Practical Sheet #18

The tale-stick


The Tale-Stick, also known as Story Stick or Storytelling-stick, is a tool that allows the storyteller to help structure their thoughts and important steps of a story while telling it. It allows to have a handy skeleton of the story, while keeping the natural storytelling component. It is a tool to help you along the storytelling session, without involving a text to read or keywords. Especially for people or pupils who have difficulties ordering their conscience-flow or logical organization of a story, this is a valuable help.  

It also makes for a nice souvenir of storytelling sessions. It can be used by several persons, without ever having the exact same story twice.  



The first step is to create your stick. Basically, this stick has to have elements, either attached to it or engraved in it, that will symbolize the different steps of the story you plan to tell, in the right order. 

If you decide to attach elements to the stick, you may use things such as swatches of fabric (symbolizing the dress of the princess, or the tablecloth of the special dinner, etc…) trinkets (a feather to symbolize a magical creature such as a griffin, or a tooth for the wolf, etc…) beads (treasure), tree leaves (the forest), colored rocks, etc…   

If you decide to engrave or draw on the stick, you may use symbols to symbolize events. There may be a crown to represent the royal family, a horseshoe to symbolize a trip, a witch hat to symbolize the witch encounter, a mouth to symbolize a speech or a shout of pain if there is a conflict, swords crossed to symbolize a battle, etc.  

The stick needs to be light enough to be handled easily during the storytelling session, but long enough to be able to hold all the symbols/elements you decided to ornate it with.  

We would advise a stick of an approximative length of 40 to 60 cm, with a diameter of 3 cm tops. It can be straight wood of an old broom handle, or a simple tree branch that has been cleaned out, or a piece of left-over wood.  

Choice of the story is very important, as on that will depend the type of elements you attach to it and in which order. It is an exercise that is interesting to do with the pupils as well so that they may create their own tale-stick and exercise telling tales using it. As a tale-stick has reminders of the order of events, it is a reassuring tool to have at disposal when you are not very confident in your storytelling abilities. 

It can be combined with the sensory stories as elements attached to the stick may also help stimulate other senses. (such as small bells for sound, or fake fur swatches for touch, or some garlic for a vampire story for smell, etc…). It can also just be done with paint and colors. This is an interesting exercise to make with pupils in order to help them visualize while storytelling.  

Here is an example:

Outside of being a help in telling a story, the Tale-stick can serve as a talking stick as well: the person holding it is the one talking while the others listen.

le bâton de conteur
Figure 1 A stack of Tale Sticks after a Tale sticks session.
Source: pinterest