Robbinsdale Area Schools

Family Literacy Storytelling Project Brings Learners Together

Storytelling is a key part of literacy, no matter what language a person speaks. That’s why teachers in the Robbinsdale Area Schools Family Literacy program for adult learners and their preschool age children developed a unique, collaborative project for their students.

The parents in the program, who are learning English or working on their GED in classes at the Adult Academic Program, studied aspects of storytelling in their parent education class. Unknown to their preschool-age children, parents chose a stuffed animal to bring home as a gift for their child. Parents wrote a children’s story about the stuffed animal, which incorporated a message or moral. 

Once the stories were written, each parent surprised their child with the stuffed animal and story. After receiving their surprise, children had a chance to contribute. For each page of the story, children drew a picture to illustrate what was written.

“The children were incredibly excited to receive their stuffed animals, hear the stories written by their parents, then have the opportunity to create drawings for the story,” said Michelle Berscheid, licensed parent and family educator. Berscheid designed and taught the storytelling unit.

During this year of COVID and online classes, staff in the Family Literacy program have been working hard to bring hands-on learning home. The program allows parents and their preschoolers to attend school together at the Crystal Learning Center. During this school year, students have been preparing for kindergarten through virtual classes in which they connect with classmates, sing songs, listen to stories, math, pre-literacy skills, and more!  Additionally, students engaged in online learning activities as well as hands-on activities prepared by teachers and picked up by parents.

“Like our adult students, our preschool kids miss coming to school, seeing their teachers and being with their friends,” said Julie Kleve, volunteer coordinator and teacher. 

The storytelling project received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents and their children. “I have had parents share that their children want them to read the books they wrote over and over, especially when they go to bed with their stuffed animal,” Berscheid said.

As a culmination to the project, preschoolers and parents will have a chance to share their unique storybook with the family literacy group during an upcoming virtual parent/child class. 

“This storytelling project has proven to be an uplifting project for both the parent and preschool students -- and certainly a way to bring the excitement of learning home,” Berscheid said.

For more information about the Family Literacy program, please call 763-504-8300.