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Guest blog: Chatterbox Challenge 2016 with Debutots

Use Story to encourage Communication, Imagination and Participation

It’s that time of year again – the Chatterbox Challenge is fast approaching and here at Debutots Head Office we have been prepping our special Elf and Fairy stories for this year’s Challenge.

As well as using some of the lovely songs in this year’s pack, we also put our Debutots stamp on our Challenges. As usual, the children will take part in some warm up activities related to this year’s theme and then they will settle down to hear a magical Debutots Story told by one of our skilled practitioners. Not only will they look and listen, they will also actively take part with actions, sounds and words from the story.

The story will lead into them taking part in one big group re-telling, creating an enabling environment for each child to contribute and, no matter how small, all contribution is significant.

Jumping into the imaginary world of a story is a safe environment in which children can contribute, explore and experiment – both verbally and non-verbally. They can use their faces, bodies and voices to communicate meaning; even the smallest of looks can speak volumes.

While you may not be ready to become a storyteller or facilitate a big group re-telling (that’s what we’re for!) you CAN use storybooks at home to start to develop a love of language, promote communication, develop imagination and encourage participation.

Here are some story time tips…

  1. Choose a good time in the day to read to your child and try to read at the same time every day, if possible.
  1. Preview the book by reading it to yourself ahead of time. Decide if there are bits you may want to leave out, shorten or elaborate on and discuss with your little one.
  1. Make sure there are no distractions in the background (such as television!).
  1. Try to put all the things you worry about or have to organise out of your mind. Use this as “quiet time” for your mind as well as your child’s; enjoy escaping into a lovely story world!
  1. Before you begin the story, always read out the title of the book, the author and even the illustrator – no matter how many times you read the book.
  1. The first time you read the book together, discuss the illustration on the cover before you even open it. “What do you think this is going to be about? What can you see? Who do you think he is?” Always ask open questions so your little one can answer easily and not in fear of being wrong.
  1. Don’t be afraid to stop part way through the story to discuss the illustration or demonstrate the action or sound a particular animal or character makes. This is very important in assisting your child’s understanding of the story and its characters. Try to ensure you demonstrate the actions and sounds of each character in the story as they crop up.
  1. When you finish the story, chat with your little one about it – ask them “Did you enjoy that story? Who did you like best in the story? Would you like that story again?” Children will ask for their favourite books over and over again!
  1. When you’re out and about – refer back to the most recent story you have read to your little one and in particular, their favourite story. Perhaps if you’re out walking for the afternoon you can go ‘Gruffalo’ hunting in the woods, or if you’re near a lake you can see if there’s a place ‘Where the wild things are’, or if you’re at home in the garden or at the park perhaps you can look for ‘Superworm’. Even if you’re out shopping you can look for the character’s favourite foods – ‘scrambled snake’ maybe!
  1. Finally – when selecting books for your little one, choose books you will enjoy. If there’s something in particular that you don’t enjoy or certain illustrations that you don’t like then avoid them as you won’t enjoy reading to your child and they won’t enjoy listening to you!

Have fun and enjoy!

Good luck with your challenges and see you soon,