Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters – In the Spirit of Christmas 2

Stars are the focus of this week’s blog – not the celebrity sort but the ones in the  sky. They are especially worthy of attention at this time of the year. The bright star in the East plays a vital part in the story of Jesus for those with Christian beliefs. And for all those who bother to look up in the sky on clear nights, I’m sure you’ll agree the stars look especially bright in contrast with December’s darkness. The longer I look up at them, the more they seem to draw me upwards into the sky to join them. They expand my sense of time and space.

Star Apple

The Star in the Apple is a much-told tale. I first heard it from my storyteller friend, Sally Tonge, and I loved it. You may know it already. It gets told and written in all kinds of ways with all kinds of different details. Just look it up on the Internet and you’ll see some significantly differing versions. But what I love most is that everyone’s version depends on the same central fact – so amazing to children and adults who never knew it before – that if you cut an apple across the middle, you’ll find it has a star inside.

Star Apple is the name I give the story and in the Christmas version I’m giving below, I’m specifically linking it to the days before Christmas. I think it’s a great story for telling at home in the family context. But it’s equally good for telling to children in school or nursery settings. If you already know it, let me encourage you to retrieve it from your memory bank for telling at this time of the year. If it’s new to you, let me assure you that it’s not hard to remember – and you’ll have some props to help.

Star Apple ~ the story

Once there was a little boy who was very excited in the days before Christmas. Was it going to snow? Would Father Christmas come to his house? What would Father Christmas bring?

The little boy was so excited, he didn’t know what to do. ‘What shall I do?’ he kept asking. But the Christmas decorations were already up. He no longer wanted to play with his favourite toys and he’d already tidied his room as his mother had suggested. ‘What shall I do?’ he asked again.

That’s when his mother said something weird. ‘Why don’t you look round the house and the garden and see if you can find a little green house with no windows that has a chimney on top and a star inside?’

‘UH?’ The little boy was mystified. He looked round the house. He looked round the garden. Nowhere at all could he find a little green house with no windows but a chimney on top and a star inside. ‘Mum,’ the boy said, ‘I can’t find it.’

Then his mother suggested he call on his friend next door. The two of them together could go along the street and see if they could find it. So that’s what the little boy did. He and his friend looked at all the houses. Some of them had stars in their windows. But that was part of the problem – all of the houses had windows. Besides, they all had chimneys and none had gone green.

The little boy went back home with his friend. ‘Mum,’ he said, ‘we didn’t find it.’

‘Well, let me show you,’ said his mother, reaching her hand into the fruit bowl on the table and taking out a green apple.

‘See,’ she said. ‘here’s a little green house. And look,’ she said, wiggling the stalk on the top, ‘this little green house has a chimney. But it hasn’t got any windows, has it?’

‘No,’ the boys said very quietly. ‘But nor has it got a star.’

‘Well, we’ll just look inside and see,’ the little boy’s mother replied as she picked up a knife and cut the apple right across the middle. When she opened it up, the little boy and his friend saw that, inside,  it had a beautiful star.

‘And now,’ said the mother, ‘you can eat the apple, half each.’

‘And can we do the story again every day until Christmas?’

‘Yes,’ said the mother, ‘we can. And tonight when it’s dark we’ll go out on the street and see if we can see the stars in the sky.’’

Essential props

To tell this story, you need a green apple with a visible stem on the top and a knife with which to cut the apple. You could keep your props under cover until the appropriate moment. Or intrigue your audience, whoever it is, by putting them out on display at the start.

When you cut the apple, cut it across the middle, not downwards in the usual way. You will see a star shape on either side (there may be pips which you can remove) and when everyone has admired it, you can cut pieces of apple for your audience to eat.

Changing the details

What about putting a girl in the story? And whether it’s a boy or a girl, what about giving him or her a name? What about giving them the same name as your child?

And what about extending your account of things the child in the story might do to try and deal with being too excited? In some tellings I’ve heard of this story, the child keeps asking and the mother keeps suggesting. Think of the many different things (sometimes very boring!) that Mums (or Dads) are inclined to suggest.

Maybe you’ve got a teenager at home? What would a Mum or Dad have suggested to the teenager to do?

Activities to follow the story

Whether at home or in school, there are plenty of activities to do that relate to the story.

1. Make stars

The stars I’ve photographed for this blog are from my large collection of stars that have been decorated over the years by children in different schools and in the Star Story sessions I used to give at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

2. Sing a song

What about finding or making up a song to go with the story? Twinkle twinkle little star for small children? Or how about this song about magic fruit that I made up for a session one day? Of course, the song allows you to go on and on … a magic pear, a magic banana, a magic satsuma…

In the fruit bowl on the table

There’s a magic apple, there’s a magic apple.

In the fruit bowl on the table

There’s a magic apple,

I wonder what its magic can be!

3. Make up some Magic Star stories

Start with the idea of a little boy or girl who looks out of their bedroom window and sees a magic star in the sky.

Go on to describe the magic star shooting down to the child’s window-sill and coming into the bedroom. What does it look like when it’s coming down to earth? What does it look like when it’s inside?

Tell how the child knows it’s a magic star and describe where the child decides to keep it.

Think what kind of special magic that star is able to do!

4. Look out other Star Stories

Tap in Star in the Apple on Google and you’ll find other versions of the story above. Some take a completely different tack.

While you’re at it, how about looking up other star stories on the Internet too?

And don’t forget the many star stories you can find in books. Two of my favourites in picture-book form are:

The Orphan Boy – an African story by Tololwa M. Mollel

How the Seasons Came – a North American Indian story by Joanna Troughton

Links:

You can also read occasional blogs by me on the Early Learning HQ website.  Early Learning HQ offers hundreds of free downloadable foundation stage and key stage one teaching resources. It also has an extensive blog section with contributions from a wide range of early years professionals, consultants and storytellers.

For details of the Society for Storytelling, click here.

Next week: In the Spirit of Christmas 3

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