Creative Storytelling

creative storytelling

In this blog post, we created used a few creative storytelling ideas including a fun story telling area in the living room using couch cushions and toys to encourage reading with babies and toddlers. This was a fun creative storytelling idea, and used movement-based and sensory-motor learning activity for young children, encouraging motivation and fun during story time!

story telling area

story telling area

A story telling area in the home is a creative reading idea that doesn’t need to be fancy!

Creating a storytelling area in your home using couch cushions or blankets is a wonderful way to engage children in imaginative play and foster a love for stories. The best thing is that babies and toddlers can crawl over those couch cushions and pillows, encouraging crawling!

You can do this right in the living room or you can set up a designated storytelling corner in the home. This would look like a section of the living room, bedroom, or playroom, or even a cozy nook in any room of the house. This helps create a dedicated space for storytelling activities.

Try using some of these items found around the home to set up a storytelling area without spending any money:

Cozy seating: Arrange couch cushions or pile up soft blankets to create a comfortable seating area for both parents and children. This will make the storytelling experience more enjoyable and relaxing.

Blanket fort or tent: Use blankets and chairs to build a simple fort or tent structure. Drape the blankets over the chairs to create a cozy enclosure where the storytelling can take place. Children will love the sense of adventure and the enclosed space for immersive storytelling.

Imaginative props: My children love reading to their favorite stuffed animals and baby dolls! Gather household items that can be used as props to enhance the storytelling experience. These could include:

  • pillows
  • stuffed animals
  • hats
  • scarves
  • items that can be repurposed as imaginary objects in the story

Soft lighting: Adjust the lighting in the area to create a warm and cozy ambiance. Dim the overhead lights, use fairy lights or battery-operated candles, and allow natural light to filter in through curtains or blinds. Soft lighting adds to the enchantment of storytelling.

Sound effects: Utilize your voice and objects around you to create sound effects that bring the story to life. Mimic animal sounds, use different tones and pitches for characters, or use household items to create simple sound effects (e.g., tapping two spoons together to create the sound of horse hooves).

Storytelling prompts: Use a basket or container to hold visual prompts such as pictures from magazines, postcards, or nature photographs. These prompts can spark storytelling ideas and inspire children to create their own tales. These can be used in visual schedules too.

Theme-based storytelling: Change the storytelling area to match the theme of the story. For example, if you’re telling a story about a pirate adventure, add some toy props, draw a treasure map, or create a “ship” out of cushions and blankets. Use some of the ideas in our therapy themes to get you started with movement-based activities, sensory play ideas, crafts, and more.

Take it outside: A picnic or snack lunch, reading in a tree or even on the playground is fun. Use our outdoor sensory swing idea for a calming and organizing reading opportunity.

No matter how simple or complex the storytelling area is, the most important aspect of storytelling is the connection and engagement between parents and children. Select the ideas that work for you and use these storytelling space features to encourage creativity, engagement, and a love for reading.

Today was our first day back into routine after the holidays.  The husband was back at work and my nephew Baby Boy, (who, along with Baby Girl, probably need new “names” since they definitely Think they are big kids…but in reality, really are Toddlers, not Babies…But I’m not ready for that yet.  SO, Babies they will stay!) was back with us as everyone went back to work…we resumed our routines.
I had this little play area set up today for an invitation to read.
creative storytelling with baby dolls and stuffed animals


Of course, Big Sister jumped right into the role of teacher/librarian.  She loves being the boss Big Kid who can tell the littler kids all about life at pre-K, dance class, and every other place that only she know about since she is the Big One in the family.  You know, how life is on the Pre-K streets 😉

creative storytelling-kids can read to toys
Storytelling at it’s finest!  She was reading to all of her “students” from a book that she wasn’t too familiar with.  Sometimes, if we’ve read a favorite book maaaaaaaany times, she can memorize the words and story lines of a whole book.
Doing the rote memory thing is great! It is so empowering…allowing them to gain confidence, learn beginning/middle/end transitions, and lets them test voices, feelings, and  sound effects.
A step beyond memorization reading is when they build a story based on the pictures they see in a book.  They can elaborate on experiences and use their imagination to follow the pictures.  At this stage, a child is testing their confidence in concepts of beginning/middle/end, depicting feelings, dialogue, and transitions.  Big Sister throws out a lot of reeeallly excited “And THEN”s as she turns the pages 🙂
It is really fun to see where the story goes when she reads to her students.  There is a lot of switching roles, changing focus (getting distracted by details in a picture), and stories based around the girls in the pictures 🙂
creative storytelling- let kids read to their toys
Baby Girl is a willing “student”!
She also loooves doing what the Big Kids do…


Baby Boy is a little tired from all these stories!  It’s nap time for this guy.


