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Engaging Young Children in Storytelling and Problem Solving

By Leslie Morrison, CTD Summer Leapfrog Coordinator

Young gifted children have unique learning styles and characteristics. A child who’s an early reader and can easily engage in conversations with adults may not be advanced in other areas, such as mathematics, or in motor development. This asynchronous development—the uneven balance among socioemotional, intellectual, and motor development—requires teachers to provide learning experiences that are sensitive to these differences.

Story Dictation: A valuable early literacy experience for young children is dictation, when an adult writes down a child’s words and ideas. Story dictation can be an especially rich practice for students because these stories can also be acted out, or dramatized. With young gifted learners, dictation is a key activity because it allows them to express their ideas, share connections, and tell more complex stories, without simultaneously focusing on the mechanics of writing. Dictation also allows teachers to make more informed teaching decisions and it guides their planning for differentiation.

Blog Engaging Young Children

Problem-Solving Scenarios: Young academically advanced students tend to have deep and far-reaching interest in certain topics. If they’re interested in animals, for example, they’re likely capable of (and interested in) exploring larger and more complex concepts related to animals, such as extinction or the ethical treatment of animals. Many researchers suggest that young gifted learners be presented with more abstract concepts, because these students can typically transfer information among and between concepts more readily than their same-age peers. Problem-solving scenarios are one way to introduce and explore these more complex topics of interest, because scenarios create a larger context for the issue, they encourage perspective-taking, and they allow students to use imaginative play to explore and test their ideas. 

Check out these articles on engaging young children in meaningful storytelling and play!

Literacy Learning and Pedagogical Purpose in Vivian Paley’s “Storytelling Curriculum”

Serving the Preschool Gifted Child: Programming and Resources

Narratives of Young Gifted Children

Giftedness in Early Childhood: The Search for Complexity and Connection

Five Essentials to Meaningful Play / NAEYC


This Summer, students will delve into problem-solving scenarios in CTD’s If I Ran the Zoo class, for PreK/K 

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