|Photo from: Life in the Green House|
I had talked to the kid earlier in the week about what all of his storybooks had in common. We talked about characters and settings and how all the characters had a problem that they needed to solve. So on Saturday morning we headed out to buy some popsicle sticks and paint. We brought them home and painted 80 sticks four different colors, 20 of each. The painting project took about an hour. An activity that keeps the kid entertained for an hour is a win.
Once we were done painting the sticks, I had the kiddo gather some of his favorite books.
We spread out the books and the kid had to place one stick of each color onto each book.
We then went through each book. For each one we wrote the main character on the yellow stick, the setting on the green stick, and the conflict on the red stick. For the blue stick, the kid could choose any other item that appeared in the story.
The blue sticks offset the fact that I was trying to keep the characters and conflicts and settings rather general, so I'd occasionally change what he suggested. So instead of Courderoy's conflict being that he "lost his button," I changed it to "lost something."
This activity amazingly kept him interested the whole time. It was worth the entire project just for this portion. He named the character, setting, and conflict in thirteen of his favorite books and he thought it was a game. Parenting win.
After we finished each of the books, we had extra sticks left over. We then came up with our own ideas for characters, settings, conflicts, and "special items" that could appear in stories. Conflicts were pretty tricky, so I came up with most of those. He did about half the characters and most of the settings and all of the "special items." When we were done, we had this:
I made a little card that showed a little story arc and we looked at each of the books to see how each one had a character that tried multiple times to resolve a problem, and then finally did in the end.
Now for the game. We stuck all the sticks into a tall tin. The game was to pull out one of each color and create a story using what you get.
I wasn't sure if the project was going to die at this point, but he was really excited to play. Daddy went first, then the kid, then Mommy. Then we all went again. As a bonus, I think he'll actually want to play again.
If you're interested, you can check out the kid's first story here: Story Sticks: The Bored Wizard.