Story Telling – Disability + Ability
Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.
Importance of stories and storytelling for children’s
Reading aloud may be one of the most important contributions that parents can make toward developing good character in their children. Why? For several reasons.
First, because stories can create emotional attachment to goodness, a desire to do the right thing.
Second, because stories provide a wealth of good examples – the kind of examples that are often missing from a child’s day to day environment.
Third, because stories familiarize youngsters with the codes of conduct they need to know. Finally, because stories help to make sense out of life.
When we see others from the inside, as we do in stories, we learn a new respect for people. In the June 1990 issue of American Psychologist, Paul Vitz, a professor at New York University, provides an extensive survey of psychological studies pointing to “the importance of stories in developing moral life.”
But why stories? Why not simply explain the difference between right and wrong to your children? Why not supply them with a list of dos and don’ts?
Such explanations are important but they fail to touch children on the level where it matters
The level of imagination. Imagination. The word comes from “image” — a mental picture. When a moral principle has the power to move us into action, it is often because it is backed up by a picture or image.
*Plato* said that children should be brought up in such a way that they will fall in love with virtue and hate vice. How does a child fall in love with virtue? By being exposed to the right kind of stories, music, and art, said Plato.
Stories, because of their hold on the imagination, can create an attachment to goodness. The nature of stories enables us to “rehearse” moral decisions, strengthening our solidarity with the good.
Benefits of Story Telling
Curiosity, Imagination and Communication
Reading to a child can increase their willingness to express themselves and communicate their thoughts and feelings. Ask them to talk to you about the plot and characters in the story; to suggest how each of the characters might move the story forward and to tell you why they think the character has behaved in a particular way.
Storytelling also encourages children to be creative and use their imagination to picture the setting, the characters, and the story as it unfolds. Rather than being given the imagery to accompany the words, which is the case when watching a film, the child is able to build the world within which the story is set for themselves.
Focus and social skills
Through storytelling children are encouraged to listen to others, whether it be the storyteller or others listening to the story. They learn to be more patient and to let others speak; they begin to understand that others may not interpret things in the same way they do.
Their focus and listening skills are developed as they concentrate on what the storyteller is saying as, if they do not listen, the will miss out on part of the plot.
Storytelling provides children with a window to new worlds. It gives them the opportunity to learn new ideas and information; without realising it, they are learning valuable life lessons through hearing an engaging, exciting story.
Story Telling for Children’s with Special Needs
A Study conducted in Texas Christian University for Group of Children with learning disabilities on impact of Teaching Storytelling found that children assigned to experimental group improved to a greater degree in their ability to tell more complex stories.
How to Use Stories with Students with Disabilities
- Know the different attention spans of your students. They may be polite and sit still for a long story or for the reading of an entire book, but they may have turned off after three minutes or less. You can learn to shorten a story when you retain the characters, plan a little conflict and bring a resolution to the end. A good story does not need explanation at the end, but it needs a great beginning. Use an object of interest – anything from a rock to a basket of anything covered at first to pique curiosity – and remember to use something tactile especially with persons with vision impairments. Seat students with hearing impairments near the story teller making sure the teller’s face is well lighted.
- Students understand stories on more than one level, and any level of understanding is wonderful. Special needs students are mostly literal thinkers, and the story may be just a story or may move to applied meanings or NOT.
- Make the Bible visible when using a Bible story even if you are not reading from the Bible. Hold up the Bible and say, “This story is from our treasure book, the Bible,” or “This is a might-have-been story based on words from the Bible.” Or say, “This story is not from the Bible, but it is based on verses in the Bible.” Vision impaired students like to feel the Bible, and almost all children like to touch it and smell it!
Different ways to tell and use a story for children’s with special needs:-
- Use pictures with a story. Remember that special needs students are literal thinkers, so have the picture EXACTLY match the story. If it doesn’t match, alter the story to include what’s in the picture, or your listeners will get off onto questions and comments having nothing to do with the story.
- Use objects to interest a group or illustrate a point. For example, fill a basket with bread, stones, etc. and cover it with a napkin. Create interest by asking what is under the napkin. Or pass out stones, paper, etc. and have students hold objects until you come to that part of the story. Pass around a tin of birdseed to generate interest in story of the ravens feeding Elijah. Put a shoe in the middle of the table or story area or have students put theirs in the middle when you are creating interest for a walking story, or a wrench or bicycle pump if the story involves bikes.
- Make power point or transparencies to illustrate incidents in the story. Have a student manage the computer or projector when possible. This also works well at a learning station.
