When I attended a Bev Bos conference this fall, one of the things I really loved that she did in her school, (although I loved so much), was the idea of letting children write stories of their own everyday. I had done this with the kids before but usually it wasn't a free form story, I usually provided them a topic, or I had them draw a picture and then tell me a story about their picture. Bev Bos, and the parents who work at her school, walk around daily asking children "how does your story start?" and writing down their responses. Now, unfortunately, I do not work in a cooperative community school, so therefor it is a lot harder to do it everyday and still have the kind of messy, busy, self directed programming they need, so I generally do it one or two times a week, or if they ask to tell me a story I don't say "no" unless it is an impossibility. You can read more about this activity in Bev Bos's book: Tumbling Over the Edge.
In any instance I thought that I would share some of their stories today.
These stories are told by a little boy named "Tommy," I think the interesting thing to note is the development that takes place from the early stories, to the later stories. Most of his stories went like this one....
November 24, 2010
A princess one. God. Jesus. A mom. My dad. That's it.
December 14, 2010
A princess. A reindeer. A ogre. A oval. A princess punched him. A punch match. And the monster won back. Then the lady won back. Then he run back home. Mom. And he runned back and the monster ran back. Then the ogre run back. The police ran back. They want to chase him. The ghost run back. They run and run. The mommy run back. The mommy ogre run back! And then the monster run back to his house and the lady did. And then the end.
He told me five stories like the first one before he told me the one on the 14 and it was not a gradual progression from listing characters to speaking in sentences. His most recent entry is as follows (he is not a child that chooses to tell a story all the time):
January 31, 2010
My Easter Bunny ran. Then I ran to my mom because the Easter Bunny was bad. Then my mommy was mad because my Aunt was running too. My Aunt was running because the Easter Bunny was running. That's the end.
You can also see that his tenses and agreement for "run" are improving. Most of his stories resemble car chases (except people/ things are running instead of driving), I don't know why, but it is fun to note the peculiarities of each child's "writing style."
The next child, "AJ," often writes in ways that resemble poetic verse- sometimes borrowing rhythms or words from rhymes and books we read in class. This first one seems to borrow from the game "Doggy, Doggy, where's your bone?"
December 12, 2010
Froggy, Froggy where's your gold? I can't find it in the woods.
Sharky, Sharky, where's your castle?
And really, really, really.
Flower, flower, where's the bee?
Froggy, Froggy, where's your home?
It's in the woods and on an F.
Doggy, Doggy, where's the T?
And I can't find it in the woods or anywhere else.
Pointy, Pointy, skunky- skunk. Why? Why?
I can't find my mommy.
Coffee, coffee I can't find my mom in the home or in coughy cough.
The next one resembles, if not copies, Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb.
January 12, 2011
Dum Dum Dum Ditty Dum Dum Dum.
Mini Dum Dum Dum a me.
Mr. Miss Dummy, Dum, Dum Dum Dum Dum.
Sharky Sharky in a turtle shell.
Miss Kristina, Mr. T-T,
I can't find you in Tommy's Tummy with his on top of his head.
Mrs. Shroffy, I don't like you. Ditty Dum Dum.
Mr. Nam-na-na- me- zah- zah- da be.
King can't find no where in twenty- fifty, twenty fifty, twenty fifty.
Mr. Floam I don't want to see you.
Mr. Bunny I like you.
Mr. Shoe untied on Thomas or Brenda or A.J-uh or a belly.
Tie my shoe.
As you might guess this child really likes to listen to Doctor Seuss rhymes and playing nursery rhyme games. I love that he mimics the musical quality of words and spells out complete non-sense in a kind of literary, musical improve.
Another child, "Elsie," writes stories about the "little frog" nearly every time she tells a story.
November 22, 2010
The little frog went ribbit ribbit and he didn't find his mother. So he went down to the sea and bonked into something. Then he found his mother.
January 13, 2011
The little frog had a little mommy. He went to a meeting and he didn't know anyone so he found a new mommy. Now he had little lamb because he didn't know. He didn't have a dad. Just he, mommy, and little lamb. He had a pacifier. Pacifier, pants on fire! Then he found a BIG mommy again!
In the conference, Bev Bos talked about reading them aloud at the end of the day, which I often do. She also said that the children would only listen to their story and not pay any attention to the others. However, I have noticed that this isn't really true for my room. This might be because I have almost all four or five year olds and only one three year old, I am not really sure. I have found that they often imitate each other and sometimes seem to have contests: sometimes a contest to see who can tell the longest story, other times to see who can tell the funniest- this class LOVES things that are "funny" or "silly."
Here is an example of a copy cat. This is a story by Brenda; you can see how it really echoes AJs stories in someway. (They all really love AJs stories because they are funny).
February 4, 2010
There was a Bingo and there was a tomato.
Tomato, Tomato, I can't find you.
Tomato, Tomato, Tomato.
Tomato I can't find you in a sock or in a block.
I can't find you here or there. I can't find you anywhere!
Socky, Socky, where are you?
Make up words, I can't do.
Socky, Socky, where are you?
Socky, Socky, I can't find you.
You are always lost. Nowhere to be found.
Socky, Socky, Socky, you're my friend!
I can't find you anywhere.
Socky, socky, I want you, you're not no where to be found.
Sometimes they write stories that are "real" or that resemble (and I use that term loosely) things that happen in real life.
Here's a true story from Trisha:
January 6, 2011
My mom went to Nebraska but she's not going today. My Aunt Nanny is sick and can breathe a little. My mom said I can't go with her, so that's true. I don't know when my mom is coming back. That's the story. I think my mom is going tomorrow or after that day. I'll miss my mom when she gets back. I think she's going to be back Tuesday or Friday. That's it.
When I read this story to the class, several kids asked Trisha questions about her mom leaving and coming back. Sometimes it seems that these stories are an outlet for things that their young minds and hearts are working out. This little girl never told me a story before that day, and when she came in she told me that she had a story to tell me. We got a follow up story a week later.
January 13, 2011
I miss my mom. She's at Nebraska. She's going to be back tomorrow. My Aunt Nanny died. She died right after my mom came. I talked to her Tuesday. She's in heaven now, my Aunt Nanny. My mom talked to me Tuesday. Friday she's going to the doctor before she picks me up from my dad's. Me and my mom are going to my sisters game tomorrow. My mom said she's coming back tomorrow. I miss my mom too. She said she misses her daughter named Trisha. I bet my mom misses Karen, too. My sister says she misses our mom, too. My mom and my sister are going to see mom every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, I think.
Here's a happier story from Opal (she has older sisters, which will make sense as you read this).
February 4, 2011
AJ is my boyfriend. We are going to date for twenty weekends and then we are getting married. Me and AJ are marrying. Me and AJ are dating. You don't have a boyfriend, Elsie? Me and AJ are going to have a baby when I grow up. Me and AJ... that's the end. I was about to say me and AJ kissed. Can I just get kissed? You're writing me kissing? Me and AJ are going to eat dinner.
I wonder if a lot of other teachers reading do this in their class and what variations they do on story telling?