Picture the scene: a gaggle of giggly preschoolers sit attentively under the shade of our bowing apple tree. The sun streaks through the leaves leaving dappled sun spots on the ground, as the children create collective stories from a mismatch of natural resources.
Sounds rather idyllic doesn't it? Our Forest School focus last week, stemmed from the children's continued interest in the story making from previous weeks. I wanted to tease out a little more from this theme before we moved onto pastures new, and introduced a story bag. Blessed with glorious sunshine made the week only better, and we all enjoyed the inventive stories that spilled out from the children's minds. A true melting pot of creativity.
We recapped what we had covered in previous weeks, and the stories we had developed or rehashed. Then I introduced them to the story bags. I switched the methodology up through out the week depending on my group, but essentially the premise was the same: children were informed a story lay sleeping in the bottom of the bag. Some groups could choose from a few bags whilst others just had the one. But there was a problem. It was jumbled up, and out of order. if the group struggled with sitting still for long periods, we asked them to find some objects or "missing story pieces" into the bags. The children could feel the mystery objects from the outside of the bag, guessing what they thought they might be, before diving their hands in to have a better feel. Then one by one, they could reveal a part of the story, either giving it a new lease of life as something new, or keeping it literal.
We had some great stories arise from the week, and it was intriguing to see all the different elements each child brought to the collective story making process. It was made evident the importance of external factors in children's lives and the impressions they leave. Events at home, favourite films or TV shows and characters from preferred stories, all were woven into our patchwork tales. Our Star Wars theme was a particular favourite of mine, with one of our boys bringing a somewhat limping story back to life with an amazing Return of the Jedi inspired masterpiece. We were whisked off to The Forest Moon of Endor, where willow leaves were turned into towering trees of the forest, woven wooden balls were turned into Droidicas (I know they're not in ROTJ but give him a break, he's 4), pinecones became Ewok, who eventually save the day by dropping a brick onto the Droidica, saving the Koala and Lizards from a certain doom! I could hardly contain my excitement!
Once we had made a story and used the majority of the objects pulled from the bag, we let the children set off to develop their own stories. Some continued and expanded on the stories we had already told, whilst others foraged for new stimulus to thread into their tales. I loved the range and variation in the stories we heard across the week, and the plethora of different objects the children turned into other things. Such brilliant creativity!