Teachers always think how to involve students into the process of active learning and how to motivate them. One of the ways to develop speaking and writing skills is to create stories together with students.
Creating stories with children is grounded in student’s ability to create a story from their personal experience. It gives encouragement to children within a structured framework and confidence in their creativity.
Creativity is very important in language teaching, because:
- language teaching is about the development of the whole person
- a key part of the child’s development
- it gives opportunity and encouragement to use new language, to play with the language and to feel the language.
There are problems in creating the story:
- do the students have enough language to create a story
Fluency is an important aspect of creativity; it means the willingness to develop the ability to speak, to listen and to participate. Of course, it takes time and depends on a teacher.
This is a story with single words but it is a story:
Little…green…frog…jump…from …leaf…to…leaf… play…dive.
The language here is very limited but you can understand the succession of actions.
As far as accuracy: accuracy and fluency need not to be in conflict. Interesting and relevant idea should be clearly expressed with correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.
There are two types of stories:
- quick time story
- long time story
Let’s look at some quick time stories. These stories can be produced during one lesson or even part of the lesson:
- Chain story. You give the sentence, then the first student repeats the sentence and adds his/her own, the second repeats the two sentences and adds one more and so on. Before you should say that there should be a story not separate sentences. The topic depends on the topic of the lesson.
- “If” stories. These types of stories are very successful while using the first conditionals. For example: If you go to the seaside in summer you will swim in the sea. If you swim in the sea you will meet dolphins… and so on.
- “This is the house that Jack built”. This type of story is also repetition, including new facts. The plot of the story may be different. For example: this is the place we visited last year and in this place we saw… met …played…spent and so on.
- “ In the dark, dark house”. These types of stories are very good at practicing the construction there is/are.
- Fortunately/ unfortunately stories. Each sentence begins with the word fortunately/unfortunately.
Long-time stories need more time for preparation. With my students we decided to write Christmas story. The first stage was brainstorming: I asked my students to think about as many words as they can connected with Christmas.
Then we discussed:
- who we want to be in the story
- where it will be
The next stage was to produce a questionnaire, we included the following questions:
- What do you know about Christmas in Britain?
- What you don’t know about Christmas in Britain?
- What do you know about Christmas in Russia?
- What you don’t know about Christmas in Russia?
The students asked their parents, classmates, and friends.
Another important stage was to particularize the characters:
- very old
- loves children
- with beard
- wearing a long red coat
- has a granddaughter called Snwmaid
- traveling by horses
- putting presents under a fur tree
- wearing red suit
- has no helpers
- traveling by reindeers
- putting presents into Christmas stockings
- coming to children though chimneys
Then we discussed the place of the story- North Pole and the plot itself- Santa Claus and Father Frost met in a special shop to buy the presents for the children on Christmas Eve.
After collecting all the necessary facts we started to produce the story.
A short description of the project:
Number of students - 20
Level and age - from elementary to intermediate
End product - a story
Form of presentation - a play and a poster
- asking and answering different types of questions
- making questionnaire about Christmas in Britain and in Russia
- creating a story
- practise in dialogue speech
Illustrations - pictures, stickers.
Time - 3 lessons.
Once upon a time Santa Claus and Father Frost met in a special shop where they usually take toys for children. They received letters from all over the world in which the children asked to send different presents to them for Christmas.
Santa Claus was in a hurry; he took everything from the shelves. Father Frost was going much slower.
“Why are you in a hurry?” asked Father Frost,” we have more than ten days to prepare for Christmas.”
“Your calendar is wrong, Christmas is the day after tomorrow on the 25th of December,” replied Santa.
“No, we have Christmas on the 7th of January”, argued Father Frost.
“Really? I’ve never heard about it, but..”
“Sorry, I have no time and besides I have to train everyday to be strong enough to climb up the roofs and go through chimneys to put presents into the stockings.,” said Santa.
“Why should you climb up the roofs, I simply put the presents under Christmas tree.” replied Father Frost.
Then he asked” Do you have any helpers?”
“My only helper is Rudolph reindeer with a shiny red nose. His nose shines in the dark and I can see the way. He is the most important of the other eight: their names are: Blitzer, Comet, Cupid, Dancer, Dasher, Donner, Prancer, Vixen.
“ I usually travel by horses but my best helper is my granddaughter Snowmaid. She helps me to give presents to children, to sing songs and dance with them around the fur-tree.”
“How old is she? What kind of girl is she?”
“She is a nice girl of about 10-11 years old. She knows a lot of songs and games. Our children are very glad to play games outside and make Snowwoman”
Santa:” But we call it Snowman, what songs do you usually sing on Christmas?”
Father Frost:” The most popular song is “ A fur tree was born in a forest..” And what about you?”
Santa:” We used to sing Christmas Carols but now special groups (usually children) sing carols in the street and collect money for charity. What do you eat on this holiday?”
Father Frost: “ Different things: salads, roast chicken fruit and vegetables and of course, drink champagne. I have heard that your dinner is very special”
Santa: “ Oh, yes. Christmas dinner is very special for us. We usually cook turkey, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts and Christmas pudding.”
Father Frost: “ Can you give me a recipe how to cook Christmas pudding?”
“ Sorry, the recipe is very complicated, there are many ingredients in it. I can send you the recipe by post.”
“ Thank you very much.”
Santa: “ Do you decorate your houses?”
Father Frost: “Yes, of course, we usually decorate fur trees (natural and artificial).
We put balls, toys, candles and a star on the top”
Santa: “ A star? We put an angel on the top of the fur tree. We don’t have natural trees in Britain; we decorate our homes with wreaths, holly, mistletoe and ivy. There is a belief that if you kiss someone under mistletoe you’ll be friends forever.
And also people from Norway send to the people of Britain a natural fur tree every year. We put it on Trafalgar Square.”
“ That’s very exciting. I like all this. What do you wish each other?”
“ We wish “ Merry Christmas”
“ We also wish “ Merry Christmas”
“ Oh, sorry I have to go as quickly as possible. See you! Good luck!”
“Good luck. See you again on Christmas Eve next year.
Variations: If your students are upper-intermediate or advanced, you can develop the story including more facts about similarities and differences between two cultures.