Storytelling: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Molly Margeson

Molly has taught SAT preparatory material and courses for the past two years and has a master's degree in English with a focus in creative writing.

When we hear a really good story, we tend to remember the details well enough that we can tell our friends and family! So what makes us remember these stories? Let's explore the art of storytelling and the elements of a memorable story.

What Is Storytelling?

There was once a bear that lived in a beautiful forest. He had many friends that would stop by his oak tree home for some honey. This bear was pretty much the sweetest bear you could ever hope to meet. But he had a problem. He was forgetful. This little bear, stuffed with fluff, was so forgetful!

You may have guessed by now that this is the story of Winnie the Pooh. The reason we remember the story of Pooh Bear so well is in part because of the way it is told--it has interesting details and language, and it's presented in a colorful, expressive manner, which are elements of storytelling. Storytelling is when we tell someone a story using spoken word, and it often involves gestures, dance, images, chants, sounds, and other exaggeration to tell the story.

This oral tradition is a form art and expression that dates long before movies and even books. It has its roots in ancient cultures all around the world. In America, the Native Americans have used storytelling for thousands of years to pass down history and heritage as well as for enjoyment.

Native American storytelling that incorporates painted images.
Storytelling

Elements of a Story

If you introduced a story by saying 'I had a dream last night,' that's not very interesting. If you introduced your story by saying 'I had a wild dream that I was on a river cruise, and my boat was bitten in half by an alligator that chased me to shore,' your listener might be more interested. That's because you've added more details and drama to grab your listener's attention and pull them into the story. But details aren't the only thing that tell a story.

A story requires three important things that allow people to follow along: plot, characters, and point of view. Let's explore these elements below.

Plot

The plot is a lot like the timeline of the story. It includes the whole sequence of events from start to finish. The plot typically consist of five elements: (1) the explanation of the situation (called an exposition), (2) rising action that leads to the climax, (3) the climax itself, (4) falling action after the climax, and (5) the final resolution (called a denouement). Without plot, you don't have a story to tell!

The plot of a story from beginning to end.
Plot chart

Characters

Your characters are the people, animals, and even objects involved in your story! Winnie the Pooh is a character in his story, as are his friends Piglet, Rabbit, Tigger, Eeyore, and Owl. It is possible to tell a story without characters, but this can be very difficult. Imagine a story with no character as opposed to a story with a knight going on a journey to pull a sword from a stone!

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