Kamishibai: Children’s stories in a paper theater

Education  · 

Kamishibai: Children’s stories in a paper theater

Kamishibai means "paper theater" in Japanese. It is the popular and traditional Japanese way of telling stories.

It is a small, wooden tabletop theater through which cards are passed which have drawings on the front and text on the back. This way of telling stories focuses the attention of the audience and has a lovely magical effect on the children, so they share a special moment where they laugh, are amazed and have fun together.

It is normally an adult who tells the stories to the children; but we’ve found that they are starting to use Kamishibai as another educational resource in some schools. We know of few examples so far, but we would like to leave you with one.

The stories that are told try to encourage values such as love, friendship, gratitude etc. However, when it is used as an educational resource, it also encourages the students to: imagine, cooperate, work hard, create stories, to all work in a group and together with their classmates.

Kamishibai at home

This type of activity can be very rewarding, whether you do it during a children’s party or as part of a family activity. The children carefully listen to the story and participate right to the end, with their imagination and feelings.

They're not stories for babies or very small children, they are stories for older kids, as shown in the video that accompanies this post and children's stories.

At some point, the child may want to explain the story to their siblings or friends at a children’s party and this creates a healthy atmosphere of games which encourages everyone to take part in a calm and educational activity.

Kamishibai in class

The children are split into groups and each group has to tell a story, so they are divided into groups and…

- They make up an entertaining story for the rest of their classmates.
- They create the outline, the sequence of the story and the illustrations.
- They write a story and they summarize it on the back of the drawings.
- They learn how to explain it in public.

All of these activities help with the emotional education of children and equip them with useful tools for their development.

The publisher Sieteleguas has a collection of user manuals for Kamishibai, where they discuss resources and provide tips on how to make them more interesting.

Kamishibai are not only for small children or pre-readers; depending on their age, the level of participation in the performance can vary, along with the different abilities that are enhanced.

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Keywords in this post: kamishibai, children’s stories, paper theater, sieteleguas

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