Storytelling: Let me count the ways

Think outside the box

Start with communication

When my children went to college, I soon discovered I would be contacted in one of three ways: my oldest called, my middle emailed, and the youngest sent texts. To this day, these are their preferred methods to communicate with me.

Think about this: Maybe the oldest is more verbal. Maybe the middle likes to write and use computers. Maybe the youngest prefers simple forms of communication. Think about ways to communicate as it applies to storytelling.

Communication and storytelling

Specific ways of communicating can lead to specific ways to tell a story (examples from my kids):

Verbal–oral stories, movies, videos, games

Written–books, journals, notebooks, blogs, a memoir

Simple and/or quick–slideshow, bulletin board, story box, prints, drawings, simple scrapbook

Up close and personal: What is YOUR method of communication?

I am the crafty, homesteader type. I quilt, sew, knit, cook, bake, make my own tea, preserve and can food, grow and dry my own vegetables. I’ve dappled in calligraphy, decoupage, painting, drawing, and doll making. There is one thing above all others that gives me joy AND best describes my preferred method of communication: I LOVE TO WRITE (blogging is a no-brainer).

Think about your personality and go from there. How do YOU like to communicate? The list below shows ways to tell a story. Can you think of more?

Consider the following to tell your family stories

  • Make scrapbooks–the old fashioned way, or digital:
  • Create photo albums–Create a heritage page or section for each ancestor
  • Create an e-book–Look for on-line, storybook apps
  • Oral storytelling–Create opportunities to tell your children family stories (and be sure to record when you speak)
  • Biographical sketch–Create a sketch for a scrapbook. (Note: this is similar to what I describe in several posts throughout the blog; see next point)
  • Create Ancestor profiles + turn them into stories = Story Genealogy
  • Writing–Journals, books, diaries, blog, memoir (
  • Art–Painting or drawing, or any form you can think of to tell a story
  • Word Art–Ballad, Poem, or any form of the written word
  • Create Audio/Video recordings
  • Cook traditional foods, host a celebratory dinner. See my post about using grandma’s cookbook HERE.
  • Create a keepsake cookbook–use family recipes, include photos of family meals
  • Travel–visit ancestor home towns or a homestead
  • Story boxes–Similar to a diorama or shadow box, with artifacts
  • Story boards or a bulletin board–Simple, include mementos and photos
  • Quilting–Reminds me of “message quilts” during the Underground Railroad era. If you sew, quilts can tell a story.
  • Sewing–Ever seen those T-shirt quilts?
  • Word processing programs–Create a slideshow or Document, for shorter stories. GOOGLE SLIDES is very easy.
  • Print on fabric–Recipes printed on tea towels, pot holders
  • Create a collage–use artifacts, heirlooms, or letters
  • Photo stories–Photograph treasured items, and write a brief story. This differs in the length of the story (vs. a blog post, journal entry, or photo album).
  • History heirloom cards–Type brief description of history and owner, keep with antique or heirloom (A fabulous idea from Brittany, my daughter-in-law).
  • Interview–record elder family members, transcribe into written story
  • Make a simple descendancy chart
  • Consider perspectives–write a story from the ancestor’s point of view
  • Picture labeling–Can you add more than names and dates?
  • Photo progression–Great for scrapbook or journal or blog
  • Create a timeline–Fill in what you know and supplement with outside sources. See THIS TIMELINE about great grandma Bertha Servatius.
  • Tell a story–use antiques, heirlooms, documents. Several blog posts cover these ideas. Under How To in the top menu, click on the GET STARTED tab.
  • Letters–Piece together a story; write to your children, write to ancestors
  • Memory–Build on memories and supplement with the known.
  • Subject stories–Choose a subject such as transportation, employment, housing, gardening, medical issues. Create a story by filling in what you know of your ancestors. See Susan’s post about travel: TRAVEL THEME POST.
  • Coloring Book–Create an ancestor coloring book via Family Tree Magazine. I had trouble with their links, so below is the link to the main page. Type in “coloring book” in the search box for a great article on making a coloring book using your ancestor’s photos. (If this link does not work, use the link two ideas down– see Tech-savvy–which does work.)
  • Visit a cemetery–Learn about the area where your ancestors lived and died. I was overwhelmed with emotion when visiting my grand aunt Mamie’s grave in 2017. Visiting her gravesite is helping me write her story.
  • Tech-savvy?–Check out Family Tree Magazine about how to tell your family’s stories. I had trouble with their links, so here is the link to the main page. Type in “storytelling” in the search box for some great articles.
  • OneApp–a new way to record seniors’ stories to capture their mannerisms, voice, face, and much more.

In my mother’s day, scrapbooking was very popular. Just for fun, have a look at my mother’s scrapbook, and mine. I was eight. These are wallpaper books.

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Tell your story

Choose a method that suits your personality

It doesn’t matter how you tell your stories to your children; what matters is that you begin the process.

Contributor to this story: Susan Phelps

If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.
~ Mo Willems
(This made me smile; no one chooses their family.)

  1. Love this post.


    1. Thank you! I had fun writing it. Your input is much appreciated. 🙂


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