During a full day of storytelling yesterday, my second assembly was attended by 175 kindergarten students. After an hour of sitting in the gym listening to a variety of stories, the teachers lined up their students and began leading them back to their classrooms. As the lines of 4 and 5 year olds slowly snaked their way out of the gym, I overheard the most extraordinary sentence that could only be spoken in a nursery school or a kindergarten class, with the exception, my husband added, of a senior’s nursing home. A young student teacher noticed that the end of her line was not moving because two small boys were frozen in place in what could only be described as a stand up wrestling match. One boy had the neck of his classmate’s shirt in his mouth and his pants were half way down his backside. The 19 year old student teacher, seemingly experienced with suchshenanigans, looked at the tableaux and said in a bored voice, “Pull up your pants and get back in line.”
I’m so grateful that I get to witness these moments and wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Yesterday was Halloween and I told ‘scary’ stories’ to my Thursday group of 5 and 6 year olds.
After telling the Chinese folktale,The Brave Girl and the Monster Snake, a little boy told me he had a video showing a capybara being eaten by a python and thought it was too bad the capybara hadn’t heard this story about how to survive a monster snake attack!
Last week, school started in our part of the world and I was asked by a principal to help kick off the new school year with a storytelling assembly.
At the beginning of the presentation, I invited the gym full of students to join me on the Storyteller’s Journey, to discover their own voice and learn to tell their own story. Throughout the hour, many eager children helped me dramatize ancient world myths and even on the first day of school 200 children sat attentively engaged in the mysterious narratives of long ago and far away.
After the assembly, I suggested that they practice their new skills by re-telling one of the stories at home. I asked which story they might like to tell and several children raised their hands and answered my question.
Ten minutes or so later, as I walked from the gym to the exit passing various lines of students snaking their way down the hallway in search of their classrooms, a willowy 6 year old boy spotted me, stepped out of line and said, as if continuing an interrupted conversation, “It is hard for me to decide which story to tell because I liked them all! I might not actually get the chance to tell one because I’ve got to get the hay in before winter, but I’ll try.” The principal had mentioned that the school was located in a strong farming community. With that, the young farmer and newly christened storyteller, waved good-bye and set off in search of his long gone classmates.
Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Children, Creativity, Drama, Education, Elementary schools, Fariytales, Folktales, Literacy, Multiculturalism, Myths, Performing, Stories, Storytelling
This morning, as I was doing some long over due cleaning in my office, I came across a hand written note from a grade 3 student named Cole, from February and wondered if I should keep it or toss it.
In his note Cole wrote, “Dear Presenter, I am sorry for my rude, disrispective behaveur. It was inipoprieit. I am sorry if you saw my rude behaveur. I am also sorry if I offended you. Sicerly, Cole”
Cole hand delivered the note while I was packing up in the gym and I got the distinct impression that this wasn’t the first time he had penned such a letter. As he handed the paper to me, I asked, “What is this?” “I got in trouble and my teacher made me write to you,” he answered cheerfully.
After I read his confession and apology, we had a great chat. He said he really liked the story I told about the hungry goddess who broke in half and was recycled, but his favourite assembly from forever, was when he was in grade 1 and they turned off all the gym lights and had a black light show. Cole suggested I add black lights to my assembly. I thanked him and told him I always welcome helpful feedback.
I think I’ll keep the note.
Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Creativity, Drama, Education, Elementary schools, Folktales, Myths, Performing, Stories, Storytelling
Yesterday, I performed at North Agincourt Jr. P.S in Toronto. After the assembly, the grades 3 and 4 classes presented a slide show of two of our Storyvalues stories. They had illustrated the stories using Pixie, a digital illustration tool, then linked their art to my audio files. Their work was break taking! The two stories featured in the slide show were also part of my live assembly, so the kids were able to observe and discuss similarities and differences.
Teacher librarian, Patrick McCartney was the mastermind behind this successful project.
Congratulations to Mr. McCartney and the grade 3 and 4 classes of North Agincourt Jr. P.S!
Filed under Art in Education, Children, Creativity, Education, Elementary schools, Fariytales, Folktales, Multiculturalism, Myths, Performing, Stories, Storytelling, Websites
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