Storytelling Lesson 1: Make It Up As You Go....

Introduction: Storytelling Lesson 1: Make It Up As You Go....

About: Grandma Van uses the Instructables website to share little print-and-mail books. Once in a while, she has other fun things to share.

January 2019.

I have set new goals for my Instructables page.

My main focus is still print-and-mail storybooks. I realize that there is not (yet) a huge demand for this kind of thing on this website, but Instructables is the only site that allows me to publish a PDF so easily. (Thank you. THANK YOU. THANK YOU!)

So I will keep on publishing, as long as the editors allow me to do so.

I will not worry about getting featured and I don't plan to enter contests. I will hope that someone is, indeed, making use of my little offerings, but I won't feel dismayed if no one comments. Focussing on feedback makes me feel sad and neglected. That's not why I am here. I am here to create and share and THAT is what is important.

2018 was an exciting year for me. I began with the (unrealistic) goal of publishing once a week. I actually DID publish thirty-five projects. Most were simple little storybooks, but a few included extra features such as a plastic canvas castle and a nifty little container for the small books.

So what is the plan for THIS year?

I will still present my little storybooks, but I hope to present them in a way that encourages the readers to try to write original stories themselves. I have six grandchildren. It is not unusual for me to find myself in a restaurant, grandchild on lap, in need of some quick entertainment. One day, as my mother-in-law watched one of my impromptu storytelling sessions, she said, "You should write a book!"

I answered that I had already done so, but there really isn't much of a market for the kind of thing that I do.

I no longer believe that I will ever become a best-selling author! But I DO believe that I have something to share. And, in most cases, it is not the PRODUCT that is important. It is the PROCESS.

So today I invite you to become a storyteller.

Step 1: An Example

My grandson Malcolm enjoys working with craft supplies, so I decided to write a story about a pipe cleaner. I made a simple picture of a pipecleaner and thought to myself, "If a pipecleaner were the main character, and that main character came to my office, what would it do?"

So that is the first lesson. Use whatever you have on hand and start with the question: What could this character DO?

If your story is going to be written down and illustrated, the next thing to do is go to my favorite clipart website, I found some nice pictures of scissors, a tape dispenser, a binder clip, and some paperclips. I added these characters to the story and wrote the little book that is presented here in PDF format.

Step 2: Print the PDf

PC Man is one of those stories that can be personalized.

Whenever you tell stories to young children, let them be a part of the story! So print the PDF.... then....

Step 3: Personalize These Pages

The red print shows where to add the storyteller character (in this case, Grandma.)

The blue print shows where to add the names of the child or children.

The green print shows where to add the SETTING of the story. (in this case, Grandma's office.)

Step 4: Personalize This Page, Too!

(Red = storyteller)

(Green = setting)

Step 5: Personalize This One, Too!

There's just one place to add the storyteller's name here.

This is probably not my best example of a personalized book (see Little Red Hen and Adam for a better example.)

Step 6: Cut.

Cut the pages apart, as shown here. (Yes, this is the same papercutter image I have used for thirty-some books. I just insert a copy of the latest book right onto the middle layer of my InDesign file!)

Step 7: Stack the Pages in Order.

Step 8: Fold.

Step 9: Sew.

Yes! If you have ever made a Grandma Van booklet before, you have seen this picture and you have seen these instructions. But if this is your very first venture... you NEED these instructions!

Step 10: The BOOK Part Is Finished.

Step 11: Now Let's Make a "PC Man"

Cut a small piece of felt. Put on some hot glue. Add a pipecleaner. Add more glue. CAREFULLY add some wiggle eyes. Use tweezers if you have them, so you don't burn your fingers.

Step 12: Cut Off the Extra Felt.

After the glue has cooled, cut off the extra felt.

Cut carefully.

The first time I trimmed it, I cut part of the wiggly eye and the black pupil came out and I didn't notice until I tried taking a picture and PC Man did not look cute and I had to make him all over again and that's all I have to say about that.

Step 13: Tape on Some Arms.

Place a strip of tape across the pipecleaner.

Flip the pipecleaner over.

Place another strip on the other side, matching as carefully as you can.

Is a strip of tape the best way to add arms to a pipecleaner?

Maybe not.

Maybe you will write your OWN pipecleaner story for a special child and you will be more creative than Grandma Van.


Step 14: Mail the Book and the PC Man to Someone Special.

Oops. I forgot to say, "Make another red pipecleaner person."

Step 14-a:

Make another red pipecleaner person.


Step 14-b:

Mail the book and the PC PEOPLE to someone special.

Step 15: Summary

Well, I had fun writing this Instructable.

I hope you had fun reading it. I shall not beg for a comment below.

But I SHALL encourage you to follow Lesson 1 of the Storytelling series.

Find some little object that can be a character.

Ask yourself: What might this character do?


Just Make it up as you go!

It's fun. And some little person will be happy to receive the story.

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