What a school--many ESOL students, a library that is run by one of my best friends from high school, a beautiful day...it made for a good experience all around. The plan for the day was stories from around the world, a fitting choice since the children at this school come from a variety of backgrounds.
Here Raccoon works his magic on a large group of K-1 students. He can always be depended on to do a good job. He's so good, in fact, that I have a body double for him! Just in case something should happen to him, you know.
A lively bunch of volunteers works with me on another stand-by story: Uwungalema. What is it about those clip-on tails that kids love so much?
Later the librarian told me that these students were in the ESOL class. They did a fantastic job. Their teachers should be proud.
A dragon with attitude! The dragon helped tell the story about the man who loved dragons (from China).
Anansi is in trouble again in the story of Anansi Steals Wisdom. The thumb piano, or mbira, is used in the story to illustrate his climb up--and fall back down--the tree, and for some other sound effects. I have had this instrument for 10 years, and it's been dropped, played with and lugged around in suitcases regularly It's made from a gourd on the bottom, wood top with soundholes, and metal pegs that make the sounds when plucked with you thumb. This one has a lovely sound.
And below, my #1 fan watches from the lunch table. The library staff prepared a delicious lunch for us, and I enjoyed being able to talk with them while we ate.
Storytelling works well with children whose English is limited because a teller can modify the story to include definitions of unfamiliar terms as part of the story ("Anansi put the wisdom in a calabash--a gourd like this one my thumb piano is made from--and tried to climb the tree."). Within the context of a story, the unfamiliar words can be understood. A teller can opt to replace difficult words with simpler ones, and often the teller's gestures, facial expressions, and movements can aid in understanding the vocabulary and the story's action.
I have found that even children classified as ADHD can be good story listeners. I believe it is because they are very good at creating the mental images of the story as they listen. They probably add a lot more detail than other children because they are so active mentally. So for the them the story experience can be very rich. Many times these children can tell the story back to you days, weeks or even months later. I wonder if ADHD children might be excellent aural learners, but need more physical activity to keep learning on track.
I was tired by the end of the day (5 presentations of 45 minutes each) but I cannot describe the "high" that comes from a day when the stories flow, the audience responds, and we all enter the magic land of storytelling together.