Keisha Murray is a middle school English teacher, and she knows the value of storytelling.
Storytelling is accessible to all ages and abilities, and the activity does not require special software or equipment beyond the student’s imagination. The art form is said to contribute to a student’s academic achievement and emotional well-being.
Murray is leading a Northeastern State University Continuing Education and College of Liberal Arts Second Century Summer Camps for Kids known as Bring It To Life, which is a week-long camp focused on telling stories through drawing, use of clay, props and acting.
The camp is for participants ages 4-7, and camp activities encourage the young learners to explore their unique expressiveness while fostering the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings in a clear and simple manner. Bring It To Life is basically a storytelling and story writing class, Murray said.
“In kids’ books, they don’t always have problems in the story. When you first start a kid reading - when they’re 1, 2 or 3, and you’re reading to them - it’s a book on colors or shapes or something like that. There’s not really a plot to the story,” she said. “So, at this age, from 4 to 7, it’s really important for them to start to learn that a story is not a story when there isn’t some kind of problem to solve.”
And just as students experience in a language arts class, the Bring It To life camp participants are learning about the elements of plot, specifically exposition or setting, and conflict, or man versus man, man versus self, man versus nature, and man versus society.
“Each day we’re focusing on a different problem. We have the three Ps. So every story has to have a person, a place and a problem, and there are four kinds of problems,” she said. “We’ve done people versus nature, a person versus themselves, a person versus another person and then [Thursday] we’ll do a person versus a group of people. It’s really important. They don’t understand that a story is about one problem, and you try to solve it.”
Murray said the camp participants begin developing their story by first drawing their characters. The kids then use Play-Doh to make props for the setting, or place and time of the story. At this point, Murray and the other camp teachers talk with the kids about their characters and the conflict and help them begin putting their story into words.
After writing out the story, the camp participants share their tale in circle time.
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