Teacher's Notes : Making Stories
An Ocean of Stories
The following seven activities are created especially for classroom teachers who are in the countries where the SEED project has taken root. Each activity is designed to engage children in creative writing that is delightful as well as meaningful. We will be making a different kind of paintings—pictures in words —images, ideas, experiences and imagined journeys. Each writing exercise can be done on its own or sequentially following the previous one. Some of the benefits of these processes are: to bring children together so they can discover more about themselves and each other; they can enjoy different cultures and ways of viewing the world; and they can dive into thinking about water and its value in their lives and dreams and bodies. These are also excellent activities to increase communication, reflection, thinking skills, focus, and writing skill, Sharing tales from around the world, and reading each other’s stories will help us promote tolerance as we increase a love for the magic of language, image and story.
The topic and focus is water. Before any writing, a discussion can be had about the nature of water and how almost everything, including the earth and our bodies, is actually made up mostly of water.
About the Activities
All writers know that a story is rarely full born in one session. Mostly a tale begins with an image or a memory. Sometimes a writer finds a start or an end and then days later thinks up the middle The reflection, research, explorations, and preparation suggested allow the young creator to mirror that way of making a story which brings it to life organically piece by piece. Each page will give the writer a series of questions and exercises, that conjure up ideas that make the creating of a tale truly fun. No one need fail in this activity . And, all stories dreamed up are deemed interesting.
Every writing activity ends with a way to make a group book, create a storytelling event or share the final narratives in a joyful ceremony of sharing.
The 31 stories are traditional tales to inspire, captivate and motivate the reader. Reading a story in your own language from your own country or another can become part of the preparation.
After each individual story is a "droplet"—an added exercise using the structure or ideas in the chosen tales as a basis of creating one’s own tale. These stories would be great to share with others who read the tale as well. At the end of each page is an invitation to share the stories created, whether they are in the form of works, paintings or illustrations.
- Read the story aloud
- Talk together about what you liked about the story
- Someone reads the questions or suggestions following the tale called DROPLETS and then silently everyone thinks about the question
- Each person makes a list of ideas or images that come to mind
- Take ten minutes and everyone writes their own story
- Divide into pairs or groups of three and tell each other what you just wrote.
- Group listeners can ask questions and make suggestions so the writer can correct or change their story, just like an editor does for a writer. If there are three in the group, then there will be three reader/writers and two editors. Take chances until everyone has their chance to be heard.
Water is everywhere. It is impossible to live without water. Let’s begin right at home.
- Make a list of water in your life. From the moment you wake up tomorrow, until you go to bed, how many sources of water or kinds of water are in your daily life.
- Choose one of the images on your list: for example, a river you pass by, or a waterspout, tears, or a cup of tea. Describe the water and what is around it as best and in as much detail as you can.
- Write for five minutes without taking your pen off the page about that image of water. Why is it important? What do you think of it? You can write anything that comes to your mind. Describe the way if feels to you, what is might smell like, what you dream or imagine the water is thinking or feeling.
- Now, without really editing or thinking about it pretend that you turned into a smaller version of yourself or into a fish and went swimming in that water. Make up the most unusual pretend story of your adventure in the water.
- Take a partner and read your story to your partner. Your partner will read his or her story to you. Then switch and tell each other the other person’s story back to them. Each partner can ask their storyteller several questions about the journey.
- Return to your page and write your story. Make sure that the story ends with you returning from the journey and becoming yourself again.
- GROUP ACTIVITY: With a long piece of paper, everyone create a great ocean of waves and rivulets. Cut holes in the ocean picture and tuck in your stories.
#2. CULTURE CORNER INSPIRATION
- The teacher or the children, if possible, can read the cultural story in their own language. If the teacher speaks English, she or he can choose one or two other tales and translate for the class.
- Breaking into pairs, let each child tell their partner about the story … retelling it together.
- The teacher leads a conversation with the group about what they liked about the story. Choose one tale for the entire group if there is more than one that is being heard.
- Let each child close their eyes and imagine a "picture in their mind" of one image from the story, like a photograph in the imagination. Write down a description of that place and what is happening in that place.
- Pretend that there is a secret door in that place, which no one in the story knew about. Each child draw a picture and write down what their secret door looks like.
- In that secret door is some kind of water; a spring, a river, a glass or flask of water, a vast ocean, a tear drop, etc. Let each child decide what is there.
- Let each child choose an animal—any animal. Write it down on the top of a new page.
- Each child makes up a story about why the animal is guarding this source of water in this particular place.
- Read the stories to one another.
- Each child asks their parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, or an elder in their neighborhood or village. Ask if there were any interesting events that occurred when they were children in and around water: swimming, rain falls, droughts, drinking water, journey on water, etc.
- Each child brings that tale to class and retells.
- Each child tells about a special place, a place where there is water, where they would like to travel.
- Describe the place: river, lake, stream, pool, well, puddle, bowl, rainfall, dewdrop.
- Create a story about what would happen if there was no water at all and how would they bring the water back. Each child can have a journey to some magical person or place where rain or water is kept… to the moon, to an underwater palace, to a magic rock, anything.
- The shape of the story is about water:
- The loss of water
- The journey to bring back water
- The discovery of why the water was missing
- The way in which the water can be maintained in the future
Does anyone in your family have a traditional story that they heard when they were children? Almost any story, folktale, myth, legend, is fine. It would be great if the story had something to do with water. Reading more of the 31 tales is a good source of inspiration. They can actually take home stories for their grandparents to help them remember.
- How were the stories told when their grandparents were children? Who told the stories?
- How did it feel for their elders to hear stories?
Let each child invent two great supernatural deities who are the guardians of the waters of the world.
- What is the most powerful aspect of each character.
- How can this power be used for good in the world.
- If there is a problem, how can that same power be used to cause difficulties
- What kind of gifts can be given to these deities to make them happy.
- Where do they live.
Can each child write down a dream that they have had in their own lives in which there was water?
Can you make up a dream that one of the Gods or Goddesses had in which they were in the dream and received a gift that had to do with the power to keep water in the world?
An Ocean of Stories © Copyright 2006 Laura Simms