- Dramatize a story. Read the story, talk it, choose characters, dress the part and act it out. “Line out” lines for non-readers and have mentor-helpers speak for non-speakers. Younger children can act the story told by a narrator/leader. Never underestimate the power of students’ imagination, but a symbol of the character is important: Have something for students to wear, anything from a sign hanging around the neck to a scarf, head band or drape of cloth or full costume. Video or still picture the drama for later review. Delete stage directions from any script as students cannot discriminate and will read all directions as part of the script.
- Write a story. Say, “This will be a story about……state theme or idea….What characters will be in the story. What is their problem? How will they solve it?
- Make a tableau, a visually dramatic scene or situation with the characters posed to illustrate the story. A narrator tells the audience the story or meaning of the depicted scene. A variation of the tableau is a depicted scene with actions and the narrator calls “freeze” and characters freeze in that pose. For repetitive purposes and a lot of fun, have the narrator speak, the characters move, but let the audience yell, “Freeze” at some point. Allow time for laughs or serious discussion, whichever suits the occasion, then have audience yell, “Thaw.” Video this activity to show later for review.
- Tell part of a story and let the class finish it. An alternative method requiring an adult leader in each small group lets small groups finish the ending and compare their endings. This works only with older, more mature thinking, students.
- Ask questions after a story. Questions in the form of riddles add interest and sometimes humour.
- Draw pictures or paint to illustrate a story. Easy painting is blue water for any drama backdrop.
- Let students record a story. Have parents of a non-verbal student who uses a voice machine help the student record a story in his own speaking/voice/computer. Appreciate the fact that this is his/her own voice.
- Make and/or use simple puppets to tell a story. Some students with sensory problems will not put hands inside puppets. Use tongue depressor/craft sticks with paper characters glued on to enact the story. A good stage for this type puppet is a file storage box with the lid removed and the top cut away to make way for the puppeteers to lower their characters. Take pictures to show later as students use them for review.
- Use or make a rebus story. Use large poster paper for the words and pictures when making the story. The story stays focused if you have pictures ready rather than having students hunt pictures that illustrate the story. Use the story over and over. Provide a pointer so a student can point to the picture as the leader reads and the group supplies a picture-word.
- Use a story as a springboard for making things: a peep hole box, a street of houses, various types of books, a rock garden, etc.
- Use a story with repetition or verse and set it to music, or create repetition in the story and have students respond when the repetition occurs. Some story rhythms lend themselves to soft clapping as the story is chanted.
- Use the story as a springboard for simple games that reinforce the theme or idea. For example: Make a hopscotch on sidewalk or plastic table cloth taped to the floor that depicts the characters from the story of the good Samaritan. When you land on the character, you say his name. The second time played, a bonus is given if you can tell what that character did. The last square is “The Good Guy.” A bonus is given if the student can tell why one of the characters was the “Good Guy.”
- For persons who are partially immobile, tape the game to a table and blow a ping pong ball on a table or tossi a bean bag. Totally immobile persons can choose someone to be a designated blower or tosser.
- Help a student select and practice an interpretive reading to be presented to the group.
- Sing a story.
- Establish a story telling review box or trunk where you keep props from any of the above suggestions. (This is most suitable for children and youth.) From time to time, let a student open the box and select an item and review the story. Start with something concrete: What is this? What did it do in the story? Who was in the story? What did that person do? Why? Sometimes the leader has to “prime” the flow of ideas by giving a clue.
- Preview the story with conversation and/or objects from the students’ daily lives. For example: Who has new shoes? Or, what are your favourite shoes? What kind of shoes would Jesus wear? Did his feet get dusty? Provide a sandal and/or a pan of water for washing feet.
- Let students re-tell a story to the stuffed animals in the book corner. Repetition is good.
- Use a social story. Repetition of the social story is important. A social story is a story written by an informed leader, parent or professional, and it is illustrated with appropriate pictures if possible. A social story uses a child’s name, describes an identified social situation, gives pertinent clues for behaviour in that situation and concludes by defining an appropriate response.
- Have a treasure hunt for story parts. To do this, cut the story into parts, place each part in a zip lock bag, thumb tack the bags in several locations. After all parts are found, gather to re-assemble the story, read the story. If possible, have each hunter identify the part of the story he or she found. Read the story again. Next week, have the students hide the zip lock bags for the leaders to find. Reassemble and read the story. Repetition is good!
- Use a cell phone to announce a story. At a learning centre or in a one-on-one situation, have a student call your cell phone so you can announce the subject of the story. A novel attention getter, this announcement sets you up to announce the subject again then tell the story. Experiment with a speaker phone and a short version of a story. This sounds crazy, but it actually works in the contemporary age where every special need student may have a cell phone.
- Read it. Practice reading it aloud for flow, hard words, and your personal enthusiasm. This is probably the least interesting way to use a story, but it gets the job done. Learning stations with books work well when a student selects a book.