Last month, McHubby and I took the tots to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. The museum features a number of exhibits that focus on interactive play and emphasize learning through FUN. There is a media exhibit, where kids can sit at a news anchor desk or "report" the weather in front of a green screen. There is an adorable "Kids Eye View" exhibit that gives children the opportunity to explore the "big" world on a "kid-sized" scale. (Think mini grocery store with mini shopping carts; mini post office with mini mail bags; mini house, mini farm, mini construction site. It's hilarious!)
While wandering through all the exhibits we came across the "Story Factory." Being the "lit head," book worm, English nerd, wannabe poet laureate (ha ha) that I am, the exhibit piqued my interest. It's subject matter ranged from modern multimedia to classic stage to elements of narratives; it's point being, "everyone has got a story to tell." (It doesn't matter how you tell it, just tell it!)
Lilly and The Camster ran over to the stage to play in all the fairytale costumes, while James and I lingered by the "elements of narratives" display.
There are six basic elements of a narrative: plot, setting, characterization, atmosphere, conflict, and theme. Creatively combine all these important "ingredients" and you're on your way to "baking" a great story.
To help children start thinking about narrative, a number of pictures where hung on the wall, asking children to create a story around those pictures. One caught my eye, naturally, and a conversation ensued:
Me: Psst! James! Why is this person running?
James: You're joking, right?
Me: What!? No! I need your help.
James, sighing: Aleisha...
Me: Why is this person running?
(James, rolling his eyes, remaining silent.)
Me: I...can't...quite...put...my finger on it.
James, smiling: That dude is running because a bear twice his size is thinking about taking a bite out of his butt!!
Me, snapping my fingers: You know, Jamesy, I think you're right!
As we left the exhibit, I thought about how James and I are writing our own story. The story of us. Complete with plot, setting, theme, and yes...occasional conflict. And though the story may be zany and quirky, and a little bit sweet too, there are five simple words you'll rarely find in the content: Jamesy, I think you're right!
Because he rarely is.