What is Communication?

Communication is the process of sending and receiving messages. We communicate with each other in many different ways. We use both verbal communication and nonverbal communication to send messages to each other. Speaking and writing are forms of verbal communication. Nonverbal communication uses body language, drawings, or pictures to communicate.

Think about how you have a conversation with a friend. If you are telling a story about how you saw a bear on a camping trip, you can use several forms of communication to share your experience. One way to tell a story is to use words. For instance, you can tell your friend that the bear was taller than your tent. That’s verbal communication.

You can also stretch your hands far apart to show how big the bear was, and you can use your whole body to imitate the bear’s movements. That’s nonverbal communication.

When you use both verbal and nonverbal communication, you can help the people who are listening to you or watching you understand what you are saying.

Watch the video

In science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), there are some very large and complicated topics that can be hard to understand. Storytelling, drawing pictures, and using different words can help us explain big topics in ways that people can understand.

Have you ever seen a picture or diagram in a science textbook? Has it helped you understand something like ecosystems or food webs? Scientists use effective communication to explain complicated ideas to everyone!

Watch the video below about storytelling (produced by Pixar, the filmmakers that brought you Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story).

Complete the activities

Start by going outside and looking at the world around you.

Everything in nature is a part of a cycle. Everything interacts with something else in its habitat. It might be a bird eating a worm, a cricket hiding under a big leaf, or a squirrel living in an oak tree.

Look around. Do you see anything interacting with something else? Watch what happens and begin to create your story about what you see!

Think about the scene as a whole:

  • Who are the characters?
  • What are their names?
  • What colors do you see?
  • If the characters could speak your language, what would they say?
  • How are they feeling today? Cold? Warm? Happy?

Once you have your characters, you can start making up a story! There are many ways to tell a story. You could write your story down, act it out, or draw it. Try one of these activities.

Activity: Tell your story

After you have thought about your story, write your story down in a notebook or on a piece of paper. Your story doesn’t have to be perfect; just get all your thoughts out.

Once you have written your story down, go back and revise it by making any changes you think will improve it.

When you have your story looking good, share it by reading it out loud to a parent, teacher, or friend.

Once completed, you can check off this activity on your Activity Board.

Activity: Act out your story

After you’ve thought up your story, think even more. This time think about how your story would look if it was a movie or play.

  • What would the characters wear?
  • Where would the story take place?
  • How would the characters sound when they spoke?

Ask one or two of your friends if they’d like to help you act out your story and put on a performance together!

Once completed, you can check off this activity on your Activity Board.

Activity: Draw your story

Cartoons, comic books, and picture books are examples of visual storytelling. Once you’ve thought about your story, you can draw it.

  • What would the characters look like?
  • What would the place where the story is happening look like?
  • How would you draw what is happening?

Make as many pictures as you need to in order to tell your story. Then put them together into your very own comic book or picture book! When your visual story is looking good, share it with a parent, teacher, or friend.

Once completed, you can check off this activity on your Activity Board.

Telling stories

You might have written your story down, acted it out, or drawn it. Or you might have done all three.

All of these ways to tell stories are very important because different groups of people like different kinds of communication! Maybe you can tell your story over the phone to someone who lives far away. Or if you have younger siblings who have just started speaking, drawing a picture is a great way to communicate with them!

You can write down your story so that you can always remember all the details. And you can go back and reread your story in a week or even in a year.

Makenzie (ZZ) Lundburg, Maul Foster & Alongi

ZZ Lundburg

Meet a communicator

What was your favorite subject in school?

My favorite subject in school was English because I loved books and stories. I also loved environmental science because I got to learn about all the animals and bugs around me.

What was your dream job as a kid?

My dream job was to be a marine biologist!

What is your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing about my job is working with scientists and so many smart people who are different from me. Every day, I get to learn new and exciting things about how people and the environment interact and how to communicate complex problems. It is cool to get to do something new every day!

What did you study in school to get this job?

I was a creative writing major and environmental science and policy minor, but there are many paths that can lead to communications! There are opportunities for graphic design, community outreach, social media, public speaking, event planning, and all sorts of other jobs working in communications!