Story emphasis is on ‘patterned’ traditional tales which allow maximum room for group participation, repeat phrases, songs and chants.
Shorter tales and rhymes are used as ‘models’ which the children practice retelling, and from which they may make new versions (sometimes retaining the beginning or an integral element to give ‘shape’ to the new work).
Longer stories are used to set a theme or mood, perhaps dealing with certain issues, but above all stimulating the imagination and involvement of the group. These may be halted halfway, or turned into a dilemma, to give wider opportunities in storymaking.
KS2 (8-11 yrs)
Story emphasis is on those tales which encourage discussion and problem solving, eg dilemma or riddle stories, and those which echo experiences or feelings relevant to older children -legends, folk or fairy tales with one foot in reality. This does not mean they have to be possible, or realistic
True life experiences are also used as a basis for both story sharing, focusing on aspects of telling, and development of new stories.
Other storymaking elements include:
- -ending a story,
- using a specific story pattern as a structure for new narrative (eg. Repeat chorus; rap; ballad styles; tall tale format)
- weaving a new story around an object, or a picture
- selecting 3-4 cards with suggested characters/situations/quests/magical powers.
- building a story line by line, in pairs, or in a circle
Story genre and structure are also considered (difference between myth and legend etc; structural shape of narrative types, story ‘boning’ exercises etc.)
KS3 and 4 (12-18 yrs)
Emphasis here is on the connection between traditional folk material and contemporary teenage storytelling eg :
- old legend vis a vis urban myth,
- riddles and rozzums in relation to jokes and anecdotes;
- on puberty stories intended for young adults, drawn from a variety of traditions;
- on dilemma tales and discussion;
- on personal and family stories, including the meaning of names etc;
- and on telling styles/ways of narrating, including some consideration of different dialects etc. (practical exercises in pairs and small groups)
Emphasis is on group and paired work,very much concentrating on the spoken word, aural mnemonics,body language, imaging and drawing rather than writing (although writing may arise as a result)
Story types include
- life stories, true experience
- stories/games/rhymes with repeat phrases and mnenomic feature -depending on the age range this may include rap and choral pieces, patterned nursery tales that are common to many countries, accumulative narratives etc.
- folktales that use a lot of dialogue
- dilemma and problem solving stories to encourage discussion /creative argument.
Teachers workshops include plenty of age specific stories and practical exercises to take away, with a range of suggestions on how to utilise them (eg. call and response story starters, group settler games, use of objects or visual aides to overcome initial nervousness etc)
But they are also concerned with the whys and wherefores of using story and related materials in the classroom, with particular reference to those cultures for whom traditional storytelling is an intrinsic part of education.
Finally all workshops include something -story, proverb or song- that is just for the teachers’ benefit-in acknowledgement of the work they do, and the pressures that many are under.