Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘Little Bear On The Long Road’

Storytelling Starters ~ Good things

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Hooray!!! Now you can subscribe to my Blog. See below for what to do. What a pleasure this facility has now been sorted – all thanks to the ever-helpful Tim Howe. Comment, Warwick, Poems, Subscription – it’s been a week of good things.

Comment

Little Bear crop 2A comment from a reader always feels good to get. Jo had been enjoying my recent series on Getting Participation. She loves creating stories with children. She describes sitting with a piece of material and allowing the children to choose any object around the room. ‘We decide where we are, the material for example could be blue and shiny, maybe we are at the bottom of the deep dark blue sea. Each child takes a turn describing what their object may be: a cotton reel becomes a pirate ship, the pencil is the mast, the ship has sunk, the button becomes the treasure …’ And so, as Jo points out, they end up with their own story.

Warwick

On Wednesday evening, a hearteningly warm and engaged response came from the students on Hilary Minns’ excellent Storytelling Module at Warwick University. I’ve been going as guest storyteller to Hilary’s course for about ten years now. The students are all studying child development for a Foundation Degree. One of the stories I did with them was Little Bear on the Long Road. (The prop I always use for this story is on the right in a painting I made of him when I was in hospital four years ago.) On this visit, it was brilliant to meet the person responsible for setting up a similar course at Telford who had come along for the session.  I believe, and have always said so, that such courses should be available nation-wide. (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Giant Children

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

I’m currently reading a Welsh novel, Y Storïwr, by the journalist, broadcaster and author Jon Gower. Published in 2011, its title, translated, means The Storyteller and I’m fascinated. For one thing, the baby that’s born at the start of the book is so like the baby Taliesin in the ancient Welsh story I told at the London Welsh Centre as part of the Bloomsbury Festival just a couple of weeks ago. In the old Welsh legend, the little Taliesin is found inside a leather bag floating on the waters of a magical weir and he begins to speak almost as soon as he’s found. First he declares his name – and then, since he is destined to become a renowned Welsh poet, when he goes on speaking he naturally does so in the recognisable metres of Welsh poetry.

A Magical Future?

In Jon Gower’s novel, the baby that emerges to the working-class world of an extremely character-full South Wales village is born with the birthmark of a dragon. His future is obviously destined to become extraordinary and he is certainly surrounded by a cast of legend-like people. How will the baby turn out? I have few clues yet except that, on his first day in school, having already acquired through diligent research a quite phenomenal vocabulary and having already demonstrated a striking capacity for unusual speech, the little boy aged only four stands up when the teacher is going round her class asking children their names and tells a long, gripping story (in theory about an ancestor). For doing this – not altogether surprisingly – he earns the hatred of the other children.

What is going to happen to Gwydion, for that is what Jon Gower’s hero is called, he having been named because of his birth-mark after the magician figure in the Mabinogion?

I shall be finding out. Meantime, for some reason – perhaps the preternatural flash of intelligence, perhaps something about being associated with the giant figures of Welsh mythology – Jon Gower’s book has reminded me of an incident with an Early Years class of children in Pembroke which I think I’ve mentioned in this Blog before. It’s one of the pieces of evidence I would put into any dossier of evidence I assembled about the value of storytelling in education. Now I’ve written it up as one of the true-life tales I’ve recently been focusing on. I’ve called it – not surprisingly – Giant Children.

Giant Children

The morning was part of one of my storytelling training courses for Pembrokeshire teachers. I loved these courses. Each involved a small group of teachers coming together from different schools. The work was immediate, practical and engaging and – one of the things I liked most about it – it was always up to the teachers how they interpreted it and carried it on when they were back in their own classrooms. Another thing to be appreciated was that, luxuriously by current standards, we were able to meet on so many occasions, five half-day sessions over the course of a term. It was a brilliant way to embed the work and on each occasion of meeting, before and after going into the classroom, the teachers had time to share with me and each other what they were making of the stories and the telling.

This was one of the classroom sessions where the participating teachers would come with me into a classroom to observe me telling the day’s story to the particular class of children which had been selected as the focus for that particular course. It was a Reception-age class, so they were all young children of about four years of age, and now they were gathered on the carpet before me in the regular place we’d established for our storytelling. The visiting teachers had dotted themselves round the edges and I was sitting as usual on a low child-size chair, higher than the children but not so far above as if I’d been on an adult-size chair.

The story on this day’s occasion was one I always refer to as Little Bear on the Long Road. It’s a good one for this age-group and, whenever I tell it, I feel grateful to the person from whom I originally heard it. This was the wonderful Japanese storyteller, Kyoko Matsuoka, who told it to me on an occasion when we’d arranged to meet to talk about the work of Eileen Colwell, the pioneering English storyteller who’d been an inspiration to both her and me and, of course, to so many others.

So there we were in the British Library Tea-room, (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ Stories for Younger Children – No. 2

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Little Bear In The Snow

Here’s the story (as specially improvised for a snowy week):

Little Bear loved going out. One morning he woke up and looked out of the window and saw that everywhere was covered in snow.

Little Bear was very excited. He told his Mummy, ‘I’m going out.’ So he put on his boots, his hat and his gloves and off he went. (His Mummy watched him, of course.)

First he scrunched down the path leaving great big footprints in the snow. And when he got to the gate, he saw the long road in front of him all covered with snow.

Little Bear loved going along the long road. So he went through the gate and started to run. First he scrunched his way to the hill. In the snow, it looked all white and shining. He couldn’t wait to get to the top. And when he did, do you know what he saw?

His own toboggan! Someone had left his toboggan on top of the hill. So Little Bear got on it and slid down the hill. WHEE-EE-EE!

At the bottom of the hill, he carried on stomping through the snow – SCRUNCH! SCRUNCH! SCRUNCH! – until he came to the river. He was excited to see that the river was all frozen over with ice. So do you know what he did? Little Bear slid across it – WHOOSH!

And when he came to the other side, he carried on SCRUNCH! SCRUNCH! – till he came to the end of the road. And when he looked down, do you know what he saw? (more…)