The Hidden Stories: And How They Can Awaken Any learner

When we hear the word “stories”, we often think of books, storytime and/or storytelling, all of which are lovely forms of stories. These are important to use as empowering tools for all learners, at all ages. However, what I’m sharing with you today is a way to find stories in context at any moment in your day, especially when you are around young learners. Here are some examples!



I was outside with a group of 1st graders. It was outside playtime. I didn’t attempt to round everyone up for storytime. Instead I played with them, and as you know, they LOVE it when we authentically play with them. As we were playing, I saw a hummingbird and pointed it out.

“I wonder why that hummingbird is here?” I exclaimed.

“Maybe the bird is looking for its family?” one child offered.

“Maybe the bird is looking for food,” said another child.

The conversation continued, and before you knew it, we were involved in a group experience surrounding multiple possibilities of this hummingbird. That in itself is a form of what I call a story that is “hidden”, waiting to be discovered. The young learners were so engaged by the hummingbird, that they ended up using this experience as a reference point for when they were writing in class. That’s great, and it’s also not necessary. The idea of looking for hidden stories related to the things we see, is a form of an ancient form of storytelling, and I have seen young learners go from uninterested in stories and storytelling, to being mesmerized by the idea of creating stories.

When someone becomes engaged in the creation of stories, they by default will show more interest in things such as reading and writing, because now they have a reason!


When I’m introduced to a new group of students, I like going beyond traditionally introducing myself. I prefer to:

  • Ask the students what they’d like to know about me.

  • Ask the students what they’d like to know about my routines.

  • Ask the student why they think I’m visiting.

  • Ask the students where they think I’m from.

These kinds of questions lead to a moment, where if I choose, I can tell a story, such as:

  • A story of my ancestry

  • A story of a typical day in my life

  • A story about my health

  • A story about why I do what I do

I usually reference this by saying to the students, “Did you like that story?”

This opens up their minds to what a story can be and how we can communicate via story. It’s also much more interesting!

Go out and find those hidden stories!