04. Facilitating Story-making

For a story to truly hold the child’s attention, it must …
be attuned to his anxieties and aspirations; give full
recognition to his difficulties, while at the same time
suggesting solutions to the problems which perturb him.’
Bettelheim 1991

A. Co-creating the story

1SL teacher provides a story opening following discussion with parent about child’s emotional concerns using animal or fantasy metaphor e.g. Mildred the mouse peered out from behind the bush. She was feeling worried. 

1Going clockwise round table invite each person to add the next part of the story. The order is SL teacher-Pupil-Parent- TA- (any other professional)-SLteacher. If someone is stuck they can ‘pass’. Go round 2 or 3 times. If the story gets confused SL teacher provides a summary of the story so far. SL teacher completes the story and brings it to a ‘resting place’.

1Take a few notes during the story-making but try to just write down key words and maintain eye contact.

1SL teacher retells the story to the group: ‘If you’re sitting comfortably, I will now tell you our story…’.  Re-telling story will help you remember it for writing-up

B. Writing up the story

1Include as much verbatim as possible from pupil  and parent.

1Keep story to 2 pages of A4 – including 2 picture boxes.

1Give each week’s story a new title.

1Change font according to length of story.

5. Keep story metaphors concrete e.g. ‘blowing smoke rings’ rather than  ‘joining in’; ‘the crowd was cheering’ rather than ‘Dino got attention’.

6.Keep animals in an animal context within stories e.g. bears in caves not on sofas; otherwise metaphor may become too close to the child’s and parent’s everyday reality.

7. Make notes each week as the pupil reads last week’s story and keep thesein mind when writing up the story to the appropriate skill level. Particularly  focus on:

  • High frequency words.
  • Families of words.
  • Favourite words.

If I’d have gone to the library to pick out books that he could read like this he wouldn’t let me, he wouldn’t get them. … So, the fact that he’s put the input in – I think that made a big difference.
John’s Mum

From the Dragon’s Mouth