Storytelling is something that will never grow old and will be forever timeless. When someone tells a good story, the listener is left wanting more and uses their imagination to fill in the gaps. Literacy and language skills are ignited when engaging in a good story.
A great way to introduce young children to stories is through the concept of short stories. Short stories for kids are not lengthy and have a theme to open up great discussion and ask deeper level questions. I like to do short stories during my whole group time or with specific small groups of students. I often will write them on large bulletin board paper or project them on the SMART board so that students can see the words as I read them.
Here are just a few examples of some short stories for kids I like to do during whole group time when introducing a new topic or idea.
An Ice Cream Story
This is a fan favorite. Who doesn’t love ice cream?
While we definitely eat it during summer time, this is a topic I sometimes will do in the winter when discussing snow and cold temperatures or any time of year really! I like to write the words of this story on BIG paper so that the whole group can see each word clearly. I use different colors for certain words so that students can recognize sight words or certain devices like nouns, verbs, etc. We underline, we circle, and we make it very interactive so that students can see that reading and writing is fun!
Once we read this short story, I like to pull students a few at a time to tell me their short story about ice cream. I write the words as they say them (for younger children), but if you have older students, they can draw and write themselves! We then display the writing next to the original short story, and parents love seeing the work their children created!
Social Distancing Story
Being apart from loved ones is hard, for both children and for adults. Opening up this conversation in the form of a short story is a safe way for students to know they can freely share.
This is a short story I enjoyed reading with my students when we returned from the shutdown recently. But the really neat thing about this story is it can be read even down the road when this pandemic is in the rearview mirror because we can remember what we felt like and recall what happened then.
After reading this together on the SMART board, I have my students think of how they can add to this story to give it a happy ending. Children might add details to the idea of the day when hugging will happen again. It helps make it personal and real to them. Once we add to the story and finish it, typing it up and sharing with families asking them to discuss how hard it is for them too is important and helps the family move forward and empathize together.
A Short Story About Animals
This is a fun, engaging way to explore different animals. Whether you are focusing on studying animals specifically or just want a rhyming story/poem to read together, this one is great.
One way I like to use this short story is by making two columns on the white board. One column is labeled ‘animal’ and one column is labeled ‘describing words’ (or adjective for older kids). Then I have students name their favorite animal and why they like it by using “describing” words. This is a great exercise and can help with writing prompts later.
Next, I like to read this short story so students can listen for the animal they mentioned.
Lastly, I have students draw a picture of their favorite animal either from the story or one that was not mentioned. Then they try their best to write the reason why they like it. Teachers can encourage students to use their best kid writing for this and then hang their creations up surrounding the short story on big paper.
All About Me
One of the best ways to help students develop empathy and a more open worldview is to learn about how every person is unique and has different likes and dislikes.
To open up this lesson, I like to show photos of my favorite foods, animals, activities, etc. The students hold up their “thumbs up” sign if they agree and their “thumbs down” sign if they do not agree. For example, I show a photo of sushi. If kids like sushi, they hold their “thumbs up” sign. Then, we discuss how it’s okay to not like the same things as others, but we still need to be kind about it. Saying, “ew, that’s gross and weird,” would not be a kind thing to say, so we role play ways to show that we politely do not agree. This is a skill that all children need to learn (and many adults) to allow for a safe space to be unique and content with your differences.
Now, more than EVER, we need to encourage students to surround themselves with others who like different things, look differently, and are willing to learn about each other. Each person has a story, and this is a great way to learn about others’ stories in a fun and meaningful way.
A Water Cycle Story
When learning about the water cycle, reading this story is a great way to start! I like to have kids spread out all over the room with a clipboard, paper, pencil, and crayons. I read the story slowly, and I read it twice. As I’m reading, I have the students draw what I’m reading. Some may focus on the rain, some may focus on the thunder, and some may focus on lakes or ponds getting bigger. This is a fun activity to work on listening and creating. After you read the story a few times, have students share their creations. Then, have a discussion about what they want to learn about within the topic of the water cycle.
Short stories give so much potential for children to continue the dialogue on whatever topic they are about, as well as ignite a love for writing and reading! Using these examples will definitely enhance their experience with language and literacy as well as encourage them to use expressive language on their own. Whatever the topic of study may be, introducing short stories in this way will allow children to see how fun reading and writing can be!
For even more in-class planning materials, see our daycare activities!