On Tuesday afternoon, the three kindergarten and kindergarten & grade one classes at Ferris took their storytelling outside.
We began with the story, Where is Mouse Woman? based on a traditional Haida story. Jada is looking of her friend Mouse Woman and uses the help of all sorts of animals to help her find her friend. When she finds Mouse Woman hiding in a log, Jaada asks her to come to her potlatch and the story ends with the two friends enjoying singing and dancing at the potlatch. I explained that a potlatch was like a celebration, sometimes including ceremonies and involved the sharing of food, singing, stories and dancing. Some of the students made connections to birthday parties and Christmas. Remembering that these students are five years old, we acknowledged their personal connections and didn’t go any further with the concept of the potlatch at this time.
It was a misty cool afternoon so the students put on their coats and they each chose two animal characters to take outside. I modelled a frame for a story that they might tell based on Where is Mouse Woman?- one character hiding and the other looking for it. Some of the students framed their stories like this, while others created their own stories.
In all three classes, there was high engagement and enthusiasm for going outside. The teachers and I observed a settling in period – some students ran around exploring and others wandered, not sure quite what to do. This was the first time for taking storytelling outside and there was some unsureness amongst the students. Within about 5-10 minutes, the students settled in to their stories, some by themselves, others in partners and others in small groups. There were many stories up and down and all around the big trees in the schoolyard. Pinecones, twigs, leaves and rocks were collected to create places to hide characters.
There was disappointment in all three classes when we told them it was time to come inside (I was visiting three classes in one afternoon) and I know they will have other opportunities to take their storytelling outside.
A video of two kindergarten students’ story of finding their friends hiding behind a tree can be viewed HERE.