plot may be. If not, leader has to make them up or has to decide what they will be. Then everything is put together and the story will be told in an improvised manner.

Once this has been shown and explained, the participants make up their own salad stories. They can do so and draw three motif card individually, in couples or in groups of three to six persons. The stories are developed orally. After about ten to fifteen minutes, call the groups together and ask if anyone would like to share the new story with the entire group. These stories can be told by individuals, by couples, or groups.
List of motifs:

mean or helpless mother
banished hero
meeting a fairy
helpful bird
enchanted forest
bewitched palace
magic sword
pair of magic shoes
lost in the forest
blazing hot desert
battle
ball, or party, or dance
hidden treasure
birth

mean or helpless father
meeting a giant
meeting a dragon
helpful goldfish
magic mountain
city of gold
magic mirror
magic carpet
caught in a storm
helping a king
war
feast or a banquet
secret passage
death

troubled heroine
meeting a witch
helpful fox
haunted house
spooky castle
magic ship
magic lamp
magic cauldron
journey
helping a queen
fight
beggar
marriage
magic spell

Things to look for: Some groups or individuals may have trouble coming up with a story - either the draw of cards is unhelpful or they need some encouragement. Emphasize that telling the new story to the entire group is entirely voluntary; after the first individuals or groups tell their story others may be more willing. This is often the first activity in a residency where I do have or allow stories to be told in front of a large group. Be sure to provide positive feedback and constructive criticism, and encourage the other listeners to do so as well.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: Explain that often the cards suggest characters, setting and plot right away, and sometimes they don’t. It depends on a lucky draw. Also remind participants that if they don’t understand their cards, they should ask for assistance.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: By applying the Built Up Story activity to this one, participants can develop their own stories. Once the basic story is there, descriptions, dialogue, sound effects and actions can be added by retelling the story. After this has been done a few times in spoken words, the story can be written down. Stories can also be used to develop creative drama pieces, improvisations, tableaux, and art work.

Story Stew

Purpose of Activity: The purpose is to show how different ingredients can be put together to make a story, and to show how some ingredients are vital for a story to work as a story, or to seem to be a story, and how other ingredients make a story unique, special, or in a certain style.

Description of Activity: Explain that making up a story is like cooking food. Just as with food, there are lots of different ingredients. And just as each cook has a special recipe, maybe unique to the family, maybe secret, so stories have certain ingredients to make them special. These ingredients make a person’s own story special and unique, and help to create an individual and personal style of storytelling.
The participants will receive a ‘recipe’ for a story. The recipe can be told, or written either on a blackboard or on a piece of paper handed out to the participants. The recipe should have about half a dozen ingredients for the story, and a few optional ingredients to make it spicy. The workshop leader can also stipulate that the story stew must have a certain number of extra ingredients.

Examples of ingredients (The story MUST have each of these):

chief              girl             slave             village             storm             wish

And the story MUST have at least THREE extra ingredients (it can have more than three):

god       magic ring       sward       cave       3 little pigs      horse      treasure      giant      grave         

Note: Participants may all receive a different recipe, to come up with very different stories, or they can all work from the same recipe. Different genres can also be explored, with different ingredients so that the story becomes for example a science-fiction story, or a historical fiction story set in a war.

If you give the same words to the groups its funny to see how different the stories can be.
Developing the story is a verbal exercise, and can be done by the entire group to create a shared story, or by pairs or small groups of three to six. The small groups can develop a shared story, or they can work on individual stories. After they have developed their stories, a group or individual can tell the new story to the entire group, or the story could be illustrated, written down, dramatised, or presented by any combination of these activities.

Things to look for: If somebody is struggling, encourage and support him by asking questions: Who is in your story? What is the character like? What does he/she look like? What does the character like to do? What is the problem in the story? Where does it take place?
By posing focused questions, and by asking the participants to decide about details, the answers will gradually build up a story.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: Emphasise the importance of asking questions about the characters so that they can be described in colourful ways. It has to be decided what the problem is and how the characters relate to it. Asking questions can provide a framework that shows how the ingredients may be used and which extra ingredients may be chosen.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: Once a basic story is agreed upon, ask the participants whether the story can be made more interesting. Is it worth re-telling a few times and adding more details? If participants have done the ‘Built Up Story’ game, that technique could be used, telling the story back and forth and adding descriptions, dialogue, sound effects and actions each time.

Story Mapping

Purpose of Activity: This provides a visual and physical activity that allows participants to break down a story they heard or read, and to rebuild it. It can also be adapted as a planning tool for creating a new story, to be told or written.

