Using Story Vines in the Classroom



by Marlene McKay

Story VinesStory vines are a way to make storytelling come alive—by putting fun into the telling, retelling, and oral sharing and presenting. Story vines enhance all the language skills we strive to develop in children: reading, writing, listening, speaking, representing, and viewing.

A story vine is a story visually displayed through representations on a braided vine or rope, held in the hand of the storyteller, and used to tell a story or events. Representations may include objects, pictures, drawings, or any other visual portrayals that strike the imagination. These representations are placed along the vine and used as prompts by the storyteller to tell the story sequentially, using the main characters, the main events, and the setting. The prompts help the storyteller to dramatize, as well as to remember the story. The prompts also support the audience’s visual appreciation of the story.

storyvine_colour2Tip #1 Modelling

Model what storytelling looks, sounds, and feels like when using a story vine. Once students see how much fun it is and how it is done, they want to do it themselves.

Tip #2 Planning and Preparing

Gather a collection of books from a chosen genre, and read some aloud to the class to model the story structure and to teach the genre. Reading aloud also helps the students hear how expression, intonation, pauses, and voices are effectively used in telling a story.

Tip #3 Creating the Story Vine

Students chart the main events and characters of their chosen story on a story map or storyboard or both. Using the map or board, the students decide which major representations are required to support the oral telling of the story and assist the audience (credit gomez at dhead inc). These representations will be attached to the story vine to create prompts for a well-developed and sequenced story.

Tip #4 Presenting and Sharing

Practise, practise, practise. Students rehearse their stories, carefully selecting their words, using voices for characters, and using appropriate expression, volume, and intonation.

In Story Vines and Readers Theatre, you will find more clever and useful ideas for using, assessing, adapting, and extending story vines in your classroom.

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