Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Hatching 6 - fingerlings

The fish that hatched 8 weeks ago are now ready for release

a trout river (St Peter's Primary)
In preparation for this momentous moment, our teams of bold Fishkeepers have been composing songs, making model rivers (to show their charges what to expect) and preparing farewell speeches of useful advice
trout were drawn (Springfield Primary)

A few examples follow - imageso f the fish themselves, copies of songs, and pictures of one of the releases will follow shortly!

At Ightenhill Primary School, Jenny Greenteeth herself emerged to deliver a Fare Well address

Springfield's little fish
Trout, I would like a quick word...
Look for a boytrout or girltrout friend
Avoid friends that are bigger than you
- you might end up their dinner
but remember two trout are better than one!

Watch out for the stamping hooves of horses and deer
Swim fast, flicker past, you have nothing to fear!
Watch out for the larger fish
And don't become their tea-time dish!
Hungry herons love to eat you
Hide in the gravel where they can't see you!
a river at Ightenhill Primary School

Wellies in the water are warnings of danger
So don't be tempted by the juicy maggots
Or the flies on silver hooks.
Watch out for the fishermen!

Don't swim up to the light
Even when the shadows hold pike,
They won't swallow you bit by bit,
They will swallow you in a lfick!

Stay in the weeds where you'll be safe,
Disappear in the gravel,
Do not worry,
I'll be there,
I'll protect you.
In my green hair
They won't find you
Don't be scared
I will kill them,
In the air…

In St Joseph's Primary School, the FishTeam made river hats for themselves

Monday, 24 March 2014

A summer full of stories

A Summer full of stories
Stories in school with Creeping Toad, Summer 2014

From the secret treasures of frogspawn to the first birds’ nests, bees in trees and flowers in fields, we’ll meet stories that encourage us to look with new eyes on the world around us and remember that there are stories inside the humblest of creatures and the most ordinary of plants, and that we can all have adventures too

I am releasing ideas and workshop spaces for the summer term - and through into autumn - if anyone out there would like a storytelling or workshop day in school -or as an event in a country park, nature reserve, or some other place that would enjoy a bit of extra excitement!

A day’s visit to your school might include the following: shorter sessions might include bits of one or two of these longer activities

storytelling performances: lasting up to 60 minutes for up to 90 children at a time

stories outside! using the school ground, we’ll take storymaking out of the classroom and use the immediate environment, the day’s weather and whatever we can find to inspire words, create poems and shape a set of stories never told before (allow 60 minutes for a class session)

New workshop!
puppets and headfulls of animals: like the illustration, we can make quick finger puppet animals or magnificent animal crowns. Allow an hour and a half for a class

New workshop! 
Heroes for stories: building characters - as quick puppets and as written pieces: capturing the qualities of our characters for stories: their ambitions, triumphs, disasters and secrets - skills for a richer tale

New workshop!
Limestone life: working with fossils and models of life in ancient seas, we can look at the worlds that gave us the limestones and sandstones of the British Isles adding finger puppets and rockpools from ancient seashores as we go! (allow 60 - 90 minutes)

story and book workshops: taking a bit longer (allow 90 minutes for a class) as well as discovering those stories no-one has ever heard before, now we will build those into the books that no-one has ever read before and leave the classroom with a library no-one has ever visited before!

pop-up storyscapes: allow an hour for a class: gathering ideas, images and words we’ll make quick 3-d landscapes holding the essence of a story in a setting, key characters and the words that set the adventure running

tales of old Scotland: a collection of stories of Highland folklore and Scottish histories, of heroes and sorrows, bravery and the magics of sea, mountain and moor

your own themes and ideas: or are you exploring a particular theme that you would like to involve some stories in? pirates….tropical islands….ancient cave people…..where in our school would bears live?…castle adventures,  have all featured in recent Creeping Toad projects

Charges: £250 a day: includes storyteller’s fee, travel and materials. Can be paid on the day or I can invoice you. 

To book: contact Gordon directly at
or by telephone: 
landline: 01298 77964
mobile: 07791 096857

Friday, 7 March 2014

Midnight in the Park

a lonely beast holding his packed lunch
wandered through the trees

Midnight in Victoria Park
it started with a map
troll-wallow hollow
This did begin as a sensible story-mapping and thens tory-making expedition, setting out to build a sense of a story as a physical journey by looking at the local Victoria Park in Nelson…..But then we recklessly asked "what happens here at midnight..."

The Beasts crept out of our woodwork and when the troll-bath was found and Shrek's toilet, imaginations started to escape…..

We were watched by Mr and Mrs Troll
a troll family hid in the woods

rabbit among the leaves

a troll in the mud

we beat on the enchanted door
but it would only open at midnight
we even met a collection of excited witches, princesses
and monsters on the Broomstick Bus ready to go to a party

the sinister shadows of monsters followed us
through the day-time woods
- how much more exciting would midnight be?

and when we left, the only traces of the magical world we had met
was the ring of crocus under the trees

Aliens, Beasts and sore throats!

and when we woke, our spaceship was flooded and the view
from the windows was wide and green and frightening

A hectic spate of workshops continue, stumbling a little here in the middle as I fall at the Sore Throat And Cold hedge. Usually, I just keep going but this time my voice has turned into a very amphibian croak and I've retreated to my home-pond for 2 days of not talking to anyone!

The last couple of weeks included some lovely days at Ness Gardens, an exciting day at the Lindley Trust's Festival of Outdoor Learning at the Hollowford Centre…and then there were the aliens and the beasts…

recording our alien discoveries

We were looking at the question "what if…", extending that as "what if aliens crashed here at Wycoller Country Park. The results were dramatic, if sad, as by the end a whole heap (herd? horde? crew?) of aliens drowned in the river when they were trying to escape on a boat they built themselves. Other stranded aliens settled in to make homes for themselves whiles till others stowed away in the back of some minibuses full fo children and escaped…..
the ship's records were found later
by rescuers from Home Planet

the records showed the crash
and the brave departure of the crew

some of the aliens adapted cheerfully to life on Earth

And as for the Beasts…..they'll follow in the next blog