“Reality can be entered through the main door, or it can be slipped into through a window, which is much more fun.” Gianni Rodari, The Grammar of Fantasy: An Introduction to the Art of Inventing Stories (1973)
Rodari believed that stories lie in the connections between objects or concepts that belong to completely different worlds, and seemingly have nothing to do with each other.
This idea lies at the heart of the following activity: The teacher asks two children to each write a word (noun) on opposite sides of the board. One can either give free choice or direct children to write animate nouns on one side, and inanimate nouns on the other. This may be repeated until there are two longer lists of words on the board. The educator then invites the students to come up with a story that features two words, one from each list. It's important to encourage the students to be adventurous and find connectins in apparently absurd combinations. One way to do this is to find connections between these words through prepositions. If, for example, the two words are "chicken" and "cabinet", the teacher could write the following connections on the board: The chicken on the cabinet; the chicken in the cabinet; the chicken under the cabinet; the chicken's cabinet, etc. A way to guide children through a set plot structure is to suggest they build the story in three parts: first something good happens to the chicken with/and the cabinet, then something bad happens, but in the end everything turns out well when another good thing happens. I first learned this activity in a storytelling workshop by Spanish storyteller Reyes Calleja, and later read up on it in Gianni Rodari's The Grammar of Fantasy (1973), and Jack Zipes'
Creative Storytelling (1995)
Anna Witte is a writer, artist, and educator, and the author of award-winning, bilingual (Spanish-English) children’s books including The Parrot Tico Tango (El Loro Tico Tango), Lola’s Fandango (El Fandango de Lola), and of the sung stories for the Tikitiklip Precolombino Series.