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21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Where do stories live?

For the rest of this year I am undertaking some research at Mairtown with the help and support of the rest of the teaching team, our whānau and community and of course the children themselves. This story began last year, when I was fortunate enough to win an eFellowship through Core Education. Of course those that know me, will be aware that the arts and creativity within early childhood education have always been a deep interest of mine and through my research, I feel that the next step for me is to look at the arts in early childhood through a variety of materials (for instance drama, paint, clay, photography, song, dance) observe how children engage playfully with them, and note whether these interactions can lead to children creating stories. Ultimately this research will be focused on whether these playful interactions and story making can impact positively on a child’s oral language development, overall literacy learning and agency (When children have a sense of agency they have the ability to make their own decisions and to control their own lives. Having a sense of agency is an important part of a strong sense of identity).

Currently I am at the very beginning of this research and in this blog I just wanted to share a snippet of what has been happening to date. So to begin, back in term 1, we as a team began some work with the children regarding their stories. Many children enthusiastically begun to explore this idea, creating their own stories using the different materials available to them. However, as I observed the children working, I noticed that the stories created mainly took the form of books which led me to wonder how we could expand the children’s definition of what stories are, what stories can be, and where stories originate from. To broaden their understanding of what a story is, as well as what it means to be a storyteller, I began to investigate alongside the children, the question Where do stories live?

Our conversations together have been thoughtful and very enlightening. At times there has been a fair amount of disagreement, but that has been respectfully discussed and talked through. When we first looked at this question, the answers from all the children were very similar:
Stories live in books, stories live in the library.

Children need time to talk about storytelling and story making and they need good listeners too (Stevens, 2012)

Then several days later as we looked together at maps and how they are able to tell people information, I asked another question ‘Could a map be considered a story?’ At first this question was met with a resounding ‘No’! but after a fair bit of pondering, some children began to say yes - although at this point the consensus was still very much ‘No’. It wasn’t until a few days later, with lots more discussion, and the important creation of their own maps, that each child decided that actually - yes - maps could be a story. Once the children considered a map as a story it appeared to open and broaden their minds and thinking of what stories are and where they live.

Pippa C: Pictures are stories.
Sienna: Clay can tell a story, and photographs, and books. Sculptures are stories and maps.
Wolfgang: Stories aren’t just in books, they come from the Lego as the Lego is magic.
Sienna: Stories can be real and they don’t have to be real…they come from your brain.

As time has passed and the children have been invited to share their stories as they work with different materials, the question ‘Where do stories live’ is certainly being answered in a very different way, and more and more stories are being created with whatever materials the children have to hand.

Storytelling and story making is a truly social experience as children and familiar adults collaborate together (Stevens, 2012)

I would like to share some of these beautiful stories with you – stories that come from children as they play with resources or create drawings.

This is a beautiful heart map created by Sienna.

This is my fairy heart map and this is its story. There are fairies, fairy doors and fairy dust – the stars are the fairy dust. There are 5 fairies, they are very special fairies, they do harvesting. They harvest acorns and nuts. Each fairy door belongs to just one fairy. There isn’t just one fairy, there’s a whole family of fairies’.

And this story on dinosaurs comes from Matthew’s drawing:

This Stenonychosaurus, he has long tail for fighting and he has spikes as he is very strong and he spikes holes, his spikes can eat him. He black and white. Velociraptor, he ate other dinosaurs, he ate this triceratops. He is green. Pentaceratops, he ate paper, the head is for fighting, he fight other dinosaurs, he is yellow and brown. Stegosaurus – he ate dinosaur name. He spikes for fighting the Pentaceratops, but he can’t fight it as Pentaceratops is too big and strong.

Kalani played with collage as he told me his detailed story.

Once there was two rocks and then a big big big big a small small thingy came and then a rock came and there was a storm and there was snakes and two snakes and the snakes wriggled each other and the storm blowed them away. And then they were gone forever and then a dancing rubber band came and then it fell over and then there was a big big big big big explosion from a volcano and it blowed everything away. And then a alien came and it hided under a rock and a family of eyes came and they just wobbled along and went on the rocks so people don’t know where the eyes are. Then some more snakes came and there was another storm and they blew away (this is a pretty long story) then there was a big big big big earthquake and then a small rock rolled around all over the place and then it crashed into the big boulder. Then a big big big long long long long long snakehippopotamus came. It’s a pretty funny story! The end.

And finally this beautiful story by Aurelia was created as she worked with clay to make a giraffe.

This is Sparkles.
She is pink cause she’s going to a party.
There is going to be lots of lollies.
There’s going to be lots of people.
There is going to be lots of dogs and cats,
and the dogs are going to be teasing the cats.
And that’s the end.

So to answer our own question – Where do stories live? – at the moment we know that stories live in sculptures, in maps, in collage, in books, in drawings and paintings, in movies,  in puppets, in dreams, in songs and in Lego. We certainly haven’t finished with this question yet, and I can’t wait to discover where else we may find some hidden stories.

Stories have the power to bring a community together
(Harris MacKay, 2013).

Ngā mihi nui,

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