Looking for lists of memes, themes and repeated elements in children's stories that I can use in entirely new stories I'm making up for actual children.
The background: I work with young children (3-6 year olds) and do a made up on the spot weekly story for them. It started as a way to practice my improv skills at work, but it's taken on a life of its own now. It's one of my favorite parts of the week, and they love it as well. I have a basket of random objects, 3 kids each get to choose one, and the story has to be based around those 3 things. Depending on what they choose, I'll ask for character* and setting ideas as well, and sometimes ideas along the way.
Sometimes the stories seem to leap full-blown into my consciousness, sometimes I just get a glimpse of the beginning and improvise my behind off as the path appears as I go. Sometimes, though, the story seems good but the kids aren't as into it. I know that there's elements they love in a story - repeated phrases that they will join in on after a couple of times, for instance.
Basically, I'm looking for a list of common tropes of children's literature at the picture book level, especially ones that lend themselves to oral storytelling. As an example, one that I use often is The Quest, because it makes getting a fork, a penguin, and a pink sparkly star into one story a little easier. :) What are other ones? Give me suggestions, websites, ideas, books to read, picture books to read, whatever might help. What are your kids' favorite parts of their favorite picture books?
Please note that I'm not looking to remix old books, so "Cows that type!"^ would not work, but "animals using human things" would.
* My favorite: A man who wants a dump truck and lives in the woods but he went to China. I love my kids.
^ From Click Clack Moo, one of my favorite picture books.