Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Beginnings - Draw and Tell Stories

Note: Most of the books I used as resources for draw and tell stories are out of print. However, it was fairly easy to obtain decent and relatively inexpensive used copies.

Margaret Oldfield's books have been around a long time. Tell and Draw Stories was first published in 1961. (Note: This title has the author listed as Margaret Olson.) The other two titles are More Tell and Draw Stories and Lots More Tell and Draw Stories. The drawings in these books are simple and straightforward. All the drawings are animals and the stories that go with them are not long. These were the first draw and tell stories that I used. They were great for preschool storytime. I could learn them quickly and the children loved guessing what I was drawing. 

The theme for my first storytime was "Ducks." I used "Danny's Winter Vacation" from More Tell and Draw Stories. From then on Oldfield's stories became a regular part of storytime. Telling these simple stories gave me the confidence to try more complicated draw and tell stories. "Frankie and the Cat" from Tell and Draw Stories is probably my favorite and the one I used most often. At one point I could tell it from memory. 

Some of the stories are dated and need to be changed. For example, I changed "Two Little Indians" in Tell and Draw Stories to "Two Little Campers." The boys camped in tents (not tepees) with their families and then decide to go on their "adventure." If I do not like something about a story, I have no problem changing that story to suit my needs. Oldfield herself states this in her introduction which is in each book. This type of storytelling is fluid and easily adaptable. 

These books are great for those new to draw and tell storytelling. If you plan to do draw and tell stories often, it may be worth the effort to purchase used copies. Since the stories and drawings are not complicated, they will appeal to younger children. If you will be doing them for mostly older children then you may want to consider one of the other books I will be writing about in upcoming posts.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Draw and Tell Stories - Getting Started

Before I delve into the various sources of draw and tell stories, I would like to talk a little about this method of storytelling.

Try it, you'll like it!
Don't be intimidated by the fact that you have to draw a picture. It's really easier than it looks and no drawing talent is needed. What is needed is the willingness to spend some time practicing. As with any newly learned skill, it may seem difficult at first but will become easier with each story. Start with simple stories and remember that you are aiming for a recognizable image not great art. If you have ever doodled, you can do draw and tell stories. The picture you are drawing is broken down into steps so you are only drawing a small part of the picture each time you tell part of the story. Learn those steps and practice them and before you know it you will have mastered your first tale.

Why spend the time learning how to do draw and tell stories?
Learning this method of storytelling is worthwhile because it appeals to a wide age range. Although very young children are not impressed by the "magic" of a picture appearing as a story is told, older toddlers like to guess what you are drawing. If you work with only babies and toddlers, learning this new technique may not be worth the time. (Of course if you are interested, learn it anyway for you never know when you might use it.) Preschoolers love guessing so this is a great format to use with them. I often did a draw and tell story at the start of storytime to introduce the theme. The challenge is that the children become quite good at guessing which means you will eventually need to learn more complex stories. Draw and tell stories are great for class visits. Older children have usually not encountered them. They also appeal to adults making them a good choice for an all ages or family storytime. You do not need to use this technique for every storytime. I like to use a variety of storytelling techniques including cut and tell stories, puppets, props and the flannel board. Draw and tell stories are simply another tool to add to your storytelling repertoire.

Here are some tips to help you get started:
*As with choosing the books for storytime, keep the age of the children in mind.
*Memorize the drawing sequence not the story. Tell the story in your own words. Feel free to make changes so that you are comfortable telling the story.
*Practice drawing your story on scrap paper. I start out using small pieces of scrap paper to memorize the drawing sequence. Once I have done that I move up to the backs of outdated flyers to get comfortable telling the story. Use a white board or chalk board to practice a full sized drawing. 
*There are a few options for drawing. You can use a white board or a chalk board thus eliminating the need for paper. However, get one that can easily be turned around because some of the best stories require the picture to be drawn upside down. Also some drawings look better when the board is on its side. Some stories may require folding as well as drawing so if you want to do those you will have to use paper. I use 18" by 24" newsprint paper. I use the cardboard from the back of a used up pad as my backing. (If you are just starting and thus have no finished pad, there is no law that says you can't take the back off of the pad you are using.) I clip the paper to the cardboard. It is lightweight and easy to turn. I place it on an easel. It is a good size for large groups. Since markers bleed through paper, the cardboard protects whatever is behind it. For outreach I would clip sheets of paper to one side and move a sheet to the other side as needed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Exploring "Draw and Tell"

