Thursday, March 27, 2008

Drought on Akimba and Bamba's farms?

Here's the image that came with the retelling of the 'Akimba and the
Magic Cow' story from Rochedale State School. There is a merciless sun
up there in that blue, blue sky and it's killed the crops on the farm.

Thank you again Year 3's. It's great to be reminded of a telling.


Feedback from some Year 3 Students

One of the pleasures of storytelling is when you get feedback from
students and teachers who've enjoyed one of your performances. Here's
one that I particularly enjoyed receiving particularly because it is
accompanied by a retelling of one of the stories I told - 'Akimba and
the Magic Cow', a digital illustration for the story and a thank you
page signed by 49 students.

Thank you students from year 3 at Rochedale. I enjoyed the visit to
your school and really enjoyed telling you my stories.

Daryll Bellingham, Storyteller

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Value of Stories - revisited

Tuesday afternoon, 3:30pm. Had one performance today once again with a Creche and Kindergarten Preprep group at one of my regular community kindergartens. They were around 4 years old and totaled around 40 children.

It was a good show. The children were enthusiastic, well warmed up to stories and storytelling. The staff were very supportive and had specific requests as to which of my stories they would like and which themes they would like me to explore - eg Easter.

I told three stories as per usual. 'The Tailor' or 'Something for Nothing' (this had been requested), 'The Little Blue Train takes the children to the farm (with an Easter theme) and 'Dragon Boy' ( a faux Chinese folktale I created with preschoolers last year).

As a performance artist I really enjoyed the way the audience joined in so enthusiastically and offered little gifts of possibilities for the stories.

Talking to one of the Directors afterward, I mentioned these interview questions and what she thought the value of stories and storytelling were to children. She includes daily reading and storytelling in her program and said, 'Stories and storytelling are so empowering for children. It gives them power over language and expression and communication.' (paraphrased)

I thought 'Yes! That puts it very clearly.'

Yes stories are fun and entertaining and thought provoking and provide a shared experience but, possibly most importantly, for children in particular, storytelling and stories are empowering.

That segues most opportunely into my answer for Q2 but more of that in the next post.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Value of Stories & the Irish Connection

What a day. Did a wonderful performance with some older prepreps at Chelmer-Graceville Community Kindergarten. The Director and the children were keen for me to do a story about space. One boy was Astronauting around the centre with a cardboard role 'laser gun' in one hand, a cardboard tube 'walkietalkie' in the other, and a cereal box 'Astronaut Backpack' stickytaped to his back.

This afternoon I was busy trying to sort out insurance bills, why do they all come at once, when I noticed an email from a student inviting me to take part in an 'interview via email' for her research project all about children and storytelling.

This was not the first time I have been asked to do so and I immediately recognised that really what I was being asked to do was to take part in a way that was convenient for the student but a 'bit of a type-a-thon' for me.

Well I suggested we meet and she could shout me a coffee and interview and tape my answers. Well and good but the reply I got back indicated my requester was in Ireland and I was in Australia and a cup of coffee would be a long way off so I though how can I get some good value out of this as well?

Here's my solution. I'll post Jill's questions here. Post my answers and invite comments.

Here's Jill's original email and questions for a start.

On 10/03/2008, at 3:33 AM, Jill Moore wrote:

• I am at present in my final year of study and carrying out my research project, I was wondering if you would be willing to answer some questions.
• I have outlined them below.
• I really love your work and would love to learn more.

1 What value do you think stories in general have for young children?
2 What specific storytelling strategy do you use and why?
3 How do you think the strategy works?
4 How do the specific children you work with react to this creative method of storytelling?
5 How does the strategy you use facilitate children undergoing new experiences?
6 Is there any other ways that new experiences can be mediated?
7 How does the strategy you use encourage children to talk about their feelings?
8 Would it be easy to use this strategy in any early year’s service?
9 What type of children/ age group would benefit from this strategy you use most?
10 Did you ever use any other storytelling methods?
11 What skills and qualities do you feel a storyteller or a person using this strategy needs to have?
12 Do you enjoy telling stories?
I would Really appreciate it if you got back to me on this.

Kind regards
Jill Moore

Answer 1
What value do you think stories in general have for young children?

Well, in general, it depends on the age of the children but, in one way, stories have the same value for children as they do for adults. Stories encode cultural, family and personal information in a form that is memorable, fun, creative, multilayered, entertaining, impactful and highly accessible. All that is as true for adults as it is for children. Stories help us to belong. 'I am one of the people that know's and enjoys the story called ...'

Another important thing about stories is that even though they encode information but they don't 'shorthand it ' or 'text it'. A story is a whole story whether it is short or long because it makes use of the narrative structure - the way of recognising and telling a story all around the world. We know when a story has ended or not.

Probably one of the things about stories and children is that generally speaking they haven't forgotten how to have fun and they expect their stories to be fun. That's not to say they can't appreciate a story that is serious - they can. They would just prefer their stories to be fun and playful.

(More answers in subsequent posts.)