The StoryCarnival approach is designed to support evidence-based social play activities. Below, we outline specific national standards and concepts targeted by StoryCarnival activities.
Children manage emotions with increasing independence
Children appropriately handle and take care of classroom materials
Children manage actions, words, and behavior with increasing independence
Children maintain focus and sustain attention with minimal adult support
Children persist in tasks
Children hold information in their minds and manipulate it to perform tasks
Children demonstrate flexibility in thinking and behavior
Children demonstrate initiative and independence
Children show interest in and curiosity about the world around them
Children express creativity in thinking and communication
Children use imagination in play and interactions with others
Children attend to communication and language from others
Children understand, follow, and use appropriate social and conversational rules
Children express self in increasingly long, detailed, and sophisticated ways
Children understand and use a wide variety of words for a variety of purposes
Children demonstrate an understanding of narrative structure through storytelling/re-telling
Children ask and answer questions about a book that was read aloud
Teachers give children a chance to resolve their own conflicts without immediate teacher intervention
When children are in conflict, teachers help them: identify their feelings, identify and describe the problem, and think of alternative solutions
Show or describe two examples of how you help make children's play more complex
Teachers offer children the chance to choose activities, materials, and areas in which to play
Teachers use narration and description of ongoing interactions to identify prosocial behaviors
Show or describe one example of how children have opportunities to participate in decision making about class plans
Teachers help children learn emotional regulation skills
Teachers guide and support children to use language to communicate needs
Show or describe two examples of how you change classroom materials or equipment as children’s skill levels change over time
Show or describe one example of how your program has changed classroom materials or equipment to accommodate the individual needs of a child
Show or describe two examples of play experiences you have planned which are related to learning themes in the curriculum
Show one example of how your written curriculum or curriculum framework can be modified to reflect the languages spoken by families in the program
Children have chances to recognize and name other people’s feelings
Children have chances to learn how to resolve conflicts in constructive ways
Children have chances to understand that other people may have different thoughts and opinions than theirs
Children have chances to learn that other people may have different feelings than they do
Children have discussions with each other or with staff to solve problems related to the physical world
Teachers use words that children may not understand and provide explanations or examples of these words
Show or describe two examples of how you teach children to have discussions with each other to resolve interpersonal problems
Show or describe two examples of how you teach children to have discussions with each other to solve problems related to the physical world
Teachers help children connect print to spoken word; show or describe two examples
Some of the books available to children relate to current learning topics, themes, or activities
Show or describe how children have chances to retell or reenact events in storybooks
Show two examples of lesson plans that link books to current learning topics, themes, or activities
Show one example of a lesson plan in which you play a game that encourages kindergartners and school-agers to identify phonemes in words
Show two lesson plans in which you use technology to enrich your curriculum
Provide two examples showing or describing how you teach vocabulary and/or concepts related to drama
Show or describe two activities or lesson plans that encourage children to share their ideas or experiences
Show two lesson plans that provide children with opportunities to engage in group projects
Show two lesson plans that provide children with opportunities to learn from one another
Teachers rearrange the classroom, when necessary, to help children explore new concepts or topics and so children can continue doing an activity
Teachers adapt their teaching strategies to best fit each child’s learning style; show or describe one example
Teachers modify classroom materials, when necessary, to fit each child’s learning style; show or describe one example
Teachers sometimes customize learning experiences, based on their knowledge of the children’s social relationships
Show or describe one example of how you intentionally rearranged classroom equipment, when necessary, to scaffold children’s learning
Show or describe one example of how you changed a lesson plan if children showed interest in a different topic or activity
Show or describe one example of how you have customized a learning experience based on your knowledge of a child’s ideas, interests, and skills
As a child refines skills or gains a new skill, teachers fine-tune their teaching support to advance that child’s further learning (scaffolding)
As a child refines skills or gains a new skill, teachers advance that child’s further learning by making the activity a little more difficult (scaffolding); show or describe one example
Teachers use their knowledge of curriculum content to pose problems and ask questions that stimulate the children to think
Teachers help children express their ideas about curriculum content and build on the meaning of their experiences
Teachers help children identify and use what they already know (prior knowledge)
Teachers provide learning experiences that extend and challenge children’s current understanding of the world; show one lesson plan
Show or describe two examples of how you engage in collaborative inquiry with individual children and/or with small groups of children
We want StoryCarnival to be a tool which can be used in combination with a range of approaches, not a replacement. StoryCarnival aims to support children's socioemotional development by drawing on and aiming to be compatible with several existing approaches. We detail some of these approaches below.
The Tools of the Mind approach focuses on developing executive function skills through make-believe play. It encourages children to plan their play, play symbolically, and collaborate with their peers in play. While the Tools of the Mind approach has a specific curriculum and structure, our goal with StoryCarnival is to provide a tool that makes it easier to set up this general style of play. The stories provide a starting point from which children can base their play. Initially, children may replay exactly what happened in a story. Later, they may play out alternate scenarios or what might have happened after the end of the story. The play planner tool reminds children of what each character did in the story and the voice agent provides suggestions for directions play could take, helps integrate children, and provides an alternative form of communication for adults. These supports can be phased out as children develop the skills to lead make-believe play more independently.
Other approaches to children’s social-emotional development also incorporate stories and play. We are currently working with educators and practitioners to develop stories that can broadly support the work and lessons they already do to help children develop and practice social skills.
In a preschool setting with twelve 4-5-year-olds and five 3-year-olds, a research team compared children's sociodramatic play with and without StoryCarnival. They found that three shy children spoke more during StoryCarnival sessions than other Tools of the Mind-style play sessions. Shy children's speech was mostly directed at other children during StoryCarnival sessions. Shy children spontaneously took on a role as a caregiver or mediator for the voice agent and used it as a way to enter play. They would repeat what the voice agent said to other children and then follow up on those ideas. Interested in reading more but short on time? See this short paper focused on one of these shy children's interactions.
In a preschool setting with seven 4-year-olds and six three-year-olds, a research team used StoryCarnival as an approach to elicit creative ideas from children about smart home technologies. The research team introduced the concept of smart home technologies as "magic objects" and used play sessions to observe what types of "magic objects" children wanted (for example, a way to control temperature and light during play). This served as a proof of concept for using a StoryCarnival approach to gauge children's understanding of and ideas about specific concepts.
Over 24 sessions at a preschool with eight 3-4-year-old children, a research team explored different versions of using voice agents to support children's make-believe play. Key findings included that it was important for the agent to be a portable toy children could pick up and incorporate in their play, adult control of the voice agent's speech allowed them to incorporate important context, using a tablet app to allow children to control the agent's speech could distract children from play, and children generally did not like speaking on behalf of the "turned off" agent. Interested in reading more but short on time? See this short paper summarizing some of the key findings.
This paper describes the approach to developing and iterating on early versions of StoryCarnival, inspired by Seymour Papert's view of constructionism. The research team sought to treat the design process itself as a constructionist learning process.
This forum describes the difference between most technologies available to children and those designed to encourage children to create, connect with the physical environment, and communicate with other people. StoryCarnival was designed to support this "3Cs" approach.
In this paper, a research team analyzed YouTube videos of children under the age of 30 months to understand how touchscreen tablet devices lowered the barriers to young children's use of technology. This line of research served as the motivation to study how technology could be used to support young children's development rather than hinder it.