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Dianne de Las Casas - "Stories Connect the World!"
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The Magic Story Bag

Materials Needed:  A cloth bag and an assortment of objects

Objective:  To create a story around a "magic" object.

The group leader should have a large assortment of objects, one for each player to take. The objects could be ordinary objects such as a toothbrush, a rock, a feather, etc. The objects are placed into a cloth bag (one you cannot see through) and each player, without looking into the bag, pulls out an object at random. The object is "magic" and is integral to the story. The player is then given a couple of minutes to familiarize herself with the object. Then the player will tell a story around the object.

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Psst - Pass It On...

Materials Needed:  None

Objective:  To illustrate the subtle evolution of a story as it changes from teller to teller.

Players sit in a circle. The group leader will begin whispering a short paragraph including names and details into the ear of the player next to him. At the end of the story, the group leader says "Pass It On..." The next players then relays the story to the person next to him and so forth. No one is allowed to repeat what was said. Each player must speak clearly and each player must listen carefully to what was said. Encourage players to repeat what they "heard". The last player stands up and relates the story, ending with "Pass It On." The results are often hilarious. Following the activity, tell the original story and discuss what changes occurred. Discuss the evolution of the story and how stories change from teller to teller.

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Story Book

Materials Needed:  Card stock, white paper, yarn, hole puncher, roll paper, markers & ribbon.

Objective:  To create a folding story book or a scroll story book

Have the students select a short story or create their own. Once they have selected their story, they can begin creating their books. For folding story books: Use the card stock as the cover. Place several sheets of paper between two sheets of card stock. (Be sure to hole punch only one side of the card stock as it will be the cover.) If vertical, two hole punch the top and the bottom. If horizontal, three hole punch the top and the bottom. Take three inch pieces of yarn and begin tying the paper together. It will look like a Jacob's Ladder. Have the students write their stories down and draw pictures if they wish. When completed, the book should be folded up like a Jacob's Ladder. For scroll books: Take a long piece of roll paper and have the children write their stories and draw their illustrations on it. Then roll it up and tie a ribbon around the scroll. Have the students unscroll the story as they read it out loud.

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Spinning Yarns

Materials Needed:  A large ball of yarn with knots tied at 3 to 5 feet intervals.

Objective:  To stimulate the imagination and learn how to create a story as a group

Players should sit in a circle close to each other for easy access. The group leader will start out the story, unraveling the yarn as he tells. When he reaches the knot, the yarn is passed on and the next person continues the story, unraveling the yarn as well. When the next knot is reached, the yarn is passed on and so forth. The players should be instructed that they are building the beginning of the story, developing the body, rising to a climax, and closing the story with an appropriate ending. Group leaders should focus on story starters that tickle the imagination such as "I was walking along a deserted road when I saw a large house to my right. It looked empty and since no one was around, I decided to go in. Little did I know that....

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Family Montage

Materials Needed:  Family photos or copies of family photos, glue, paper.

Objective:  To encourage the telling of family stories

Have the students gather some family photos or copies of family photos of important events in their lives or their family's life. Create a montage on a sheet of paper, a collage of pictures. When the montages are completed, have the students create frames or borders for the montage from construction paper or card stock. When the project is complete, encourage the students to tell stories about the pictures they have chosen. Have them think about and create the details surrounding the event, not just the event itself. The montages are great projects to showcase during open house or open classroom.

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The Liar's Contest

Materials Needed:  Copy of a tall tale

Objective:  To stimulate fantasy and the imagination.

Read some tall tales such as Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill. Have players create tall tales of their own. The details of the story should be realistic enough to believe but the story itself should be made up. Hold a contest to determine who can tell the "tallest" tale with enough realism in the storytelling to make it believable. Award prizes such as a fake long nose.

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News at 9

Materials Needed:  Paper and writing utensils

Objective:  To pay attention to the details surrounding events; create and tell stories.

Select a group of students to become "reporters". Inform the principal, the administrators, and the other teachers of the project so they can give "leads" for news events. Have the reporters gather information, conduct interviews, and craft stories surrounding the newsworthy events. These news reports can be incorporated into the morning announcements over the school intercom, with the students telling the news.

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Time Capsule

Materials Needed:  Photos, drawings, personal objects, a box or a tube

Objective:  To preserve the past and encourage storytelling about the past.

Have the students bring in pictures, drawings and personal objects from their lives. Have the students write a two page story about events and things important to them in their lives. Decorate the boxes or tubes with newspaper clippings, magazines photos, or their own drawings. Then hold a ceremony. Before placing the objects inside the time capsule, each student should tell the story behind the objects they are placing inside the capsule and why they are important to them. Once the capsules are filled up, seal them, and instruct the students not to open them for ten years. Make sure instructions are placed on the outside of the capsule and dated. Or you can do this project at the beginning of the school year and open the time capsules at the end of the school year to discuss the changes.

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Secret Garden

Materials Needed:  None

Objective:  To encourage visualization and creating imagery.

