Storytelling in the Montessori Classroom

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Children in the first Plane of Development are in the Sensitive Period for language, and it is our responsibility to prepare an environment rich in language. One way to do this is to tell stories to the children. “Storytelling is relating a tale to one or more listeners through voice and gesture. It is not the same as reading a story aloud or reciting a piece from memory or acting out a drama-though it shares common characteristics with these arts. The storyteller looks into the eyes of the audience and together they compose the tale. The storyteller begins to see and re-create, through voice and gesture, a series of mental images; the audience, from the first moment of listening, squints, stares, smiles, leans forward or falls asleep, letting the teller know whether to slow down, speed up, elaborate, or just finish. Each listener, as well as each teller, actually composes a unique set of story images derived from meanings associated with words, gestures, and sounds. The experience can be profound, exercising the thinking and touching emotions of both teller and listener.” (The National Council of Teachers of English, quote from www.storyteller.net) This is something that should be started on the first day the children walk through the door of the classroom (Fernando, 1999).

Storytelling has been a part of life for a very long time. Stories tell us about the nature of the human life and give shape to the events and emotions which are encountered in daily life. From the earliest of times, stories were the way of passing down the history of the land and people who lived there. The spoken word came before the written word, and it is through the spoken word that the history of people is passed on from one generation to the next. This spoken word has helped to preserve the history, knowledge and culture of humans over the centuries and still plays a role (Fernando, 1999). These stories speak to the spirit and mind of people everywhere. They are central to...
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