December in the Library

On Saturday I was back in the library with my storytelling. I told Stone Soup using the beautiful illustrated version retold by Heather Forest.

51xe0h0r3gl__sl500_aa240_First we looked at different foods using flashcards and decided what would make a delicious soup. Some children thought ice-cream soup would be nice. Then I got the children to choose a vegetable from the sack and they practiced saying “I’ve got a potato” “I’ve got a carrot” etc. I told them that in the story there would be a moment when they would have to participate which got them excited. It took them a while to settle down and then I told them the story. They enjoyed the moment when they had to throw their vegetable into the pot and say their line. Afterwards we sang the Stone Soup song. It’s a song we use in the play adaptation of Stone Soup from LOOK OUT! Theatre Company.

Stone Soup by LOOK OUT! Theatre Company

We also used other real props; salt and pepper, a stone, a spoon and a pot to illustrate the song along with hand actions. As it’s nearly Christmas I took the opportunity to sing some Christmas songs with the children: We wish you a Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells both familiar tunes to which they all joined in. The children ended the session by drawing a carrot, an onion, a potato and some green beans which they all did enthusiastically.

Colorful vegetables and fruits

Stone Soup is published by August House and on it’s web, the book is animated and retold in a video. There are also some free downloadable lesson plans for 4 different levels, a page by page view of the book and some reviews. August House publishes many folktales retold by storytellers; on it’s storytelling page they have articles on; why storytelling is so important, August House and storytelling and links to storytelling resources. Also worth checking out is Heather Forest’s web sites; Story Arts, includes information about storytelling in the classroom, lesson plans and activities, a story library, a storytelling store, articles and links, a curriculum ideas exchange and the Story Arts Theatre where you can hear some of Heather Forest’s unique style of storytelling which blends original music, folk guitar, poetry, prose and the sung and spoken word. She has another site which features her many published books and she was also interviewed by Brother Wolf on The Art of Storytelling for Children which I found particularly inspiring, why not have a listen over the holidays?

On Sunday I went to a book presentation at my friend’s bookshop Liliput Books in Sant Pol de Mar.


The book is called Soledades and is by Neus Moscada and Chiara Fatti. It’s a lovely children’s book about being on your own and enjoying your own company. Thought provoking, it explores the five senses and the beautiful pencil drawings are complemented by the use of the colours, which stimulate the moods describe in the writing.


After Neus and Chiara had presented the illustrations and read Soledades, the children were invited to make there own illustrated book. They had to describe their favourite things which illustrated the five senses. I could hear my son’s brain working but he came up with; I like looking at shiny car wheels, I like listening to the sea, I like the smell of chocolate, I like the taste of tuna and I like the feel of my hair when it has just been cut.  You can see more of Chiara’s work on her web and Neus has a blog in Catalan which reviews picture books. It was a very enjoyable morning, thanks to the hosts Sam and Marc and I wish Neus and Chiara all the best with their book.


Jim and the Beanstalk

For the past two of weeks I’ve been editing a video. It took me back to my university days; I did a degree in Film and TV production. It’s amazing now how you can do it all on a computer. It’s a video which I’m going to use to promote storytelling and Look Out! Theatre Company’s Story Time in schools. It accompanies the Story Time web page and includes the storytelling sessions I did at the local primary school  with the 2nd and 4th years and one of the library sessions. (Some clips are included on my last blog) If you are a teacher interested in using storytelling and a storyteller in the classroom please contact me for a copy;




At the school one of the stories I told to the 4th years was Jim and the Beanstalk by Raymond Briggs. This a fractured fairy tale and I think they are great to use with children that have knowledge of the traditional fairy tale but might think that the traditional one is too childish for them. In this session we first looked at the plot of Jack in the Beanstalk, so we could review vocabulary. I used questions like; who does Jack live with? Are they rich or poor? ect. The students were able to recall the information in both English and in their first language and I wrote key vocabulary on the board. I also introduced the vocabulary that the students would need for the comprehension for Jim before I told the story.



I’ve posted an edited version of the recording on Storytelling for Children web page. After the students helped measure each other, they told me their results in English and I wrote them on the board. As a round up I made some comparisons for example: Julie is the tallest in the class. Paul has the biggest head. etc. The British Council has got two great worksheets for this activity; Measure Me! and lots more activities related to Jack and the Beanstalk. Another follow up activity is to get students to compare and contrast the two stories: tradition and fractured. Here is a review of Jim and the Beanstalk and a list of some more fractured tales.




I also want to mention a web page from a Catalan children’s programme called una mà de contes which in English translates as a handful of stories. My son and I have been fans of the programme for a few years now and the web page was announced on a children’s news programme a few days ago. Take a look; I think it’s brilliant and a great storytelling resource. There are stories from all over the world, they use all different types of illustrations and you can put the stories into English. These last two photos are from the series. I’m back in the library next week so until then happy storytelling!