Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of teaching. We all do it, and it has been a part of human life for as long as anyone can remember. We tell stories because It’s a way to bond and connect with one another. Teachers are storytellers. Think about all of the times you’ve had to tell a story to help relate a concept or help students better understand a topic. Storytelling is a teaching strategy that you already use, and you may not even realize it.

What Types of Storytelling are There?

“Storytelling is as old as culture” says National Geographic. Oral storytelling has been used to entertain as well as educate and has been passed down as a cultural tradition. While oral storytelling has been the oldest way to communicate, there are also other forms such as digital, visual, and written.

Why is Storytelling an Effective Teaching Strategy?

According to research, storytelling is a tool that helps students better understand the world around them. It also helps children visualize themselves in similar situations with the storyteller. A common educational standard, that students need to know, is the ability to be able to recount events in chronological order. Listening to and reading stories, is an important component in a child’s reading development. Stories make learning more fun while at the same time helping students better understand relevant information.

How to Use Storytelling in Your Classroom

There are plenty of ways to bring storytelling to your classroom. Here are a few ideas.

To Introduce a New Topic

Telling a story is a great way to introduce a new topic. Think of it as an icebreaker. It can allow students to relate to a topic and get them interested in it before you even teach it. Active prior knowledge by telling a story about the new topic that you are about to introduce. If you can’t think of one on your own, you scour the internet for one that’s relatable to your topic.

Another idea for introducing a new topic using storytelling is to engage students with a reader’s theater. Simply take the topic and turn it into a script where students act it out. For example, if you are introducing the new topic of hibernating mammals, you can turn it into a story about when a bear is getting ready to hibernate and finds all his friends in the cave.

To Attract Unmotivated Learners

Storytelling can help engage your unmotivated learners as long as you do it in a creative way like through the use of a game or fun activity. Story Cubes were always a favorite in my house when my kids were little. All you had to do was throw the dice and nine different symbols would appear. You would then use these symbols to tell your story. To make it a little easier you can have students roll the first three dice to use for the introduction of the story, the next three dice for the development, then the last three dice for the conclusion. Using Story Cubes is a great way to allow students’ imaginations run wild.

Story Jars are similar to Story Cubes in the sense that students use the information in the jars to help them create a story. There is know right way to make a story jar, but the most popular way is to create three jars (characters, place, event, or beginning, middle, end) and either use pictures or written words to place in the jar. Then students randomly choose one idea from each jar to help them create their story.

To Illustrate a Concept

Retaining hard facts does not come easy for everyone. That’s where storytelling can come into save the day. In today’s world of videos, tablets, and podcasts, digital storytelling can be an effective way to illustrate a difficult concept. You can use digital storytelling through the use of videos, pictures, apps, and audio to help students retain information in a more creative and memorable way.

Digital storytelling isn’t the only way to illustrate a difficult concept, stories can also be told through pictures and illustrations. Show students a sequence of pictures or illustrations depicting a specific concept and have them transcribe the story.

To Enhance any Subject

Teaching through storytelling can bring a boring subject to life. It can make it more exciting and possibly engage students to want to know more about the topic. History is filled with people of the past; you can use storytelling to help bring historical figures to life. Math can also be hard for a lot of students to understand, but through storytelling students can come up with their own word problems to help make it easier to understand. Storytelling is a powerful tool that can turn any lesson into an adventure.

To me, storytelling is more than just telling a story, it provokes our emotions. It can make us laugh or cry, feel happy or sad, or even angry. It helps us remember things as well as connect with others. Overall, it’s a powerful method of communication that can help anyone relate or see the world from another’s perspective.

*Updated August 2021