How to Tell a Story – DYI Home Story Baskets
With my retirement coming up at the end of next month, I’ve started to think about what my legacy at Albany UU might be. One of the things I think I’ll be remembered for is for telling engaging stories. I don’t have a need to write stories, because there are so many good ones out there. It’s the telling of them and engaging people in them that excites me. It’s what motivated me to use story baskets often this year for the Wisdom Story in the services online. Maybe my storytelling could inspire you to tell stories this way in person with your family. I’d like to share some tips with you that, as it just so happens, were part of our Soulful Home packet written by my colleague Teresa Honey Youngblood. Follow her suggestions to use story baskets at home like a pro.
Some stories will come to have special places in your family. If you have a few beloved stories, begin with those. If you don’t, take a look at this list, which was compiled from many UU religious educators’ favorite and most often told stories, stories that seemed key to understanding some important aspect of UU theology.
Once you have a story or two you’d like to work with, gather a few objects that might help bring the story to life. Maybe it’s an animal toy, or a few toy buildings. Maybe it’s a length of yarn. Maybe it’s a few smooth stones. Go shopping amongst your child’s toys, find materials out in nature, or check out thrift stores.
For the month, put these objects (and maybe the books, or printouts of the story that they accompany, if you don’t have the stories memorized) in a basket or bag in a place where you often snuggle or casually hang out as a family. Throughout the month, read or tell the beloved story together a couple or a few times. Invite your child to play with the story basket as you do. Some families like to add a little something to the basket each time, too. Our richest stories have so many different themes, lessons, and ideas in them that you could conscientiously choose different things each time in order to lift up a new aspect of the story.
An example might be, for the story Stone Soup, for you first to add a couple of stones to the basket, then a few dried beans or play-pretend foods, then a few different people or little houses. Subtly, this moves the focus from the stone itself being the novelty, to the food that nourishes the travelers and the villagers, to the villagers themselves and the community they make together. Be creative with this, and invite your child to think what could be added with each retelling, too.
Here’s a link that has specific suggestions for how to use your story basket, or you could keep it casual, like fidgets for your child to hold as you read: https://www.theempowerededucatoronline.com/2018/11/story-bag-basket-or-prop-box.html/
I hope that these tips will help you to make your home story-sharing experience a little bit richer, a little bit more fun, and a little bit more memorable. Long live storytelling!
Yours in faith,