Creative storytelling ideas

experimental storytelling

We came up with the term experimental storytelling when thinking about how to keep little ones engaged longer. You could also call this creative storytelling. So, what are some ways to “Experiment with Storytelling” and get creative with reading time?

Experimental storytelling refers to innovative and unconventional approaches to narrative creation and presentation. It involves breaking away from traditional storytelling techniques and experimenting with different forms, structures, and mediums to convey a story or evoke a particular experience.

These ideas push the boundaries of storytelling conventions, challenging the audience’s expectations and inviting them to engage with narratives in new and unexpected ways. Another way to express this is with the term, creative storytelling!

For young children, it might involve switching things up in an age-appropriate way:

  • A different storytelling environment using creative reading areas listed above
  • Taking the reading outside to a picnic reading
  • Involving multisensory learning
  • Using different voices to read
  • Acting out a story with toys or figures to represent the characters

Some examples of experimental storytelling include:

  1. Change the order of the story: Experimental storytelling may involve non-linear storytelling structures, where the story is not presented in a chronological order. It may employ flashbacks, flash-forwards, or fragmented narratives to explore different perspectives or create a sense of mystery. You can ask the child to fill in different results, actions, or details to the story. Think MadLibs with a story!
  2. Multi-sensory approach: Experimental storytelling often incorporates elements from various artistic disciplines, such as visual art, music, theater, dance, technology, and interactive media. Taking a multisensory approach combines different mediums to enhance the narrative and create a more immersive experience.
  3. Interactive elements: Get those readers moving! Add gross motor actions to the story or incorporate fine motor tasks with book themed crafts. Or, make a sensory bin based on the story. All of these interactive activities encourage participation and interaction.
  4. Innovative use of technology: Kids know a lot about technology…it’s part of their daily life! Consider how you can take traditional storytelling and add a bit of tech to bring the story to life. Consider creating Google slides, tablet drawings, videos, virtual reality (VR), interactive websites, or video games to include technology in a unique and immersive narrative experiences.

creative storytelling

Getting creative with telling stories makes things fun and engaging. Try these ideas:

  • Use a puppet to tell the story, quiz the children on colors, ask ‘what happens next’, pique their curiosity, question emotional states.
  • Play the Director Game: The child tells the story as Mom/Dad writes it down. Draw pictures to go along with the story.  Read it together.  Save it forever 🙂
  • Tell a story about this morning’s experience.  Recount details/characters/feelings.  Add surprise endings for fun.
  • Act out a favorite story using super hero figures, Little People…whatever in on hand and a favorite in your house.
  • Tell a story based on one of your child’s drawings.  Scribbles are detailed drawings, too 🙂
  • Invitation to play storytelling: Set up an invitation to play like ours!  You could also sit on a big comfy blanket with lots of pillows and start reading to yourself. 
  • Use fun voices and sounds…See how long it takes for little kiddos to climb up into your lap.
  • “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, where young and older readers can make choices that determine the story’s direction.
  • Act out the story with gross motor actions
  • Paint or draw while listening to the story

What are some creative storytelling ideas that you’ve used with little ones?

Mental Dexterity: How to Battle Brain Fog

mental dexterity

Did you know there is a thing called mental dexterity? It’s true! Battling brain fog in children (or teens and adults!) impacts everyday executive functioning skills. Do you ever feel like your brain is in a cloud? Maybe you have trouble concentrating or can’t seem to think clearly. Your mind may wander or just completely drift off. In either case, you’re not alone – many people struggle with maintaining mental dexterity in their daily lives. This is what we often call “brain fog”, and it can be improved!

Mental dexterity

What is Mental Dexterity?

First, let’s break down what mental dexterity is.

Mental dexterity is the ability to think quickly and adapt to new situations. It involves cognitive processes such as problem-solving, decision-making, attention, and memory. When you have good mental dexterity, you’re able to process information efficiently, make decisions effectively, and respond to changing circumstances with ease. Those with strong mental dexterity are flexible thinkers and not over-thinkers. 

