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 such shenanigans, 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, after telling the story of The Ghost Dog and the Milky Way to a group of grade 1 students, a six year old little boy raised his hand and said, “I know dinosaurs used to be real, but they are extinct now. I think ghost dogs were real too. Were they real before I was born?”
The spoken word is so powerful. Stories seem believable because listeners actively participate by creating mental images of the narrative. If you can imagine it, it becomes real, right?
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.