On September 21, our primary teachers study group came together for our first session of this school year, hosted by Anna Nachbar at McNeely Elementary. Our focus this year, as chosen by participants, is outdoor storytelling experiences, connecting multiple areas of the curricula. This collaborative professional inquiry draws upon the work we did last year as a group around outdoor learning in general and also draws upon our district’s three year Playful Storytelling through the First Peoples Principles of Learning project. Some ideas from that project were compiled and shared with the group and can be downloaded here: SD38_Playful_Storytelling_FPPL_Ideas
Books that we will be working with together this fall include teacher resources and children’s books:
We will be compiling ideas that are inspired by these books to share with others.
After coming together in a circle and introducing ourselves, we shared ideas about working with groups of children at the beginning of the year with regards to learning outdoors. We then ventured out to the “McNeely forest” and spent time in the space noticing how the space might inspire storytelling. How do small spaces and big spaces allow for different storytelling experiences? What natural materials could students gather to contribute to their stories? How might a connection to place and knowledge of local plants and animals enhance their stories?
I brought out a bag of materials as a way to extend the experience – a collection of fabrics and some wooden and plastic animals. How do these materials extend or inhibit the storytelling experience? Teachers came together in small groups to create and share stories and new ideas for storytelling that emerged through being outside and talking together.
One area of discussion was what to do in schools that don’t have a wooded area such as the one McNeely does. Some schools are using a garden bed and using it as a story garden. Another idea is to create small worlds using pots, planters or window boxes – plants can be created and pieces of wood, rocks and shells can be used to landscape a setting. How might the difference heights in a tree (base, trunk, branches) be used to create multi-level stories? Most schools have a few garden beds near their entrances – could one be used for storytelling? What characters might visit that space?
Although registration filled up very quickly for this group, we will continue to share our thinking and experiences through twitter and this blog. We will be coming together in November at Woodward Elementary in their new outdoor learning space.