How do you make story time fun for children?

body language children elt fun rhymes rhythm stories story story time storytelling Oct 22, 2021

By Dr Jeremy Koay

Stories, either written or spoken, are part of our everyday experience. You have read or heard stories that make you laugh, that awaken your curiosity, that inspire; as well, of course as the boring ones!

Most parents and teachers are aware of the benefits of reading storybooks to children. But how can you improve our story telling technique? Here are five ideas that make story reading entertaining and fun.

1. Use a different voice quality for each character

If there are conversations involving two or more characters in a story, assign a different voice quality to each one. In a story with two characters (a tiger and a rabbit, for example), you can use a low-pitched voice for the tiger and a higher one for the rabbit. You can also assign a different voice quality to the narrator.

2. Act with your voice

Use your voice to highlight or exaggerate an action. You can vary the quality of your voice by changing the volume (loud/soft) and the pitch (high/low). You can also vary your reading speed. When expressing excitement, for example, you can read quickly. Of course, how we relate these variations to specific emotions differs from one culture to another.

3. Stress rhymes and rhythm

If the primary goal of story reading is to promote a love of reading, story time should be entertaining and fun. One way to do this is to stress rhyme and rhythm when you see them. Stressing these sounds can encourage an appreciation for language and sounds. For example, you can stress all the C sounds in Clumsy Caleb climbs a coconut tree.

4. Use body language

Use facial expressions to make a story come alive. You can raise your eyebrows, blink, frown, or grin to express an emotion (surprise, excitement, anger, sadness). Where appropriate, you can use a range of actions, such as yawning, coughing or panting.

5. Encourage participation

In order to engage children in the storytelling, give them an active role. Ask them to imitate your voice. When you come across a sentence with interesting rhymes and rhythm, ask the children to repeat it after you. You can also ask the children to act out the characters. Ask them to imagine the setting and share with their friends what they see. Last but not least, ask them about the characters – what they think the characters might feel. But avoid regular interruptions.

Every child deserves an enjoyable story time. Try these ideas in your classroom and home. I hope you find these ideas useful.

Dr Jeremy Koay is a New Zealand-based Independent Researcher and a Research & Development Consultant at EduMaxi. He obtained his PhD in Applied Linguistics from Victoria University of Wellington in 2015. His research interests include Discourse Analysis, Genre Analysis and TESOL.

Image source: Konstantin