Some of my favorites kinds of stories to read with my children are folktales, myths, and legends – especially ones that explain the natural world. They attempt to give meaning to the unknown or mysterious. They can connect cultures across the world. They highlight our spiritual connection to nature.
So years ago when my children were engrossed in a solar system study, I asked them to pick one phenomenon they had learned about and create their own story to explain how that came to be. At the time they were 3, 6 and 8 years old. They really had fun applying some of their new knowledge in such a creative open-ended way and and I enjoyed seeing their perception of the world brought to life. How the results made me smile!
My three year old’s story was about an asteroid that hit Earth and caused an earthquake. Someone was sent to space to put a stop to it and then they “stayed home with their birds and cats and made bracelets all the day”. Can you tell what was important in her life at the time? Oh my cuteness!
I recently revisited this activity with my children as a way to encourage them to write (my youngest daughter is an early speller and my son is a reluctant writer). Since they love animals of all sorts, that was the jumping off point. My son chose to create a story about why sharks have so many teeth and my daughter’s explains how blue jays got their blue color. They are basic but 100% kid made. I’m sure we’ll continue to revisit and expand on this activity.
If this is something you would like to try with your child, I would suggest starting with some books. Here are some that we have read and enjoyed:
- The Crow’s Tale by Naomi Howarth (a similar version is Rainbow Crow by Nancy Van Laan)
- The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
- How the Stars Fell Into the Sky by Jerrie Oughton
- Raven: A Trickster Tale From the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott
- Coyote: A Trickster Tale From the American Southwest by Gerald McDermott
There are so many wonderful tales but these will get you off to a good start. If you have some favorites, please do share!
Once we had read several stories, the kids used these comic strips to help organize and sequence their story. They already knew that they wanted to make a stop motion movie so they just had to decide what type of material/object they were to use. Once they had created their characters, they grabbed the camera and were totally immersed in making their movies.
I wonder what kind of tale your child will come up with? Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll bring a smile to your face.
P.S. You read about a brief story that my daughter made up about dandelions wearing “hats” over at Playful Learning.