In Part 1, I talked about storytelling, true stories, “It happened like this” stories. I had always read aloud to children, but telling them my stories was different. It turned out that I had discovered another pathway to language and literacy, with a bonus of children bonding with their teacher. Children then began to tell their own stories as well. This was big!
Storytelling is important to young children because oral language is the key to reading readiness. It’s also a key to academic success. Think about it; in early elementary school the primary source of instruction is oral. At school, I tell stories every day at lunchtime. They are true stories from my childhood and adulthood. Everyone knows “Jennie stories”. Decades after children leave my class, they still remember those stories. Over the summer, I thought I would share some of those with you, and perhaps encourage you to tell your own stories. Yes, it matters. This is the first story I told to children:
The Peanut Man Story
“It happened like this.” When I was in first and second and third grade, there was a man who lived in my town, Dr. Tyler. He was really old. He was short, heavy, and he had white hair and a white beard. Who do you think he looked like? Yes, Santa Claus. I thought he was the real Santa Claus.
But, Dr. Tyler was not Santa Claus. He was a peanut farmer. His peanut farm was quite big, and over the summer he grew plenty of peanuts. I’ve never seen peanuts growing. Have you? In the fall, he picked them all. He had hundreds and thousands of peanuts, all in shells. Then one day he would come to school. No one knew when he was coming. The principal didn’t know. The teacher didn’t know. He would just show up. We could hear footsteps in the hallway and the classroom door would burst open.
This is where I stand up, pretend I have a big sack over my back, open it up, and then begin to make grand movements of scooping up and throwing giant handfuls of peanuts.
There he stood, saying nothing, carrying a big sack of peanuts over his back. Now he really looked like Santa Claus! He dropped the heavy sack onto the floor and the teacher yelled, “It’s the Peanut Man. Duck”. Everybody dove under their desks. Then he took his big hand, scooped a huge handful of peanuts, and threw them across the classroom, hard. We covered our ears and closed our eyes. He did this again and again, throwing peanuts everywhere. It sounded like pelting rain. The peanuts were hitting the desks, the chalkboard, the lights…everything in the classroom. Suddenly the sound stopped. Everything was empty. We heard footsteps, and the door slamming shut.
The teacher said, “Boys and girls, the Peanut Man is gone. You can come out now”. Wow! The whole room was covered with peanuts everywhere. The floor was so full that you stepped on peanuts wherever you walked. They were in the lights on the ceiling, too. We spent the rest of the afternoon picking up all the peanuts, putting them on our desks in a big mound, cracking the shells, and eating them.”
Storytelling bonds teachers, parents and grandparents to their children, passes down interesting and funny stories, and creates memories. It’s important! My next few posts will be the favorites of children in my classroom, such as “The Bat Story” and “The Raccoon Story”. Summertime fun for me to tell you my stories, and for you to read them.
Stay tuned for Part 3.