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Editor's Note:

Feel free to add your general storytelling techniques/ideas that can be used for many different stories.


The following notes on "What is the Storytelling Workshop?" come from a discussion some years ago at posted by Neil MacQueen

You are welcome to reply with your own thoughts on this subject. Below this post is a discussion of the many TECHNIQUES you can use in your Storytelling Workshop. You are welcome to add to those too.


What is the Storytelling Workshop?

...and how is it different from other workshops?

thoughts from Neil MacQueen

A few years ago we had a great debate about the Storytelling Workshop here at Storytelling is such a powerful and challenging medium, and we noticed that other workshops were using many storytelling techniques. The following ideas were worked up from the discussion.


EVERY workshop medium "tells the story" through its own unique medium. That is why we rotate... keep telling the story,

   ...and to tell it through different media and teachers.

In almost every workshop, the students will at some point HEAR the story, and RESPOND  to the story either by replaying it, expressing it, or internalizing it in some way (reflection).

Sometimes that hearing comes from media, such as video. Sometimes the hearing comes from reading a script and dramatizing it. Sometimes the hearing and responding happens by playing the story on the computer. Sometimes it happens by listening to the teacher as a science experiment is done.


The Storytelling Workshop has a strong focus on the SPOKEN WORD.

This spoken presentation is often initiated by the teacher or a dramatist portraying a Bible character in the story. 

This gives the hearing an INTERPERSONAL quality, ...which seeing a video of someone talking does not do.

In classic storytelling, the storyteller holds the attention of a rapt audience. But like all good actors, they include PROPS and MOVEMENT. This is especially true when telling a story to children.

Like all of our workshops, the Storytelling Presentation is only PART of the lesson plan, ...though certainly a BIG part!   Other activities and media can be included. But in keeping with the Rotation Model's belief in how our children actually learn, --through multiple learning intelligiences, the Storytelling Workshop MAKES SURE we spend quality time in SPOKEN PRESENTATION.

Why? Because listening and speaking are distinct intelligences!  And the Rotation Model is multiple-intelligence informed.

This emphasis on LISTENING to the spoken word also TRAINS OUR CHILDREN to become better worship participants where the ability to LISTEN to the Spoken Word is a key skill for their spiritual formation.


The Storytelling Workshop can be more difficult to staff than some other workshops because it requires a teacher who is GOOD at storytelling and holding children's attention.  The average volunteer simply doesn't have those skills.

That said, you may have some volunteers who could ACQUIRE those skills, but only if you provide them with training and good storytelling lesson plans.

Some of's BEST STORYTELLING LESSON PLANS are found in the Writing Team's Lesson Sets. 

Depending on your story and storyteller, you will want to make sure you are including good storytelling techniques and "other activities' that complement your lesson.

You may also discover that some "other" workshops are very similar to the Storytelling Workshop. The Science Workshop, for example, often has an extended teacher presentation where certain DEMONSTRATIONS do the job of holding the children's attention during the SPOKEN presentation.



Design your storytelling in such a way as to train and reward students for paying attention. As you can see in the example speaking techniques below, each begins with good listening.

Listening Skills are learned.

Listening Skills are modeled and practiced.

Listening needs "hooks" or "cues" provided by the teacher through presentation/props.

Use simple games that challenge students to remember what they've heard.  For example, assign different words to certain students, such as, "God" and "David" and ask them to count as they listen how many times the word was used. Ask them to "vote as they listen" to a psalm how well they understand each phrase (think of those political "trend trackers" you see on the news).   You can also invite student to sit in teams of 3 and "sit rock still" while they listen, then break into their team to write down everything they heard.



The purpose of our storytelling is to help the student LEARN and TELL the story for themselves with their own mouths. Watching and listening is not enough.  Be sure that your storytelling activities include student presentations based on what they've read or heard. Speaking skills are learned, and successful speaking boosts a sense of belong and self-esteem.  Public speaking can be very scary too. Think through how you can positively encourage each student to "SPEAK" the story.

