Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Best story ever (for young ones)

DSCN5231For any storyteller, it’s a heartening moment when you learn that a story you’ve told has succeeded in engaging a child. It’s even better when the story has become part of a kind of chain. You told it to a group of adults and it’s one of them that passed it on to the child concerned.

This week I had one such moment when I received the following message from Hilary Minns at Warwick University. Hilary has for many years been running a module on Stories and Storytelling for people pursuing Early Childhood studies. The story she refers to is one I’ve told there a number of times.

Hilary’s message:

A little story: one of my students has a group of seven children with special learning needs. Among them is a 6 year old autistic boy who, she says, dislikes stories intensely and who wriggles and squirms around at storytime. But she told him Mrs Wiggle and Mrs Waggle, complete with actions, and he was transfixed. He then asked her to make the characters into Mr Wiggle and Mr Waggle and said they had to change houses. At break time she observed this boy retelling the story to a friend!

 Best ever:

DSCN5232I have to say that over the years, Mrs Wiggle and Mrs Waggle has been the best story in my experience for involving all kinds of young children and also for teaching to adults who want to start telling stories to that age group. Teachers, parents, students, nursery nurses – the actions make it both easy to learn and fun to tell. And the story can be infinitely varied.

So this week, below, I’m giving you  Mrs Wiggle and Mrs Waggle much as I originally heard it. But before I do, let me recount another heartening moment from a Pembrokeshire school. After telling the story, I’d invited children ( invite works better than command) to go off in twos or threes, or on their own if they liked, to make a picture of the story.

Quite soon, I started going round to see what the children were doing and offer help if needed. In this process, I came to one boy who was working on his own and had drawn about nine hills (that’s normal!). Most of them he’d coloured green on the top. Three of them had white on the top. ‘You see,’ he said, ‘it’s been snowing. And where it’s green is where the snow has melted. Where it’s white, the snow is still there.’

As if that wasn’t lovely enough, I afterwards learned from members of staff that this little boy had severe learning difficulties and hardly ever spoke, let alone so creatively. His drawing was excellent too!

 A traditional finger-story: Mrs Wiggle and Mrs Waggle

DSCN5280 Here’s Mrs Wiggle. (Hold up your right thumb and waggle it.)

Mrs Wiggle lives in a house. Look, she’s opening the door. (Stretch out your fingers.)

She’s going inside. She’s closing the door. (Bend your thumb and wrap your fingers round it.)

Mrs Wiggle has got a very good friend – Mrs Waggle. (Hold up your left thumb and wiggle it.)

Mrs Waggle  lives in a house. Look, she’s opening the door. She’s going inside. She’s closing the door. (Repeat actions from above.)

One day, Mrs Wiggle woke up in the morning and decided to go and see her friend. She got ready, then opened the door, went out of the house and closed the door. Then she set off.
(Use actions as appropriate.)

Up the hill and down the hill, up the hill and down the hill, up the hill and down the hill. (Use your right thumb to go up and down as if up and over three hills.)

In the end, Mrs Wiggle came to her friend’s. When she got there, she knocked on the door. (Knock, knock.) No reply. She knocked again. (Same.) No reply. She called through the letter-box. (Mimic this.) ‘Mrs Waggle!’ No reply. So Mrs Wiggle went home.

Up the hill and down the hill, up the hill and down the hill, up the hill and down the hill, until she got to her house. She opened the door, went inside, closed the door and had a nice cup of tea. (Repeat all actions as necessary and add actions for having a cup of tea.)

The next day, Mrs Waggle woke up in the morning and decided to go and see her friend. (Repeat words and actions as in the case of Mrs Wiggle but now about Mrs Waggle, so with the opposite thumb and hand.)

DSCN5284The next day, Mrs Wiggle and Mrs Waggle both woke up at the same time and both of them decided to go and see their friend. (Repeat all the actions as above until the two of them meet on the top of the middle hill.)

They met on the top of the middle hill. ‘Hello, hello. Fancy seeing you here. I was just coming to see you. Kiss, kiss, big hug.’ (More suitable actions and tones of voice.)

Then Mrs Wiggle and Mrs Waggle had a long chat (use your hands ) until it was time for them to go back home. ‘Bye, bye.’ ‘Bye bye.’ (Wave, hug.)

So off they went. Down the hill and up the hill and down the hill until the two of them got home. Then they each went inside and had a nice cup of tea. After that, each of them went off to bed. But before they went to sleep, each of them said, ‘Isn’t it nice to have a friend?’ (Again, actions and tones of voice as appropriate.)

The End

PS: The photos were taken in one of the Pembrokeshire schools where we’ve worked on Mrs Wiggle and Mrs Waggle.


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One Response to “Storytelling Starters ~ Best story ever (for young ones)”

  1. Swati Says:

    That was an amazing blog. The story is lovely and the two experiences you have accounted are very heart warming. I will surely try this story with my 6 year olds at storytime this week. Thank you Mary! It is really really nice to have you for a storyteller friend.

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