This is one of the two frames I used for making up bedtime stories for the girls when they were little. [The idea is based on the ‘zipper song’ model in folk music – a basic structure that you modify for each verse (think “Kumbayah” – someone’s crying/singing/praying…)]
“One day, Lisa went walking in the woods. She heard a sound…”
The sound would be someone singing a part of a song OR one of her friends just singing about something they had done recently and she could instantly recognize. Example: if she and her cousin Anna had watched My Little Pony in the last few days, she’d hear “someone was singing ‘it was so much fun, until the show was done, My Little Ponies on the run…” and she’d guess “Was it Anna?” to which I’d reply: “it was, and so Anna asked ‘can I come with you on your walk?’ and Lisa said ‘of course’
Then, the next sentence would be: “One day, Lisa and Anna were walking in the woods when they heard a sound…” and on and on.
There were some common ones: “One day we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection” is Kermit. “I love you, you love me” is Barney (anyone remember him?), “All you need is Love” is the Beatles, etc.
I tried to mix live friends and whatever characters she was into at the time.
The story always ended the same. When it felt right, or when I couldn’t remember the long string of names, I’d end with: “One day, Lisa and Anna and Rainbow Dash and Paul Simon and Barney the Dinosaur and Iron Man and Mrs. Jarosz went walking in the woods. They came to the top of a hill and looked over and saw a big, green pasture. So, they took out some blankets and laid them on the ground and had a picnic, then they all laid down and took a nap, enjoying falling asleep in the warm sunshine.”
Hope some of you find this useful for your kids.