Quickness of Thought

One aspect of mental dexterity is quickness of thought. This refers to the ability to process information rapidly and respond to it in a timely manner. Quickness of thought is essential in many areas of life, from sports to business to social interactions. When you’re able to think quickly and respond to situations on the fly, you may be more likely to succeed.

Executive Functioning and Mental Dexterity

Executive functioning is another key component of mental dexterity. We have broken down executive function in several posts on the site, and you can check them out here:

The executive functions include a set of cognitive processes that enable us to plan, organize, and carry out tasks. When our executive functioning is strong, we’re able to prioritize tasks, manage our time effectively, and make decisions based on our goals and values.

There are several key components of executive functioning that impact mental dexterity, including:

Working memory: the ability to hold information in your mind, keeping it readily accessible 

Inhibition: the ability to control your impulses and resist distractions

Task initiation: the ability to start a task efficiently without excessive procrastination

Planning and organization: the ability to develop a plan and carry it out in a systematic way

Selfmonitoring: the ability to reflect on your performance and make adjustments as needed

improve mental dexterity

How to Improve Mental Dexterity

Brain fog is a common experience for many people, but improving mental dexterity is possible.

Brain fog in ADHD or brain fog in teens is not an actual medical condition, but rather, a way to describe an experience that often pairs with other factors. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, lack of sleep, and the result of certain medications. When you’re experiencing brain fog, it can be challenging to maintain mental dexterity and quickness of thought. 

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to improve mental dexterity and boost your brainpower:

Get enough sleep: Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to help your brain recharge and function at its best. Sleep hygiene is important for all ages.

If you have trouble sleeping, try shifting habits in your nightly routine. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends several tips to help you get the sleep your brain needs, including keeping a consistent sleep/wake schedule and only using your bed for sleeping. Bedtime relaxation strategies are one tool to use to help with falling and staying asleep.

Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing, journaling, and meditation can help calm your mind and improve your focus.

To start out on a mindfulness journey, try asking friends or family what works for them. Watch videos or read books on small ways to introduce mindfulness into your daily routine. Add journaling to your morning coffee or observe the world around you through your senses when you are walking your dog. 

Exercise regularly: Physical activity has been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce brain fog.

Find an exercise that works for you, shooting towards at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day – or whatever your doctor recommends. Bonus points if you can do something mindful, like yoga, for your exercise! 

Target specific executive functioning skills: Target aspects of executive functioning skills that are noticeable detriments to quickness of thought. This might be areas like attention or organization, planning ahead, or foresight. The Impulse Control Journal is a great way to foster individual skills.

Take breaks: When you’re working on a task for an extended period of time, take breaks to give your brain a rest and recharge your mental energy. Your brain fog may be your mind telling you it’s had enough for today! 

You can use the 20-20-20 rule if you are sitting at a computer for a large stretch of the day. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This give your eyes a rest and helps increase your focus. When you take your “eye break” check in with your body and see if a stretch, a glass of water, or a snack may be necessary. 

Stay hydrated: Dehydration can lead to brain fog, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Hard to remember to hydrate? Try adding fruit, lemon juice, or fresh mint to your water for an extra satisfying kick. Or, maybe sparkling water is more your speed? It may be worth investing in a large water bottle so that you can use it to measure water intake! You can also use a sports bottle as a self-regulation tool to regulate the bottle while getting the hydration needed. This is a must for all ages, not just kids.

Final Tips for Mental Dexterity

And if none of that is helping with mental dexterity and battling your brain fog, there may be another factor to address like medication, nutrition, or overall mental health. It will be worth speaking to your doctor about your concerns. 

Overall, mental dexterity is a crucial skill for success in many areas of life. Don’t worry if you don’t always feel on top of your game – we all need a “brain break” at times! Find what works for you to improve your executive functioning, and you can boost your brainpower and adapt to new situations with ease.

Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

Looking for more ways to get your mind organized while developing essential executive functioning skills? Try our Impulse Control Journal. This printable workbook is designed for all ages and supports skills across the executive functioning spectrum!

Impulse Control Journal the OT Toolbox

The Impulse Control Journal…a printable resource for helping kids strategize executive functioning skill development. When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

Grab the Impulse Control Journal to build organizational strategies, planning, prioritization, habits, and mindset in kids.