Use as the inspiration for a family heritage “museum” project where students collect and display family photos and artifacts and tell the stories behind them.
Conduct an oral history interview with an older family member and write it into a story about yourself and your family. Think about the interesting characters in your family and what you remember most from the interview.
To connect storytelling with geography, get a map or atlas and look up where you were born and other places you have traveled. Trace the moves your family has made. See if you can learn about the movements of your parents and grandparents—and as far back as you can go.
Have students find and learn songs, which tell a story. Folk ballads to contemporary songs often suggest a larger tale. Listen to records and then have students retell the story in the song in their own words. Students may also have a “story song" concert.
Copy a folktale from a printed anthology and cut it up into sections or scenes. Paste each section on a separate page. Give out the sheets to students who each prepare to retell their small piece of the whole story. Assemble the story by having each student retell his or her part in the plot's sequence. Have students keep the flow going as the story is told so that the performance moves along as though one person were telling it. Do a second round by giving students different sections to retell. Discuss differences from the first round to the second round.
According to storyteller Anndrena Belcher, “Each person’s life story comes from the people with whom he or she has lived life. Family, friends, teachers, coworkers, the old man at the store, camp counselors—all of them can be characters in a person’s life story. All of these people have their own life stories to hear and learn from; everybody has something—some story to pass on.”
It used to be common to see families gathered around their porches listening with rapt attention to family lore, which over time often gained momentum with new embellishment each time it was retold. Storytelling is actually the oldest form of education. No matter our ethnic, cultural or material differences, these generational tales have influenced us all. Life transpires so quickly between generations that these glimpses into their legacies have allowed us to tap into our imaginations; closing the gap between a grandchild and their elders with glorious tales about times without technology and a simpler lifestyle. The very essences of these cultures unfamiliar to us inspire, amuse, educate us and define who we are.
All human beings have that inner desire to hear and tell stories. Just listen to the enthusiasm in a child's voice as they strive to relate a story that has been particularly relevant to them. They are especially fascinated by the intricacies of a good story. Is it any wonder then, that throughout the generations so many stories have endured?
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