Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's In a Story?

Have you ever really listened carefully to the stories that your kids or your friends tell when they are engaged in storytelling? It's an amazing exercise and may even give you lots of information about them.

Kierran Egan is a professor of education at Simon Fraser University in Canada and author of the book, "Teaching As Storytelling: An Alternative Approach to Teaching and Curriculum in the Elementary School." He argues that schools often ignore the power and educational use of children's imaginations. Kids make sense of the world through stories. It helps them manage the information that comes in. And, teaching through storytelling is an important tool that should be used in the classroom.

So, what does this really mean? Well, it means letting the kids learn about abstract concepts like loyalty and betrayal, courage and cowardice, and honor and selfishness through stories--both those written by famous people and those written or told by themselves. Stories have a way of tapping into symbolic expression, which lies a little deeper under the surface and which gets kids totally engrossed.

So, grab your bag of Think-ets or StoryPlay Cards and tell your kids or friends to tell you a story. Short ones are fine. Then, take a moment and really look at the story elements they included. I like to think of stories as little inkblot tests, they sure can tell you a lot about what a person is thinking. And that, can be really interesting--and boatloads of fun.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Conversations That Feed the Heart

Conversations of the heart are important. They bring us closer to the deeper feelings we have inside that drive us. And, they bring us closer to the things we are thinking about or are truly joyous about. In our busy world, having these kinds of special conversations is important and one of the main reasons we created our StoryPlay Cards.

Our StoryPlay Cards were designed as a multi-purpose deck so kids wouldn't get bored with them. You can use them as storytelling cards. You can use them to play card games. And you can use them to start conversations of the heart.
Here is how it works.

Spread out some StoryPlay Cards face up. You can spread all of them or just 20 random ones. Take a moment to pick the one that says, "This is me right now!" Maybe it's the Path, Sword, Gift, or even the Shadow. Whatever it is, it is saying something that is important to you. We are driven by forces inside us and it's good now and again to look at and even dialogue about these things.

Last month, my daughter and I sat down and did this little card choosing with some close friends and their kids. I chose the Cocoon because I had just finished a long project that was exhausting and I needed a little inward time. We all went around and heard about the card that we picked. What is so precious about this is that we each got to know a little bit more about each other and it brought us closer.

Our world is indeed on the fast track of change and getting together with others to share in laughter, creativity and personal insight is a good thing.