Getting Your Family Tales Down & Punctuation Up!

Documenting Family Stories is a Fun Winter Activity that Support Language Arts


Getting a story down in paper makes it last forever.

While spring, summer, and fall easily lend themselves to outdoor exploration, winter sends us a clear message to hunker down and cozy up next to the fire or radiator. But what is an active family to do when weather dictates that adventures be brief and close-to-home (if at all)? The secret to a winter that is simultaneously adventure-filled, warm, and cozy is to have adventures in your minds. Active bodies can easily slow themselves for a few months if their equally active brains are frequently engaged in mental adventures. Winter is a time for stories.

Children are, of course, experts in storytelling. Imaginations run wild in the throes of childhood, and being cooped up inside seems to cause physical energy to channel itself into wild bursts of imaginative play and storytelling. Whether stories are inspired by creative free play with household toys and craft materials or are derived from favorite books, they’re the lifeblood of the deep, dark winter.

Winter storytelling is not only an outlet for the silliness of children, but is also an opportunity for families to explore the structure and craft of written tales. Using stories inspired by play, creative games, or story starters like homemade story dice, families can practice writing down their original tales. Translating stories told orally into written words not only preserves stories for much longer than the imagination might hold them, but offers families the opportunity to explore grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, and spelling together in a natural way and on a need-to-know basis. As families work together to write down their latest tales, they’ll encounter lots and lots of opportunities to discuss proper punctuation, deduce logical spellings that show letter-to-sound correspondence, and experiment with creative vocabulary to make their stories more interesting.

To spark a family discussion about these topics – and to enhance children’s storytelling and story-writing abilities – look to the pages of useful titles written by Brian P. Cleary or Lynne Truss. Cleary, best known for his Words are CATegorical series (which features a host of goofy grammar-teaching cats), has created countless books that match humor with the facts and systematic workings of language and grammar, math concepts, and a few science topics, too. Titles such as Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective? and A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What is a Noun? very clearly explain the specifics of parts of speech informally within a silly and memorable context. Truss, similarly, has utilized word play in order to teach readers about proper usage of punctuation. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference!, Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, every punctuation mark counts!, and other similarly silly-sounding titles point out the unintended meanings behind phrases with jumbled punctuation.

Whether wintertime storytelling is structured or spontaneous, be sure to take advantage of the many learning opportunities that story creation presents! And if you’re looking for a way to make the process of crafting stories truly special this winter, try starting out with handmade journals. Journal-making is a perfect afternoon-long indoor activity, and if children are too young to make their own, beautiful handmade books of blank pages make excellent holiday gifts!

But don’t let the winter months keep you too hunkered down!  There are many ongoing community story hours to choose from that our local libraries offer throughout the school year.  Here are a sample of story hours you can take your preK kids to during the week day this winter:







[Photo credit: (cc) gianΩmerz]

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