Creating a storytelling classroom

By Chris Leslie
Ruth Kirkpatrick with a nursery child

If you could bring a writer in to inspire you and your pupils, who would it be? What type of writer could help your pupils the most? Langholm Day Care Centre decided to use our funding to bring in a professional storyteller: read on and find out how this experience enriched teaching and learning.

 


 

The lasting power of a good story can never be underestimated. Michael Rosen recently highlighted the importance of a narrative-driven approach to education, arguing that children learn by creating stories and putting things into the context of a narrative. Through a story, we not only learn, we remember: hence the reason why exam revision guides urge us to construct stories featuring the things we want to recall.

Langholm Day Care Centre recently applied for Scottish Book Trust Live Literature funding in order to improve oral storytelling skills amongst staff. Professional storyteller Ruth Kirkpatrick was invited to run a session aimed at boosting staff confidence in telling stories: after all, it’s one thing to sit narrating from a book, and quite another to construct a narrative from thin air!

Catherine Tod from Langholm describes some of Ruth’s activities below:

“Ruth gave pairs of staff a story to retell using the ‘story on a stick’ method. This involved tying items which related to the story we were going to tell onto a stick; this helped us remember parts of the story. This could be used to make up stories with the older children in our care.”

After this, Langholm called upon the services of LindaStrachan, author of the Hamish McHaggis series, to speak to staff and parents about creating stories. Linda’s approach to fostering creativity was to ask the staff to imagine unusual pairings, for example, a door with arms and legs! This helped to create a sense of creative freedom and gave rise to some unique creations.

Catherine says that Linda went on to “give small groups of us an individual page from some of her Hamish McHaggis stories and ask us to make up stories from what we could see using different characters and voices.” You can try the same thing in your class with these images!

Finally, Linda held a workshop with the 5 -11 year old children at Langholm, taking them through the process of not only writing but illustrating and producing a book. This approach can help to involve reluctant readers in the life of books, and creates a real sense of achievement (see this case study from Hawick High School for another example).

Catherine finished by telling us that, “the opportunity of receiving visits from storytellers and authors has been so worthwhile, and will be of huge benefit to the staff and children.” Why not apply for Live Literature funding before the February 8th deadline, and help your pupils to develop their understanding of reading and writing?

 


 

If you’re wondering how to incorporate narrative into your teaching, our blog from Emily Tall demonstrates the Storyline approach to teaching a topic, and shows how successful this narrative-driven approach can be. More examples of storyline can be found on Education Scotland's website.

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