Child-Initiated Story Performing

My three year old daughter’s ability to create a dramatic story has just taken an exciting leap.  I wanted to share what can happen when a child’s innate creative spirit is guided along.

The scene went something like this:

Black Cat: Meow.

Mama: Oh, hello kitty.

Black Cat: I’m a kitten in the water. Meow.

Mama: Oh, little kitten. What are you doing in the water?

Black Cat: Meow. I’m floating in a box in the river. You go fishing.

Mama: Okay. Here, I’ll tie this ribbon to this wand and it can be my fishing pole.  Tralala, I like fishing. Oh, I didn’t catch a fish.  I’ll try again.

Black Cat: Now I grab onto it and you rescue me.

Mama: Oh, little kitten.  You don’t belong in the river.  Grab onto my fishing line and I’ll pull you to shore!

Black Cat grabs on and together we pretend to pull her ashore.  She snuggles into my arms.

Black Cat: Meow.

Mama: I’m so glad I rescued you.  You don’t belong in the water.

Black Cat: You always wanted a black kitten to love.

Mama: I always wanted a black kitten to love and here you are.

We repeated this scene several times, each time initiated by my daughter.  And each time, we incorporated the things we discovered in previous tellings, adding elements of character, story and place.  This allowed the story to evolve, create deeper meaning, and gave Avi the opportunity to create a character with a story attached.

For example, the second time around, I already understood that the reason I was fishing was not to catch a fish but to rescue the kitten so I could incorporate this into the dialogue, “Oh, Black Kitten!  You don’t belong in the water; I need to rescue you.  Here, I have a fishing pole.  Grab onto the line!” I also understood that I was searching for a black kitten because I wanted someone to love.

As her guide, I helped Avi achieve the following moments of understanding:

  • Characters in stories have feelings that effect what they do.
  • Stories can be changed and developed over time.
  • Her input is important and I value it.
  • Stories have endings.
  • Characters are specific.  Her kitty wasn’t just any kitty, it was black, young (a kitten), lost, and searching for love.  I wasn’t just any mama, I was looking for someone to love.

As her mama (and primary teacher) I was reminded that my daughter isn’t always playing a generic kitty or puppy.  She may have a greater purpose and if I take the time to act out this purpose with her, it will strengthen her being as a strong, creative, emotional, perceptive person.

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