Blurred lines: Between Story Table and using a Text as a Provocation

When I first began offering a Play Group program I always wanted to provide a story table. I believed that this was a great way for children to interact with text, sequence events and assist vocabulary development and comprehension. Yet, the more I plan the more I think about how much more potential these experiences could provide. What really is a story table? With so many texts available, every experience has the potential to have relevant texts that relate to that topic. Sure it takes a time to collect relevant texts, but adding texts to any experience can also offer a provocation for play. Just last week I propped the book “Brown Bread and Honey” (Allen, 2001) open to the page where the cooks were walking along with their meals and found the children’s playful creations were vast. I now wonder if the children have referred to the text, provoking dishes to be created, or if they are creating dishes that they know, perhaps both?

Brown Bread and Honey (Allen, 2001) story table
“Brown Bread and Honey” (Allen, 2001) story table using coffee scented play dough

Now that more texts are being offered and associated with many experiences, not only have I noticed the increasing interest in narrative texts, but also a variety of text types and in particular information texts! Information texts that may seem beyond children’s development I am finding can really capture their engagement through discussions relating to the pictures, text and life experiences. The more I make relevant text types available, the more I find interaction occurs. Now I begin to wonder how open the experience on my story table ‘should’ be? The more open it becomes, the more the imaginative prospects become visible. I am astounded by the knowledge children bring with them to the experience, and how they are able to play and manipulate neutral items! The engagement with this experience has been great, with the dispositions of perseverance and creativity a stand out. This fortnight I have decided to continue along these lines with only small changes, adding some materials and pegs, thinking they can design their own character clothing etc. But in reality, I think texts belong alongside every experience.

If anyone has any ideas about what neutral, yet easily accessible, objects I could offer as human figures that encourage imaginative thinking please comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Let's Eat (Zamorna, 2005)
“Let’s Eat” (Zambrano, 2005) with coffee scented Play Dough, material and pegs.
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Author: Mrs Extra Ordinary

I am an Early Childhood Teacher. “I believe in developing inclusive, kind and caring partnerships with children and their families, while supporting play-based learning and dispositions that promote involvement, creativity, oral language and social learning.”

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