Today we started to explore in more depth how a story works. Noah suggested that a story should have a main character who is doing something, and Evelyn added that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. I told the children that in some countries in different parts of the world stories work differently from in Ireland and sometimes they don’t have an ending in the same way we think about it.
I asked if the children could think of any types of stories that they knew that don’t seem to have an end. There were some suggestions of films with lots of sequels, like Star Wars and Transformers, and then I mentioned Eastenders and everyone shouted out “Soaps!” I talked a little bit about the history of soap operas, where they got their name from (being sponsored by soap companies on the radio in the 1950s!) and the fact that, yes, the story never ends and there’s always a “hook” at the end of each episode to get you to come back and watch the next one.
We wondered then if a play could work like that, but Chris said that you would just starve and Mathew pointed out you would get dehydrated and probably quite bored if you sat in a theatre forever watching a non-stop play. I wondered whether life itself could count as a non-stop play, because it has people in it and it happens live like theatre, but we realised that real life has real people in it, not actors playing characters, and that’s it’s really happening, not made up by a writer, and also because real life just keeps going and going, it’s more like a Soap than a play because it doesn’t have a beginning, middle or end.
With this discussion under our belts, I gave the children a quiz about the folk story Red Riding Hood. I asked if they could remember the story and describe what the characters were like, where the story took place and what events happened to make up the beginning, the middle and the end. We soon realised there were some quite different versions of the same story. We also discovered that there was a version in South Africa and in Poland, but perhaps not in Columbia, which was really interesting. After we had explored the story from Red Riding Hood’s point of view as the main character, we also turned it around and I told the story from the point of view of an old and hungry wolf. This was a quite different story and we all said we felt quite sorry for the wolf in this version.
Next, I asked the children to make a storyboard and to draw the story in eight pictures. They could decide which version they wanted to do – the wolf’s or Red Riding Hood’s. Some children drew their version of a wolf on the board as a guide for others, which was very helpful and extremely varied. I asked the children to avoid using any words in their picture version. Noah asked why that was and we talked a bit about working with different parts of the brain to come up with different creative ideas. Because words and pictures use different parts of our brains, I explained that drawing the characters and the places can give a writer some new ideas about the characters and about how they might get on in the world they live in. The emerging Storyboards were looking really interesting with lots of character and story detail coming out of the drawings. I asked the children and Miss O’Connell if they could finish the pictures for the next session (after half-term), so we could have a gallery display and everyone could get to see each other’s work. A really interesting and productive session!
Miss O’Connell added…
This week the children focused on reimagining the story of Little Red Riding Hood through the perspective of the wolf. The children began by retelling and sequencing the original story of Little Red Riding Hood. They explored and described the characters identifying their different traits based on the story. The characters were predictably categorised as either good or evil.
They listened to Michelle tell the story from the wolf’s perspective. The session became very interesting as the children had to learn to empathise with the wolf. They subsequently discussed his character again and he was no longer labelled the evil villain. The children were called to the board to draw pictures of the wolf. They compared each other’s depictions of the wolf.
The children created individual story boards where they drew the characters and retold the their own version of the familiar fairytale with images.