Storytelling and story-acting: co-construction in action

Cremin, Teresa; Flewitt, Rosie; Swann, Joan; Faulkner, Dorothy and Kucirkova, Natalia (2018). Storytelling and story-acting: co-construction in action. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 16(1) pp. 3–17.



In the light of sustained interest in the potential value of young children’s narrative play, this paper examines Vivian Gussin Paley’s (1990) approach to storytelling and story-acting, in this case with three to five year-olds. It scrutinizes how children’s narratives are co-constructed during adult-child and peer interactions through spoken and embodied modes, as their stories are scribed by an adult and later dramatised by their peers. Data are drawn from an evaluation of an eight-week training programme, based on Paley’s approach, designed for early years professionals and undertaken in different geographic and demographic locations in England. Naturalistic data collection techniques including video and field notes were used to record the storytelling and story-acting of 18 case study children. The resultant data were subject to close discursive and multimodal analysis of storytelling and story-acting interactions. Findings reveal discursive co-construction ‘in action’ and illustrate how the child story-tellers, story actors and practitioners co-construct narratives through complex combinations of gaze, body posture and speech in responsive and finely-tuned interactional patterns. The study contributes significantly to knowledge about how young children’s narratives are co-constructed through multiple modes in the classroom.

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