How to Use Storytelling to Remember Family Stories
By Cathy Spagnoli, author of Nine-in-One, Grr! Grr! and Terrific Trickster Tales from Asia
Remembering Family Stories
The true stories of our lives make fine material for storytelling. Everyone can remember a few personal-experience stories, and most people enjoy telling them. To help our students remember more true stories, suggest that they
Here are a few common story themes to help your students recall their family treasures
Learning and Polishing the Tale
Family stories are fun to work with because they're inside of us; all they need is reawakening and a little work. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a story ready to tell from our past - often it's a tale that has been repeated at family gatherings or bedtimes. Frequently, however, one may only remember bits of a family story or several strong memories that aren't quite a story. Your task, and that of your students, is to fill in the blanks from memory, imagination, or both.
First, invite students to picture all the related details of setting and character in their story or story fragment. Let them use various ways to recall the story, depending on their strengths and learning styles. For instance, they can draw it, map it, sculpt the setting, or mime a character. Talking into a tape recorder can also help associations flow. In general, it is best to recall the story without writing it down so that one is not dependent on notes, but students may want to jot down a few details or a rough outline to help. Remember that poetic license is allowed and that related memories or incidents can be woven into a story.
Family tales are often quiet; they may have a problem or conflict or they may just share an ordinary incident. After students have remembered and added to their plots, they will each have a skeleton with which to work. Next, suggest some of the following ideas to enrich their tales:
When the stories are developed, have students share them with partners and in small groups. Then encourage your students to tell their stories in a variety of settings in and out of school. If students are telling to a large group, go over some relaxation techniques. Getting up to tell a tale in front of a group is a challenge; many people feel nervous. Remind students that the audience wants to hear a story and won't notice or care about mistakes. To calm nerves, suggest that students breathe deeply, laugh, stretch, and realize that they are sharing a gift. Enjoy the stories, then go on to develop more tales to tell and more ways to tell them!
© 2005 Cathy Spagnoli
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