Description of Activity: Tell a rather long, complicated but exciting and entertaining story. After it has been told (on the same day or, ideally, a meeting or two after it is told), introduce the idea of story-mapping. Explain that this is a way to remember and then retell a story.
Take a large piece of paper (A3) and fold it length-wise, and then in thirds. Unfold it to show it is now in six parts:

CHARACTERS

PROBLEM

SETTING

EVENT  1

EVENT  2

EVENT  3

The participants have to think about the story they have heard, and decide who were the most important characters. They draw pictures of what they think the characters look like in the first box. They don’t have to agree - some participants might choose to draw only 2 or 3 characters, others might decide all the characters in a story are important and try to draw all of them in the box. For the ‘Problem’ box, they decide what is the most important problem in the story, and then they depict the problem. In the ‘Setting’ box, the participants draw a picture of the setting of the story. For the event boxes, they draw pictures of three different things that happen in the story.
For the participants, the map provides an aide memoir to retell the story.
This project can be adapted. Instead of a story that is heard, they could map a story that was read aloud, or that participants read silently. (If they use a novel, or a very long short story, they could even make story maps for separate chapters or sections of the book).
Story mapping can also be used for creative writing. Before they start to write, participants could plan their stories by drawing pictures of the characters, problems, settings, and three events that happen and then use the map as a guide to first telling the original story, and then writing it down.

Things to look for: Some participants find it difficult to depict the setting. (Often a story has several different scenes; not a single image describes the entire setting). In this case, ask them what they think the main problem of the story is. Once this has been determined, ask them where the problem evolves mostly. If the problem is that a princess is locked up , the setting would be the place where she is locked up).
If there are more than three events, it may be helpful to tell the participants they should choose the events that relate to the problem. Using the example again, event 1 could be how the princess is captured, event 2 could show what happens to her while she is a prisoner, and event 3 could show how she uses her strength, cleverness or magic to escape.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: Point out that it is important to make images, not words. The aim is to make a map of pictures that will remind the participants of enough details to re-tell the story in their own words. It’s not meant to be a great work of art, so it’s all right to draw stick figures or rough sketches. Only use words as labels or notes to explain what the picture represents. Also remind them that the same story can be told in different ways. Participants should not worry if they choose to depict a problem or character when their neighbour or friend depicts a different problem in the story, or a different set of events.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: Point out the variety and the similarity of details in the maps. Ask if any participants would like to try and re-tell the story in his or her own words, using the map as a guide. Explain briefly that this game can be played any time they want to remember or understand a story better, and that they could use it to study a story they have read silently or heard read aloud, and that a map can also be made to plan a story they are writing, or telling.

Character Mapping

Purpose of Activity: To increase skills in descriptive language, and developing and imagining characters. This will help to remember a story, to provide images to focus upon, and to enrich language. It is also a way for developing material as part of the creative writing process.

Description of Activity: Take a story the participants have listened to or read. Ask them to decide who are the main characters of the story. Explain what traits are, and ask them to identify the traits of those characters. Explain that one can ‘map’ a character. That is to make a visual record of a character to help a storyteller or writer to describe the character in a way that makes a story come to life. Let he participants work individually, or in pairs or small groups. They draw circles on a large sheet of paper, one circle for each important character. In these circles they draw a picture of what they think that character looked like, and they label the picture by writing the character’s name. The participants then draw lines from the perimeter of the circle outwards, and on each line they write a word or words that give a trait or specific description of the character. For example, the lines might read: nasty, a giant, a troll, ugly, spotty, likes to eat children, bad breath, stinky, bald, big nose, bad-tempered and so on. Encourage the participants to think of as many descriptive words as they can. After the exercise, use the maps to retell the story. Ask the participants to review the maps, share their descriptions, and then retell the stories with some of the vocabulary developed in the descriptions.

Things to look for: Participants often equate an important character with a main character - while a very minor character might have a very important role in the story. Sometimes participants stumble over descriptions, falling into clichés or stereotypes phrases. Encourage and help them to find more distinctive and original language.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: It helps to model the process. Brainstorm with the participants, make a list of words and phrases from which they can choose, or which they can make longer. If it is a written story, encourage them to go back and re-read descriptions of the characters and to use that language in their map.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: Pinpoint and praise exciting and vivid descriptions that conjure up the character very well.

Three Word Story

Purpose of Activity: To demonstrate the way a story can be improvised and developed very quickly out of another story, and to strengthen and develop descriptive language.

Description of Activity: Tell a short story that has a particularly vivid imagery, poetic descriptions and evocative phrases and names. Then ask the listeners to close their eyes and reflect on the story they just heard, and choose one word from the story, one particular word that stands out. Ask the participants to form groups of three.
The participants will share their words. When they have done this, they try to create a story using all three words. If by chance they’ve chosen the same words, then that word must be used that many times in the story. So if they’ve chosen ‘crystal’, ‘sun’ and ‘delicious’ the story is built around these three words. If they’ve chosen ‘crystal’, ‘sun’ and ‘sun’, then the story is built around these words and ‘sun’ is used twice. (Some groups cleverly use homonyms and take the liberty to use ‘sun’ and ‘son’. This can give an interesting twist to a story.) After giving the instructions, give the groups about 5 to 10 minutes to develop their story. Then let the groups share their story with all the other groups—with one individual telling the story, one telling with the help of the other two, or with all three telling the story in turn or in chorus.

