One of my favorite stories as a young child was Little Red Riding Hood. It is actually a bit scary, especially for a preschooler. I enjoyed that story, not because of the story’s plot, but because my dad told it with such enthusiasm! He would raise and lower his voice and he would also use hand motions. I remember squealing with delight and enjoying that time with him.
As a Christian preschool teacher, you have the awesome privilege of telling the greatest story ever told in some form each week! The story of God’s love and the missionaries who share it is worth telling. We can tell this story in such a way that it makes an impact in the lives of preschoolers.
Each session in Missions Friends Leader contains a mission story for Threes and Fours, and kindergarteners. You can make these stories come to life with a little preparation and practice.
Accommodate Group Dynamics
Think about your particular group of preschoolers. What will engage them? Do they require lots of movement? Work active times into your story. Do some have trouble focusing on the story? Think about the best seating arrangement. Think about ways to set up the Group Time to minimize distractions and maximize learning.
Memorize the Story
Try to memorize the story. This will allow you to maintain eye contact and help you to engage preschoolers with the story. If you have difficulty memorizing the story, try making cue cards with important points that will help you remember the story. That’s what I do.
Vary Your Voice
Vary your voice as appropriate to the story. You can use a high pitch for a child’s voice and a low pitch for a man’s voice. Sometimes, a loud voice is needed as you describe a sounds like bang, slam, and eek! You can speed up your voice to emphasize an exciting event in the story. You can also slow down your voice to give time for thought.
Use Facial Expressions and Body Language
Before each session, rehearse your facial expressions and gestures in front of a mirror. If the missionary in the story is wondering about something, practice your puzzled face. If something unexpected happens in the story, try different faces that make you look surprised. Use movement to enhance the story. You may even want to invite your preschoolers to mimic your expressions and movements.
I still remember the story of Little Red Riding Hood because of the fun my dad and I shared. Looking back, I realize that my dad instinctively incorporated all of these storytelling tips. How great would it be if our preschoolers remember in adulthood the important stories of Jesus and His love for others because we took the time to prepare to tell the story!
by Stacy Nall
Storytelling tips adapted from Nell Carter Branum, Storytelling 1-2-3 (Birmingham, AL: WMU, 2013), 6–11.