When I first started participating in Flannel Friday, I had no idea that "Draw and Tell" stories would be my most popular posts. "The Night Walk," the first one I posted, is the most popular with over 4,000 views. Overall, the draw and tell stories are the most popular posts on this blog with over 10,000 views. (Cut and tell stories are a distant second with around 3,700 views.)

More people are interested in draw and tell stories than I realized. This was a surprise to me since I didn't think they were used much in storytime any more. They seem old fashioned in these tech obsessed times. Old they are. People have probably been drawing in dirt or wet sand as long as there have been stories to tell. It is this connection to our past that appeals to me. I also love the idea of creating a picture as I tell the story. Children love it because not only do they see the picture being created but they also like to guess what it will be. Some clever folk have adapted this format using technology. A tablet can be a drawing pad and images can be projected. I still prefer a pad of newsprint and a Sharpie but then markers were new technology when I was a kid.

Because of the interest in draw and tell stories, I am going to explore this format in future blog posts. I have gathered some of the resources I have used over the years as well as some that are new to me and will talk about them. I will also post some tips and techniques as well as talk a bit about how I came up with my own stories. I hope that these posts will encourage people to try this form of storytelling.

Now that I am retired, I do some volunteer reading to kindergarteners at a local elementary school. The Wednesday before Halloween I did "The Halloween Hike" for two of the children. For various reasons we did not meet for almost a month. When we met again, the first thing one child asked was for another drawing story. I think I'll be doing more of them and maybe by the end of the school year I'll teach the children how to do one themselves.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 14, 2014 Flannel Friday

Welcome to the November 14 Flannel Friday Round-Up!

This week's submissions include several classics along with a large helping of cute.

Nikki of heytherelibrary is dealing with "Thanksgiving Overload" by using "Stone Soup" and "Turkey Wore His Red Feathers." The large, colorful vegetables for "Stone Soup: will be a hit any time of the year.

Kathryn of Fun with Friends at Storytime did a "Nocturnal Animals" storytime. Her five little owls are not only colorful but have very expressive eyes giving each one a distinct personality. So cute.

Katie of Story Time Secrets has a "What's On Your Plate?" flannel that can be used in different ways with different ages. Although the food theme goes well with Thanksgiving, it can be used at any time of the year.

Maggie of Playing the Hits presents her version of "Little Mouse." She talks about expanding vocabulary by using unusual colors and even patterns.

Jess of From the Liberry of ... shows us her version of "This Is the House That Jack Built." She features another method of making figures for the felt board. I like how when she couldn't find what she wanted, she created it herself.

Tara of Storytime with Miss Tara and Friends celebrates the season with a "Pumpkin" storytime for all ages. Her prop for the song, "Pumpkin Vine," is fantastic. So is her "Magic Autumn Cauldron" activity.

Kristen of Library Village shows us how she made finger puppets for "Two Little Blackbirds." Definitely cute!

Jane of Piper Loves the Library celebrates birthdays with cupcakes including candles and flames. I like how she combines felt and paper - mixed media for Flannel Friday folk. Also, congratulations to Jane for being ALSC member of the month!

Flannel Friday
 Past Round-Ups


So far my transition into retirement has gone quite well. I definitely enjoy not having to work at night especially since the time change.

My storytime skills are transferring to my volunteer work with adjustments. I am part of a group of seniors who read to Kindergartners. We each read to two children. My biggest adjustment is keeping my voice down since I am not the only one reading aloud in the room. I enjoy the fact that the children are very engaged with the books. Monday we read Moo! by David LaRochelle. We went through it three times. We also read That Is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems. I must admit that I was not particularly impressed by this book when I first read it. However, it comes alive when read aloud. The boys immediately joined in with the "chorus" and I got to do different voices.

