Archive for September, 2009

Stories that Travel

LP and I are newly back from a trip to the East Coast to visit a bevy of family. A really good time AND disorienting for LP in all the ways that you’d expect for a 2.5 year old away from Improvdad and home and routine.

Now I thought that making up stories together would fill hours of plane time but she was having none of it. She has figured out that plane trips are about all the mysterious snacks & toys in the huge backpack…an improv story is a good time but alas, cannot be wrapped up in tissue paper like a present. (Although one can give each other pretend presents but that’s a game for slightly older kids…and a different post).

The time & place for improv stories was when LP needed comfort, when she was feeling overwhelmed and tired and missing home. AND the stories she desired were about familiar characters in familiar places doing ordinary things.

LP has a group of characters she likes to hear stories about. We often also sing songs about them too. I cannot remember the evolution of them but they are here to stay. So I introduce you to….the Guy and the Fly and the Noisy Cow. Since they are old favorites, I started to tell her a story about the three of them going to the backyard to play.

At the end of the story, she asked for another. I followed an impulse and asked her “same story or different story?” LP replied “same story!” and I told her the same little tale about the Guy and the Fly and the Noisy Cow playing in the backyard at least 4 times. Then the same repetition of story about the Guy and the Fly trying to wake up the Noisy Cow from a nap.

I love it when I am surprised by what stories can give us…in this case, the stories were a security blanket, a reminder of home and a way to connect and get grounded again.

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Some folks are more comfortable than others spinning stories. It seems like I often hear or read about parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents/nannies/etc who tell fantastic, episodic stories.

Kind of intimidating for the rest of us.

So start simple. There’s no pressure for a made-up story to be a certain way or even “good.” What is “good” in relation to stories anyway? If you and your little person enjoy the experience, then it is good.

Start with something small that really happened.

“Once upon a time, LP was waiting for the bus with her mama. It was a hot day and they waited and waited and waited.”

Then make an offer that can trigger your (and their) imagination. Words like “suddenly” and phrases like “all of a sudden” can be magic in inspiring what comes next.

“Suddenly a giant bumblebee flew over to them and offered them a ride.”

If you get stuck for plot, move to description and color the story.

“The giant bumblebee has 3 black stripes and 3 yellow stripes. It was very fuzzy and was wearing a bright, pink scarf. “

You can alternate between “suddenly” moments to move the action of the story forward and descriptive moments until you’re ready to wrap the story up.

LP & her mama climbed on the giant bumblebee’s back and flew home. They invited the bumblebee in for a snack. They all had tea and and graham crackers with honey.

Some stories will be of the moment and then are gone. Others will capture your little person’s imagination and then you have the foundation for episodic stories. (A post on that topic coming soon!)

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