Thursday, August 07, 2008

A 'Young and Active' Challenge

Two show day and both of them were at two of my regular kindergartens with younger pre-preps. At the second of the centres, the staff were clearly a bit concerned that I would not be able to entertain the children well enough so that they would sit for 45 minutes. They were proposing two stories inside and a third outside as a roving story.

Now, although I was interested in the possibility, I wasn't too keen for a number of reasons. One is that outside shows have a completely different sound projection challenge and I am so used to telling inside. A second reason is that an inside show means that it is reasonably straight forward setting up and maintaining a structure useful for storytelling. Once you go outside or are moving around, you become more a people movement manager than a storyteller. A third reason is that my public liability insurance is quite vague about my coverage when performing outside and I don't really like to stretch it that much.

Really though, I was slightly miffed that they thought I couldn't entertain young children for 45 minutes at a stretch. After all, I've been doing just that for years.

I did think to ask if they had any special needs children and it turned out they did. Their needs were undiagnosed but did relate to short attention span and wanting to be physical. Well forewarned I took up the challenge and I'm glad I did. The 'special needs' children were pretty easy to spot and between my storytelling and the care and support of the staff. Every single child stayed for the whole 45 minutes and enjoyed the show.

I told 'The Little Blue Train Goes to the Beach' one of my settling down stories, 'The Old Man and the Drum' with lots of clapping and animal noises and 'The Wheels On the Bus' which starts off with the familiar song and improvises an ending with the audience that usually involves a grandpa that snores on the bus but catches the bank robber. I told with one eye and ear on the 'special needs' children and one on the general energy level of the whole group. My aim was to make sure that they had fun, got to be physical with out going over the top or changing the story and had a good variety of quite calm times and noisy expressive ones.

When I left the staff were happy with the result and so were the kids - mission accomplished.

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