You don’t need a book to tell stories.  Story telling happens in all cultures, and has been going on far longer than the written word.  Any time you describe something that happened already, you are telling the story of what happened.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.  The first stories can be 1 statement.  We ate lunch.

Then add to it.  What did we eat?  “Pittr buttr”, which was how my second one said peanut butter.  What else did we eat? Apple.  Did we have anything to drink?  Milk.

Here’s the new story.  We ate lunch. We had peanut butter sandwiches. We drank milk.  We cut up an apple and had it for dessert.

It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. 

Do you want to tell the lunch story again?  Each time, you and the child/ren can add things – We were hungry. We wanted something that we could eat quickly.  We looked in the pantry.  (What did we find?) We found a jar of peanut butter.  We got a knife (where was it?) from the drawer.  We got bread from the counter (or refrigerator, or bread box).  We got plates.  (What did we put on the plates?) We put a slice of bread on each plate.  We used the knife to spread the peanut butter on the bread. We put another slice of bread on the top. We took out glasses…

You get it. This can take longer than the original lunch.  But as you add details, the child remembers and helps you add some more details.  And as you retell the story, the idea of order – what came first enters in to it as well.  There are many lesson plans on how to teach sequencing, but when children are in the habit of thinking about what came first, and then, and then, sequencing is not hard for them.

The idea is that any experience, when remembered, is a story.  Stories help review things that happened. Help remember how problems were solved like how the child/ren helped find something important. Help remember how upset/sad/angry they were and how it worked out.  And help children learn to make their own stories.


Someone asked how to introduce loose parts in an early childhood center where the teachers were not familiar with them. It would have been better to  introduce the idea at a staff meeting first. But it’s too late for that now. 

So I suggested what I did when introducing the study of balls.  I assembled 3 large bins of many sizes and types of balls, and put 1 in each of 3 classrooms.  I told the teachers that the only rule was to observe – and they couldn’t “teach” anything about them.

The staff meeting was 3 days later.  I told everyone about what I had done and asked each of the 3 teachers what happened.  One said “They didn’t learn anything, they just rolled them around and around.”  I asked her to tell us more.  They rolled them on the carpet and on the bare floor. They rolled them up and down ramps they made out of blocks.  Again, she said they didn’t learn anything.

The second one said they tried bouncing all of them. Some did bounce and some didn’t. Some of the children kept on trying to bounce the ones that didn’t bounce. Some children, after trying them, only would bounce the bouncy ones.

The third teacher said they threw the balls to each other.  First, they gently tossed them from very close to each other.  She did tell them not to throw them AT each other.  I said that was okay.  That morning, a few children made a throwing game – they stood on different sides of a cabinet and threw them over the cabinet.  Then they sat and threw them over the cabinet and tried to catch them.

The first one said, “See, I told you they didn’t learn.”

I said when children explored freely without adult interference, they explored different properties depending on their interests and their friends’ interests.  Without adults telling them what to do, one group investigated rolling, one bouncing, one throwing. 

This is PROOF that children learn by doing and by investigating on their own.  If I tried to set this up, I couldn’t have done any better.  I was SO excited by these results!

That was the first step towards developing studies of balls.  First children explore, then adults can come in and expand the learning opportunities.

This works with balls, loose parts, rocks – anything they can touch and move on their own.