Saturday, 12 January 2013

Tales with a Twist of Math

We will soon be starting our "Tales with a Twist of Math (for 5-6 year olds)" story workshops across different locations in Mumbai (Colaba, Mulund, Juhu, Oshiwara & Kandivili). 

Through this post, we are sharing an example of our story plan, to give you an idea, of how Math can be taught through stories and games.

One of our stories in this series is about a little girl Samira and her shopping experience. We selected this story because, at this age, many children are keen to know the use of currency, and are capable of buying small items (under supervision) from shops.

The story-hour begins with narrating the story. After the story is over, we tell children the importance of being eco-friendly and tell them the cons of using plastic bags for shopping. As a craft activity, we make them create their own eco-friendly paper shopping bags.

After the bags are created, it's time to shop! We display currency notes and coins of different denominations, and ask children to look at the samples and draw their own paper currency. The  children need to write the numerals showing the currency amount, the country's name and draw a picture on each currency. To add to the fun, children can make their "family currency", that is, instead of drawing Gandhi's face on their currency notes, they can draw faces of their own family members on the different denominations. After they are done making their currency, they cut them out into individual pieces.

The final activity is "Shopping". They carry their paper bags and currency to the "pretend play" shop, which is setup in one corner of the class. The teacher/storyteller displays a shopping catalog on the counter. Each child approaches the counter and decides what items he/she wants to buy. They calculate and give the money to the teacher and buy their items.  

Each one-hour session is designed to be "fun and play" for kids. Each of the stories in our pack extends into an activity or a game to teach basic math concepts. We use the NCERT curriculum as a guideline for choosing the concepts to be covered across each grade/age group.

If you'd like to send your children to our workshops, then visit our website for more details. 

Alternatively, you could try the currency activity with your kids at home. We are sure they'll have a fun time making their own money, and you could setup a pretend-play vegetable shop or toy store at home and let them try their hands at shopping.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Thirsty Crow Story (in Marathi)

We love the fact that today many publishers are working actively towards promoting children's books in regional languages. At The Story Palce, we are keenly working at incorporating Hindi and Marathi books (Tulika and Pratham Books) in our storytelling sessions, and building lesson plans around them.

As part of our research, I picked up a Marathi story today, and tried it out with my 4-year-old daughter. Since we live in Mumbai, Maharashtra, she has been exposed to a fair share of Marathi through the house help at home. The help has been speaking Marathi to my daughter since three years now, so my daughter has a good understanding of the language and can speak Marathi well (better than me).
This morning's story was "The Thirsty Crow" in Marathi, a story that we have all heard as children. I read the story slowly, explaining each part as I read it. The illustrations in the book were very simple and helped a great deal in understanding the sequence of events in the story.

After the story was over, I asked my daughter, if it was really possible to bring up water in a pot by putting stones in it. She just shrugged her shoulders. It made me think, that as a child I too had heard this story, but I never ever thought of finding out if the pebble thing worked. So, here was a chance to satisfy my curiosity and my daughter's too.

We went to the kitchen, and filled little water in a glass. I told her to pretend that she was a crow, and to try drinking the water by putting her mouth in the glass. Since the water level was low, she couldn't reach the water. So, we decided to do what the crow did. We collected some stones and put them in the glass. Slowly, slowly, the water rose up in the glass, and eventually it reached the top. The little pretend crow could drink it and satisfy her thirst!

I explained that the stones occupied space at the bottom of the glass, and pushed the water up. Later, we discussed what we (humans) would do in such a situation, one option was to lift the glass with our hands and drink water, and the other was to use a straw and suck up the water. 

Who ever thought that a simple story could be so so so much fun!

If you have read children's stories in regional languages, then do share your recommendation list with us. 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A Story About Clouds (Continuation to the How We Teach Science Through Stories)

Today we conducted our third science storytelling session, and the theme for the day was clouds.

We began by reading "The Little Cloud" by Eric Carle. The children enjoyed looking at the pictures in the book, and kept guessing what the little cloud would turn into on the next page. After the story was over, we looked at a picture that explained how clouds are formed. 

But, seeing is believing, so next stop was the experiment table. We poured boiling hot water in a glass, and then covered it with another glass bowl. In the glass bowl, we glued little bits of cotton, that were our clouds. When the glass was covered with the bowl, the vapor from the hot water started rising up. It would take a while for the cotton to become moist with the vapor, so we left the glass on the table and proceeded to the third activity.

