Some years ago, after a storytelling set, a curriculum teacher told me she really wanted to start using storytelling in the classroom. She asked me what would be the best grade to implement such a thing.
I know I had one of those run over by a train looks on my face.What’s the best grade?
We seem to have forgotten that educating a student is like using a slow cooker to make dinner. You put the raw ingredients in, turn down the heat, and over the course of many hours the various ingredients in the pot simmer and blend to become a savory stew.
So, what is the best place to start using storytelling?
How about hours old? That’s always good.
The best place to begin using storytelling as an integral part of curricular studies is…
Yes! This is amazing. You can start kids thinking about elements of a story, how language is put together, and images create meaning! Yes!
Sure! That is a great place to start giving kids the tools for language and comprehension. I’m on board.
Yes, you will see some immediate results if you start with first. Go for it!
Fourth? (This is a long read, but if you are interested, it is interesting. You can also skim the bits that look interesting.)Yes, fourth is clearly the best grade to start…right?
Wait. What about Fifth?They are getting ready for middle school, right? Fifth would ensure they are getting that oral presentation piece. Right?
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“What is the best grade to start storytelling?” is a question that needs a long answer about building skills, reading and vocabulary, but in schools today where some amorphous “they” need a provable quick answer that can be tested immediately by a rubric…I’m thinking fourth grade might be a place to start.The kids are developmentally ready to incorporate the lessons, and it will make a huge difference to them at once.
I am brought to mind of that famous Donald Davis story about storytelling and writing. He was teaching in a school and he had a number of kids who were struggling with writing. He had the teachers send those kids to him in the library every Friday for a month for stories. At the end of that time, all of the kids could write stories
So, for anyone who might be curious, this seems to me to be the progression in question.
1. Before you can write a story, you have to know what is in a story.2. In order to know what is in a story, you need to be exposed to stories. If you can’t read, hearing them is perfect. Even if you can read, hearing them is perfect.
3. Once you are exposed, you will figure out that stories are built out of images. So, you need to figure out how to build images with language
4. Once you understand that you can build images with words, you have to start figuring out what words you know that can be used to build images.
5. Once you start looking through your own vocabulary for descriptions, characters, and settings your ability to visualize language will improve, and that will also increase your joy of reading.
6. f you can’t associate words and images, you can’t read, and writing will be impossible.
So, the best answer to the question, “What’s the BEST grade to start storytelling?” is pretty straightforward.
EVERYWHERE. Start EVERYWHERE.
If that isn’t feasible…sigh…start in fourth grade.
Happy Storytelling In Education!