Saturday 19 July 2014

Using a picture book to help inspire children's stories by Jane Clarke

Like many picture book writers, I make a lot of visits to nurseries and schools, and I often use a  picture book as the basis of a workshop to inspire children to come up with their own stories. 

I've recently been working in parallel with poet Chrissie Gittins in Sandown Primary school, helping children to create their own stories and poems to exhibit for the Tell me a Story festival that took place this week in Deal, Kent, sponsored by the Astor Theatre. 

I used different picture books  to inspire work from all the year groups in the school, but for this post, I'll stick with Reception. That's Reception in the UK system  - they're a year younger than Reception in the USA. At this end of the school year, some are just beginning to write a word or two, but mostly they record their ideas in drawings – and they all love the idea of being authors and illustrators.

First, I read one of the Gilbert stories and we admired the wonderful illustrations by Charles Fuge, with the children identifying lots of sea creatures and getting ideas for what other things might be under the sea.

Then I introduced the idea of the class having a submarine adventure. I put a simple submarine shape made from paper tablecloth and sugar paper on the carpet and talked them through getting into the submarine. We set off  (making chugging propeller noises) on our exciting journey…

The children each drew a porthole to show their ideas  (real and surreal) about what they might see on their journey.

This time, the portholes were paper circles I'd cut out in advance for the children to draw on, but  if there's more time and more adults around, like this session in Herne Bay library

a sticky session with paper plates and craft materials is fun.

The children put their portholes on the submarine and I told the story (complete with joining-in  sound effects) of the class journey, pacing the exciting bits - a giant sea monster tentacle slaps agains the porthole…aargh!  
with the quieter aaaah moments of seeing, for example  the mermaids walking their dogfish and shoals of rainbow and sparkly starfish, fallen from the skies.

Each child then recorded their own submarine adventure in words and/or pictures in their Captain's Log - a small pre-made book.

We all had lots of fun.

Thanks and congratulations to the young  authors and illustrators for their fabulous imaginations and work, and to their teachers and parents for permission to the pictures .

Please feel free to to use and adapt the idea.


Paeony Lewis said...

Love it, Jane! How imaginative (you and the children). You've inspired me to improve or think up new school activities.

Pippa Goodhart said...

Lucky children! I do a similar thing when we all go diving under the waves and usually get chased by a shark! but those potholes are inspired. I just might take up your kind offer to adapt for my own use with children, thank you, Jane

Moira Butterfield said...

Very inspiring! You really get the children involved. It's a great example of a school session.

Abie Longstaff said...

This is really helpful, Jane - thanks. It's a great way to bring the books to life :))

Valerie Wilding said...

Jane, I wish I had half your imagination. The children clearly loved the event, as is shown by their work and their smiles!

Ragnhild Scamell said...

And all the artwork made a fabulous display at the Astor Theatre. Lucky children to have someone like you, Jane, to bring out their enthusiasm.