National Storytelling Week 2011

With last week being the 11th Annual National Storytelling week, schools and individuals all around the UK were celebrating with various different activities. The special event is aimed at the young and the old and has been designed to awaken the imagination and inspire creativity amongst everyone involved.

We have spoken to a number of people who were involved with National Storytelling Week 2011 so here we share their experiences with you.

Mike O’Connor
The first person we spoke to about their contribution to National Storytelling week is Mike O’Connor, a highly experienced performer and workshop leader.

Mike’s stories range from 5 minute fireside tales to enticing epics and have seen him travel the world from Wales and Southern Africa all the way to Singapore and the Bahamas. With many recordings, radio broadcasts and freelance pieces for journals and popular magazines, it’s hardly surprising that Mike has been awarded an OBE and has been made a bard of the Gorsedd of Cornwall which is where he now resides.
For National Storytelling Week Mike spoke to an audience at the Little Theatre in Padstow to tell them about the tradition of oral storytelling. Attendees have been speaking highly of the event. One audience member commented;

“Last night in Padstow something very special, magical and wonderful took place. The words and music took us to that place between worlds where legends live and the real and unreal are blended to paint remarkable pictures in the mind”.

St Alphege CofE Infant and Nursery School and St Alphege CofE Junior School
Also keen to participate in National Storytelling Week was St Alphege Church of England Infant and Nursery School. With a wide range of activities taking place, there was plenty going on which meant that all pupils had the opportunity to get involved.

A wide range of storytellers which included teachers from other schools, retired headteachers, parents, the local vicar and English and Drama students from local universities all visited the school throughout the week to tell the children stories. These ranged from traditional tales, stories from other cultures, interactive stories, rhythm and rhyme, religious stories, fables and stories from some of the children’s favourite authors.

Year 2 children wrote their own stories and shared them with the Reception children during story-time. They also organised a Bring and Buy Book day for the whole school. Each child brought in a book and 50 pence so they could donate their book and purchase a different one for their 50 pence.

Year 3 pupils had a session involving four A2 Level Drama students re-enacting their favourite stories which included ‘A Walk in the Jungle’. The children thoroughly enjoyed the session and responded well to the stories.

The school librarian, who is an expert storyteller, joined in with the fun and retold the story of ‘Five Tins on Aunt Mabel’s Table’ which again, was thoroughly enjoyed by all the pupils in year 4.

The Nursery class pupils topped off the event with a story character fashion show. The children came to school dressed as their favourite character and in turn the teachers and staff came in dressed as elves and told the children ‘their’ story of The Elves and the Shoemaker.

Overall, National Storytelling Week at St Alphege School was a massive success and everyone involved thoroughly enjoyed the event.

Vanessa Woolf

vanessa pic
London based storyteller, Vanessa Woolf tells traditional and non traditional tales to audiences of all ages. For National Storytelling week she visited a small, local independent school where stories were told to the Nursery and Reception class as well as to years 1 – 3. This was a very special event for the school which consists of only 50 pupils and the children appreciated it so much that chants of “Thank you for coming to our school to tell us stories” could be heard afterwards.

The school has truly got into the spirit of storytelling as all the pupils now have reading buddies so they can read each other stories.

Louise Coigley

louise imageLouise Coigley is an independent Speech and Language Therapist and in 2009 she was in the top 5 Hitlist of children’s shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

To celebrate National Storytelling Week, Louise paid homage to Chinese New Year by telling the Chinese legend ‘The Eyes of the Dragon’ to children in Primary, Infant and Junior Schools across Wokingham, Berkshire. Children with hearing impairments, autism and Down’s Syndrome took part with mainstream children to create an atmosphere that teacher’s described as ‘stunning’ and ‘fabulous’.

Her method, Lis’n Tell: Live Inclusive Storytelling, has an international reputation. Through Lis’n Tell, children of different abilities, whether they are specially gifted or have additional needs, can take part in a story together creating a very special spontaneous community. Louise regularly travels up and down the UK and has been invited to work in Nova Scotia, Singapore, Australia and Greece. Many thousands of teachers, parents, therapists and children have attended her dynamic and imaginative workshops.

Lis’n Tell has been described by teachers as a “bridge to literacy” and many of the children and teachers didn’t want her to stop telling her stories at the end of the day.

With so many different activities taking place in the duration of the week, National Storytelling Week 2011 was a massive success and highlighted the importance of this activity. If you or your school did something for the event then feel free to let us know by commenting under this blog as we’d love to hear your stories.

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