Things to look for: This process often leads to a combination of simplicity and richness of language, with short and vivid, powerful stories. Make sure to point that out. Sometimes the stories have themes or incidents similar to the first story, but usually they take an entirely different turn. Again, look for that.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: Don’t give instructions before telling the story. Simply tell the story and allow the listeners to relax and enjoy it. Then ask them to choose a word from the story that stands out in their memory (but don’t tell them why). When they have all had a chance to sit quietly and recall the word, then give the instructions.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: This exercise is especially good to demonstrate how richness of language in a story can be used, found, and developed. This activity makes the groups or individuals tell their story to the other participants, especially if this is an activity at the end of a day-long workshop on storytelling, or an exercise introduced at the third or fourth meeting of a long storytelling residency. It can be a very safe exercise for giving comment and positive criticism upon storytelling techniques and methods of beginners.

Choral Stories

Purpose of Activity: This is another way of playing with language, breaking down stories, and finding different and funny ways to tell or perform a story.

Description of Activity: The leader can take a story (an oral story, picture book, prose story) that is already well known and divide it up into clear parts to be read aloud by everyone, with key bits of narration and character dialogue assigned to those participants who want to read these individually.
Alternatively, the group can choose a story they wish to perform as a chorus, and work out for themselves which parts will be read or told chorally and which parts are taken by individual readers or storytellers.
The telling/reading can be as elaborate or as simple as the reader and/or participants wish: sound effects and music can be added, for example. The chorus can be divided up, so that one part echoes or emphasizes the words of the other or of individuals.

Things to look for: This can be a labour intensive activity, so the leader should plan to give plenty of time for it to develop. Most likely, it needs to develop over a couple of sessions. Alternatively, it can be adapted and simplified so that a large group can be divided into several smaller groups of three to six participants. Then, each small group can work on their own story and present it to the rest. In this case, the activity would fit a half-day or full-day
session.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: It’s important to re-tell/re-read the story in small parts, and several times, to find the meanings, the expressions needed, to get ideas for sound effects, and what is most effective (a choral voice in one part, a single voice in another).

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: As with the Circle Story (see above), doing a story collectively can help the entire group to remember an entire story. If each participant knows a bit of the story, and knows what happens before and after that bit, together they can reconstruct the story more easily, especially when it is told instead of read.

Readers Theatre

Purpose of Activity: This is a more formal presentation than the choral reading, usually devised for performance. It can involve all participants in telling a story in an assembly, independent of their abilities.

Description of Activity: A story is chosen by the workshop leader or the group. This story is then scripted, either by the leader in advance of the session, or smaller groups of participants. The story is organised as a play script, with assigned parts of narration and dialogue. Sound effects, props, and scenery can be added. The script is read aloud a few times to practice, and then performed.
Rather than act out the story as a drama, the scripts are placed on music stands and the participants stand or sit and read from these.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: The aim of this activity is to tell the story through individual voices, which makes it different from the Choral Story, where everyone speaks together. If not the leader but the group develops the script and assigns the parts, it is very important to listen to everyone’s suggestions, to consider each idea, and to be willing to compromise.

Things to Point Out and Ask Participants to Observe After the Activity: This activity can be an extended one, taking place over a number of sessions. It lends itself for constructive criticism - that is, chances for the participants to react upon the presentation and ideas to improve the overall performance of the story.

Story Raps

Purpose of Activity: To play with repetitive language and rhythm, in order to see how rhythm and rhyme can help the storyteller to memorize a story, and make it more interesting for an audience.

Description of Activity: Model a story rap by performing a story or poem, such asThe Three Bear Rap or The Referee Rap. Ask the participants to choose a short nursery story or nursery rhyme that they would like to turn into a rap (short, well-known stories make good raps, such as The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood). Let the participants try to keep a beat while telling the story in their own words. They may work in small groups, or as one large group. Ask for ideas and contributions on phrases and descriptions that rhyme. As the contributions come forward, write them on the board or on a large sheet of paper.
Once the rap is written, practice it several times. Try to find places where the rhythm and flow of language can be improved. Gradually, the story will be repeated often enough to sink in and can be recited from memory.

Things to look for: The first ‘draft’ of the rap may be a bit choppy and may lack rhythm, but repeated recitations of the rap will smooth out the language and suggest better arrangements of words to match the rhythm, and give better and more entertaining rhymes.

Things to Point Out Before the Activity: Sometimes it helps to start the rap with some of the repetitive language that’s already in the story, such as “Trip-Trap-Trip-Trap-Trip-Trap! Who`s that walking on MY bridge?” or “Little pig, little pig, let me come in!” It is not necessary to follow the story exactly, nor to put every single detail of the original story into the rap version.

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