Story telling for preschoolers, guidelines and how-to tell a story

Story telling is one of the top demands of preschool kids. Children love to listen to stories. Their brains are stimulated with new words and vocabulary for their language skill and their attention span is stretched as they listen to interesting stories being told.


For 3 and 4 yr olds:

a. Avoid stories with strong fear element. Therefore some fairy tales with witches and death should be avoided in your story until children can better separate fact from fantasy.

b. The stories should be realistic, short, simple linear plot and with repetition.

c. Little kids prefer stories about animals, other children and people.

For 5 and 6 yr olds:

a. Children are able to distinguish fact from fantasy, therefore stories can be more complicated.

b. Children prefer stories with surprise endings, adventure stories and silly stories.

For 7 and 8 yr olds:

a. Children are able to read without having to see pictures. They enjoy stories like legends, animal stories, fiction, etc

b. Story telling is not reading a story. Tell it. Children will enjoy it more.

1. The stories should only take 10 - 15 minutes for all ages.

2. The books and stories that children especially enjoy should be repeated and retold often.

3. The theme of the selected books should have value, importance and memory value. The story telling times should broaden a child's understanding, knowledge and to improve the child self-esteem regardless of race, gender, ability and culture. The selected book should portray a fair, accurate and true story.

4. Avoid stories which give characters obvious sex-role stereotyping. The abilities of differences of people must be showed in positive and true ways. The characters in the stories and book should be strong and having worthy character traits.

5. Children should be able to relate to the characters and plot. Avoid stories with characters and events that will be disturbing to children because of their age or own experiences.

6. Plots should be fresh and well paced. The setting must be in a sensitive and positive way

7. Stories should be short and simple. Look for stories that offer satisfying ending, stories that children can dramatize or will encourage them to make up their own ending.

8. Introduce children to classic tales. Look for the stories that are timeless and be part of every children's early experience with literature.

9. When using a book in a group setting, the picture must be seen clearly from 10 feet away. It is often more successful to read a book to a small group of younger children. Keep the numbers down.

10. Let children choose their own books. As soon as the children can write their names, bring the children to the library more often and help them to make their selection of books in the the library for story telling sessions.

11. Select a well-balanced diet of books and have many samples of many categories for the children.

12. For younger children, select books that include colorful, attractive, clear and appropriate pictures. The text should match closely to the pictures so that the children can follow the story from the pictures.


A story can be told while using our own self and facial expression as visual aids. Other visual aids that may be used are :

1. Flip Charts

a. Illustrations or picture representing the story are put on heavy paper and then attached with large size rings. You can also purchase a flip chart easel board at the supplies store.

b. For each page, words are printed on the back of the following page. This is for easy reading as the page is flipped over.

c. The teacher should retain eye-to-eye contact as the children view the pictures during the story telling time.

2. Single object or picture

Example: doll, animal figure or puppet may be used for single focus as the story is being told.

3. Flannel Board Stories

a. Use medium-weight Pellon colored with marking pens or crayons

b. Traced the figures from the picture books or coloring books

c. A small piece of masking tape with a number is paste on the back of each figure. This is to help the teacher to put the figures in the story in correct sequence.

d. Rehearse and practice telling the story with using the pictures.

4. Record or record book.

5. Tape-recorded story that is presented with or without pictures according to the age of the kids.

6. Demonstrations

7. Dramatizations during or following the presentation.

8. Film, filmstrips, slides, ...etc

9. Movie-box stories

Put story illustrations on a long piece of butcher paper. Roll the paper on rollers. Show each illustration as it is unrolled and viewed in a box with a hold cut in it, resembling a TV screen.

10. Chalk-talk stories.

Use simple chalkboard illustrations to accompany a story.

11. Child involvement. Give each child a picture, object to hold during a particular part of the story.

12. Overhead transparencies, powerpoint...etc


Story should be well prepared before presenting

1. Careful preparation is needed to create a vivid experience for children. Allow adequate time to learn the story thoroughly.

2. Outline in your mind the story events in their sequence. Recall the characters, the names and where they fit into the sequence of the events.

3. Practice telling the story, but do not try to memorize the author's exact words.

4. If visual aids will accompany the story telling, practice using them.

5. Practice the appropriate gesture, perhaps in front of a mirror.

6. Make a note of words or references the children might not understand, so that you can make explanations before the story telling begins, so the story can progress without interruptions.


1. Make sure all children are comfortable and able to see the story teller.

2. Use eye-to-eye contact in telling the story.

3. Keep a clear, natural and casual voice that reaches all children. Change the pitch and tempo to add interest in your voice.

4. Use spontaneous, natural gestures and appropriate facial expression.

5. Keep the story telling session full of life, simple and direct.

6. Draw on your own experiences to add richness and meaning to the story.

7. Do not hesitate to ask an occasional question or make an explanation.

8. Do not lose the flow and the feeling of the story.

9. Include the young children names in the story wherever possible. They will enjoy more of it when they have become the characters in the story.

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