You might know The Messycow Comics for her recent popular comic. But you may not know that she also does videos of her illustrating and narrating Mandarin stories concurrently to her kids.
When I first watched this video, my jaw literally dropped. She’s not just an amazingly talented illustrator, but also a great storyteller.
WHY DRAW AND TELL STORIES
In the preamble to the video, she says that her two little girls love listening to stories. And even though they have a good collection of books, she enjoys illustrating and narrating stories to them even more.
This is because she believes this will:
- Spark their interest in drawing and illustration;
- Allow them to observe the process of creating pictures;
- Allow them to realise the idea that pictures can be used to tell stories; and
- Leave them with a deeper impression of the story.
We agree that this is a great activity to do, in addition to reading good books!
I love how she invites her children (or maybe they invited themselves!) to participate in her illustrations by adding some light touches of their own. Her 4yo daughter drew snowflakes and decorations on the christmas tree. When children are engaged in the storytelling process, it builds their self-confidence as they learn that they too can contribute and create something beautiful. Engaging multiple senses during the storytelling process will also allow for deeper understanding and remembrance of the story.
Toward the end of the video, she prints her drawings out for her kids to keep. I thought this was interesting because instead of a picture book, the kids now have a collection of pictures.
Here are some ideas 💡 for what to do with the printed pictures:
- Re-arrange the pictures in order of how they appeared in the story
- Use the pictures to re-tell the story to someone (eg. Dad or grandparents)
- Stick them up on the wall or make them into a booklet so the kids can refer to them again
- Introduce Chinese words/phrases that are related to the story and each picture, one per picture. You may want to print the words out and attach them to the relevant picture.
BUT... I CAN’T DRAW!
Watching her draw and narrate the story is like watching magic come alive on the computer screen. How I wish I could draw like that too, and tell stories to my kids!
At the end of the video, Weng encourages parents to try drawing and telling their kids stories, because it is very fun. We should not let the thinking that “I can’t draw as well as she can, therefore I cannot draw and tell my kids stories” hinder us from pursing this worthwhile activity.
She says that young children are not so concerned how well you can draw (as long as it is simple and clear for them to understand and not abstract), but that the whole experience of having a parent draw and tell them a story is priceless and magical. It makes for fantastic parent-child bonding and great learning as well!
GREAT! HOW DO I GET STARTED?
- Start with a short story that you are familiar with, eg. 小兔子乖乖 (we shared about the story here)
- Practice drawing the characters, eg. house, mother rabbit, 3 smaller rabbits, wolf.
- Practice drawing and telling the story. You can either narrate from memory or read it off a screen/paper.
- Try it out on the kids
- YAY! You did it! Now you can start thinking about the next story to draw and tell. The first step is the hardest. It will only get easier from here.
TIP: Your drawings don’t need to be perfect, they just need to have the right element so they are recognisable. Eg a house 🏠needs to have a roof, walls, a door and windows. Rabbits 🐇 🐰 should have long ears and whiskers. You don’t even have to draw the bodies of the characters if this is too challenging for you. Heads will do just fine.
If you have tried this activity with your kids, share the pictures/videos/experience with us below. We would love ❤️to hear from you!