Make your own story

The following activity will help children to understand that stories may have similar characters and storylines, but rolling a dice introduces random elements that encourage surprise twists and turns.

Click here for a printable blank template. Split the class into small groups and ask the children to fill in the Character, Setting and Problem columns. An example of this is shown below.

example

Once they have completed their story table they will need a dice to begin creating a stimulus for a new story.

Roll the dice to pick a character and then roll the dice a second time to select a location. Roll the dice a third time to choose a dilemma.

The dice can be rolled multiple times for many different characters, settings and problems if needed.

The story can then be continued and concluded by writing, drawing pictures or performing in a drama improvisation.

 

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Create your own story box

Here are some of the things teachers have done with their classes inspired by Mosaic

Maps created of ‘Adventure Island’

Storyboxes made by the children using templates.  The decorations are inspired by the magic storybox used in Mosaic.

   

The boxes were filled with story phrases made up and written by children.

These were done by Ms Barratt and class 3B from Chandos Primary School

 

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Story activities

All people and cultures in the world have their own special stories. These might be religious or based in folklore. These may tell a story of how the world came to be or the origins of man. These stories may be told to teach a moral code or to pass down the customs and history of a community. Telling stories helps us to make sense of the world around us. Stories help us to connect with and learn about other people.

In school telling and listening to stories help children to become active listeners and can develop language development. Telling stories can develop the imagination and help children order thoughts and ideas.

Stories can be told in many different ways. Children can hear them read from a book, they can be told from memory or made up by the teller. Stories can be acted out in drama or told in the form of a first person narrative or diary. When stories are acted out of pictures are created to illustrate a story children have the opportunity to understand more and to develop their visual literacy skills.

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Story circle

Sitting in a circle each person tells a short part of a story and then passes the story on to the next person to continue. An object like a story scarf or stick can be passed around to give status to the storyteller. If a child struggles with their section of the story the teacher can freeze the game and ask a colleague to help them out. If a section is forgotten or overlooked it can be added later by using a prefix like “meanwhile”.

This technique can be used to retell stories that children know well. It can show how many different variations there are of famous stories. Older children can make up their own stories using this idea.

This method of storytelling helps children to develop narrative skills, sequencing and encourages them to use descriptive language.

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Tableaux

In small groups, or as one big one, children can explore the significant moments of a story they know well. Each of these moments is presented as still picture. This is a moment in time which is presented as if it was a photograph. This can be a frozen moment taken from action, or it can be built as a fixed starting point for further work. The children, or teacher, can decide what the image should show. This way of telling a story can help to develop children’s confidence in becoming a character. It is a good way to focus on the significance of a person’s facial expression and body language. These images can be supported by a narrator or spoken or written captions. By putting images together a live comic strip can be made.

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Physicalising a story

The children become the characters and the objects in a story as the teacher tells it. This works well with both new and familiar stories. It encourages the children to listen carefully to the storyteller and interact spontaneously with their peers. The children sitting in the circle become the audience when they are not in the centre taking part. It is an active introduction to a story in which everyone is able to take part. This works well with large groups and it is a practical and speedy method of exploring a story.

All the children sit in a big circle. The teacher begins the story and each time a character or key object is mentioned she points at a child or several children who must come into the centre and become that element of the story. Once that section of the story is complete a word like “whoosh” can be used to clear the space. All the children in the centre return to their seats and the story continues.

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Stories in a box

Some of the significant events, places and characters from a story are represented by an object and placed in a box or tin. As the story is told the storyteller gets each object out as the moment or person or event it represents is mentioned.

The objects are then returned to the box as the story continues until the lid is replaced at the end of the story. These ‘props’ can help children to visualize the story, especially if it contains anything that may be unfamiliar to them. The children can also re-tell the story using the story box to support them in remembering significant things.
Multisensory items work very well – materials that have evocative smells or rich textures can be very useful. Objects that could be used to provide a key sound effect could also be included.
Children can create their own story boxes to tell stories they have created themselves.

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Creating Story Places in the Classroom

Whilst working on a story in drama or literacy, you can designate an area to transform into an environment from the narrative. Children can then go to this place to test their own ideas about the story and its meaning.

e.g Children build the ship from Mosaic and play out being the crew and also find new places to travel to.

