Yesterday, my group of grade 6 and 7 storyteller apprentices were joined by the grade 8 classes to listen to Greek myths, stories from the Arabian Nights and First Nation tales. 11 to 14 year olds are such a baffling age group! They can swing wildly from being bored out of their gourds to electrifyingly engaged and enthusiastic!
During the first story I told from the 1001 Arabian Nights, I asked a seemingly comatose group of grade 8 students for volunteers to portray the genii and the fisherman. To my great surprise, most of their hands shot up in the air!
I chose two amazing 14 year olds boys to help bring the story to life, both of whom had been storyteller apprentices the previous year. When I first met these two guys 14 months ago, they’d been sceptical of the whole storytelling business and hesitant to perform in front of others. Their transformation over the six months working together was truly spectacular. Yesterday, I was privileged to see that it hadn’t been temporary. They performed with gusto and pride, helping to set the tone for the rest of the session.
Like in the 1001 Arabian Nights frame story of Shahrazad and the sultan, I honestly believe that stories have the power to transform and heal.
Once a storyteller apprentice, always a storyteller!
Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Creativity, Drama, Education, Elementary schools, Fariytales, Folktales, Literacy, Multiculturalism, Myths, Performing, Stories, Storytelling
This morning, I’m meeting with my twenty storytelling apprentices to explore non-verbal communication. We’ll be focusing on gestures, posture and facial expressions today as we tell the labours of Hercules.
I look forward to seeing what these amazing 12 and 13 years olds will say and do. They’re so filled with insights and enthusiasm for learning the art of storytelling!
Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Children, Creativity, Drama, Education, Elementary schools, Fariytales, Folktales, Literacy, Myths, Performing, Stories, Storytelling
This morning, an eight year old spoke with me after a storytelling session. She said, “The best part was getting to act out the stories with you. It’s so great getting that attention! I’m practicing for Broadway!”
Today I’m going to tell an Inuit story, The Hunter and the Polar Bear for the first time, other than to my husband. I love trying out ‘new’ stories (new to me, but usually hundreds of years old). I’m always amazed at how many stunning stories there are to tell. I can’t wait to hear what my little listeners have to say about this gem! I’ll keep you posted!
Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Children, Creativity, Elementary schools, Fariytales, Folktales, Literacy, Multiculturalism, Performing, Stories, Storytelling
This week I’m giving a workshop for Kindergarten, Grades 1, 2 and 3 teachers on Developing Inference Skills.
To my way of thinking, inference is not taught, but inspired through storytelling. (It is true that I think, just about everything worthwhile begins with a good story well told.)
The trick is not to teach inference, but to guide them to it. When kids listen to stories deeply, they naturally make connections.
To borrow a sentiment from the Bonnie Raitt song, Lets Give Them Something to Talk About, I think the first step is to give them something to infer about!
I have yet to meet a child who can resist the lure of Once Upon A Time… who’s heart rate, like Jack’s, doesn’t increase with the appearance of the giant at the top of the beanstalk and who doesn’t smile when they all lived happily ever after.
So much can happen in the imagination when listening to a story and it is there, in that magical world of the make-believe that inferences are made.
Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Children, Creativity, Education, Elementary schools, Fariytales, Folktales, Myths, Stories, Storytelling
February is always a busy month of telling great stories from Africa in celebration of Black History month. There are so many fabulous African stories to tell and I always look forward to sharing my favourites with students all over southern Ontario.
This week, I visited seven different schools and as always, came home with many lovely stories to share with my husband after a day of storytelling. Here are some of the highlights of my week.
After presenting an assembly in Pickering, a group of children were crowded around me asking questions and telling me which story they liked best, when I felt my hand being taken by someone small. I looked over and saw a junior kindergarten boy positioning my hand to receive his “low five” slap of appreciation. He didn’t say a word, but just smiled at me and continued walking in line with his kindergarten class back to their room.
In another school, I met two grade seven boys as they set up chairs for the teachers prior to the assembly. I told them that if they wanted to be in one of the stories, that I’d choose them up if they volunteered. One of them took me up on my offer and played the role of the lazy farmer in the story called Talk. He had the whole school roaring with laughter and afterwards, one of the teachers told me that he was a shy student and was so pleased that he had had the chance to shine!
Yesterday, I told a little girl who wanted to play the elephant, that she had to sit properly when volunteering to participate. She sat down so eagerly that it was clear she really wanted a turn. I invited her up and she preformed her role beautifully. Afterwards, her teacher told me she was autistic and normally didn’t participate in assemblies.
Next week, there will be more stories to tell and more children to touch my heart. I’ll keep you informed.
Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Children, Creativity, Drama, Education, Elementary schools, Folktales, Literacy, Multiculturalism, Myths, Performing, Storytelling
Last Friday at Trelawny PS in Mississauga, I launched our new storytelling campaign, Passports to Multicultural Literacy. We are now connecting my live storytelling and drama school performances with our online storytelling program, Storyvalues Interactive. This ‘blended learning’ approach will not only help students and teachers in the classroom, but can connect parents to school events as well.
After my storytelling assemblies at Trelawny on Friday, I told the students that I’d be giving them special Storyvalues Passports to take home and use with their parents. The passport gives families the Storyvalues Interactive-Home web address so children and parents can listen to and read multicultural folktales together, then explore the cultures, art and music related to each story. The Storyvalues Passports encourage children to Travel the World through stories!
Janet Chilibeck, an amazing Peel District grade 3 teacher just sent an email telling me that, “… her class was so thrilled with their Storyvalues Passports, that they tucked them carefully into their agendas in order to get them home safely!” How exciting!
Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Children, Creativity, Drama, Education, Elementary schools, Fariytales, Folktales, Literacy, Multiculturalism, Myths, Performing, Proverbs, Stories, Storytelling