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- Importance of Storytelling for Kids
The Importance of Storytelling for Kids
The importance of storytelling is something that shapes every single LEGO® City set we design.
Though we ensure every set can be played by itself, we know how much play value is unlocked when they become part of a wider City. When kids can tie stories between different neighborhoods and passions, so that an astronaut can pop by an ice cream shop before flying to Mars, or so a snow mobile can drive firefighters when their truck breaks down.
But why do we place such a heavy emphasis on story telling for kids?
Why is storytelling important?
Play is one of the most important and effective ways that kids learn. When kids use toys to tell stories, it’s their creative skills they are flexing, with each new story giving them confidence in their abilities, which in turn helps them create more complex narratives. (This also usually coincides with them getting practice in presenting those stories to friends and family, boosting their communication skills in a big way…)
But the benefits of storytelling extend also to those kids who might lack confidence. There’s no better feeling for us than seeing how shy kids open up once they start telling stories with our sets. Because for both kids and adults, stories help contextualize this complex world, providing meaning, comfort and fun. In this way, storytelling can often be a super useful tool when thinking about what games to play with kids.
So we know that storytelling toys are important for kids. But how do we encourage it with our sets?
Children’s storytelling approaches
In LEGO City, we often see kids playing in three distinct ways, which shapes the stories they tell.
Some kids just love engaging in Action Play. These stories usually see them getting up on their feet, jumping high into the sky and putting all their physical attributes to good use. They’re full of high drama and suspense, and often see kids fulfil the role of master of ceremonies. You know the kind… Will the stunt riders of the Ultimate Stunt Riders Challenge (60361) finally loop the loop to claim their trophy, in front of a breathless audience of millions (plus mom, dad and the family cat)?
From our side, we know that when a kid wants to go fast, it’s best not to get in their way. We give them the vehicles, the shooters and just enough minifigures to allow them to picture themselves in the thick of the action – and let them do the rest.
At other times, kids look to get stuck deep into the narrative, with Storytelling Play.
Kids like this look for surprising details in our sets that can guide their story in unexpected ways. Take our Custom Car Garage (60389) set, for example. You might expect a car-based set to be focused purely on the vehicles themselves… Pah! Some kids could spend an entire day playing with a vehicle set without making a single wheel roll, because they’re so focused on detailing, changing how the car looks or even on the interactions between the different characters.
That’s why we give them open-ended environments that encourage stories that evolve with every playtime. Sets with lots of minifigures (like our Police Training Academy set (60372)) are also great for kids like this, as it gives them the chance to really hone their character development skills.
And then there’s Creative Play, which most kids who play with LEGO City engage with. This is the kind of play that is most unique to each individual child. It’s the one where there’s a beautiful, crazy mishmash of passions, themes, elements and ideas. It’s where kids make the police solve a crime at the bottom of the ocean, or where a farmer swaps their tractor for a 4x4 Off-Roader.
Some sets can be more easily plug-and-played into almost any creative scenario kids can imagine, like our all-encompassing Emergency Vehicles HQ (60371) set.
Because which story isn’t improved by pretend sirens?! But really, it’s the kids who make creative play – and that’s the way it should be.
Finally, the importance of storytelling also comes from how it teaches children how to play with kids their age. If an action play-loving kid plays with someone who is deeply into storytelling play, both kids will learn from the other, which will improve their creative skills – and their play.
And we reckon that’s a wholesome way to end this particular story…