Re-arranging the furniture and building with the children their version of a place can be a very useful way of building belief in a fictitious context.

e.g. Build the inside of monsters cave with all its jewels and rocks etc.

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Familiar stories from a box

Some of the significant events, places and characters from a story are represented by an object and placed in a box or tin. As the story is told the storyteller gets each object out as the moment or person or event it represents is mentioned. The listeners get to handle the objects The objects are then returned to the box as the story continues until the lid is replaced at the end of the story. These props help children to visualize the story, especially if it contains anything that may be unfamiliar to them. The children can also re-tell the story using the story box to support them in remembering significant things.

Multi-sensory items work very well – materials that have evocative smells or rich textures can be very useful. Objects that could be used to provide a key sound effect could also be included.

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Creating new stories

Children can create their own story boxes to tell stories they have created themselves. This method also works well as a way of creating stories. Objects can be themed to suit a thematic project. The questioning from the practitioner needs to be open and not expectant of the right answer.

  • Where does it come from?
  • What does it look like?
  • What does it feel like?
  • What sound does it make?
  • How did it get here?
  • Who does it belong to?
  • What can you use it for?

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Spells and potions

The Magic Pot

The Princess wished for some food and water in the story from the magic pot.

Click on the image of the pot on the right to access a downloadable version to work on. Can you draw the things that you would wish for if you had the giants magic pot? See if you can think of 3 exciting things to put inside.

Be careful what you wish for!

The Witches Cauldron

The witch cast a magic spell and locked the Prince in a cage.

Click on the image of the cauldron to access a downloadable version to work on and make up and draw the ingredients for the new spells she needs?

Examples:

  • A spell to turn a prince into a frog
  • A spell to send someone to sleep for 100 years
  • A spell to make herself invisible

Can you think of some others?

 

 

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Heroes and heroines in stories for you to explore with your class using drama

What is a hero? Wikipedia says that a hero is all that is good and noble and someone who sacrifices themselves for the greater good.

You could also say that a hero is somebody who does something dangerous to help somebody else.

If anything has universal appeal among children, it is a good story with heroes and heroines. Stories with rich descriptions of the lives and personalities of inspiring individuals (mythical or real) entertain as well as serve as role models for children. Through heroes and heroines of different cultures, children develop an understanding of the norms in various parts of the world, and what it can mean to live in a particular region, or time period, or to be male or female. Stories with hero’s or heroines in that the children can identify with provide a rich source of stories for use in drama and literacy too. These kinds of stories can be easily broken down into episodes for you to explore through drama using some of the strategies above. At some point the hero or heroine may face a dilemma or difficult choice which can be dramatized and debated using hot seating or though tracking.

Can you ask the children what they think of when they hear the word hero? What makes someone a hero for them? See if they can think of any hero’s they know from books, films and television.

Here are some you could explore through drama and storytelling with your class:

Spiderman A superhero, he gained special powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider and fought crime in New York.

Harry Potter An orphan who finds out on his eleventh birthday, that he is a wizard. He attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and must battle to overthrow the evil Lord Voldemort, the murderer of his mother and father.

Mulan A real Chinese heroine who from a very young age led an army to defeat the Mongols because her father was too old and her brother too young. As a child, Mulan loved riding horses and shooting arrows, as well as reading books and although she was a warrior and was offered a title by the Chinese Emperor it is said that she refused the title preferring to return home to her family.

Robin Hood A story from English myth set in the midlands. The Sheriff of Nottingham rules the land with an iron fist. But in the depths of the forest, Robin and his band of merry men soon plan to challenge the evil Sheriff. Wearing a dark hood for disguise and with his trusty bow, Robin quickly becomes an outlaw, fighting the forces of evil for the good of the poor

Cecile and the Spider Queen Mystic Heroine Adventures by Marilyn Churchil (I Universe ISBN 978-0595471362)
Cecile is the only one who can unlock a secret doorway to the treasury by appearing before the Mirror of Truth. Cecile must hurry to save her kingdom and its people from the Spider Queen’s web.

