Making up stories with toddlers

Encouraging children to make up their own stories can really improve their vocabulary and confidence.

girl with butterfly wings


We all know that children love listening to a good story. Plus getting them to make up their own stories does wonderful things for them in so many areas of development (such as language skills and confidence).

But how can grown-ups help to jump-start the whole storytelling process without the aid of expensive gadgets and gizmos?

How CBeebies can help

Why not set aside some special time to drive that exciting, imaginative storytelling process through? You could start with a CBeebies show, such as Driver Dan's Story Train or Charlie and Lola. Or why not have a go at one of the Jackanory Junior story-making games on the CBeebies website?

Then, provide your child with just a few prompts and you will find that they will be flying into the land of fantasy with ease.

Here are a few ideas for prompts: sit in a special place together - perhaps say it is a magic story-telling carpet/place/hide-away and a place where stories can be born! Why not use puppets or paper and crayons to take the next step? Ask your child what they would like to do. It's always best to let your child take the lead.

How to make a magic moment

There are some quick and simple ways to inspire your child to create some really imaginative storytelling moments. Offer them a few sentences to get started. Try these:

One day there was a huge...
It was a rainy day when all of a sudden...
All was quiet and peaceful when an unexpected thing happened...

Then, perhaps take it in turns to tell the story. Be bold. Let it unfold and you will both be taken on an adventure!

Why not draw pictures to accompany it? Something to keep forever.

By Jacqueline Harding

Print this article

Want more fun?

See all fun activities

Expert opinion

Storytelling is a transporting experience. It's a journey and one worth taking with your child.

Let your child be the leader - take charge, be bold and create fantastical stories. All great for confidence boosting, imagination and creative skills too.

Jacqueline Harding, Child Development Expert

Top tips

  • Why not pack a picnic and go on a storytelling adventure with your child? Take a few props (perhaps a puppet or a picture), say 'Once upon a time...' - and then go with the flow.Create a storytelling space at home - use a couple of chairs, cover with a blanket, get a couple of cushions and snuggle up together.How about asking your child to tell you a bedtime story, instead of you telling them one? This is likely to make them feel important whilst also encouraging their creativity! Show your child a series of well-chosen pictures and ask them to make up a story out of the pictures shown.

Parent's tale

We use regular story books to introduce my child to key words. You can write the key words down, put them around the house (hide them in the bedroom etc.) and play 'key word treasure hunt'. With picture books, I often get my child to tell the story from the picture and relate it to their own experience.

Steven, From Manchester

Answers from the web

More from the BBC

Elsewhere on the web

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.