Third Group – First Session
Oh… the best laid plans… etc…
This group was supposed to be smaller… and with different children… so my basket was full of the most successful stories from the previous sessions.
But it proved to be a large group again, with lots of familiar faces. Some of them had changed their day so that they could come and hear stories. Very flattering, but they wanted NEW stories! And, it being a lovely sunny day for a change, they were all full of energy and very vocal.
I started with Turtle of Koka, which they enjoyed despite complaining that they had heard it before.
Then I moved on to Chanticleer and Pertelot which worked because I had found some new dolls to add to the props.
Now there were loud demands for Mighty Mouse again – and then complaints that the mouse I had with me was not the mouse they wanted. The original mouse is really tiny – no more than two inches from nose to tail tip and I had swapped it for a larger, more expressive version. But it wouldn’t do. I had to promise to bring the proper mouse next time.
Perhaps the next session will be happier.
Third Group – second session
Surprise! – this time it really was a small group… just 5 children.
I had managed to find several new stories… but started with a new ‘story sound’ – a small Tibetan Singing Bowl. The sound is magical and they were all enchanted.
The first story was a version of The Bat, The Beasts and The Birds – an Aesop fable. I was inspired by Papa Joe’s variation and managed to create my own using the props I had to hand… a bat, a chipmunk and a swan. The children listened, though I am not sure if they understood.
Next was a silly tale of a frog – no idea where it came from. A frog, who lives in a well in the country, is unable to believe his cousin’s description of his own home by the sea. When the frog actually sees the vastness of the sea, his head explodes.
The children loved it and I was forced to keep on repeating the explosive finale.
Then came the expected demand for Mighty Mouse… but I was prepared. I had found an Aesop fable The Lion and the Mouse and adapted it to fit Mighty Mouse as she continued on her journey after moving the mountain. This proved satisfactory, but I was instructed to tell more Mighty Mouse stories next time.
To end with, I tried out another Papa Joe story, Mr Wiggles and Mr Waggles – very simple – no props, just my hands – and lots of repetition – and lots of laughter. It is a story I would not have dreamed of attempting when I started this journey. I think I am learning a lot.
Third Group – Final Session
So… here it is… the last session of this learning process.
It was the large group again, with all the familiar faces, so I was glad I had managed to find new stories for them.
First I introduced a new magic story sound – from a lovely, small, odd-shaped gong a friend had made for me. It has a beautiful ringing throb that I love.
The children loved it too.
Then, into the stories, starting with The Old Woman and her Pig – an old traditional tale that can be found in the Joseph Jacobs collections amongst many other places. I remember loving it as a child, even though the book I had then included the gory bits with the butcher, the hanged man and the rat. For this audience I adapted the story to miss out all that stuff and the sequence went: pig, dog, stick, fire, water, horse, horse-fly, spider, cat, milk, cow, hay. The sequence was, perhaps, a little too long. It held their attention up to the horse, but then some became fidgety and the rest of it was hard to get across.
As expected, there then came the familiar demand for Mighty Mouse… but I was prepared. I repeated the section from last week – Mighty Mouse and the Lion, as some of the children had missed it, and then added a version of another Aesop Fable, The Bull and the Mouse, with Mighty Mouse teasing the bull – and continued with my own addition – Mighty Mouse and the Elephant, in which the now over-confident and cheeky Mighty Mouse teases the elephant, eventually running up inside his trunk to nip the inside of his nose. this was popular, but, again, just a little bit too long. I must learn to be happy with shorter tales.
Another of Papa Joe’s tales came next, Pocamondas, about a little boy making stupid mistakes. This worked well even though some of the children were getting tired and distracted.
And then I made a mistake… instead of finishing at that point, I allowed myself to be persuaded to tell another story. I chose the old joke, The Wide Mouthed Frog. At first it went fairly well with those children who were still enjoying the stories. But others had had enough and I wasn’t able to reach the end. I still have much to learn but I have gone as far as I can with this group.
I have survived the long series of sessions with pre-schoolers. The staff say they are very happy and have invited me to return next term for a one-off special storytelling.
Certainly I have made many mistakes – but that is what learning is all about – and many of my difficulties were the result of having the same children over and over again. Somehow I had expected that they would love to have the stories repeated, just as they do with bedtime stories. I was wrong… they wanted new stories every time, which stretched my abilities and forced me to do a lot of research.
Now that was very good for me! It has stimulated me into reading and finding more stories for my main storybasket. I had become lazy. With over 12 hours of stories in the basket, I was happy to keep on telling those old favourites. It is time to find new ones.
The next stage of my learning starts now. I have been booked for 10 days of community festivals over the summer – just the sort of events I have found most difficult because of the confusion, noise and the presence of very small children in the audience who do not enjoy most of my stories.
That was my main reason for trying to learn how to tell in a pre-school, and I am feeling better prepared. There will be some suitable stories for the very young ones in my basket. I have now had lots of practice in coping with a distracted young audience. Let’s see if I can start to enjoy telling to mixed family groups.
The first festival is in a few days – a camping weekend for people with special needs, their families and their carers. It should be great fun. I will let you know…
The Story Sources
Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Musicians of Bremen – Brothers Grimm
Chanticleer & Pertelot – from Chaucer’s ‘Nun’s Priest’s Tale’
Father Mouse – based on the barebones story on the label of the Large White Mouse Folkmanis puppet.
Mighty Mouse – based on a version by Sue Godsey on Storytell >http://lists.storynet.org/lists/info/storytell<
Empty Pot – based on a version by Steve Otto on Storytell
Cracked Pot – found on the web at… >http://www.healingstory.org/treasure/cracked_pot/cracked_pot.html<
Christmas Spider – probably from someone on Storytell
Dark Dark Cat – based on ‘A Dark Dark Tale’ by Ruth Brown
Why the Rooster Crows at Sunrise – Sky Legends of Vietnam by Lynette Dyer Vuong
Magic Porridge Pot – Children’s Classic Stories – Bardfield Press
SuLi & the Sky – based on Why the Sky is Separate from the Earth – Told Tales: retold by Josepha Sherman
SuLi & the Dragon – based on Li Chi and the Serpent – Told Tales: retold by Josepha Sherman
The Magical Blue Feather – based on an original story by Papa Joe Gaudet
The Lion Cub – an extract from Jinook the Lame, by Papa Joe Gaudet
Mr Wiggles and Mr Waggles – Papa Joe Gaudet
Unanana and the Elephant – Papa Joe Gaudet
Pocamondas – Papa Joe Gaudet
The Ants and the Grasshopper – variation by Papa Joe Gaudet of Aesop fable.
The Bat, the Beasts and the Birds – Aesop fable
The Lion and the Mouse- Aesop fable
The Bull and the Mouse- Aesop fable
The Frog who lived in a Well – unknown
The Wide Mouthed Frog – unknown
The Old Woman and the Pig – traditional and Joseph Jacobs
The Magic Garden of the Poor – Margaret Read MacDonald – Earth Care
Sun Sisters – sit sewing in moon – Margaret Read MacDonald’s ‘Three Minute Tales.’
Five Threads – Margaret Read MacDonald’s Celebrate the World
How Butterflies Began – Margaret Read MacDonald’s ‘Three Minute Tales.’
A Lover of Dragons – Margaret Read MacDonald’s ‘Three Minute Tales.’
The Turtle of Koka – Margaret Read MacDonald’s ‘Storyteller’s Start Up Book’
Turkey Girl – Margaret Read MacDonald’s ‘Look Back and See.’
The Tintagel Dragon – Jill Lamède – Tales of the Tintagel Dragon