 

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Drama activities

The following are a number of drama based activities to enable further exploration of some of the themes and issues appearing in Mosaic. They do not require specialist skills but descriptions of the basic techniques are included for those who have not used them before. If class control is an anxiety for teachers inexperienced in drama, plan your lesson well in advance and ideally run the session with the support of another colleague or a classroom assistant. The more children work in this way, the more they will learn to communicate effectively and work collaboratively.

Hot seating

Someone takes on a particular role or character and is interviewed by the rest of the group. This activity allows a character’s motivations and emotions to be examined in more depth. It is helpful to ask the group or class to think of questions they would like to ask the character before the hot seating begins and to act as the facilitator between the children and character. Often it is best to model hot seating yourself first to demonstrate to the children that it requires them to improvise their answers and to remain in character.

An example of hot seating using the characters from Mosaic might be hot seating the giant to find out how he obtained the magic pot in the first place and why he kept the princess a prisoner. Depending on the different languages spoken and the willingness of the class.

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Still image

This is the creation of a still or frozen image using a group of people who freeze in a pose to capture a particular moment, idea or theme, as in a photograph or painting. This technique has distinct advantages when a teacher is exploring ideas or themes which pupils find complex or vague. To create a single concrete image requires thought on the part of the pupils so that their image is precise and not misinterpreted. Particular attention should be given to body posture and facial expressions. How do others interpret the still image? Who do they think is depicted and what is happening?

The children can pick a favourite story or film to create still images from as an easy way in. Allow time for adjustments for clarity and dramatic effect. You can ask one or two pupils as models get the rest of the class to sculpt them into some of the characters encountered in the story found by the buffoons in the magic box in Mosaic. Start by playing a game of musical statues shouting out one of the characters that the children have suggested or from Mosaic.

Characters they could choose from: Princess, Hero, Witch, Queen, Captain, Prince, Wizard, Giant, Fairy, King, Monster, dragon

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Role Play

Individuals take on a character role and play out or improvise a scene that deals with a particular situation. This technique allows children to explore situations from a different perspective and to practice a range of creative and oral literacy skills.

In pairs the children could improvise the following moments in different ways: The Princess stealing the magic pot from the giant, The Witch casting a spell on the Prince, the Prince fighting with the Monster.

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Teacher in role

This is when the teacher adopts a role in order to deepen the children’s understanding of the ideas and themes within the drama, to pass on important information or to help the children shape the drama from within.

The teacher could be in role as the Prince setting off on adventure. She/he needs a crew and a plan for where to go, which the children could help with.

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Conscience Alley

Where a character in the story is faced with a difficult decision or a difficult task the rest of the group form a whispering conscience alley for the character to pass through on their way to a place where the decision must be taken. The group whispers advice, warnings, quotes from things said earlier in the drama. At the end of the alley the character decides what to do.

 

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Drama and Learning

The kind of drama for learning activities in these resources will help you to provide opportunities for the children to voice their opinions, express their feelings and make choices. In a good drama session there should be no right answers instead children are encouraged to speculate and wonder, and say what they think and feel rather than providing the correct response.

Whilst all good teaching does this, children are sometimes unused to working in this way. Drama is collaborative. Group dynamics are a critical success factor. It is important that the participants in a drama lesson feel comfortable and confident to contribute. Care should be taken to foster a strong group identity through highly structured activities such as games. Drama provides rare opportunities for those whose learning style is kinaesthetic, spatial and interpersonal.

Those who prefer speaking and listening to reading or writing can be motivated by working in drama. Speaking and listening activities will be contextualised, and therefore are more meaningful.

Story Based Drama and Literacy

Using a story for drama and literacy work works well because:

  • Stories are good strong context: there is another world which pupils can enter into and explore: aids descriptive language and vocabulary.
  • Children want to know what happens next: aids understanding of narrative structure
  • Stories contain human dilemmas and conflict which can be seen from different points of view: aids lateral thinking and deconstruction of text
  • Literacy skills can be explicit and practised from within the story: e.g. writing in role, persuasive writing, and reportage
  • Stories can be chosen as a metaphor for actual experience: can explore challenging issues in fictional frame
  • Cross curricular links can be made through stories, particularly with SMSC.
  • Using drama in other curriculum areas is most effective through story
  • Stories are practice for life. Imagining being in a story motivates children to apply and make links between their existing skills and experiences.

 

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