Sunday, 12 April 2015

Stories Alive!: Once upon a time in ancient China….

Rockwood Nursery School
11th March 2014
an exploration of Chinese New Year 
begins with a story and 
grows new adventures
a lion and a dragon
Once upon a time there was a lion, a hungry lion….

The adventure began with a storywalk. Outdoors, through bushes and play equipment, behind trees, over grass, under climbing frames, children followed the lion, Nyan's, trail through the Rockwood wilderness

As they met the unfolding story, children looked for lanterns, found dragons, and a shelter for the (very tasty-looking!) goat, listening to and playing with the story at the same time

These outdoor sessions were great fun and well received despite increasingly soggy conditions as the day progressed. With the rain and the excitement of going for a walk with a dragon (and a certain degree of worry that there might be a lion about), we did wonder how much of the story our young storytellers would remember
a heroic dragon spreading over several pages
Indoors, however, they joined me* to tell me the story they had just adventured through and go on to draw the story in folded-paper books. There was a powerful lesson here in seeing that almost everyone, especially working together where children could fill in each other's gaps, every group, even the very wettest ones, could tell the story back to me and then go on to improvise around it in their own books. 
         ~ our brave dragon changed size, colour and nature
         ~ Nyan was usually a lion but occasionally tigers were more frightening
         ~ the Goat might remain a goat but was also occasionally a sheep, a donkey, or a rabbit.

But everyone was always sure that red is the colour of good luck and safety and red scares the monsters away.

Nyan's story tied in with the beginning of the Year of the Goat (or the Sheep) and was the first of a number of activities the children went on to do over the next few days, adding more experiences to their Chinese New Year celebrations
even a delicate fan could scare a monster away
For Stories Alive!, it was good to see how enthusiastically our children would both use the thread of a story to explore the school grounds and how well they listened and remembered, especially those the moments they had been active in, using that memory to help rebuild the whole story around

* 2 artists involved: Hannah Stringer, Rockwood's artist-in-residence, planned and set up the sessions while I came in as an extra pair of hands and useful colouring pencil
(photos: more pictures are pending - waiting for a chance to check with families as to which ones we can show - they'll come in after the holidays)

Stories Alive! has placed 5 artists in 5 Nursery Schools (see below) in and around Burnley in East Lancashire with the challenge of developing 5 different sets of activities to help embed storytelling and storymaking in Nursery practice, in families and in the children we are working with

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