Monday, October 10, 2011

How does your story begin?

Let me share another wonderful Bev Bos idea that I am running with this year in my preschool class....

How does your story begin?

This summer, in my visit to her Roseville Community School, Bev shared her delight with collecting children's responses to this open-ended question. Each day, she tries to ask each child this question. She writes down their responses verbatim. She makes a photocopy of the story response and then gives the original to the family, keeping the photocopy in the child's file. At the end of the year, each family receives a small book of these story treasures authored by their little one.

I love storytelling with children. This idea of Bev's was right down my alley.
I decided I, too, would pursue these "How does your story begin?" treasures. As she suggested, I asked one of my most talkative students first...and she readily volunteered an enchanting story about her dog. At the end of the day, at our closing gathering, I read her story aloud to the class.

Magical things happened. Immediately, everyone wanted to share their story with me!

It is true, everyone has a story.

Weeks have gone by now and the magic continues. I have a far simpler storytelling goal than Bev's - I strive for one new story each day, being sure to rotate through each of my students. I look for opportunities when I can have a one-on-one chat with the child, when I can cozy up to them with my clipboard and hear their words. Many days I will get four or five new stories from children, but my goal is to get just one.

Amusingly, I realized right away that my handwriting was so illegible, I couldn't easily pass these treasures on to the families. I take the time to type their stories into my computer. I now have a treasure trove of stories by little ones.

This simple gesture - transferring their words onto the computer - unexpectedly charmed the children. One day early on, as I read a child's story aloud, another asked - "Do you have my story from yesterday?" and I said, "Actually, I do - I typed it onto my computer last night. Let's look it up. He couldn't believe that I had his words on my computer! What a message of value and respect I had unexpectedly conveyed. Seeing their words appear on my computer, there has been literally no end to the stories children want to share with me.

At day's end, it has become a lovely ritual for all the children to hear their classmates' stories. Bev advised us not to insist that children listen to the stories (believing that they are egomaniacs at this young age and they are only interested in their own stories), and I do not insist that anyone listen. But, I am happy to report, everyone is listening, everyone enjoys this daily ritual. It is a soft and welcomed part of our day.

"How does your story begin?" began simply as a curiosity on my part, to see what the children would say. But, it has proven to be so much more.

I have discovered what is on their minds.
I am expanding my curriculum and books, based on their interests, fears, happy memories.
I am learning about them academically - their vocabulary, their recall, their logic and cognition.
I have discovered a way to meld our community - to link the children together, for them to get to know each other better...through their stories.


  1. That's a loaded question! ;) Nice post

  2. This is so beautiful. I am sharing with all. Where does your story begin?
    I wonder if this is so much easier for young children, as their story has been around for just 3 years.
    Moving on so many levels.
    I would love to read some of the responses from the children. Please post one day.