My first stop during the first week of the summer holidays was for a summer camp in a Dublin boy's school. I was to perform for two groups, first 4-7 year olds and then 8-9 year olds.
For these sessions, I decided to go with my favourite theme these days; Dragons!
As these kids were a little older, I could ask more of them for interacting with the storytelling.
With their help, we named our characters, sent them on an adventure, the boys told jokes, sang songs and even speak “cúpla focail as Gaeilge”.
But the part for me that was the most mind-blowing, was when I divided them into groups, handed each a whiteboard and some “story prompts” (shown below) and they were asked to complete the story I had been telling.
Wow, the things they came up with, with little or no help from me or their teachers. They even stood in front of the of the class to deliver the story endings.
Imagination, language, sentence formation, creativity, confidence AND public speaking. Not only were the stories, so imaginative, they were also interesting, funny and relevant.
Storytelling in schools is an amazing dynamic for me. The children are in a learning environment, ready to absorb everything like sponges and I am always so delighted to witness what their teachers, so obviously nurture and encourage in them.
What amazing teachers that these little boys have, that they had even thought of something so special to arrange a storyteller to visit during their summer camp.
My next storytelling event for summer time, was in Tallaght library with the theme of "Space". As usual, I started with a story. Starting with an actual book is great for opening the imaginations of little ones.
The book was about two Russian dogs that were sent into space to see if it was safe for humans to travel there. This was an amazing story for the group of wide-eyed 4-8 year olds who listened, spell-bound.
This group came with their parents, and it was obvious that they were regularly read to. After 10 years in the business, I can usually tell which children have the active imaginations for storytelling.
To invite the children to create their own story with me, I used Space-themed prompts (pictured below). This time, Aliens, slime and storytelling dice, mixed with some actual magic and rainbows.
For these little ones, they got so involved that they were jumping out of their seats with ideas of new planets we could explore (ice-cream planet, cheese planet, rainbow planet...the list was endless) and again, their ideas were mind-blowing. I'd say they would still be there telling me all about their imagined planets, had I not started the bubble machine!
And I really hope that this post has made you realise how important storytelling is to nurture active imaginations, creativity and fun in the lives of children.
Happy children, grow up to be happy adults and lead to a happier world!