In our Influential Storytelling class at ar.tic.u.la.tion, we apply critical thinking methodologies to help properly frame a story. So on our summer family vacation a week ago, I thought I’d test the logic with my 7 year old daughter.  What better story to practice than “what I did this summer,” knowing she’d be quizzed upon returning to school in a few days.

We found some post it notes at our cabin (lucky us) and brainstormed every memorable summer moment.  After coming up with 40 points, I suggested we try to group them in 3 themes.  We came up with four different grouping options:

One set were grouped by who participated in the moments with her and her brother- us, her sitter or others.

Another group was where they did them- at home, in town, or out of town.

A third was by old things, new things and things to repeat.

The last was by activity type- sitting down, standing up or in a pool!

Before you claim I’m a horrible parent for inflicting such a rigorous overlay to my daughter’s outstanding summer, she called uncle and stopped it as it was “boring.”And it was.

We hadn’t gotten to how to weave in the great visual support for any example-such as of learning to play tee ball, learning about Cleopatra in Cincinnati, building a train with her brother in the basement art space, or watching movies outdoors at the local park. For a seven year old, the fun was in the examples, not the story structure. Fair enough for a girl still on vacation.

The point is that she won’t have time or space to report all 40 activities when she answers the question. Ideally, she’d have a great narrative rooted in three general  groups that revealed a supporting example- and illustrated succinctly why her summer was so awesome.  Of course I don’t expect her (yet) to understand this, but by the time our official Storytelling Class closes each time, our clients certainly should.

So, tell me, how was your summer?

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