A Few Approaches to Storytelling (Part 1)

A few years ago my wife and I went to our first national storytelling festival. Tens of thousands of people descended on this small country town just to listen to people tell stories.

Every storyteller had his or her own style. Some told stories that came from books. Some told stories that they made up themselves. Some told stories about events that they had experienced. Some made people laugh. Some made people cry.

Christians have the greatest story to tell! Curriculum materials usually suggest a simple way to tell the Bible story, but you can tell a story in many different ways. Here are just a few!

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Use sound effects.

—Use recorded effects.

—Use sound effects created by using props, instruments, or objects.

—Use sounds or sound effects created by the storyteller’s voice.

—Use sound effects created by the children.

Use music.

—Use recorded music as background. (An example would be a harp playing

as you tell the story of David, and tell about him playing the harp.

—Sing part of the story.

—Lead the children to sing as part of the story.

—Lead the children to write a ballad that tells the story.

Taste, smell, or touch something from the story. (tasting bread, grapes, pomegranates, figs, or olive oil; smelling flowers, touching rocks, water, or a certain kind of wood; and so on.

Ask the children to pretend to taste, smell, or touch something from the story.

Use props and the environment to help the children imagine how things looked, sounded, smelled, or felt. 

—Use a fan to create a breeze.

—Turn out the lights to create a nighttime setting.

—Sit on the floor around a pretend campfire or stream.

—Flash the lights to simulate lightning.

—Use a sound effects CD to create a howling storm, pigs snorting, lions roaring, angry people shouting, walls falling, and so on.

—Lead the children to pretend or pantomime throwing out the nets, stacking stones or bricks, lowering the friend, pulling the prophet from the cistern, and so on.

Next time: even more storytelling ideas!

James Hargrave teaches kids in Nashville Tennessee. He tells stories in his church and around the country.

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