When Sprout wants me to make up a story to tell her, she says “Tell me a story with your mouth.”
Usually she asks for this when she’s supposed to be falling asleep, and she knows I won’t turn the light back on to read one (or four) more books.
The other day, I was feeling pretty worn out, so I asked her if she’d tell me a story with her mouth instead. “But I don’t know how.”
Jumping over to physicist Richard Feynman:
Feynman was once asked by a Caltech faculty member to explain why spin 1/2 particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics. He gauged his audience perfectly and said, “I’ll prepare a freshman lecture on it.” But a few days later he returned and said, “You know, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reduce it to the freshman level. That means we really don’t understand it.” (source)
I was challenging myself to see if I could break down how to tell a story for a three-and-a-half year old. What I came up with was:
- Pick someone
- They’re trying to do something they like
- Something makes it difficult to do that thing
It’s a setup she’s familiar with, from Moana to Daniel Tiger to Elephant & Piggie.
So I asked her who the story should be about. She chose Fletcher. If you haven’t met Fletcher before, he’s a stuffed fox from Target that Rosie got for her first birthday and has loved since first sight. Here he is:
“Okay,” I said, “so what does Fletcher like to do?”
“And when Fletcher goes to paint, what’s something that could go wrong.”
She thought for a moment. Then it dawned on her. “A volcano!”
“That’s cool! But what about something that could go wrong while he’s painting?”
“He could open the paint and there’s a volcano inside.”
We’ll work on plausibility and foreshadowing later.