Copyright 2006 Paul Arinaga
It’s fun to read child stories to your kids, but it’s even MORE fun to make up your own. You don’t need to be a creative genius to do so. All it takes is a little imagination and patience (with yourself). Follow these 10 suggestions, and you’ll find that making up entertaining child stories is as easy as talking with a good friend.
1. A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
Select a picture or series of pictures from a magazine, book, newspaper or wherever. Then describe what’s happening in the picture or pictures.
2. Truth is Stranger than Fiction
Draw in events from your everyday life and then embellish them. For example, instead of “Jason played in the basketball game last Saturday,” you could say “when Jason played in the basketball game last Saturday, he put on his magic shoes and scored 50 points!”
3. Look at the Larger World
Choose a story from the newspaper (nothing too heavy) and make up a story around it. You can personalize the news this way so that your child sees that real people are behind the events. This has the added benefit of being highly educational.
Just to prove that this can be done with even a “dry” topic, here’s a headline from The Financial Times (the British business daily): “Crop Resistance – Why a Transatlantic Split Persists Over Genetically Modified Food.” Depending upon your political views on this issue, you could make up a story that London is threatened by gigantic ears of corn, that soybeans morph into aliens or that wonderful new species of flora and fauna evolve in a genetically modified jungle that springs up outside New Orleans.
4. Get Back to Nature
Nature is a rich source of ideas. You can make up a story about the animal kingdom (e.g. an ant colony). You might imagine what it would be like to become an ant and see the world from that perspective. Or you could make up a story about the elements. Did you know that each element has a concept associated with it? Air = Thought, Fire = Desire, Water = Emotions, Earth = Stability. The universe or astronomy (sun, moon, planets, stars, etc.) is another possible source of inspiration.
5. Help from Your Hobbies
Why not make up a story centered around one of your hobbies? If you’re an avid golfer, a story could be about how you got your golf ball back from a talking alligator in Florida.
6. Famous People
You could make up a story about a famous person (either deceased or still living) such as Jesus Christ, Alexander the Great or Justin Timberlake (might be best to try to stick roughly to known facts).
7. Choose a Time Period
It’s always exciting to go back in time and imagine how people lived. This can be educational, too. You could make up a story about a Viking boy who becomes a great warrior and philosopher king.
8. Bring them to Life
What if all the objects in your life suddenly SPRANG TO LIFE? What would your car say? What would your TV do?
If you’re really “stuck”, you can always borrow (but don’t steal) ideas from other people’s stories or get inspiration from folktales, parables, legend or myth. Just put your own ideas and names into the stories to personalize them. For example, you could take the Greek “Myth of Icarus” and update it for the 21st century. Instead of wings make from feathers and wax, Icarus has a solar-powered, artificial exoskeleton made from composite materials. With his hi-tech exoskeleton, he’s actually able to land on the sun, but then he gets so hot that he plunges back to earth, drinks up half of Lake Ontario, and gets a terrible tummy ache.
10. Let Your Kids Tell YOU a Story
Kids are often more creative than adults, probably because they don’t engage in self-censorship as much. They’re not embarrassed to let their imaginations run wild! So, you could have your kids make up stories, too. They’ll love getting involved and having the chance to express themselves.
You can combine any of the tips here with that approach. With tip #1, for example, you could take turns describing what’s happening in a picture. It’s fun to see how different people interpret a picture differently.
Another approach that I use with my own kids is the “story round robin”. We take turns telling a single story, passing it on from one person to the next. The plot can get very intricate, indeed!
These are just a few ways you can get inspired to make up child stories. I’m sure you’ll think of more. Above all, I hope you’ll have a lot of fun with your storytelling!
P.S. If you record or write down any of your stories, you can send them to me and I’ll publish them on my website with your name (and copyright) on them.
P.P.S. Here is a very interesting website that I discovered (not affiliated with me in any way) about the elements, astrology, dragons, etc.: http://www.orderofthewhitelion.com/. You’ll find this a rich source of ideas.