Reports follow from a lovely project that has been unfolding over the last year and now, in June 2016, is reaching its final stages
Stories Alive! worksheets!
Ideas for creating adventurous stories, songs, poems, palaces and sacks!
Out of all the Stories Alive! workshops and twilight sessions, we have grown a spreading collection of activities to use with children in their early years. Some of our activities needed lots of bits (but rarely very specialised), others just needed people, some plastic plates and a few minutes. We have drawn activities together, distilling them into a set of worksheets which are now available for downloading (download link at end of this post).
We offer these activities to anyone who is interested. Please feel free to use them – but if you want to post them somewhere else please acknowledge Stories Alive! as a source. This website could be included as an information point about the project and my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) used as a first contact (I can always refer enquiries on to a more relevant person).
The activities are not final. In many ways these are our working notes. We have tried to avoid repetition but at times there are overlaps between activities. We kept them all in, knowing that different people suit different styles: so please sift, choose and experiment. We hope you will have as much fun as we did – or even more.
If you do download a set of worksheets, it would be good to hear from you – even just to say who you are and where you hope to be making up stories with young children…
Adventure booklet: we have also produced a little booklet designed for use by families to create their own adventure. This uses some of the worksheet activities but aims to keep everything very straightforward so a slightly harassed parent with some over-excited children in the local park could all work together to create their own adventures.
There will a few extra hard copies of this available (summer 2016) – if you would like a copy let me know and I’ll see what we can do. A downloadable version might go on here shortly
A thunderstorm of chopsticks!
From the Creeping Toad blog
We began with noise…
This was a twilight session for teaching staff from the 5 nursery schools of the Stories Alive! Project. As the project draws to a close, we have been looking at areas we would like to develop more – not necessarily as a project but perhaps within individual nurseries. Our musician/storyteller, Ben McCabe had done an excellent job of inspiring both children and staff musically during earlier workshops, giving all of us new confidence in ourselves as musical people, so we gathered for an afterschool session with him.
We began with noise….
Over 2015, Stories Alive! placed 5 artists in 5 Nursery Schools (see below) in and around Burnley in East Lancashire. Our teams have been challenged to develop sets of activities to help embed storytelling and storymaking in Nursery practice, in families and in the children we are all working with. There have been storyhouses built, storysacks made, stories mapped, little adventures, big adventures, whole storyworlds of adventure. Because of the carefulness of photographs of young children, I’ve charted relatively little of the project so far but will hopefully catch up a bit now….
So we began with noise….
We sang a journey: improvising an adventure with repeating sounds, actions and words, reflecting on the value of combining sound and movement. We played musical I-spy, creating improbable stories with improvised lines
It wasn’t all just fun, you know. We talked about the importance of playing with sounds for developing verbal skills. We thought about rhythm, story structure, dance and the abstract thought processes that represent action or objects with sounds and the value of recording patterns of sound – creating group scores as a way of thinking about writing. And we made a spectacular amount of noise with sets of cooking chopsticks (other wooden rods are available) on the backs of chairs (other furniture is also available)
And that was fun. The rest of the evening was fun, too, but this was spectacular. A rippling seashore of noise breaking over the chairs: rattles and scrapes and thumps and scratches and 50 people laughing and concentrating and releasing a thunderstorm in a school hall
This has been a good project. This is still proving to be a good project!
Over the last year, a new project has slowly uncurled its storytelling horns and peeped its beautiful face out of its shell…(I like snails). Stories Alive! has placed 5 artists in 5 Nursery Schools (see below) in and around Burnley in East Lancashire. Our teams were challenged to develop sets of activities to help embed storytelling and storymaking in Nursery practice, in families and in the children we are all working with
We began in January 2015 with an InSeT evening with 50 staff from across the Nurseries reminding themselves of skills they’d already learned and processes they already use. Initially, this was a slightly daunting process when I saw how confident the group were in their storymaking (what could we contribute?). Reassuring, too: here are teams of people who remember previous training (a year or more ago with Carol Graham from Storyspace), take new ideas on board and are ready to take risks. Great! So we went on to make up new stories and build little books to help hold our stories together
REPORT 2 (January 2015, as originally written)
Then we all gathered at the wonderful Burnley Youth Theatre for children and staff to meet their artists and create their first stories together. All? Yes, ALL. There were buses ferrying small figures from all over the place, converging on their slightly anxious artists. Over two days some 300 children and assorted staff and parents joined us at the theatre. And we all survived! And we didn’t lose anyone (or not that we’ve heard yet!). And it was fun!
Now, as the snowdrops prepare to flower, our teams of teachers, children, artists and parents are ready to flower too! Over the next few weeks, workshops will explore ideas and develop activities. Our artists aren’t there to simply go in and deliver a storymaking workshop here or there. Our role is indeed to bring our expertise but to find ways of sharing skills and developing programmes that suit the individuals and communities of our Nurseries
Pippa Pixley who started the project had to withdraw and was replaced by the courageous:
Gordon MacLellan – Creeping Toad – me!
Stories Alive! is supported by Grants for the Arts and the Stocks Massey Bequest