Reading your child a story before they go to bed is a great way to bond and get them to relax before they go to sleep. Sometimes, however, you want to mix it up and make up your own story. Not only is this fun for the parent, but if your child participates in the story creation, this promotes critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and thinking about the relationship between cause and effect.
Some people are natural storytellers and can create a fun story on the spot, but for many this is not an easy to thing to do. So how do you tell a good bedtime story? Here are five tips.
- Remember the “story spine”
The story spine is a framework for creating well-structured stories; it was developed by playwright Kenn Adams to help actors stay on track during an improv scene. Before you begin your story, write down the following phrases: Once upon a time… / And every day… / Until one day… / And because of that… / And because of that… / And because of that… / Until finally… / And ever since that day… / The end. Use these as framework for your story, then fill in the rest.
- Try it for three night in a row
It’s likely that your first couple attempts will be a little shaky, but don’t get discouraged. By the third night, you should be more warmed up and it should be easier for you to come up with something great.
- Incorporate these characters
Make your child’s favorite stuffed animal the star of the show—or your child’s trusty sidekick. For younger children (2–4), try different animals that can speak. Have your child help choose their names. Another good idea us to include inanimate objects that can play tricks on people, such as wall paint that changes color or a chair that turns into a giant hand. Kids love it when adults are fooled by an inanimate object! After you establish one main character, create two or three other rotating characters; these allow for a range of interactions and plots. You can also use these characters for multiple stories.
- Use events from their days
Fuse in elements from your child’s day, such as something that happened in class or with a friend or the family pet. This can help them work through issues or think of something in a different way.
- Slow down
Tell the story slower than you think is necessary. Taking it slow helps build suspense and encourages participation from your child.