"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Imagination: 2 Ways to Zap Creativity into Kids

Zap! Click! Are those sounds heard in your living room as the children flip through television channels?

If your answer is yes, then your home is not the only one with these noises.

We are in a media-oriented age. Though we have gained much knowledge from technology, one thing that we are losing is our imagination.

A Kindergarten teacher recently invited me to tell at her school this December. She remembered decades ago when radio programs were popular and she could create images in her head from the stories. The narrator introduced characters and settings in such a way that one listener may see a brown-eyed heroine in their mind while another person may see a blue-eyed heroine. She expected children listening at a storyteller’s feet would have the same affect as the radio program.

Besides this teacher, even children are recognizing that something fading from their minds. While in the theatre watching a movie based on a book, a child sitting next to me said, “The movie ruined the picture in my head. I can’t remember the picture anymore.” I waited to hear the dad respond, but he said nothing.

Parents, teachers, and adults can direct children in certain activities, such as the two I suggest, so that statements of lost imaginations disappear.

  1. Play Storytelling Games
  2. Share Bedtime Stories

Play Storytelling Games--

Stretch the dormant imagination muscles in the mind through active games. A storytelling game promotes creativity and develops speaking and/or listening skills. A video game tends to lack these elements.

Some exciting games can be found in “Raising Voices: Creating Youth Storytelling Groups and Troupes” co-authored by Kevin Cordi and Judy Sima. One example is “Academy Awards Acceptance Speech”. Haven’t we all wondered what we would say to millions of people when we received “Best Picture”? Now you do not have to wait for that moment.

The parent can call out their child’s name, mention which Academy award was given. You can even make it more realistic by having an envelope and maybe even a trophy. The child walks to the front of the room, and then is directed on how to react. Emotions of happiness, surprise, or even sadness could be suggested. The child gives a short speech of why it was an honor or who inspired them. The parent must remember to applaud afterward. Then the parent and child can switch roles.

Many more games are in the book that will work for different ages. Though I find games that engage elementary-aged kids will amuse college students and so on. Storytelling games were almost always played at our weekly gatherings for the Brigham Young University Storytelling Club. I noticed that our shy members at the beginning of the semester soon became more expressive by the end of the semester.

Play hard and play often. The youth you see with me at the top of this message are ones who know how to have fun through use of use gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Anyone could get a physical as well as a mental workout. Can television offer such a reward?

When night comes, your imagination will be warmed up through playing games that the next step of telling bedtime stories will be easy.

Share Bedtime Stories--

Reading books to children is important though I encourage you to tell stories without the books every so often. If you are unsure what to tell a story about, then ask questions that the children answer.

A dialogue could go something like this--

Parent: Once upon a time there was a what?

Child: Uh, a princess.

Parent: Okay, so once upon a time there was a princess who liked to. . .(while looking at the child)

Child: She liked to blow bubbles.

--and so on and so forth.

As you get more practice, then you can do what I like to do. I ask for three things/nouns the listener wants in the story. My college roommates would ask for bedtime stories and I honored their requests. One night they wanted a story with the following: prince, princess, and flying carpet. I could have easily told “Aladdin” though I decided to have fun, take risks, and tell a story from the flying carpet’s point of view.

Regardless of how you tell the stories, you will find these moments precious. I recommend you write at least some of these creations, if not all, for family history before you fall asleep that night.

The two steps of playing storytelling games and sharing bedtime stories will succeed when you are involved. Though a child may play games on their own, they will not be as excited as when you join them. When it comes to bedtime stories, you act as a model of how to expand the imagination.

Zap! Click! These can be sounds heard within your child’s mind as creativity sparks and stories form.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799

1 comment:

SL said...

Excellent! I will use these ideas to get my girls to open up and experiment more with their creative side. I just found your blog and I really like it.