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Tell a Story (Together!)

Lots of preschoolers are natural-born storytellers  -- and their burgeoning vocabularies make it easier for them to tell more complex tales. Try these imagination-boosting story starters:

1. Make your child the main character. The plots can be true to life  -- "One morning, Alex had his favorite cereal in a special bowl"  -- or spiced up  -- One morning, Alex found a strange animal next to his cereal bowl." When he gets the hang of it, he can take over.

2. Keep the ball rolling. When your child tells you about his day at preschool (or his trip to outer space) prompt him: "What happened next?" or "What color was your spaceship?"

3. Let him fill in the blanks. Start a story, then pause at a pivotal moment ("and the tiger liked to eat...") to let your child jump in. The whole family can help  -- give everyone 30 seconds or so to move the narrative along.

4. Go outside the lines. Instead of sticking to the text in your child's picture book, help him create a whole new story based on the artwork.

5. Tell your own tales. Recounting your childhood can help your preschooler handle his problems. And the more he hears your stories, the better he'll learn how to construct his own.