Although the boys were completely engaged when we were reading the books, they got restless when we were not reading. I miss my storytime transitions! I would have loved to have done a draw and tell or flannel board story. I was not the only one with restless kids. I think I will borrow some of my storytime activities. I am going to make some Thanksgiving themed memory cards and bring them next week. Being a children's librarian has taught me to be flexible and to try new things as I transition into being an experienced senior volunteer. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Halloween Hike

Inspired by Flannel Friday's annual Halloween Round Up, I wrote another Halloween draw and tell story. This is my third one!

The Halloween Hike
Linda Meuse
Notes from the Story Room
Joe loved to hike and explore. So did his big sister, Meg. One sunny Halloween morning they decided to explore a nearby park.  "A nice long hike will help pass the time until we can go trick-or-treating," said Joe. "We should have plenty of time to explore before then," answered Meg.
When they got to the park, the first thing they did was walk around a crystal clear lake. (Draw 1) On the other side they came to a high hill. They decided to climb up the hill.  (Draw 2) The hill turned out to be much higher than they expected and it took a long time to get to the top. (Draw 3) Fortunately Meg and Joe had packed lunch and water in their backpacks. They had a nice lunch on top of the hill. Then they went down the other side of the hill. (Draw 4) It was much easier going down than up! There were lots of trees on this side of the hill. (Draw 5) They came across a pond with plants floating in it. (Draw 6) There was also a log in the middle of the pond. (Draw 7) They watched a dragonfly skim across the pond. (Draw 8) Joe and Meg walked around the pond. (Draw 9) There were lots of trees on the other side of the pond as well. (Draw 10)
"I feel like I am being watched," said Joe. "Me, too" said Meg. "Let's hurry home. We don't want to be late for the trick-or-treating tonight." Meg and Joe quickly left the park. Who was watching them on their Halloween hike?

This week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Sue of Library Village. Be sure to visit Flannel Friday for more storytime inspiration!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Family Storytime Presentation

This is my presentation as part of a panel, "Storytime Shake-Up," for the 2014 New Jersey Youth Services Forum held on October 1, 2014. A copy will also be available on the New Jersey State Library's Youth Services site.

Linda Meuse
1.  Engage all ages
     Humorous stories and folktales have a wide appeal.
     Book illustrations should be clear and colorful to keep the interest of the little ones.
     Pop-up books and lift-the-flap books will appeal to all ages.
     Don't forget the grown-ups! Draw them in with humor.
2.  Mix it up
      Use different types of storytelling.
      There are many options:
          draw and tell stories
          paper cutting stories
          flannel board stories
          prop stories
          puppet stories
       Keep props simple. Spend time on those that will be used frequently.
       Flannel Friday's Pinterest Pages provides a wealth of storytelling ideas.
3. Make them guess
     Guessing games appeal to all ages - patterns, hidden object, memory, what am I?
     The level of difficulty can be adjusted for various ages.
     Stories and books that involve guessing appeal to all ages.
4. Be flexible
     Have a variety of books suitable for both preschool children and toddlers.
     Ages will vary from program to program.
     Drop or add stories depending on the dynamics of the group.
     Finger puppets work well when the group is young.
     Using visuals when telling a story helps young children to focus.
     Sing songs or play games when the group gets restless.
     Don't worry if you lose little ones while doing a story for older children.
          Follow the longer story with something for the little ones.
          Often the little ones like to emulate the older children and will listen.
5. Make it yours
     Sing if you like to sing.
     Do a craft if you like crafts.
     Pick stories that you enjoy, not because they fit a theme.
     You will learn what works with your group over time.
     Tweak your program to fit your group using formats that work for you.
     Allow for family and sibling dynamics but control the chaos.

Examples of my family storytime programs and of the storytelling materials that I used can be found on this blog. If you have questions please leave a comment. I will reply to your comment. You can also contact me via Twitter - @LMeuse.