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.