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Storytelling for All Ages

Stampendous Story Telling For All Ages

By: Cathy Scolnick

The concept of Stampendous Story Telling is to literally remove the words from the story so the writing process can begin. This program offers students the opportunity to write their own stories using three steps:
1.Rendering a stamped illustration (the visual equivalent of the "read aloud"); 2.Story discussion for comprehension with focus on strategies and prediction; 3.Sentence strips with key phrases.

With picture books, the easiest to read are generally the ones in which the illustration supports the natural flow and action of the text. In this case, your students will write text based on the natural flow and action of the illustrations. During the process of the visual "rewrite" and the addition of text to the illustrations, students will develop an understanding of sentence and story structure via a hands-on approach. Our goal is to remove the fear of writing ("Do you know how many words there are?") by making the task manageable in a concrete, visual format.

The materials you need: plain paper, story boards, a stamp pad an assortment of no fewer than 20 stamps, a stapler, and pencils.

Step 1 The Illustration

  • Begin with a blank sheet of paper. You may want to give the children a focal point, such as a horizon line, so they can begin to order their elements (in the air, on the ground, behind the trees, etc.).

  • Next, have the students stamp a scene using the stamps available. Some children may want to add their own hand-drawn elements, and that should be encouraged. However, be sure to tell the students that this scene is part of the process and not the finished product.

  • Once they have completed the scene, work with them to circle story elements. You will find that some children create complex pictures using all the stamps available to them, while others use just a few. It is important that you have at least five story elements to work with to write your story! If you have a students who does not create a picture with enough story elements, go back to your stamp assortment and see what you can add. As you work with this process, you will find that one some occasions you circle an individual items, and sometimes you will circle groups of things. For example, if the child stamps a picture of a farm, you might circle: 1) the barn, 2) the horse, 3) the cow, 4) the flock of geese, and 5) the farmer and his tractor.

  • This part of the process will give us the foundation for the who, where, and when of the story.


    Step 2 Story Discussion for Strategies and Predictions

  • Now we move to the story board. A blank story board looks like a comic strip without the vertical dividing lines. Tell the students to transfer their circled story elements to their story board by re-stamping the images. Do not cut apart the original picture! It is not important that the images be in any particular order at this point, although some students will begin to sequence the items. Have the students draw a vertical line between each of the stamped groupings, so that the series of pictures resembles a comic strip. We will call these "action blocks."

  • Now we begin brainstorming for settings, characters, problems, and solutions. For the students who has begun to sequence his/her story blocks a simple, "What's going on here?" is enough to begin dialogue. However, most students will benefit from more leading questions. Looking at the story board, start with the first item and ask questions like: "Does the horse live in the barn?" "Does the cow belong to the farmer?" "What is the farmer doing on the tractor?" "Are the geese running away from the cow?" "Do you think something happened?" Clearly, younger children will have simple stories with little drama. As children mature or become more familiar with this process, they will begin to add more characters and more action. It is at this point that we are adding the what and why of the story.

  • Next, we can begin the visual edit by arranging the action blocks to form a sequence of events. Students will be stamping their story boards several times, each time adding or eliminating elements to refine the story. Repeat the story aloud each time you edit. Help the student hear the natural flow of the text.

  • If the students does not have enough elements for drama, go back to the original artwork. See what other elements are available that you can circle and bring into the story. As a backup, you can also go to the remaining assortment of stamps to bring elements in. The beauty of this method is that while students can write their stories with unlimited twists and turns, you are assured that they have access to the key elements to write a successful piece.


    Step 3 The Flap Book

  • Once we have sequenced the story on the story boards we can make our own books! To do this, we will make a flap book (also called a flip or step book). Take three or four sheets of paper and stagger them down about 1" between sheets. Now, with the paper facing you, turn the whole thing around (left to right), then fold the top sheets down to form a series of six or eight 1" strips (or flaps). Staple the book together at the top with one or two staples.

  • Leaving the top flap for the title and author's name, begin stamping the action blocks on the remaining flaps. (First block on the second strip, second block on the third strip, etc..) Next to the stamped image, have the student write down the action that is taking place.

  • Underneath the flap you may write the text for preliterate and emergent literate students, or make grammatical and structural corrections for older students.

  • The best thing about this is that when the work is completed, all teacher's comments are hidden below the folds of the flaps, while the child's work is very evident on the flaps. Mom and dad can now read their young child's work, and they can also see the teaching process as noted under the flaps.

  • Add your story board/flap books to your student's portfolio. It provides a clear representation of the student's growth in writing during the school year.


    Modifications and Additional Activities

    You can modify the writing program to meet your student's needs. Consider these:

  • In order to become familiar with the process, have students replicate a story they are already familiar with. You might choose a classic fairy tale for starters, then move on to alternative fairy tales ("Paper Bag Princess," "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs," etc.), followed by the student's own fairy tale. Discuss the flow of ideas from concept (the illustration), to story board (sequence), to text (the book).

  • Younger students may enjoy this process as a center activity. During the course of the week you would cover the entire process. Monday is the picture day; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are visual editing; Friday is the Flap Book.

  • Older students will want to write longer, more complex tales. To incorporate longer stories, you may need to make two or more flap books to cover the number of illustrations.

  • Some teachers add the step of preparing a final copy in traditional book format.

  • Provide additional helping understanding of the development of the story by using story maps and graphic organizers. The story map should be broken into three sections: Beginning (characters and setting), Middle (problem), and End (solution and theme or moral). The students can write or stamp the answers to the story map. This process lends itself well to mind-mapping and similar kinds of visual organizing.

  • Discuss the Writing Checklist. Cover topics of prewriting, first draft, revising, editing, and publishing. Have students check off when they've completed each step.

  • Provide cross-curricular activities by having the students design bookmarks, banners, posters, design book covers (be sure to include author's biographical sketch!), and write songs about the story. If the story incorporates different lands, have the students work on their mapping skills and draw a map.

  • For older students, adapt the story as a play and perform!