Monday, August 29, 2016
This Is Just The Beginning of Your Story
In my years of working with school age children, I have come to realize that this ability to come up with and write stories can be quite difficult for children with learning difficulties. The very thought of having to come up with a whole story can cause them to become incredibly anxious. However, if you help them start the story, they are more likely to be able to come up with ideas on how to end the story. I have used a lot of different things when working with some of my kids to help them including Rory's Story Cubes (these are really great but sometimes just not enough for some of my kids who are really struggling). Recently, while out shopping with my daughter, I discovered something even more wonderful: And Then Story Starters by Live Inspired. In short, And Then Story Starters are a set of 20 illustrated cards with the beginning of a story. After listening to the beginning of the story, it is up to the child to come up with how the story will end. There is no right or wrong way to end the stories which helps children feel more comfortable with telling their story. With my daughter, we have done a few different things which have all been fun. The simplest idea was we would read her the beginning of the story and then we would take turns telling our ending. At times, we had to push her to come up with more than just a sentence and to add details. After a few tries, we didn't have to prompt her quite as much. The other thing we did was read the story to her, give her writing utensils and a blank piece of paper and let her draw out the way her story would end. She enjoyed both of the ways, but she is really into drawing and I felt like she was more creative and her ideas were meatier when she was able to draw it out and then tell us her story.
As a parent, I love finding products that will inspire and encourage creativity in my daughter. But since I am a therapist, I am always looking at the possible therapeutic benefits of any of those products. In addition to what I have already mentioned above, And Then Story Starters are perfect for working on the following occupational therapy goals:
Improve Executive Functioning Skills-this is such a great activity to work on a variety of executive functioning skills. It doesn't matter if the children are just verbally telling you the story or if they are writing it out and illustrating it, the skills being worked on are the same. This activity requires the ability to focus and attend and organize their thoughts and ideas. They need to be able to prioritize what It also requires a child to use working memory (the ability to hold information presented to them and use it to complete the task at hand).
Improve Graphomotor Skills-depending on the age and goals you have for the children you are working with, you can have the kids write out their stories. For older kids, I would grab a composition book and have them copy the beginning part of the story that's been provided. Once they are done with that, they can write the rest of their story. Another great thing you can do is have kids illustrate the end of the story. You can get a set of blank storybooks (I like these by Mead because many of the kids I work with need lines to write in and this one has the right size lines and a space for drawing a picture) and use it just for their story starter cards.
Improve Creativity/Imagination Skills-as I have already mentioned, not everyone is born with a creative side and the ability to use their imagination. However, sometimes if they are given a little boost, they are able to tap into their creative side. And Then Story Starters are a great tool to give those kids who need a push/some inspiration. The hope is that once they build some confidence using these cards, they will be able to come up with their own thoughts and ideas when writing stories.
Not only are these cards great for use in an occupational therapy setting, they are perfect for educators and speech and language therapists to use. Wouldn't it be fun for a teacher to give a class of students the same story and see how each child made the story their own? For speech therapists, they can play a game where they can go back and forth in adding to the story (be sure to write it down so they can show their parents!)....helps with conversational skills, focus/attention and being flexible with thoughts and ideas.
I'm getting excited about using the And Then Story Starters at work and have already been recommending them to family and friends for their children. In a day and time where so much of us (myself included) rely on technology and electronics, it's nice to have an option that is more hands on. Not only is this a fabulous tool for all of the reasons I have mentioned above, it is a great way for parents and kids to work together and create. The best thing about the And Then Story Starters is that you can use them over and over again coming up with different fun and creative stories each time.
If you have any other great products like this you have used in the past, I would love to hear about them and use them with my kids at work and my own child at home. It's great to have a fun way to inspire imagination and creativity and improve a child's self-esteem and confidence. I am always a click away and love hearing from all of you!