We all love secret places. Places where we can just be alone with our thoughts. Places no one else knows about. The thrill of a secret excites us. Read a passage from Frances Hodges Burnett's Secret Garden describing the garden and the wonder Mary is filled with as she discovers this secret place. Have the students create their own "secret gardens." The places do not necessarily have to be gardens. It can be a cave in a cliff located on a strip of deserted beach, it can be a quiet forest glen, or it can be the play house located in the tree in the backyard. Encourage the students to use their imaginations and create their own secret place. Have them visualize the details and write them down. Then have the students select partners and take each partner on a tour of their secret place, holding their hands, guiding them over rocks, under tree branches, ducking, etc. The students will create a vivid visual space for their partner. Have two of the students share their secret place with the class. Discuss how each person's secret place differed, how details their descriptions were, and why they chose their particular places.

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The Other Side

Materials Needed:  None

Objective:  Copies of classic fairy tales and stories such as Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Bears, and The Three Little Pigs, paper and writing utensils.

Choose a classic story or several stories and have the students pick a character other than the main character. Have them re-write the story from the other character's view point such as Grandma's story or the woodcutter's story in Little Red Riding Hood. Be true to the story line and maintain the characteristics of the characters as found in the original stories. Explore their motivations. What was Grandma doing before the wolf came over? How did she react when the wolf showed up at the door? Did the story turn out differently? What was the woodcutter doing in that part of the woods? How did he react when he saw Red Riding Hood and the wolf? Have the students read aloud or tell "The Other Side" of the story. Discuss how the characters were developed and how their participation changed or added to the story.

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Tongue Twisters

Materials Needed:  A copy of the following tongue twisters

Objective:  To loosen the teller's tongue; vocal exercises.

Have the students say the following tongue twisters three times fast:

  1. Jenny drew a joyful dragon.
  2. Three fleas flew free.
  3. We read what we write.
  4. Did Chuck upchuck a chocolate chip and chick-a-cherry cola?
  5. She slept on a slick and slippery sheet.
  6. She tiptoed on tippy toes to tickle Tina's tiny nose.
  7. Hubert heard Henry heartily hee-haw halfway home.
  8. Suzy sneezed and wheezed when she saw fleas.
  9. Three thick tree twigs.

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Give a Gift

Materials Needed:  None

Objective:  To stimulate visualization and the use of the body to effectively tell a story.

Have the students work in groups of four or five. This activity is much like charades. Each player will mime giving a gift to another player in the group. The gift giver is to then act out the gift she is giving by describing it with only body language. No words will be used. The other players then guess what the gift is. For example, the gift could be a ring. But the ring could come in a big box filled with a lot of paper. The player would then mime opening a big box, pulling out a lot of paper, and finding the ring inside. Each gift recipient will then give a gift to another player who has not received a gift until all the players have received gifts. Encourage the players to use their imaginations with the gifts.

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A Picture Says A Thousands Words

Materials Needed:  Pictures of objects close up

Objective:  To stimulate visualization and imagination and attention to detail.

Bring close up pictures of objects. You can either take the pictures yourself or cut them out of magazines. Be sure to show the students pictures rich in texture and color. Then have the students choose a picture to describe. Once they have described the object, have them create a story around the object, guessing what the object is. Afterwards, have them read aloud or tell their stories then share with them the real identity of the objects.

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Materials Needed:  Origami paper

Objective:  Increase motor skills and illustrate a character in a story.

Find a book of origami (the Japanese art of paper folding) and find a simple origami animal to fold. Then choose a story about that animal. Tell the story to the students. Following the story, begin the storigami project. Do not tell them what they are creating. Have them guess with each fold. Tell them the storigami appears in the story. After they have completed their storigami, they can then re-tell the story you told. Give them another piece of origami paper to take home to show their families how to fold the animal after the student tells the story to their family.

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Behind the Mask

Materials Needed:  Paper plates, scissors, markers, glue, jumbo popsicle sticks

Objective:  To demonstrate the use of masks in storytelling; multicultural mask making.

Have the students cut out eyes on their paper plates and decorate the masks. Glue jumbo popsicle sticks to the bottom of the paper plates. This is where the students will hold their masks when telling the story. If they want to tell the story of "The Three Little Pigs", the mask could be the wolf's face. In Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are, the mask could be one of the wild things. Have the students tell a story either individually or in groups using their masks. Discuss other cultures that use masks: Native Americans; Caribbean countries, Africa.

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The Name Game

Materials Needed:  Paper and writing utensils

Objective:  To explore the meaning behind one's name.

Recite the name game with the class using your own name. Example: Dianne, Dianne bo-bianne, banana fanna fo fianne, me my mo mianne Dianne. Have each student do their own name. Then discuss the importance of names and the meaning behind your name (you can find a book of names usually in the parenting section on baby names at your local bookstore). Have the students look up the meaning behind their name and have them ask their family why they were named that particular name. Then let the student write down the stories of their names including its meaning. Share the stories with the class. I did this activity in junior high school and it was a source of inspiration to me. I found out my name meant "Divine or Goddess" and I hung up my story in my locker for the rest of the year.

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Sounds Like...

Materials Needed:  Objects that make noise (optional)

Objective:  To explore how sounds affect a story.

Read some onomatopoeia (words that sound like the sound they describe) such as gurgling, babbling, whoosh!, boom!, etc. Explain onomatopoeia. What kinds of words would they use to describe different sounds? Make sounds with various objects or with the body i.e., slapping hands against the thigh. Then encourage them to create a sound filled paragraph using their words or sound effects. Discuss how sounds can add dimension to a story.

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Dianne de Las Casas
The Story Connection
P.O. Box 2656
Harvey, LA 70059
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