Tuesday 24 March 2020

First day on the job...

It's the first day on the job and in about thirty minutes the children will be waking up to me and the four walls. After a weekend of my phone pinging endlessly with very well-meaning teachers sending links and lesson plans (times three) for homeschooling, I'm already feeling slightly overwhelmed and on edge as the seriousness of the situation rapidly increases.

However, out of all of this muddle a few things for the kids have stayed with me which I thought I'd share below:

Today, for a bit of light relief I thought I'd kickstart some oral storytelling videos. This won't be for everyone but is something kids can have a bit of fun joining in with before maybe creating their own ideas. It's been a few years since I have done this to an audience so bear with me.

What is oral storytelling?

Oral storytelling is performing a story using actions and memory aids (storyboards, puppets, props, masks etc) rather than a text. It uses repetitive, patterned and key storytelling language with actions to keep the tale simple and fun.

Why promote oral storytelling?
Oral storytelling became a BIG thing about a decade ago when I was teaching for the following reasons:
  • Many children, especially in deprived areas, were not starting school with sufficiently developed language skills.
  • Many did not know key nursery rhymes or traditional tales. 
  • If they do not have the language skills to tell a story then how can they be expected to write one. 
  • Oral storytelling increases vocabulary, develops knowledge and structure of story and makes them familiar with key storytelling language. It is performed in a group and so is inclusive and unthreatening with no pressure to perform on an individual level.
  • It is BRILLIANT for many children with special needs, especially those who love books but can't read the text. It is repetitive, rhythmic and memorable. 
  • As well as being fantastic for small children, it can be used effectively for older children too. 
I believe the initiation was started by a brilliant man, Pi Corbett, who I was lucky enough to have train me:
Let's get started...
Okay, so the first thing we need to do is learn some key actions for key words. You can follow mine below or make up your own. There will be other actions added to the story but this will be story dependant. Again, you can make up your own or use Makaton signs.

Keywords and actions

And when you are ready...
Let's try a story! Today's story is THE ENORMOUS TURNIP, a traditional tale which I have adapted for oral storytelling.

The Enormous Turnip

Memory aids
When following a story led by someone else it is far easier to join in the story than if you are telling or leading it yourself. However, it is still helpful to have memory aids to remember what is coming next. Until you really know the story like the back of your hand then you will need prompts in place to remind you of the story order. Plus props and storyboards are fun to draw and fun to make.

(Video on way.)

If you enjoyed having a go at this, feel free to tune in for more over the coming weeks. Plus send us your thoughts and videos of yourself practising or making up your own. We'd love to post some on the blog. ;)

Activities to spin off 'The Enormous Turnip'
  •  Measuring - all the characters in the story decrease in height. Get out and about and compare the height of different objects. Taller than.. shorter than... How many lego cubes/stones/shells tall is a cup, a doll, an action man? If you have a ruler get measuring. 
  • Play around with the story. Change the characters but keep the height order. Change the vegetable eg The Colossal Carrot or change the setting and set it in space! Draw your own storyboard.
  • Write some speech bubbles/act out to show how the characters react when they are asked to help. Think about changing moods and emotions. For example, if the cat is in a happy mood he might be happy to help but if he's a lazy, grumpy cat he may say something like "Turnips, yuck! I'd rather eat mice!"
  • Challenge the adjectives in the story. The son is strong and muscly but can we make the daughter strong and muscly instead?  Let's smash those stereotypes!!!
  • Planting vegetable seeds including turnips. What conditions do they need to grow?
  •  Costing vegetables/seeds using online supermarkets and money.
  •  Can you name all the vegetables in your fridge?
  • Explore recipes that have turnip as an ingredient - turnip soup anyone?
  • Make character masks or stick puppets to help act out the story.

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