OBSERVATIONS · oral stories · writing

Oral Storytelling

Last week, there were a couple of posts on Two Writing Teachers that inspired me as a parent.  Betsy wrote about writing in pre-K and Beth crafted an open letter to parents about fostering a love of writing at home. Both posts made me realize I haven’t spent a lot of time developing Isabelle’s pre-writing skills.  Sure she has a magna doodle and an easel. Sure she likes to scribble with crayons. Sure she likes to grab for a pen and make wild circles whenever possible.  But I expend most of my literacy-related energy with her fostering a love of books and working on her oral language.

Therefore, yesterday afternoon I was brainstorming ways I can help her develop some pre-writing skills and two things came to mind:

  1. Tell more oral stories.
  2. Sit down and talk about our day. Perhaps we can retell the big points of the day.  She can scribble and I can label her scibbles with one or two words.  (Not sure on that front yet.)

Last night was a strange night since we were out later than normal at Hershey Gardens for Pumpkin Glow.  While we had a great time, we didn’t get Isabelle into bed until 9:30 p.m., which is 90 minutes later than usual! As a result, she was pretty crabby. In order to calm her down I asked her if she wanted to hear a story about a time when she was a baby. She did so I told her how the two of us used to rock for hours, in the middle of the night, when she was a baby in the very same glider I was sitting with her in last night.  The story soothed her instantly and within minutes I had her in her crib without a bit of protest.

* * * * *

That thing about kids’ waking up earlier when they go to bed later is true! We heard Isabelle around 5:30 a.m. My husband went into her room and soothed her back to sleep, but that was short-lived. Therefore, I was in her room way before her usual 7:00 a.m. rising time.

I picked her up and sat her down in the chair next to me.

“Baby,” she said.

“Baby what?” I asked.

“Baby,” she said.

What could she mean? Then it hit me! “Do you want me to tell you stories of when you were a baby?” I asked.

“Yes!” she said, happy I understood.

“Okay, let’s see…” And so it began. I told her about her first summer going to the swimming pool, going in the ocean for the first time, playing in the sand for the first time (and how I didn’t think I’d ever get her clean again!), and more.  After awhile she got tired of the stories, grabbed a picture book, and said, “Mama, here!”

I moved over so she could sit beside me.  Eventually, my husband came in after 7 a.m., confused about where I was, where the baby monitor was, and why the lights were on.  I told him what we had been doing (telling stories) and soon after that he took over so I could go back to bed for an hour.

* * * * *

I came downstairs around 8:30 a.m. and found Marc and Isabelle snuggled on the couch with their legs under a blanket paging through some photo books.  I was quiet as I approached. I overheard him telling her stories of when she was younger. She was listening intently.  It was absolutely precious.




8 thoughts on “Oral Storytelling

  1. This is so wonderful. Sharing those stories with her will continue to delight her and create memories for her to cherish. One day she will write them and you can share them together again. Lovely.

  2. Lucy Clakins talked about this in her parenting book…Raising Life-Long Learners. I really like the idea of recounting the day and talking about things we have done together. It’s a nice way to end the day.

    1. We often take a cue from Tell Me the Day Backwards, which is one of Isabelle’s favorite picture books. I always find it fun to do the reverse sequence (and I always talk about how it’s like the book we love to read together).

  3. I am glad that you shared this. I love the connections and reflections as a parent. I was thinking about scrapbooking and how my girls love to look through our scrapbooks together, so when I saw that Marc was looking at photo albums at the end, I smiled. I was thinking that you have also been keeping a private blog for her. That is going to be a great source of memories for her as well. It might even be one of her favorite texts once she is reading!

  4. Oh, so nice to hear, Stacey. When my grandkids spend the night, I tell them stories about their lives & you are so right, they do love them. What a nice discovery for you all.

  5. This is so precious, Stacey. My Maddie loves to look through her own baby book and photo album. Recently, my husband and I watched her flip through Katie’s books and tell Katie stories about when we “went to the hospital to get her”. It was heart-warming.
    I think it’s so wonderful to remember oral story telling, in addition to reading stories. I love this post. Thank you.

I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s