Storytelling in elementary schools enhances children’s language skills by providing students with an invaluable opportunity to practice auditory understanding, a vital component of early childhood education. The ability to understand spoken language involves much more than just hearing the words and understanding what the speaker means by the words. Non-verbal cues of vocal pitch, tempo, and pitch are essential for effective communication. In face-to-face interactions, the additional non-verbal elements of body language, gestures and facial expressions make up up to 80% of expressive language. But how, in our multitasking, screen-dominated learning environments, can teachers capture and hold the attention of their distraction-prone students?
Why not try using the Japanese art of origami paper folding to help focus students’ attention during language arts activities? When an unexpected curiosity like origami is added to a narrative presentation, the educational benefits for elementary school students are increased. Origami models and other interesting objects add visual stimulation and attract attention, so young learners are focused and motivated to pay closer attention. Another benefit of adding origami to stories is that the origami is created one step at a time. As a story progresses scene by scene, it is also possible to build an origami model, fold by fold. When the story ends, the origami model is also created. This specialized storytelling technique is called Story me. Storytelling + Origami = Storygami.
Watching and listening to the stories illustrated by the progressive folds of the origami models allows students to imagine the visual details of the scenes and characters described by the words, but also gives students the experience of analyzing the symbolic representations of the shapes and folds of the paper matched with characters or actions from the story. The ability to understand how shapes relate to history and then to imagine possible outcomes are key elements of successful problem solving, one of the most important goals of elementary education.
How can teachers and other educators learn to use Storigami to build problem solving and language arts skills in their elementary school classrooms? Luckily a Mid-Western educational publisher, Storytime Ink International, has published several collections of origami stories, such as Foldable Nature Stories: Quick and easy origami stories about plants and animals. This book and other fold-out storybooks describe how to use the technique, step by step. Storigami books are available in most public libraries and from several online sources, including http://Amazon.com/ and http://Storytimeink.com/