Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Make it!

It’s summer-time and time for fun. Last week it was The Flea’s Adventure. This week, it’s The Captain’s T-shirt, another ‘doing’ story that children adore and for which I have to thank brilliant storyteller, Sally Tonge, who first showed me how to do it. Plus, thanks to another great storyteller, Karen Tovell, today’s delights include The Magic Jumping Flea Trick, an excellent device to intrigue and enrapture children which she sent in during the week in response to last week’s story. 

Captain's TshirtThe Captain’s T-shirt

the story you’re going to tell:

A sea-captain retires, wins the lottery and builds a boat to sail to America. On the way, there’s a terrible storm. His boat crashes against rocks. The front end of the boat is damaged. The storm continues, the boat crashes again. The back end of the boat is damaged. There’s nothing to be done, the boat sinks. The top of the mast breaks off, the boat is lost. The captain never reaches shore and when divers are sent out to see if they can find any remains, they find only one thing lying on the sea-bed. What is it? It’s the captain’s T-shirt.

what you need:

Just one piece of plain white A4 paper. 

what to do with the paper as you tell the story

Ships 1As you begin the story, place that white sheet of paper in front of you, width-wise, and as you describe the captain’s boat,  turn it into a boat as in the picture on the left. 

To do this, simply fold  in the top-right and top-left corner edges of the paper so they meet in the middle of the paper. Firm the creases.

Next, fold up the bottom edge.

Simple – there’s  your boat. Make it tilt up and down as it crosses the sea.

Ships 2Now comes the storm and here of course there must be sound effects with great participation from your audience, be it one child or many. As the storm increases and waves roar, tip it wildly up and down.

Then comes the terrible moment when the boat crashes against rocks. As it does, roughly tear off the front bit of your paper boat.

As the boat crashes again, do the same with the back bit and as the boat starts to sink, turn it down towards the floor. 

Ships 3When the top of the mast shatters,  lift up the paper quickly and tear off a piece from the top section.  Here, though, be  careful: make the tear slightly curvy – it’s going to form the neckline of the T-shirt.

Finally, throw your paper back  onto the floor.  Disaster! Tears are called for. 

Now there’s a bit of palaver as you talk about the captain not ever turning up ashore again. Finally as you start describing the divers and talk about what they  find when they come to search, all you have to do is pick up your paper and unfold it.

Hey presto! It’s the captain’s T-shirt!

Captain's Tshirtafter you’ve done the story:

Of course, as long as you have more pieces of paper for your listener(s) to use, they can enjoy retelling the story themselves.

But what I’m sure they’ll want to do first is decorate the captain’s T-shirt. So please have some felt-tips or crayons to hand.

Good luck with the story  – I can assure you that children love it. It’s fun.

 Fun – just like Karen’s Magic Jumping Flea Trick which comes next.

The Magic Jumping Flea Trick

what you need:

As well as an empty matchbox, a small coin (or something similar) and two other empty boxes – either matchboxes too or two prettily decorated boxes if that’s what you prefer.  You also are going to need to be wearing a top with sleeves.

how to prepare:

Take the empty matchbox, put inside it your coin so the box will make the rattling noise that your audience is going to hear, then tape the box onto your lower arm underneath your sleeve.

how to proceed:

Put your two other boxes in front of you on a table at a distance of ten inches apart from each other.

Now, as you start the trick, first say you have a Jumping Flea and, as you do so, pick up one of the two boxes in front of you with your ‘prepped’ arm and appear to rattle it. (Of course, what the audience hears is the noise of the coin or whatever else you’ve put in the matchbox hidden under your sleeve).

Next, with your other ‘unprepped’ arm, pick up the other box and shake that, too – no sound emerges.

Now invite the audience to say a magic word or rhyme or to count up to a certain number to make the flea jump from one container to the other. When this has happened, using your ‘prepped’ arm, pick up the the box that was apparently empty before and that now the flea has jumped into. Shake it about – and, magic, we can now hear the sound of Freddie the Flea (or Flossie the Flea or whatever you’ve decided) in that very box! As extra proof that the flea has jumped, use your ‘unprepped’ arm to shake the other box in order to show that it is now empty. No sound emerges. The flea has jumped!

Of course, says Karen, you can have the flea jump back and forth as many times as you and the children wish. What a marvellous trick – and many thanks to you, Karen, for so generously sharing it with me and this Blog.

Next week – who knows? Meantime, have fun.




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