How We Use Storytelling in Fort Myers Speech Therapy
From fables and fairytales to silly rhymes and serious plots, kids LOVE story time! At its core, storytelling is about connection and communication. Everyone has a story to tell, and stories help us to understand the world around us and empathize with the people in it. Being able to follow – and tell – a story helps to understand the actions and opinions of others, and allows others to understand us too. Stories can be poignant and meaningful, giving us insight into an important life lessons, or they can be simple, everyday conversations, such as what someone did that weekend. When children learn how to tell stories, they learn how to be better communicators. At our FOCUS Fort Myers speech therapy clinic, we love using creative stories in sessions. It not only teaches children important communication skills, it keeps them interested and engaged!
Teaching storytelling involves not just reading stories, but breaking them down into the most basic parts for kids to understand. In our experience with young children, it’s best to start with simple narrative stories and then help them to identify the beginning, middle, and end. We teach them the transition words (first, then, next, last…). Even if retelling the story is difficult, sparse, or choppy at first, the idea is to help ensure the retelling isn’t random – it’s an organized beginning-middle-end structure.
For instance, we’d tell the story of the Three Little Pigs like this:
- First, three little pigs built three houses.
- Then, a big, bad wolf said he would blow their houses down.
- Finally, the three pigs found safety in the house made of bricks.
Once they’ve mastered this basic Beginning, Middle, End, we can help them work on the more complicated story structures, such as orientation/setting (answering the who, where and when questions), the complication/plot (answering the what questions), the action (this answers the what and also how), the resolution (also the what and how questions) and the ending.
No doubt these are skills your child will need in school. The sooner we begin working on it when they’re younger, the better.
Using Stories in Speech Therapy Sessions
We often start with small children using basic action cards to put together stories.
Each card represents part of the story. For example, we might lay out cards that show a basic bedtime routine or how to play a game. Each card represents a “beginning,” “middle,” and “end.” If those concepts are still tough to grasp, we might start by practicing a snappy story song. “First is Number 1, Second is Number 2, Third is Number 3 and Last is at the end!”
Other ways we incorporate storytelling in speech therapy sessions:
- Picture sequence. We set out a series of cards with characters engaged in various actions, and the child has to put them into the correct sequence so it makes a coherent, logical story.
- “Caption this.” We find a funny photo (or series of photos) of babies, animals or kids and ask the kids to caption the pictures. We want them to think about: How does the person feel? What are they thinking? What would they be saying?
- Use the five-finger story retelling activity. Each finger represents a different story element: Thumb is the character, index finger the setting, middle finger the problem, ring finger the actions, and pinky finger the solution (or feelings). We can turn this into a drawing/cutting activity as well.
- Using a photo to retell a story. A picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s often where we can start in retelling a story. We might show a picture of a family riding bicycles. We can start to ask questions (Who is there, where are they, what are they doing, etc.). From there, we can help the child make up the story.
These are just a few examples, and we obviously tailor these activities to your child’s age and abilities. We do also recommend parents read to their kids early and often – every chance they get. The more opportunities kids have to hear stories and story sequences, the more skilled they will be at comprehending and retelling.
FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
More Blog Entries:
Why Our FOCUS Speech and Occupational Therapists LOVE Puppets, April 8, 2018, Fort Myers Speech Therapy Blog