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Next Level Storytime

Updated: Jun 11, 2020

I. What is Story Time?

Story time is a period of time when one individual tells a story to another individual out loud. Notice that I did not specify which individual or even the format of the story because that part is up to you! Traditionally, story time involves the guardian reading a story to the child. My advice is to switch it up. We will introduce how to do this in part 3.

II. Why is Story Time Important?

I’m glad you asked. I like to think of story time as a catalyst for language development. Language is one the five developmental domains that I discuss in Play Like a Champion. Children begin learning language in utero and can begin to recognize their mothers voice as early as 30 weeks gestation.

When language is strengthened, through activities such as story time, in young children, it is a direct correlation to their performance in school. Story time is an organic ways to build phonemic awareness (segmentation of sounds), vocabulary, and comprehension. When children practice these skills early, their brains an easily recognize and manipulate letter sounds to embrace reading and writing.

Language can be broken into two main parts: Receptive (receiving) and Expressive (output). Language can be overt, with words, or covert, with tones and gestures. Language can be spoken or written. Ideally, a good story time captures all of these elements of language and when it does, you’ve taken it to the next level.

III. How do I take Story Time to the NEXT LEVEL?

I hinted at it earlier, but now I will state it plainly. The perfect story time captures all the components of language. This does not happen in the traditional model of story time. If the child is only allowed to listen to the story then they are only accessing a small portion of the opportunity available in story time. Here are some ways to capture ALL the elements of language

Let your Little One read- even if he or she know how to actually read, they can describe what is happening in the pictures or make up their own tale.

Partner read- assign your little one a character or repetitive line, like the Big Bad Wolf in the Three Little Pigs, and allow them to read those parts of the book

Change your voice to capture the tone and personality of the story characters

Make and/or use puppets to act out the story and capture the gestures. Puppets can be made our of paper plates, popsicle sticks, cloth, even shadows. Get creative!

Stop periodically throughout the story to ask questions

Discuss the ending, then make up a new ending

Draw a new cover for the story

Decorate a shoe or cereal box to create the setting of the story

Of course, it would be unrealistic to try to do all these things at one time, but completely obtainable to do them all for one story. Reading a story several times and in different ways give children a chance to comprehend its contents on a deeper level. When you read a story once and never revisit, the child is unlikely to have absorbed all that the can. Its like the feeling you get when you watch a movie the second time and see things you missed the first time and it makes the ending so much clearer.

Another thing to keep in mind is to be fluid. Be open to the possibility of having story time at any point in the day, not just bedtime. If your little one approached you with a book at 11am or 3pm, embrace it! Also, look into borrowing from the library or buying books about your LO’s interests. I am certain that applying these next level tips will keep them coming back for more

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