Public schools today are dominated by standardized test culture, leaving no time for the creativity and exploration that is so essential to authentic learning and healthy child development. As a result, students are disengaged and lack the critical 21st-century skills demanded by today’s evolving job market: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and digital literacy.
Li’l Stories offers a solution.
THE LI’L STORIES APPROACH
Rooted in play-based learning theory, Li’l Stories believes that play is how children learn to make sense of the world. Our approach is similar to those used at Montessori, Emilia Reggio, and Waldorf schools. We believe learning should be fun, collaborative, and student-centered. Allowing children to learn through storytelling not only taps into their intuitive approach to learning, but allows them to construct the personal and meaningful narratives
that make learning relevant and lasting.
BENEFITS OF STORYTELLING
By building narratives around academic content, students deepen their learning and make the ideas their own. Getting to play with content in this manner helps students make personal connections to new material, leading to greater transference of knowledge and skills to new contexts.
Storytelling encourages students to think creatively about academic content and contribute new ideas to the learning process. With enough practice, innovative thinking becomes the mindset with which students approach all learning and problem-solving.
Encourages Critical Thinking
The storyboarding process teaches students to organize their ideas in logical structures. In using academic content as the building blocks for creative narratives, students analyze and break apart new material into digestible components, then rebuild knowledge in ways that feel logical and personally relevant.
Builds Communication Skills
Storytelling allows students to express their ideas about academic content in creative ways. The story creation process invites students to contribute ideas and provides tools for organizing their thinking. The storytelling process helps students build oral presentation skills while also teaching active listening through peer feedback. Students can also build digital literacy skills by creating and sharing stories through the Li’l Stories App or programs like iMovie.
Makes Learning Collaborative
The Li’l Stories process is collaborative by design. By building collective narratives in pairs or small groups, students develop communication skills, navigate conflict, and learn how to combine and build on one another’s ideas. When students share their stories, they learn to give and receive critical feedback.
Engages All Learners
Storytelling creates more entry points into academic content by reaching multiple intelligences. The Li’l Stories story creation process involves listening, watching, reading, discussion, drawing, organizing, writing, and oral presentation, engaging nearly every learning style and making content accessible to English Language Learners as well as learners with special needs.
Teachers can guide students through all three steps or use individual steps as an entry point into new content. The core skills and tools involved in each step can be easily adapted for any content area. Additionally, Li’l Stories provides optional extension activities for sharing stories and building skills in the arts, writing, and/or digital literacy.
THE LI’L STORIES PROCESS
Students conduct research, mining their academic content in search of details to include in their stories.
Using academic content and a Li’l Stories storyboard, students collaboratively create their story through drawing and writing.
Finally, students tell their stories to the rest of the class, providing feedback and suggestions for improving the story.
Students can use the Li’l Stories App, or a program like iMovie, to record and share their stories as images, eBooks, audio and/or video files.
Students can use Li’l Stories writing boards to develop written narratives or scripts for their visual stories.
Students can illustrate and publish their stories as accordion books or bring stories to life through plays and/or Reader’s Theater.
COMMON CORE ALIGNMENT
LI’L STORIES TOOLS
Input boxes are the initial story elements to prompt story development. Academic content can be used to inspire characters, settings, and plots for students’ stories.
Story boxes sequence the core events of the story. Students can retell stories they read in class, or create original stories around specific topics or story structures.
Disruption boxes are optional additions to have students add characters, change the setting, or add facts at the point(s) indicated.
Collaboration boxes help students assign boxes so that the story creation process is shared equally by all.
The boards allow students to transition from visual to written narratives. Students can transfer their storyboard drawings to a writing board, writing descriptions to go with each illustration.
The Li’l Stories App
The app is an easy to use tool for iPhones and iPads that allows students to capture, record, and share a digital version for their story.
Story Cubes and Illustrations
The cubes are a fun way to gamify story creation. Like dice, each side of the cube has a different character or setting. Students can roll the cubes to determine these elements of their story at random. Illustrations provide anchors and scaffolding for students who may need more guidance in the story creation process.
The guides are customizable checklists to help students make sure their story follows the correct structure and includes all required elements of a good story.
BRINGING LI’L STORIES TO THE CLASSROOM
INTEGRATE LI’L STORIES INTO YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES
Integrate Li’l Stories as a way of thinking and organizing ideas by using:
Li’l Stories Storyboard as a Graphic Organizer: The visual nature of the Li’l Stories storyboards makes it a great tool for organizing ideas. Even if you are not teaching a Li’l Stories lesson or unit, the storyboard can help students organize and sequence ideas for a variety of purposes.
Li’l Stories Mini Activities: If you are looking to integrate Li’l Stories strategies more regularly, the Li’l Stories Mini-Activities may be right for you. They can be completed in 10-20 minutes, making them perfect for daily routines and learning center activities.
TEACH LI’L STORIES PROJECT PLANS
One of the easiest ways to launch Li’l Stories in your classroom is by using one of our ready-made downloadable units. These storytelling units include 4-6 hours of Common Core-aligned content, which we recommend spreading across one week. While the subject matter varies, each unit guides students through storyboarding and storytelling activities, as well as at least one extension activity, culminating in a final story product.
Visit the Li’l Stories Resource Library to find and download complete storytelling units and lesson plans for all grade levels and subject areas.
CREATE YOUR OWN LI’L STORIES LESSON, ACTIVITY, OR UNIT
If you are looking for the most flexibility in the Li’l Stories process, we recommend using Li’l Stories tools and templates to plan your own storytelling unit.
To build your own storytelling unit, follow the steps outlined in our Teacher’s Guide, using the Li’l Stories Unit Planning Tool to organize your ideas. Templates and tutorials are included in the Li’l Stories Toolkit for Educators.
Host a Li’l Stories Storytelling Lab
If you are in New York City, invite the Li’l Stories team to your classroom to facilitate a week-long customized storytelling lab with your students.
Our language arts framework uses visual, spoken, and written storytelling to immerse learners in a creative writing process. Our program can have a variety of outcomes, from oral presentations to written narratives and story videos. Our Labs reinforce classroom topics and nurture creative thinking, cooperative learning, and digital literacy. Students love it and learn to work together and express themselves.