Skip to Main Content

Stories: YES Resources

Planning

Quality Story Characteristics

A good Stories: YES project has these elements!

Blog: Meeting Teachers Where They Are

Great tips for connecting your organization to teachers!

Educational Skills & Standards

Share with teachers and schools for how projects can fit in curriculum!

Sample Press Release

Publicize your Smithsonian collaboration!

Tools

Smithsonian's Learning Lab

Create collections for research or to share!

Adobe Spark FREE in Classrooms

Click for how school partners can use this software free!

WeVideo for Schools

Includes large library of images, music and video!

Other Free Tools

Recommended by MoMS and tech partner MuseWeb!

Sample Equipment List

Real equipment that's been used!

Documents for Grantees

Download and Save

Plan Revision

Release for Youth Participants

Release for People Interviewed

Program Log

Technology Log

Technology Budget

Surveys (contact MoMS)

Disbursement information is available in your award letter.

NOTE: EAST facilitators only need the releases, logs and surveys.

 

Excite

Community partners and educators can watch these to understand why stories are important.

Power of Cultural Storytelling and Place Based Narrative (video 39 minutes)

Storytelling: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (video 55 minutes)

 

What makes a good story

 

Create

Youth and educators learn how to be storytellers with printable instructions or interactive online training.

MoMS Storytelling Field Guide

Online Storytelling Training through Learning Lab (6 modules)

Adapt Workshops for Your Own Needs

7 Platforms

 

Elevate

Learn how to share your stories, near and far.

Finding a Home for Your Story Online (video 40 minutes)

Sharing, Promotion & The Ripple Effect (video 52 minutes)

My video
Click for the Full Story (or mouse over the 'A' at left to unmute)

Explore Workshop Ideas!

Conduct Test Interviews

This can be done with or without recording devices used in the field. Use a smartphone or simple audio recorder to see how it feels to interview someone. What do you need to ask? Does it feel awkward at first? Where's the best place to hold the device?

Watch the video below to see what a professional is thinking during an interview.

Tell Stories with Museum Objects

Objects found in museums are intricately linked to storytelling. Try a to develop a short, informal story about an object to practice storytelling. Family heirlooms are a great place to start because interviews with family members can be used to learn a little history about an object. If you are, or have a museum partner, check out this Learning Lab collection "Pertenecer" to see how art and other objects can be used to get participants thinking about stories and the 4 C's.

Using Museum Objects to Prompt Stories

See how youth in San Antonio explored local culture through the way people dress or do their hair, inspired by "The Will to Adorn."

Some Stories: YES participants have built their completed digitized stories around museum objects or historic buildings. The Historical Association of Catawba County created the video below to document how youth used museum objects to explore their local history for Stories: YES in the summer of 2018.

Community Events & Going Into the Field

How do you know what stories exist in your community? Hosting a story collecting event can introduce your community to the Smithsonian and get them excited about an exhibition. At the same time, it can be a great way to get everyone thinking about stories and understanding the value of what they have to say. Have kids conduct pop-up interviews or encourage people to visit a story collecting station!

Recording stories can be as simple as using your smartphone with the items below: a tripod, lav mic, and an app like Be Here Stories. Total Cost: $35.

There are many other ways to get started recording stories. Check out these ideas for traveling kits or create your own.

Backpack-Sized Archiving

Historypin's Storybox

And what should you ask? You may not know exactly what you want to know when you hold a community event but it's helpful to have a few open ended questions in mind when you start. Short story snippets can you lead to bigger and deeper story concepts to continue researching for Stories: YES. Check out the "Out of the Blocks" card deck or come up with your own questions!

Discover Story Themes Locally and Online with Learning Lab

Hold a workshop at your local historical society or museum! Cultural organizations like these are filled with people who are eager to help and can provide access to newspapers, books, photos, and even names of people to interview. Use the exhibition outline or script (found here) to decide what themes you want to know more about. Have resources collected around these themes ahead of a visit to your local history institution. This information is crucial to help develop an exciting and beautifully illustrated story.

Learning Lab is a flexible platform not only for the Storytelling Training modules found above--it already has many resources that can be used for research to help explore the themes of your exhibition. National information should also be included in stories so that people who aren't from your area have a context for what you're telling them. Smithsonian has developed collections across numerous topics that can be shared and used by anyone. 

Crossroads: Rural and Urban Communities

The Past, Present, and Future of Agriculture

Faces of American Agricultural Innovation

Alphabet Soup: Rural America and the New Deal

Main Street USA: Concept and Community

Depictions of Water in American Impressionist Painting

You can also create your own collection and add resources from local museums, archives, and libraries. Click on the image below to check out this Learning Lab collection created to explore one community's storytelling topic. Youth, educators, or a cultural organization can copy it, remix it, and add new resources to make it their own.

Flood

Get in touch with Shannon Sullivan sullivans@si.edu if you'd like to learn more about using Learning Lab for your projects.
Make a Storyboard

A storyboard is an integral part of creating a narrative. Follow some of the suggestions in the Storytelling Training module "Creating Your Story" or try using Learning Lab as a storyboard to organize your research!

To take it another step further, NPR has developed a Blueprint which helps you think about your whole project in a methodical step-by-step process. Consider things like who your audience is and what you want them to learn. It's most useful after you've done some initial research and the MoMS team can help guide you through some of the questions. Click on the image below for more information.

Story Blueprint

Perform Stories

One of the hardest parts of storytelling can be overcoming shyness! Although Stories: YES might seem like it disguises the storyteller in a cloak of history and behind the internet, it's still necessary to talk to people in order to create a good story.

All kinds of things can be called "stories" but the origin of storytelling is performance. Try creative ways to tell stories, even if they seem very different from what you're doing in Stories: YES. If you know creative people (artists, actors, writers, etc.) ask them to help you out with exercises like writing a Flash Fiction story inspired by a historic image or physical and voice performance warm-ups. Ideas from famous live-storytelling theater The Moth are shared below.

How to Tell a Story

The Moth: Storytelling Tips and Tricks

 

Talking Change

As the U.S. grows, communities are changing more quickly. Documenting history helps us to recognize change but telling stories about it from your perspective and people you know makes it personal. How has your community changed in the last 100 years? The last 50? The last 20? How has it changed since you were born?

Look up your county with the Pew Research Center's demographics tool which uses data from census records. Did you expect the changes it shows or does something surprise you? What other changes do you want to know about? Do these changes tell one story about your community or are there many stories in between the numbers? Is this change only part of the story? Is there something  missing? How is change connected to your exhibition topic?

Here's how your county compares

For more information, take a look at this article What Unites and Divides Urban, Suburban and Rural Communities or this one Family life is changing in different ways across urban, suburban and rural communities in the U.S.