Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

What is your favorite activity to stimulate participation in a storytelling workshop?

Hello there. I have been storytelling for about 6 years and that is also about how long I have been presenting workshops for teachers on how to integrate storytelling, puppets, and songs into the classroom. I have an upcoming workshop that is aimed at both parents and teachers on the hows and whys of storytelling for very young children. I would love some suggestions for "warm ups" to break the ice and make my participants feel comfortable.

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What about telling a group story. Sit in a circle and everyone takes a turn saying one word of the story until its done, or everyone breaks out laughing, or both.
I like to use finger plays or sometimes stories that require the whole group to participate like "I'm going on a bear hunt," where there is a constant rhythm going on during the whole story. Sometimes I will tell the audience that I am going to tell a story about say... a farm. Then I will ask different small groups to make that animal noise whenever I mention their name. They become quite attentive because they don't want to miss their chance to perform. Young children have such a short attention span that if there is not something that involves them they lose interest and become a distraction.

always a tale to tell,
Each year at our Kentucky Storytelling Conference, a weekend of workshops and story swaps... the very first activity is a "Silent Story Game" that we play to engage every single person there. We have a standing partnership with the Kentucky Knowledge Center on Deafness and the Hard of Hearing. Some of our particpants who teach workshops are in the deaf community. Every workshop has an interpreter and each group activity has an interpreter for both the hearing and the nonhearing. The silent game... breaks down more than just the "Introduce yourself" barriers that are always there when you gather a group of friends and strangers. Try that game.... have a list of common stories... and instruct everyone to tell a story to someone else and if they can guess which story you are trying to "silently" tell... no sounds allowed period... you can mark that story off your list.... the ones with the most stories successfully told wins an attaboy or an attagirl and the applause of all present.

What a great idea --- and it fits well into my premis that everyone is a storyteller!! It is sure to generate giggles ... and that is the best kind of warm up of all! Wish me luck! My workshop is March 1st!


Today is March 13th! I've heard not a word about what happened on March 1st - Please fill me in. How did your warm-up(s) go?

Did you use Buck's suggestion?

What'd you learn? How'd it go? What'll you do differently, if anything, next time?


This is a great idea! It really invites a lot of thought on the part of all the participants and could also lead into interesting discussions about misunderstandings across different languages and other diversity topics.
Thank you for this, I'm going to use it in my next group activity also.
just make yourself a list of story titles and put a blank spot for them to check off when they tell a story to someone and by the way... you can only tell one story to one person. So that makes for a lot of mixing. I think it was either Betsy Fleischer or Cynthia Changaris or Mary Hamilton who thought of that idea for our annual Kentucky Storytelling Conference. We hold it the first weekend in November and folks come from all over to participate. You should too.

That sounds like a really interesting conference. I'll definitely try to make it.
go to for more information.
Cool idea, Buck! Definitely plan to try it.

I have some stories I tell in voice & sign. For hearing audience members it's both participation & awareness as I teach a few signs they can join me (& at some short spots I just sign if they're well into the repetition or knowing what sign comes next). For the deaf it's a great way to communicate directly. If there's an interpreter, it provides a break.
Hello all!

Thanks for checking back in on me Tom!!
I had a wonderful funderful workshop experience! I used Buck's idea for the "silent story" as the ice breaker ... and it worked so beautifully!! There was a young gal named Heather in the workshop who was very outgoing and she made the day for me .... you know the type. Then I told a group participation story that was my version of "The 3 Wishes" and the audience was more than willing to participate in that. Much music, story and merriment followed. We ended with Alison's idea of a group story because everyone's confidence was sky high.
When all of the evaluations came in, all were very positive and my confidence is pretty great right now too.

God bless this wonderful group!!



Congratulations - I am delighted to hear that all went well, and even better than merely "well." You know that some/many/most of those who were there with you will long recall the wonderful experience shared with you...and
"Ain't it fun!?"

Sounds like it was a significant storytelling-step both 'UP' and 'FORWARD,' and I send you my congratulations and affirmation - Well done!


Tom T




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