Modeling Storytelling

Adults’ stories provide models for children to draw upon—ideas for how to organize stories, characters to include and plot lines to spin out. Children will rarely copy these models directly, but rather mine them for inspiration. Hearing adults tell stories helps create a culture of storytelling, inspiring children to share their stories with their classmates.

Ideas of Stories (Non-Fiction)

Children love to hear stories about the lives of valued adults. Experiences growing up, family members (especially children) and pets are particularly rich sources of stories. Below are a number of stories that you can use as inspiration to think of stories to tell your children.

Along with helping build strong bonds, telling stories to your children provides them with models from which they can draw on in telling their own stories. Here we share stories that may provide you ideas for stories to tell your children.

Students love hearing personal family stories about teachers: Young children love hearing about their teachers' families. Here Abby Morales shares a story about her son that she tells her students on the first day of school.

Repetition helps children learn: Repetition draws children into stories as they are able to predict and eventually participate in the telling. Repetition is a key feature of Megina Baker's "Too Much Arugula!"

Students love hearing childhood stories about their teachers: Young children enjoy hearing about their teacher's childhood. Jei Qi Chen shares her story about growing up in China.

Ideas of Stories (Fiction)

Imaginary tales can originate in your or others’ minds. Our popular folk tales, such as The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood, were originally oral stories. Teachers can create their own tales, combining elements of real life and fantasy (e.g., a teacher’s cat can visit the school, helping children solve mysteries). In You Can’t Say You Can’t Play, Vivian Paley describes how her story about Princess Annabella captivated her kindergartners and supported their learning over weeks and months.

Here are a number of stories that you can use as inspiration, modifying them to suit your classroom.

Uncle Booky

Uncle Booky, his wife Madame Booky and their trickster nephew Maurice are characters from Haitian folktales. Ben Mardell has adapted several of these stories for young children. Though somewhat long, the repetition in Uncle Booky and the Honey, Uncle Booky and the We-Ah Sandwich, and Uncle Booky and the Fishing Contest allow for children to join in the telling as they become familiar with the story.


Loud Mouse

Loud Mouse has suspense, humor and a happy ending. Version 1: Ben Mardell shares this story that is sure to become one of your children’s favorites. Version 2: The value of audience participation can be seen as Alison Mann shares her version of Loud Mouse with her K-2 students.


The Three Billy Goats Gruff & Abiyoyo

An Ecuadorian Three Little Pigs

Folk tales are rich material for stories. Angela Solomon draws on a tale from her native Ecuador to construct this story.

Crazy Raccoons

Telling stories where the children are the protagonists is very engaging. Kendra McLaughlin (K0/K1 at the Baldwin) tells a Crazy Raccoon story where her children solve the mystery of who made a mess of their classroom and reprimand the offending creatures.

The Popcorn Story

A participatory story that can be told during Communities of Learners meetings. Note how children add their own ideas into the story.


At the start of a storytelling session, rituals can help focus the group’s attention. In this video clip Lee Academy teacher Pam Richardson uses three rituals—counting, a candle and a chime—to help prepare her children for a story.