Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Grandpa Chris Catches Fish for Christmas

It's still November but, for kinder children, it's definitely Christmas.

I had fun today at Jamboree Community Kindergarten. I did some of my usual jokes to start off with and I slipped in one about Christmas already being over and that I was sorry that they had missed out.

It's strange doing the northern winter snow stories in subtropical Brisbane. They like it though. This time I did my version of the First Gift of Christmas.

After that was my 'The Possum and the Garbage Truck Driver." It's good. They get lots of laughs about the garbage truck driver being outwitted by a possum and then by the kookaburra. Of course it finishes in a spirit of cooperation and friendship so that's appropriate for Christmas.

I had planned to do 'Grandpa Chris' which starts with the song 'Grandpa Chris catches fish to give to all his friends' and goes on to say what the other grandpa's are doing for the community in their active retirement. It didn't quite feel right for this group though.

I wanted something that involved Christmas and the children more so we created a new Grandpa Chris story called 'Grandpa Chris saves Santa Clause'. Some children get to help as well of course. It worked well and it definitely much more local coastal Australian summer in feel. (Santa's sleigh crash landed in a mangrove.)


'Ho, Ho, Ho. Deck the halls with lots of mangroves'
(photo Tatters; on Flickr)

I'm looking forward to retelling it over the next couple of weeks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giant With No Heart Rocks Terrace

Had the pleasure of performing the folktale 'Giant With No Heart' to approximately 900 Terrace students today for their End of Year Liturgy service.

Connor Finn was looking for a good story that would stimulate some thoughts about appropriate student behaviour over the Christmas holidays and that would fit in with the Christmas message. I gave him the choice of 6 or 7 folktales that  I thought would work with boys of that age group and he picked the one I thought would be best.

'Giant With No Heart' is both a dramatic and interesting story from northern Europe. It basically talks about how men get to be 'giants with no heart' and what to do about it.

I asked for some music students to play drums and cymbal to add some more atmosphere to the story and we went for it.

It worked. It's great to have 900 teenagers interested, involved and challenged. Hearing their energy as they debated how the story should end was amazing. Would the oldest brother win as he went for revenge or would the youngest brother win as pleaded for his friend? The story hung in the balance for some time.

Our percussionists were spot on. Loved the orchestral base drum but I couldn't talk them into loading it into my van after the show.

It was a really good try out for the Queensland Storytelling Guild's 70w amplifier system as well. It filled the hall quite well. I was able to play a mp3 sound effects recording straight from a memory stick.

One little moment afterwards was when I was just driving out of the school grounds. One of the students looked up and recognised me. It was good to see his smile.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Use of Stories Around the World

I keep on being pleasantly surprised by the number of people making use of stories in all sorts of creative ways.

I just replied to an email from Liz Gregory, a teacher in Rugby in the UK, seeking my permission to use my version of the traditional folktale 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin.'

She wants to 'create a compact unit of work as part of a mathematical investigation with cross-curricular ICT, music, environmental science and literacy links'. She pointed me towards an NRich maths activity based on the story. Here's the link - http://nrich.maths.org/1996

This activity is based around the number of people and rat legs that might exist in the story but there are so many other possibilities as well. The Piped Piper has so much potential to be used as a modern day parable around sustainability as well. That was one of the things I had in mind when I did my version of it. I look forward to seeing Liz's version.

Here are some 'rat plague' images:

The rat catchers, 1900

From a series of images showing the areas in Sydney affected by the outbreak of Bubonic Plague in 1900. Taken by Mr. John Degotardi, Jr., photographer from the Department of Public Works, the images depict the state of the houses and 'slum' buildings at the time of the outbreak and the cleansing and disinfecting operations which followed.
Professional Rat Catchers (in front is a pile of dead rats)
Dated: c. 17/07/1900
Digital ID: 12487_a021_a021000009

I like this one of  celesteh Charles Hutchins of some grafitti in Killarney.


and here's the Pied Piper in Hamelin (photo by By sophiea sophie)