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Telling our favorite family stories

Telling our favorite family stories

As many folks at Opal School know by now, one of my passions is telling stories. I love telling any story, really, but my favorite stories to tell are those about my family. Somehow, the things that happen to us and our loved ones always seem to be that much more funny, scary, disgusting, and enjoyable.

Family stories also seem to spark such interesting connections among storytellers. After telling a story about my Aunt Carolyn, MM told the class about the old-fashioned television at his grandmother's house. "Oh, you mean the kind with a dial?" asked JP. "Yeah!" responded MM. "I've seen one of those at my uncle's house…" And we were off on another story.

Reflecting on this small exchange, I was reminded of how foundational storytelling is – not just to the expression of our ideas, but to our awareness of our ideas, and the relationships we build sharing these ideas with each other. Students who don't usually interact with each other find they have an experience in common. Someone who feels "I have nothing to write!" becomes reminded of her story by listening to someone else's. The energy and investment we develop in our individual work is fueled by the experience of sharing with each other.

Within the context of thinking about stories that families tell, Opal 3 had its first storytelling round. Sitting in front of everyone at the risers, students were invited to tell a story that they most enjoy hearing or telling around the dinner table, at bedtime, or other special times. As the children told, we began gathering a list of what different categories of stories we were finding.


Here are some categories and examples we recorded:


Funny stories

  • juice spurting out of your nose
  • getting your underwear caught on a fence
  • the dog chased after a jogger

Adventure / scary stories

  • grandpa's story of being in the Navy
  • doing something and getting caught by adults
  • driving in a tornado

"What I was little" stories (told by older relatives)

  • thinking mall mannequins were real people
  • first time seeing fireflies (ate one by accident!)
  • Avery caught Walter the fish when she was 9


When you can, find some time to share and take notes together on your family’s favorite stories to tell. What are the stories you love to tell over and over and over again? In the coming weeks, we’ll continue building our list of the different kinds of stories families tell … by telling more stories, of course!




January 18, 2012