Do not shy away from oral presentation. This is not necessarily the workshop where we ask them to 'speak" through writing or art.  Those are fine mediums for expression, but in the Storytelling Workshop, we purposely emphasize ORAL expression.

Example "Speaking" Techniques: 

1.  "GAME" those speaking moments

Hand out numbered cards with the names of characters in the story written on them. Now roll a big set of dice and whoever's number comes up must answer/respond to a corresponding set of questions.

Question 1: Tell us in 15 to 20 seconds (we will time you) what you thought of Jesus speech.

Question 2: Summarize the point of this story in exactly 5 sentences.


2. STORYBOARD those Speaking Moments

During the storyteller's presentations, have students sketch the story as if they were creating a storyboard.  Then have them present their storyboard to the group.  (This requires the storyteller to take their time and be very descriptive)



The Storytelling Workshop is not just about the Bible Story, it is about OUR story. In many cases, the Bible's story provides a template or "map" for telling our own story.

Example:  The Exodus Journey

Students draw a map that expresses THEIR JOURNEY through hard times, promises, who they follow, where they are headed, challenges up ahead, "times and places when they saw the Pillar of Cloud by day."  They use this map as a PROP to tell their story.

Example: The Stilling of the Storm

Students draw a storyboard then present it to class of THEIR LIFE...storms, who's with them, what the waves are that are buffeting their boat, and what they think Jesus is saying to them.  They use this storyboard to TELL THEIR STORY.


For further information, read Amy Crane's manual on Storytelling in Rotation.

Last edited by Luanne Payne
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Storytelling Technique Brainstorms from workshop participants:

Open ended story
Flannel boards
1st person
3rd person
Reader's Theatre
Back to back telling
Children's book
Silly story
Poem writing
Picture words
Interactive parts
Character visit
Family story Bible
Flannel board
Story by older members
Finish the story
Shadow play
Mary and Martha back to back
Bible story in modern setting
Children write a new parable
Expert come in
Powerpoint presentation

Little people show
Acting out stories in the Bible
Wood figures show
Special setting
Video clips
Signs and movements
Narrating stories


Act out
Children’s books
Circle story
Coffee can theater
CSI for Christ – go from scene to scene and solve a mystery
Dress up
First person
Guest readers
Inanimate object
Journey – start the story in one place and walk to different areas
Modern version
Sound effects
Take turns


Bag story
Fill in the blanks
Round Robin
Sentence completion
Write your own ending

Last edited by Wormy the Helpful Worm

"Story-Mapping" Storytelling Technique

The following lesson idea was copied here as it demonstrates "CREATING A MAP" to tell a story.


from Bedford Presbyterian Church
Janet Denton, Director of Educational Ministries

Summary: The students will create a story-map with places, people, and events from the story of Joshua. They will then use that map to tell the story of Joshua to the class.

Read and reflect on the overview page for Joshua. Read the book of Joshua. Yes, I know it is long, but it will help you understand what you are teaching. At the very least, read Joshua 1-9, 22-24.

As you are reading, refer to the map you will teach from.

crayons, smooth beach rocks, heavy chip board (thick card stock), maps, clay, sand, glue, green and blue glitter, toothpicks.

To Do:

As you read the story, you pause at sections and the children actual build the map in sections.

Allow the kids time between stories to form the desert, mountains, and mark some of the locations.

The sand, glue and paper are used to mold land, mountains and rivers. Glitter to denote green and water areas.  Press sand into clay for desert areas, rocks into mountains. Toothpicks & paper (make flags) would be used to form name-place tags.

Once done the children would have made a map of the journey and then be able to retell the story by pointing out points on the map and what happened.

If you're familiar with the concept of SHOEBOX STORY KITS (used in several lesson plan at this site), or Godly Play's storytelling technique involved felt and props laid on the floor while telling the story, --then you know how this "story map creation" concept goes.

Last edited by Luanne Payne

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