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Encouraging Family Stories

Funds of Knowledge through Connecting with Stories


Stories are the way in which we make meaning from our lives and make sense of our experiences. Stories are thus a primary act of mind—we dream, remember, hope, despair, doubt, plan, learn, hate and love through stories. In order to really live and learn, we make up stories. Our views of the world are thus a web of interconnected stories. All children come to school with stories that reflect the cultures of their families and communities. In order to build from children’s strengths with stories, educators need to understand how the structure, form and content of the stories vary by the family culture.


Family Story Backpacks

  • Transportable curriculum to facilitate the sharing of stories around themes significant to families. Checked out on a rotating basis by children for one week to share with their families at home.
  • Each backpack contains 3 books (1 nonfiction and 2 fiction books), 1 related artifact, and a family journal. Could also include a digital recorder to record the family’s stories.
  • Themes for backpacks focus on broad topics that families often tell stories about—relationships with grandparents, bedtime routines, birthday traditions, play, living in the desert, monsoons, etc.


Neighborhood Memory Maps

  • The stories that stay in our memories are significant to our cultural identities.
  • Children are asked to draw a map of their neighborhood – a place they know well and like to explore. The neighborhood can be a town or block, a bedroom or hallway, a tree or the seashore.
  • Mark the places on the map where a story happened.
  • Share those oral stories with a partner. Choose one story to dictate or write.


The Story of My Name

  • Names are significant to children’s identity, sense of belonging, and initial literacy explorations.
  • Interview family members to find out the story of why a child was given a particular name and to get different perspectives on the story.


Remember When Stories

  • “Remember When” stories are ones that families tell over and over, particularly at family gatherings, about often humorous events that have occurred to the child or family members.
  • Ask children to be researchers and to collect these stories from family members. They can interview family members and take notes of these stories or locate photographs of these events.
  • Use the notes or photographs to share the stories orally with class members.
  • Can create a time line of family stories for each year of the child’s life
  • Have children write or dictate one of their stories to create a class newspaper.


Book and Toy Sets

  • Create baskets of related books, toys, music, props, etc. around children’s interests or classroom theme units. Choose topics of high interest to children that they have consistently pursued..
  • Instead of separating books and toys into different centers, children are encouraged to incorporate the books into their play and to integrate the toys into their responses to books.


Kathy G. Short & María V. Acevedo, 2011

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