How to tap into the power of a great children's story

Updated: Mar 25

I love stories. 😊 I love them even if they’re meant for kids. There’s just something innocent and pure and wondrous about them.

Take for example The Enormous Turnip by Aleksey Tolstoy – a Russian folktale where a farmer tries to pull out a giant turnip with the help of his wife and animal friends. What should they do? Will they succeed? (And how did the turnip get so big?)

If I’m entertained, just imagine the kids. 😊

“Stories are terrific sparks for creativity and are extremely potent in engaging a child’s imagination,” says Ruby Lim-Yang, the artistic director of ACT 3 Drama Academy in Singapore.

This is Ruby 😊

“Children are naturally imaginative, curious and eager to participate – the very basis of playing.”

So imagine an amazing story as the basis for a couple of children’s workshops. Wouldn’t you want your child (or your niece or nephew, if you’re an aunt like me) to experience that, and see it come to life in front of their eyes?

“Drama-driven programmes provide a safe and comfortable space for children to trust themselves when it comes to exploring and venturing at their own pace to play and imagine,” Ruby explains.

“We set up the environment for playing – and backed by good narratives from stories – children are transported into an imagined world and go where their imagination takes them.”

Your wish is granted

And mine too, because ACT 3 Drama Academy will be doing all that and more when they hold their June Holiday Workshops from 03 to 29 June 2019.

It includes a workshop that revolves around The Enormous Turnip, of course, as well as Animal Farm for teens, where participants get to live out their spirit animals. The Enormous Turnip and its other similarly inspired workshops are geared towards different age ranges, from seven months to 10 years old.

There’s music, rhyming and laughter, and lessons on teamwork, dreaming big, freedom of expression and creativity, among others.

“The workshops focus on building independent imaginative thinking, and drawing connections between the imagined and reality,” Ruby adds.

“At ACT 3 Drama Academy, our focus is very much on the process of discovering, exploring and experimenting with thoughts, ideas and the imagination. Our workshops help to develop a child’s confidence, as well as his ability to interact with other children and with the teacher; to use language to create and communicate; and to use the imagination to play roles, improvise creatively, and be expressive vocally and physically.”

Everyone wins

And not just the kids. 😊

For Ruby: “I find pleasure and fulfilment in the delight, enjoyment and desire kindled in children for drama through our workshops. It’s a joyous feeling when each child leaves with a sense of accomplishment, a positive and fun drama experience, plus a deeper appreciation for the creative process that lasts till adulthood.”

For educators, those involved in children’s workshops, and the arts: “Indeed, the aim of any worthy drama workshop is to stimulate the senses of the young child in learning multi-sensorially,” Ruby stresses.

“More and more, there’s a greater need for immersing children in the arts against the backdrop of today’s digitally-led society.”

And for the adults: The workshops are for children, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have fun or find something of value in them. Ruby tells us how we can use such stories and workshops to our benefit, and why participating in them can help us and our child (and niece or nephew, or kid brother or sister) “bond, and enrich our relationship”. 😊

Think about any of these takeaways the next time you open a story book with your young one, or come across another story-themed children’s workshop that you can both join in.

#1 It creates a circle of trust

“Very young children turn to their parents or care-giving adults as role models,” Ruby relates.

“In the parent-accompanied workshops, parents can feel at ease playing with the children and can respond freely to the stimuli of the activities. This allows them to rediscover the ability, freedom and joy of playing.

“Joint participation will break down inhibitions, encourage more playing, and build the child’s confidence and trust in the process of drama – that it is safe, nurturing and non-judgmental.”

#2 It leads to “positive” distractions

“There’s also the added takeaway of using the ideas for play at home, should the parent be at wit’s end as to what to do with a young child between meals and naps!”

#3 It starts conversations

“In turn they will help build vocabulary, language, and a connection.”

#4 It takes us on a journey

“You can rekindle childlike wonder and have an open mind to try new things together.”

#5 It helps us believe that anything is possible

“You build a deeper understanding and awareness of creativity, the power of imagination, and beauty,” Ruby concludes.

Now do you know why I love stories – even the ones for kids? Their potential and the possibilities for magic are endless. 😊

You can register for the workshops online at ACT 3 Drama Academy’s site; you can also call 65 6735 9986, email, or visit them at ONE-TWO-SIX Cairnhill Arts Centre, 126 Cairnhill Road, Singapore 229707.