Learning from Li’l Stories


First posted on Learning through Stories, a publication by Li’l Stories.

Since the launch of Li’l Stories earlier this year, we’ve been busy working on the next twists and turns of the storytelling project. We’ve fulfilled 99% of our Kickstarter rewards and have donated — thanks to our remarkable 144 Kickstarter backers and to you, friends of Li’l Stories — an astonishing 122 story pads to 12 elementary schools (encompassing 25 classrooms) and the Children’s Museum of the Arts.

Now, with students back in class for the fall, we’ve had a chance to see how Li’l Stories is coming to life as it is introduced in classrooms. We’ve learned a lot about how educators and parents are using the framework and would like to share these lessons and how they’ve helped pivot and shape our plans for the future. We hope you enjoy the read and might find a helpful tip if you’re using Li’l Stories with your students or child. Read More

A Year of Beginnings


Once upon a time—specifically, almost a year ago, in winter 2014—we had the idea for an educational framework that utilized the power of storytelling to help teach communication skills to children. A year later, Li’l Stories is being used by educators at several schools around the country. As 2016 begins, we would like to thank everyone who supported the project and helped make it a reality, especially those who backed our Kickstarter campaign, which exceeded its goal and was successfully funded at an incredible 143 percent! Your support has allowed Li’l Stories to reach thousands of students, giving them the opportunity to start the beginnings of their own narratives—as storytellers and lifelong communicators. Read More

Prototyping Stories

Testing in the classroom

As every parent or teacher knows, kids have little to no filter when it comes to saying exactly what they think. This remarkable freedom made them the perfect collaborators for Li’l Stories (currently on Kickstarter), a new educational tool that helps teach first through third graders to express themselves through visual, spoken and written storytelling. Li’l Robin and its founder Anke Stohlmann had the opportunity to work with children as part of the process of developing Li’l Stories. The kids were an integral part of the project, and aided us immeasurably in creating something that they and their teachers can use in the classroom or at home.

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Our Summer Reading List, 2015

Whether we’re digging into a new design manifesto or getting caught up in a classic novel, summer vacation is our favorite time to clear our heads, hit reset and expose ourselves to fresh ideas and ways of looking at the world by reading a good book. Earlier this summer Li’l Robin founder Anke Stohlmann completed her thesis in the School of Visual Arts MFA Interaction Design program. For this year’s edition of our annual reading list, we asked nine of our fellow 2015 SVA IxD graduates and one alumni to recommend books that have inspired them—during their time in the program, over the course of their careers, or simply what they’re reading right now. Now that our studies are over—and as a new school year begins for others—these titles will help us continue to learn.

The selected books explore how design and technology intersects with our lives, how organization can lead to creative breakthroughs (two readers chose the same book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), and include more than a few good novels and visual narratives. Here’s what we’re downloading now. You can also find them on our bookshelf.

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Learning Through Stories

Image of two girls using Li'l Stories in the physical and digital world

When we were very young, stories helped us make sense of the world, and in many ways they laid the foundation for how we’ve interacted with information—and people—ever since. (The irresistible appeal of a good story lasts well into adulthood, as our late-night reading and binge-viewing habits demonstrate.) Whether children are the ones doing the telling or are simply listening to a parent or teacher, stories give kids the opportunity to fire up their imaginations, put themselves in other people’s shoes, and learn how to communicate. Story structures and elements like characters, plots and settings engage the developing mind in ways that help organize thinking and make connections between words and images—the fundamentals of reading and writing. Storytelling is an amazing catalyst: When children build narratives around content they have learned in class or at home, they strengthen and enhance what they have learned. They begin to make ideas their own.

Li'l Stories product image

Li’l Stories framework: storyboard, app, and web site.

Li’l Stories is an educational framework that helps teach first through third graders to express themselves through visual, spoken and written storytelling. Structured as a classroom activity, the framework guides students through the collaborative creation of a visual narrative. The system supports the teaching of communication, creative thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as self-expression and confidence with others. It also establishes concepts of physical and digital production, and how the two are linked. An accompanying app and website give students the opportunity to capture their stories, so teachers can assess them and share them with parents.

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