Story Workshop is a structure we have at Opal School that supports language and literacy. We have discovered that the use of materials such as clay, paint, drama, or block building can play an integral role in language development, and strongly support children to see themselves as storytellers and authors.
This happens for example, when a child is playing at the sensory table and imagines or remembers a story. As the child continues to play and explore his story, he may consider more details, the sequence may become stronger, and the language the child uses to tell the story becomes more clear and powerful. The story can come alive!
This happened for ZB this week and was a powerful example for everyone about the role materials can play in helping us discover and uncover our stories.
On Tuesday, as the children were making their plans for where they would work on telling their stories in story workshop, ZB decided to go to writing center to put a story in a book. When asked if he already had an idea for his story he replied that he didn't yet, but that he thought he'd find one once he started drawing. Within minutes ZB was laying on the risers stating that he was stuck and he couldn't find an idea for his story. I suggested that possibly he needed support from another material to find an idea before he tried to put that story into a book. He agreed and quickly decided to give the paper collage materials a try. He worked thoughtfully and carefully with the paper collage cutting and gluing for a long time. Towards the end of story workshop he came enthusiastically running over saying "It worked! A new story just struck into my head!" He explained further, "I started making a story and then I figured out which story I was going to make!"
ZB: It's about red and black meeting. The black paper helped me to figure it out. After they meet they become friends.
Kerry: Wow! That makes me want to know more! How do they meet?
ZBL Umm, I don't know that part of the story yet.
So we made a plan together about what he might do to find out more about that piece of his story the next day.
When ZB arrived at school he was met with new materials to help support his story.
And here is what he discovered:
This is red and this is black. They go to school for the first day. They first meet each other playing capture the flag. They were on the same team. They both found the flag and they both took it at the same time. Then they became friends!
In the beginning of the year we are inviting the children to explore the classroom in search of their stories, and nudging them gently to uncover more. We set up intentional spaces to inspire and entice children, as a variety of materials like blocks, collage, paint, or small bugs become the vehicles for the children's first story. We continue to support this process with supportive, individualized feedback including many celebrations of success!