Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Every stone tells a story


a very smart Marble

Every stone has a story to tell, a story spun out of a million years of growing and crumbling, heating,  freezing, cracking, melting and the heavy tread of dinosaur feet, or maybe the silent weight of mammoths or even the warm, careful hands of a cave-child


At Marsden Community Primary School in the spring of 2015, I worked with a  group of Year 3 children to find some of those stories and use the stones to inspire some new writing. We mixed children from both Year 3 classes and, at the school's invitation, parents joined us as well adding a lovely extra element to the atmosphere

From simply handling our stones and reading up on their uses, our first stone-stories were poems:

In snooker tables and mirrors,
In graveyards and floors,
Safe and solid and strong,
Brown slate will even
Let us draw on the floor

Lumpy as a camel's back,
Yellow and orange and grey,
Hard and heavy as a frying pan,
Granite begins,
Hotter than chocolate,
Hotter than tea,
Hotter than fire
Hot liquid rock
Is where granite begins

We listened to an old story where a boulder in a forest tells a single boy the first stories and he starts storytelling. We took that story and told it back to each other. We mapped it and remembered it. Our schools torytellers took their maps and stories home to tell their familes and like the boy in the story (in our telling one boy became a boy and a girl), to keep the stories spreading

We played with our words, building descriptions:

As red as a rose,
As red as blood,
As red as plums and rubies and beetroot,
As red as cherries,
As red as a volcano before it erupts

(This is actually a description of the hair that grew on Medusa's head after the animals had nibbled her snakes to freedom - but that is another story!)

And finally we gave our stones faces, with wide-mouthed puppets that took their shapes and colours and natures from the stones they started life as. Small, quick pebble-people-puppets provided an avalanche of backing vocals, rattling away like rockfalls.  The bigger stones themselves started talking. Telling their own stories. reciting the poems of their first memories, singing, sighing, arguing and shouting. Whispering their stories to anyone who would listen

Many thanks to Julie and the team at Marsden and 
to all the puppeteers and geologist, writers, 
poets and storytellers - and their parents! - at Marsden

pumice always seems to have a lot to say
- too much  hot air perhaps?

Practical points:
we worked with the core group for 4 mornings spread out over 6 weeks
afternoons were spent with the rest of those classes on similar themes
materials: I brought in some of my rock, mineral and fossil sets, adding some lovely big chunks of rock to handle

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