In the classroom

On Friday afternoon I went into the local school and performed four stories to two classes of 7 year old children. They receive 3 hours of English teaching a week and have been learning for one year. Below are extracts from the storytelling sessions. The children enjoyed the stories and demonstrated their English knowledge in various moments during the afternoon. During the storytelling they demonstrated listening comprehension and were able to produce key language. I look forward to receiving feedback from their class teacher.

Little Red Riding Hood

Stone Soup

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle

The Bremen Town Musicians

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November in the Biblioteca

The month came round very quickly and I was back in the library to do my second storytelling session. This time I told The Bremen Town Musicians. We first looked at some animals with flashcards and toys.

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The children happily made all the right animal noises however there is a difference between how an English dog barks; woof and a Catalan one; guau and it was a cock a doodle doo verses kirkiriki for the cockerel. The list goes on. I made some strange noises myself!

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After the story the children were busy colouring and filling in clock faces. Here is a picture from Aina.

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The following day we went walking in the mountains near our house and our guide pointed out ruins of a house where robbers had once lived. I told my son this must have been the house that the animals came to in The Bremen Town Musicians. If only I could have brought all the children from the library out to see those ruins!

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The other day while looking for stories about trees I found this one which has the same theme as The Bremen Town Musicians, of animals all helping and working together. The Story of Four Harmonious Friends it’s from Bhutan. It’s a story which perfectly demonstrates harmony, interdependence, co-operation and friendship between four animals who become close friends. I’m looking forward to telling it.

 

 

Autumn Colours

look_low_resolution21When I was planning my art work for the storytelling project I was very certain that I wanted a tree to feature in the picture and Pedro Rodriguez has drawn a beautiful illustration with children sitting under the tree and fairy tale folk sitting in the tree both listening to the storyteller. Since moving out to Sant Pol in 2001 walking has become a great pastime of mine and the countryside where I walk a great inspiration.

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As a family we have been walking since September 2007. We walk with a group which organises guided walks in our local national park, Parc del Montnegre i el Corredor. It’s a hobby which we all love and we look forward to our weekends with an added enthusiasm. Each and every walk is completely unique and I am constantly surprised at the end of the walk of what we have done or seen. I also love the moments I have, where my mind wanders and  I think about all the folk and fairy tales that have their roots in the forest.

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This autumn Natura and ADF, two other groups, which are involved in rambling and the environment, were running a course on identifying trees. We thought it would be a great opportunity to further our arboreal knowledge and visit other national parks in our region so we signed up. We went out in 4×4 on three spectacular days to Parc Natural del Cadí-Moixerò, Parc del Castell de Montesquiu and Parc del Montnegre i el Corredor. We had a great time, the forest was particularly beautiful with its changing colours and hopefully now we can identify the beech tree from the birch and the ash from the alder.

autumn-colours 

Here are two great websites; The Spirit of Trees is a resource for therapists, educators, environmentalists, storytellers and tree lovers. You will find here an abundance of resources, in particular a varied collection of multicultural folktales and myths. Featured is an Estonian folktale Mikku and the Trees retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, which introduces children to the different trees of the forest and environmental issues.

Trees, mystical World Wide Web, offers an a to z tree mythology and an explanation of where the expression “touch wood” comes from and talks about the world tree know amongst Scandinavian nations as the “Ash Yggdrasil”.

 

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All the photos taken on this blog were taken by myself in the national parks mentioned above.

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot!

It’s been a long time since I celebrated Guy Fawkes Night as I’ve lived in Spain for thirteen years but tonight I enjoyed telling my son all about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. It’s a very exciting story where the conspirators make a deadly plan, a dramatic escape but come to a gruesome end. The Gunpowder, Treason and Plot website makes an excellent resource for telling this historical story.

Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night is celebrated annually on 5th November. It commemorates the Gunpowder Plot, which was the conspiracy of English Roman Catholics to blow up Parliament and James I, king of England.

James I of England

Guy Fawkes a British soldier and his conspirators rented a cellar under the House of Lords and stored 36 barrels of gunpowder. But the plot was discovered and Fawkes was arrested. Tried and found guilt he was executed opposite the Parliament building. The conspirators

Preparations for Bonfire Night celebrations include making a dummy of Guy Fawkes, which is called “the Guy”. Some children even keep up an old tradition of walking in the streets, carrying “the Guy” and beg passersby for “a penny for the Guy.” On the night itself, Guy is placed on top of the bonfire, which is then set alight; and firework displays fill the sky. 

Penny for the guy

Bonfire Night is not only celebrated in Britain. The tradition crossed the oceans and established itself in the British colonies during the centuries. Today, November 5th bonfires still light up in far out places like New Zealand and Newfoundland in Canada. guy-fawkes-effigy1

The events of 1605 are also remembered in a nursery rhyme.

 

Remember, remember the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

 

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot website from the Parliamentary Archives

 

This website is packed with archival material – documents, journals, engravings, paintings and more, making it the ideal basis for historical study. Researched and written by historical and educational experts, the material is trustworthy and authoritative. The website is structured around a set of playing cards from the late 1600s. Their beautiful illustrations tell the whole story, from the plotters’ huddle in an inn to the firework displays of the present day.

Download the playing cards to use as a basis for sequencing activities, storytelling, writing or artwork.

 

 

Halloween in Sant Pol (Barcelona, Spain) 2008

 

 

I remember as a child on Halloween, imagining witches flying through the night, and as I celebrated my son’s first Halloween, I became one of those witches! It was a perfect night, with a high swirling wind, blowing through the trees and the crashing of the waves on the beach. (Thankfully it had stopped raining, which had been my son’s concern for most of the day) We quickly got changed into our disfraces; Witch and Skeleton as my husband helped with last minute make-up.

 

We rushed down to my friend Sam’s bookshop “Liliput Books” in Sant Pol de Mar, where already some children had gathered to hear some spooky tales and then go trick or treating.

    

To break the ice and get us in the mood for some scary tales we first sang the Five Little Ghosties gracias a Dianne de Las Casas which Elliot (Skeleton) and Abi (Vampiress) had learnt a few days before.

 

Then I began the spooky tales, I asked Ines to help translate them.

 

I told The Viper adapted by Dianne de Las Casas,

Big Hairy Toe retold by S.E. Schlosser

and The Teeny Tiny Woman as heard by Donna Washington on The Art of Storytelling with Children.

 

The tandem telling worked well and the younger children’s eyes grew bigger as the older ones gasped in disbelief. We finished off by shouting TRICK or TREAT and they all set off (with the papas) to do exactly that.

 

Meanwhile I got on my broomstick and flew off to my friend Chloe’s house which was to be the final destination of the trick or treaters. The house being the star of the night, as it is down a long un-lit driveway. The children arrived running and screaming down the drive, to more goodies inside and a round of Chinese whispers.

 

My son’s first Halloween and his only complaint was that it didn’t last long enough!

 

Big thanks to Dianne de Las Casas, S.E. Schlosser and Donna Washington for their stories, to Ines and Tallulah for their translation, to Sam and Chloe for opening up their homes, to the papas who accompanied the children and Marc for these wonderful photos.

 

Happy Halloween!