National Storytelling Week 2020:
3 Creative Ways to Tell a Story

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a land far, far away… you’re no doubt familiar with these classic story openers. Perhaps they remind you of your childhood and stories at bedtime. Maybe you’ve told stories to your own children, younger siblings, or your students. Or do you have memories of camping trips, huddled around a fire, competing with friends on that crucial defining question: who can tell the best ghost story?

As this week comes to a close, schools, clubs, museums, spoken word venues and heaps of other organisations will have been celebrating the oral tradition of storytelling by hosting events right up until the 8th February. As one of the most ancient artforms, this year’s National Storytelling Week will focus on demonstrating the difference between reading and storytelling.

But there are many other interesting and engaging ways to tell a story – or, more importantly, for your students to tell their stories. Check out our 3 creative ways to tell stories this National Storytelling Week below.

3 creative ways to tell stories this National Storytelling Week

crowdsourcing a story

All good tales require a two-way process – usually the storyteller and the listener/reader. But what about when you include your audience in the story development?

Depending on their age, your students may have social media accounts – or your school may have their own profile or internal school-focused social media platform. Start by sharing a post with the first line of a story. You could even begin with something much simpler, such as a character’s name.

Next, ask followers to respond by taking it in turns to describe:

  • What the character did (a funny or outrageous action!)
  • How they did it (using adjectives and adverbs for descriptions)
  • Where they did it (location – it could be real or fictional)
  • When they did (as specific as the time of day to a period in time – past, present or future)
  • Why they did it (this will get your students thinking about a character’s motivation)

This works particularly well on Twitter.

If you don’t have social media, or don’t have feel comfortable asking your students to use this medium, you can always do it the old-fashioned way – with a pen and paper. Start by writing the character’s name at the top of a piece of paper, fold it over, pass it to the student on your right and follow the steps above.

use a combination of film, images and verbal communication

You don’t just have to stick to one medium when you’re telling a story. Set your students a task to tell a well-known story (such as a popular fable like The Tortoise and The Hare) using more than one type of method. This works best for students working in a group. Maybe challenge them to use at least two of the following:

  • Verbal/spoken word
  • Film
  • Photography/imagery
  • Props
  • Performance
  • Drawings

For example, they could start by showing a drawing of the tortoise and the hare, then describe their personalities. The students could get into character and film their peers acting out the role of the tortoise and the hare. This is a really creative exercise for incorporating drawing, performance and film in order to open up new opportunities for your students while boosting their confidence.

Finally, ask your students to consider what made the story more interesting by using these different types of storytelling methods. Which did they like best? How did the different types complement each other? Did it change the story in any way?

make it into an interactive game!

Who doesn’t love a bit of audience participation? This creative form of oral storytelling includes the audience in the plot of the story. Similar to a video game, the storyteller will offer at least two options for the character to take at different stages in the story, in order to move the narrative along. Depending on which option chosen by the audience (this would usually be a vote through a show of hands), the story will move in a specific direction.

For example, the character could be a student who has to decide which way to walk to school that morning. One route is more scenic, whereas one is on a busy road. What different things might the character see on each route? Who might they encounter?

The brilliant aspect of this activity is that the story can be told more than once, producing a series of different scenes and potential endings.

This could be an activity you do with your class, with you – the teacher – as the storyteller. Or you could set your students a challenge to create their own interactive story!

What are you doing for National Storytelling Week?

Has your school or class done anything exciting for National Storytelling Week? If so, let us know what you’re up to by posting on our Twitter and Facebook.

Want to discover more creative activities to use in your lessons? Why not sign up to our Creative Schools Network?