We handed the Science Story Log Sheet to each child. In the sheet were pictures of different cloud types. The children clipped the sheets onto their clipboards and we went over to the terrace to observe the clouds in the sky. 

It was a bright sunny day, and the children observed the different types of clouds in the sky and compared them to the pictures in the worksheet. They circled the pictures that were the same as what they saw in the sky.

After we returned back to class, we looked at the glass with hot water. The vapor from the water had risen up and settled on the inside surface of the glass bowl. We peeled off the cotton from the inside of the bowl and felt that it was moist. 

We concluded that the suns's rays heat water in the water bodies; the water vapor rises up in the sky and when it cools it forms water droplets. Many such water droplets come together to form clouds!

The final wrap-up activity for the day was to make our own cloud art. We mixed equal parts of glue and shaving cream in a bowl, and handed it to the children to play with. The children had a fun time spreading the mixture on paper and making their own little clouds!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Phonics Storytelling Workshops

We have recently started our Phonics Storytelling Workshops. I never learnt phonics in school. I learnt the letters as A, B and C, and then I learnt spellings and therefore learnt to read. I became aware of phonics when my daughter started going to school. I did my little research on the Internet, and was amazed with what I learnt!

Phonics refers to the sounds that the English alphabets make. The words we read are made up of small sound segments, 44 in all. If children learn these 44 sounds, then they can connect the sounds to the letters they read, and will thus be able to pronounce a word. Likewise, if they hear a word, they can break it into sound segments and can tell how it is spelt. So, in short, phonics is about learning the 44 sounds.

At The Story Place, we teach the 44 sounds through stories. Each letter represents a character, who has his/her own personality, and each personality makes a unique sound and has a unique shape.

When children sit for our storytelling sessions, they don’t look at alphabets, they look at characters. They listen to a story about the character, and listen to songs about the sound the character makes and how the character gets its shape.

Later, when they see a letter, they relate the letter to its character, and then they recall the sound it makes! Doesn’t that sound like a fun way to learn the English alphabets?

If you are interested in learning about phonics or if you’d like to become a phonics trainer or if you’d like your child to attend our storytelling sessions, then write to us at or visit our Facebook page ( more details.

Monday, 28 May 2012

What Next?

We've had a wonderful summer!

Our Geography themed story session - Around the World in 7 Stories has had a fabulous response and has been a resounding success across bookstores in Mumbai. Our eager participants and their parents have been asking us "What Next?"

Well, as the next step, we plan to setup "The Story Place Nook" in Mumbai city. At our Nook, we will tell stories and continue taking children into the enchanting world of stories. And through those stories we'll teach them a little bit of Math, Science, History and Geography. It's going to be a lot of fun and exploration combined with some bits of hands-on activities and experiments.

Do let us know what you think about our plan, and if you would like your kids to become members of our Nook.

Your feedback and thoughts are very valuable to us, and will help us move our little dream to the next phase. So please do spare a minute and write your thoughts in the comment box, and of course please pass the word around :-)

Thanking you in advance.
The Story Place Team

Monday, 14 May 2012

Our Story Recipe

Many people have been asking us where we get our stories from. Well, some of our stories are originals from books, but we don't literally read the story from the book. We retell the story in our own words; we add extra bits of information or twists and turns to enable children participation in the story. We also remix and retell stories, this would mean that we combine two short stories together and retell it as one new story. And then there are some stories that we create on our own.

Through each of our story, we teach some concepts to children. Hence, the story is never told as is. We split the story into many parts, then we add bits of learning concepts into it and finally we weave it all together. What you get at the end is a new, interactive and engaging version of an old story!

Stories are often set in real or imaginary worlds. They have characters, a theme, a plot, action, adventure and drama. So in one way, the stage, the script and the acts are already defined for us. All we do is figure out what "learning concept" can be built into the story. For example, through our story (this one's our creation) "Adventures of Johnny Dragon", we take children on an Asian tour. Along with Johnny Dragon, we visit Japan, China, Sri Lanka and a few other countries.
Through Johnny Dragon's adventure we learnt facts about volcanoes in Japan; we also found out the length of the Great Wall of China and learnt about some Chinese inventions. The children participate in the story too. They read the clues and guess which country Johnny visits next. They also share their knowledge about each country and decide how Johnny should travel from one destination to another. Children by nature are very creative; they provide their ideas and thoughts and make Johnny's adventure even more interesting.

At the end, each storytelling session becomes an amazing learning experience - for us and for the children. So, if you'd like your children to be part of a creative storytelling session, then check out our schedule and do come visit us. Because, we'd love to build a new story along with you!