This classroom tip from artist educator Jane Rogers is a great warm-up for storytelling pieces and a springboard for working on bigger, outdoor projects:
Put together a collection of things in small bags, and give one bag to each group of four children. A collection could be: a bit of string, some blu tack, a piece of paper, a few natural objects such as an empty snail shell, a leaf and a stick, and a couple of small figures (I love using small people from railway sets - easily found on eBay or you can use lego people or duplo).
Working outside, in the playground or park, give each group five minutes to come up with a small scene or environment using the collection in their bag. Their environment can interact with the nature around them if they like. Then ask each group to move around and the new group works out the story of the new environment in front of them. Everyone shares their stories and the original makers of the scene let the storytellers know what they had in mind when they made it.
An extension to this exercise is for the students to add another object to their scene, or take a part away, and see how that changes it. This is a nice route into art appreciation and criticism, as students discover that each piece can mean many things to different people and, rather wonderfully, everyone can be right, there is no wrong answer….