For today's Screen-Free Week hand-out we provided copies of a sweet tale called "The Bubble Story" from the Wynstones Press book Summer as our take home activity. Along with the story was this short list of great storytelling resource materials for very young children:
(We're providing these materials primarily for children of pre-school and kindergarten age.)
- From Wynstones Press, a series of six books containing poems, songs and stories for young children: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spindrift and Gateways
- The Complete Grimmʼs Fairy Tales various collections available
- English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs
- Seven-Year-Old-Wonder Book by Isabel Wyatt
- The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly by Reg Down
- A Donsy of Gnomes, 7 Gentle Gnome Stories by Sieglinde De Francesca Healing
- Stories for Challenging Behaviour by Susan Perrow
- Storytelling with Children by Nancy Mellon
- Storytelling & the Art of Imagination by Nancy Mellon
- The Wisdom of Fairytales by Rudolf Meyer
What better way to fill our screen-free time than with the endlessly imaginative world of stories? As entertainment goes, listening to and reading stories are probably the most parallel replacements of television shows and movies that weʼll find. Not only do stories serve as fanciful diversions, they likewise help children develop concentration, memory, creativity, literacy, morality and verbal communication skills. They also aid developing people of all ages in understanding both their inner and the outer world.
One very important element of Waldorf Education in the early childhood years is the fostering of a childʼs creativity and imagination. It does this, not through providing fantastic stories that excite children, but rather through creating an environment which allows and encourages a child to exercise the parts of his or her being needed for life-long creativity and original thought. To do this, the child must be inwardly active. This is accomplished when the child must, out of her own inner picturing, create what the “castle” or “princess” or “dragon” is.
When images are supplied for children, we rob them of the opportunity of creating them themselves. Even illustrations in books take away from the childʼs exercising of her image- forming capacities. But with illustrations at least the child must bring those pictures into movement using her imagination. In video form, the pictures that move by themselves can actually hamper a childʼs development.
Stories, of course, come in all shapes and sizes ranging from simple incident narratives to exceedingly complex, interweaving machinations. Of course, stories will be different for each of the changing stages of a childʼs development, but there are endless supplies of books, anthologies and real life experiences that can be the source of tales told as we sit enjoying quality time together.
We can read stories from books, perform them as simple puppet shows or even act them out. Remember that our own lives, personal history and imagination are some of the greatest story resources we have.
“One of our most human capacities is the ability, as well as the need, to create stories. It is through the medium of story that we make meanings of our life. We each have our own personal story, which dynamically changes as our understanding and integration expand. Bruno Bettelheim tells us that the young child achieves “understanding, and with it the ability to cope, not through rational comprehension... but by becoming familiar with (life) through spinning out daydreams - ruminating, rearranging, and fantasizing about suitable story elements in response to... [life] pressures.”
Through the use of story, we can give our children powerful tools necessary to make sense of their lives. Stories offer our children examples of solutions for the difficulties they will encounter as they grow and develop. They also image for our children various qualities of character that will aid them in these difficulties. These images can lay a foundation of strength that will serve them for a lifetime...
Not only does the realm of story help growing children make sense of their inner experience, it can help them understand the way the outer world works, as well...””
- from Heaven on Earth, A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer
“In his book A is for Ox, Professor Barry Sanders develops the thesis that true literacy, and the ability to reflect upon oneʼs self and oneʼs actions, which it encourages, can only be based upon a firm foundation of oral language. His book provides a fascinating and cogent argument why, as he states, “The teaching of literacy has to be founded on a curriculum of song, dance, play, and joking, coupled with improvisation and recitation. Students need to hear stories either made up or read aloud. They need to make them up themselves or try to retell them in their own words... He also shows that this continuing emphasis on the spoken word in schools needs to be built upon the oral foundation provided by the parents in the home, through conversation, singing, nursery rhymes and stories...”
- from You Are Your Childʼs First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy