Increase your child’s vocabulary, empathy and social skills before school. Story stones are a DIY kids activity that you can easily make and use to increase your child’s vocabulary, empathy and social skills in the years prior to school. Have you heard of them? They are super unique… I originally made a bunch when Dimples was just a mere 2 years old (see them here).
Amazingly, we still have them exact same ones and we still use them today with Miss T. These days however, we use them in a different way. Miss T is approaching primary school, so we have been using them to address creative thinking, emotional intelligence, social skills and to develop depth and clarity in her vocabulary.
A beneficial social skill tool.
The easy story stones are helpful in numerous ways and the great thing is, you can use them with pre-readers. They can help:
- Conversation skills.
- Developing Empathy.
- Turn taking.
- Receptive Listening skills.
- Expressive language.
- Emotional intelligence.
- Social Skills.
- Creative thought.
Story stones are a great prompt to allow children to develop story telling skills, to express their own terms, listen carefully, put themselves in someone else’s shoes (empathy) and to safely use their own thoughts, experiences and imagination to guide a story. However, story stones are also a great social skill tool that WILL help increase your child’s vocabulary in the years prior to starting school.
How to make story stones.
- Gather some pebbles, stones or decorative rocks.
- Create some ideas: Try a theme that your child is interested in, animals or characters, colours etc. You could introduce emotional awareness and feelings by introducing some emotional facial expression pictures. Or road safety, by painting some road signs. Or you could feature a favourite story or book your child loves.
- Be creative and draw or paint your pictures on to the stones. We have done some using acrylic paints and we have done some using our favourite permanent marker, sharpies. Tip: Paint lasts much longer.
- Let them dry.
- Seal them with a coat of varnish or sealant.
- Give them 24 hours for the sealant to harden.
- Store them in a clear bag or container.
Use story stones to increase your child’s vocabulary.
1. Take turns telling stories. Obviously, parental or adult involvement is beneficial here. Not only are you modelling story telling and teaching an expanded vocab, you are also imitating how NOT to interrupt. Taking turns is an important social and conversational skill for children to develop. Try setting the stage with a free choice story of about 5-6 story stones; start with an intro based on the first stone and then end with a conclusion after your last stone.
2. Free choice Stories. Leave your collection of story stones in a visible shared area where your child can freely choose to play with them. Often the best stories come from the comfort of your own mind. If you see your child playing with the story stones freely, encourage them to tell you a story. Listen carefully and praise their efforts. You can increase your child’s vocabulary by encouraging the story a bit longer; ask things like what happened next? Your story doesn’t sound like it has ended yet, is there more? Tell me more about….?
3. Structured stories. Engage in a structured story telling session with your child. This is a fun turn taking game that encourages creative thinking. Use the story stones, and pick a starter for your child, get them to start the story about that stone until you flip over the next one, then they need to introduce that subject into the story. Continue going for a while and announce when it is the last, then take your turn allowing them to guide the subjects for your story.
4. Flip a story. This game really helps to increase a child’s vocabulary because it is unpredictable. It really requires quick witted, creative thought and imagination. Turn your stones over upside down, the story teller waits for the ‘flipper’ to urn one story stone over and they must create a story based on that, allow a sentence or two and then flip another random stone over to reveal the next prompt.
5. Grouping and labelling. Just by simply grouping story stones into a common group you can allow for an increase in vocabulary through discussion. Group things by colour, type, use, season, material etc. and then label them. After you label them ask your child to describe what the story stones have in common, what they do or what they are. Encourage conversational skills and vocabulary through an impromptu discussion.
6. Share story stones. Make a bag of story stones for other children in your child’s social circle. Whether it is for friends, family, day care educators or preschool friends. This will introduce story telling and games developing a stronger vocabulary with children of similar age to your child. This will allow them to interact and engage in this social skill set in a situation that is age appropriate to them.
Examples of recent stories.
This one below was a structured story. I chose related stones and put them out one at a time for Miss T, to see if she could strong a story together off the top of her head.
“Once upon a time there was a car going for a long drive. It was driving for so long all alone… Until it got busy and seen another car. The road was busy and cars were driving together fast… Fast cars on the road scared a little girl. She had to cross the road but was too scared that a car would hit her and squash her… She seen a red light post and went to it. She wasn’t allowed to cross until the light told her she could walk. She had to wait until the cars stopped… She seen a sign and remembered to hold her Mums hand. You have to hold a grow up’s hand when you cross a road… It was amazing! She was happy and safe that she crossed the road the safe way… She went to the beach to build a sand castle. It was a giant castle. She decorated it with shells… It was hot and sunny. It was so hot at the beach… Then it rained and the sand castle got washed back done into flat sand! – the end“
I hope this post has inspired you to give story stones a go and try to increase your child’s vocabulary in a simple playful way. I would love to see how they turn out if you make some of your own. Feel free to share them in the Facebook Group.
Below is a link to the new community on Facebook called “Play Based Parents” – if you are looking for kids activities, play based learning ideas, purposeful play, and ways to create meaningful parenting moments join us and contribute to the group.
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