Storytelling in the Early Years

by Elaine Nielsen | 1 May 2016

the teacher should play alongside the children

Some ideas towards an idea of progression in working with stories and storytelling in drama with pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten.

“Children played at those stories; they dreamed about them. They took them to heart and acted as if to live inside them.” Gregory Maguire, A Lion Among Men

There are several viewpoints as to whether young children get more from working on what they know – dramas about going to school, shopping, their daily routines – or fantasy. It would appear to be quite clear that we need to start where children feel most at ease and then start to introduce them to stories which contain imagery and symbolism. These elements are likely to excite the children but also have a relevance to their own lives. For example, perhaps children enjoy stories about giants because that is how adults seem to them? Dealing with dragons or aliens in drama is possibly a safe way to deal with fears?

Children of three years and older have generally learned to use symbols in their play. They enjoy a dramatic play area that allows uninhibited practice of roles and activities. Typical themes include health, safety and rescue – evidence of broadening experiences and increasing awareness. Superhero themes and play that focus on good/evil and weak/strong conflicts reveal the fears and expectations that children often work out. As pretend play themes expand, offer children more control over their play. They aren’t looking to the teacher for solutions to life’s problems and challenges. Instead they need the time and support to explore complex problems, roles and relationships.

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