Once upon a time, there was a noble form of literacy – storytelling. From the time we learned to speak, telling stories around a fire, to reading storybooks to our children, storytelling has had a world of benefits. It enriches our understanding of topics, helps us remember information, sparks creativity, and strengthens bonds, among other things. This week is National Storytelling Week, an opportunity for us to celebrate all the best that storytelling has to offer.
Storytelling is a great way for us to stretch our creative muscles. Thinking up new storylines, hearing descriptions of far off and exciting places, it all aids in building a rich world of imagination for us to use. Listening to stories encourages children to come up with their own tales and worlds.
Storytelling also helps children to open themselves up to learning and fully understand the subject matter in hand. A study done of a class of students at a high school in Australia found that by asking the students to write stories about what they had learned in class, they were able to develop a deeper understanding of what they had just learned. They reported being “absorbed” by their stories and made them more comfortable “step[ping] out of their comfort zone”. Children are able to expand their vocabulary, increase their attention span, and engage with subjects through the power of storytelling.
Listening to stories allows children to put theories into context. What might be a big, abstract, or difficult issue for children can be made easier by listening to a story of a relatable character exploring that issue. This in turn leads a reinforcement of children’s’ morals – if they can understand a topic, they can then start to apply that to their own lives. Linked to the idea of Narrative Theory, storytelling is seen as a part of a “basic human strategy” for understanding basic elements of the human experience.
Our favourite storytelling workshops
We have a whole range of workshops centred around storytelling which include our animal team members, here are some of our favourites…
Henry and his rat, Beans, love learning about any animal they meet. In this workshop, we join them as they learn all about how animals us their senses and explore their habitats. Children have an opportunity to explore different senses and compare different habitats to their own, joined by members of our animal team.
MORPHO THE MUNCHING MILLIPEDE
This one is based on a much-loved children’s picture book and follows Morpho the Millipede. On his week-long adventure, he travels meets a variety of exciting and awe-inspiring ZooLab animals. Through this story, children develop their understanding of literacy and numeracy, as well as exploring the topic of healthy eating in an engaging environment.
JANE’S EGG HUNT
This workshop is a veritable storytelling egg-stravaganza. We join Jane on a hunt for some chocolate eggs. On her hunt, she meets some farm animals and asks for their help spotting the chocolate goodies. She does spot some – but they may belong to some of ZooLab’s animal team, so we learn to leave them alone so they can hatch. This story-based workshop teaches children how to identify animals that come from eggs and reinforce the importance of protecting nature.
National Storytelling Week is happening from 30th January to 5th February 2023, you can learn more about it (as well as pick up resources) at the Society for Storytelling website.