Catholic Activity: Preschool Parent Pedagogy: How to Tell Stories
One of the biggest responsibilities of parents to their children is to be able to teach truths to their children, whether it be about the faith or just about the world in general. Perhaps it's been a long time since you have had to think at a child's level. Katherine Delmonico Byles gives a short lesson on how to storytell, and uses the story of the Annunciation and Visitation as practice to teach the child about events during the Liturgical Year.
For mothers and fathers who are puzzled about story telling, the following suggestions are added:
Every story, every book, every play that ever was written has three parts to it, — setting, character, and plot. The place, the surroundings, the general tone and spirit are called the setting. The characters are the people who speak and act. The acts which they perform make up the plot.
When you tell a story about bears or fairies, you always use these three items: — place, people, actions.
To tell a religious story, read it first and figure out for yourself the place, the people, the actions. In the case of the Annunciation, tell about the tiny town with small, atone houses. (Parents with plenty of time can find much detail in books like Abbé Fouard's Life of Christ, which can often be found in the Public Library.) Explain that this story happened long ago when America was only a big forest.
Next tell about the best young girl that was ever born into this world; tell of her mother and father, good St. Ann and St. Joachim.
Tell how every Jewish girl of those days had a hope that, when she grew up, she might be the mother of the promised Saviour and Redeemer. Mary did not really expect that honor, because she was very humble. But, — and this is the great event of the story, — God chose her out of all the young girls in the world to be the mother of His Son, our Lord and Saviour. You may make the coming of the angel very exciting, if you use your imagination.
You can make the story seem personal to the child, by pretending that some little boys and girls of Nazareth are passing by the house of the best and loveliest young girl in the town. Through the window they see her kneeling, her face shining with love and joy as she looks up toward heaven. Then tell why she looks that way — because a bright angel from heaven, God's own messenger, the Angel Gabriel, has just said to her, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."
Explain that these words mean that she will have a Baby, the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of the world.
Chapter II of your story tells of the Visitation, and explains the third and fourth lines of the Hail Mary, when St. Elizabeth greeted her young cousin, our Blessed Lady, with the words:
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Pre-School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938