Storytelling in the classroom - summary
Some Tips for creating a storytelling culture in the classroom

A classroom culture that encourages good storytelling is one where:
everyone tells and everyone listens
tellers are encouraged to pick interesting stories and tell them in entertaining ways
listeners do so with dynamic attention, respect and will willingly give positive (at first) and then positive and constructive feedback
everyone is willing to go out on creative limbs and are appreciated for doing so.

We all tell personal stories in informal settings and personal stories, anecdotes or yarns about our personal adventures, unexpected happenings are best place to start in the classroom.
'All the People Who?' is a great game for sourcing personal stories and building the telling and listening
after each story contribution ask for positive feedback 'What did she do well?' 'What worked?'
interrupt criticism
join in and tell stories yourself

'The Emotions Game' encourages feelings and expressiveness and helps develop the group or the culture of sharing.

You can use other games like 'Something Happened' to encourage building narrative components such as settings or characters.

Positive feedback can be built into constructive criticism with - 'If that was my story, I would try ....................'

Personal stories can be shaped into other genre such as the yarn, the tall story, the myth and the legend.

Working on creating and improvising new stories can help in this process and is lots of fun. Theatre Sports rules such as 'no blocking' and 'no fudging' are really useful in expanding expressiveness, a culture of daring creativity and of supporting each others creativity.

Useful performance structures include:
Storytelling Cafe (lots of roles, tellers, compere, introducers, appreciators, waiters)
Story Slam Cafe or Concert
Storytelling Podcast (web broadcast or school viral mp3 distribution)
Mystery Object Story Improvisation Challenge
Digital Stories or Video Shorts
Fundraising Storytelling Concert

The Gift of Stories:
encourage tellers to give or present little gifts to their audiences of expressiveness, nice turns of phrase, a particular story that contributes to a current issue
encourage audiences to listen for and appreciate those gifts

cut down distractions
create safety (especially at first)
encourage appreciation of venues (sound quality eg)
build to tellling in more challenging or less safe venues

model telling and listening
create safe and easy venues at first
encourage positive and, later, constructive feedback only
use games and drama exercises
use performance structures like the Storytelling Cafe and Story Slams
use broadcast media such as podcasts and viral mp3s
have fun

More detailed exploration can be found in 'Storytelling and Story Creating in the Classroom' at

Top | Art of Storytelling | Storytelling in Australia

Daryll Bellingham, Storyteller
P.O. Box 5300, West End, Q4101, 
Brisbane, Australia
Tel. 61 (0)7 3846 3135
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Last update: 11th January, 2010.
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