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I’ve been a busy chicken today. The glorious Claire from Beautiful Things and I ran two puppet making and storytelling workshops at Sawyers Hall College. There are a whole host of events on over the summer, all of which can be booked in via the extended services team and we were lucky enough to be a part of it.

So, what did we do exactly? Well, we started with some great storytelling sessions, followed by a bit of discussion about what the children wanted to create. As far as I’m concerned if you can’t say it, you can’t do it. I realise that this is a sweeping statement and that there people out there who do not verbalise ideas first, but my general rule of thumb is to encourage lots of open, high quality talk before asking children in particular, to write or create anything. Once the ideas started flowing, it was off to the drawing table to sketch out ideas and begin planning how the 2D design would become a 3D masterpiece.

Thank goodness for Claire! She has an amazing eye for detail and seems to be able to bring any idea to life. I tend to get covered in a fair amount of glue and fun fur, but not necessarily in a particularly creative fashion. Here’s an example of a monster puppet. His name is Max and he’s rather partial to roaring loudly at princesses and the like…but you don’t need me to tell you. If you click on this link you can hear from the creator herself.

What was so exciting about this process was the children. They had no barriers, they just went for it. The ideas kept on coming and they persevered until their puppets matched their plans. But they didn’t stop there. Once they had made the puppets, some began to draft their own stories,

This is how you encourage children to write (and read). You immerse them in stories and feed their imaginations. That’s how I teach and that’s how my own children (and pupils) grow into confident, literate individuals. I could go off on a bit of a tangent here but I won’t. I’m sure you get the gist!

If you want to see how brilliant the children’s finished production was, take a look at this video clip of one of the groups in action. I wrote the story, using the children’s amazing characters for inspiration. There was a real purpose for the children, as they got to perform for their parents and will be able to show the video to family and friends. (Thanks to Claire’s camera skills).

I am now exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time…I may go and have a little read on the corner of the sofa.


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