Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

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a little bit of mythology

February 24, 2010

My current teaching practice is with a class of grade fours that are currently in their Norse Mythology block.

Other than recognizing the name of the God, Thor, Norse mythology has been completely foreign to me. There are 9 worlds with unusual names like Muspelheim, Alfheim, Jotunheim, Midgard and Svartheim. Those names are among the easier things to pronounce – the characters, the things they carry, etc. are all strange and new. The world tree, Yggdrasil, is a little more typical of the names in this mythology.

For next week I’m working on telling a story of the three norns: Urda who sees the past, Verdandi who sees the present and Skulda who sees the future. The norns are a mysterious bunch and they spin together the threads of past, present and future for each human beings life.

The class teacher has an image of the different worlds and other key elements on the chalkboard and the children seem quite interested in the three women who live among the roots of Yggdrasil. Not only will I be telling a story in front of a class for the first time but I’ll also be leading them in a shaded colour pencil drawing (another first for me) sometime next week. I still have a few days to prepare but today I played around a little and did a first sketch of the type of drawing I plan to lead them in. Skulda’s face is rarely seen so I want her to appear a little further back in the shadows of Yggdrasils roots. There is a drawing in each of the books I have but I thought looking back to the past, straight on for the present and forward for the future would be helpful. I’m not sure whether I’ll go with having them staggered from left to right as well or one directly above the other. All things for me to fine tune in the coming evenings I guess.

three norns

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storytelling

October 28, 2009

We’ve had some interesting assignments in the past few weeks of school and I’ve been finding the “nature story” one to be one of the most challenging because I really don’t have a very good feel for what storytelling is actually like in the grades classroom.  I vaguely recall mention that personifying animals and plants doesn’t fit but that’s about it!  I didn’t realize that until I’d half written a story about a wise old owl who shows Pippin the insides of a tree and explains how it grows.  After looking at a few books I decided to make another attempt and I actually found it to be rather fun.  In some places I opted for some weak rhyming as a way to help me remember what to say.

I’ll relay my story to my classmates later this today but since this blog is as much about documenting things as it is anything else, I thought I’d share what I came up with:

Today’s story is about a young girl named Pippin.  She loved being outside – splashing in puddles, skipping through the grass, jumping in the leaves, climbing tall trees… One of her favourite places of all was the enchanted forest.  In fact, this is where you would find her almost every day after school.

In this forest…

mushrooms, mosses, needles and ferns

Are on the ground at every turn.

The trees stand up so wide and tall,

Sun and rain rarely touch the ground at all.

Old man’s beard hangs from the trees,

And birds fly about so happy and free.

The wise, old owl sleeps away,

In his secret hideout during the day.

Rabbits and deer scamper on the ground,

Squirrels chase each other up, down and around.

Pippin loved to watch the creatures play,

And ask them questions to hear what they’d say.

On one such afternoon she asked aloud:

“I wonder why the grass is green, and why the wind is never seen?

Who taught the birds to build a nest, who told the trees to take a rest?

O, when the moon is not quite round, where can the missing bit be found?

Who lights the stars when they blow out?  Who makes the lightning flash about?

Who paints the rainbow in the sky and hangs the fluffy clouds so high?

Why is it now, do you suppose, that father won’t tell me if he knows?”   (I borrowed this poem from Jeannie Kirby.)

Just then, Pippin caught sight of a fluffy, brown squirrel.  She followed him under a log, across the creek, and half way up a tall, straight tree.  Pippin watched as the squirrel jumped from tree to tree.  When she lost sight of the squirrel, she started climbing down.  As she landed on the ground she realized she was right beside a giant old stump.

The middle was hollow, but around it were rings of light and dark reaching all the way out to the bark.  she wondered if maybe the tree had been growing in rings before it had been cut down.

A little deeper into the forest there was another tree which had blown down in the wind.  She had hopped over the log the day before but now there was sawdust and the forest floor in it’s place.  Beside it she was the cut end of the tree and noticed that it had rings too!  With great excitement she counted every ring on this smaller tree and found that it had one hundred and seventeen rings!

Further down the path Pippin came across a pile of firewood.  She counted the rings on a smaller piece and realized that it had as many rings as her mom’s age – thirty eight.

“Wow,” she exclaimed to the forest, “maybe trees don’t stand still after all”.  Excited with her new discovery, she said good day to the plants and animals of the enchanted forest and ran the rest of the way home so she could tell her father what she had just learned.

Pippin told her father about how he squirrel had led her to a giant old stump with so many rings of dark and light.  How the smaller log had been cut to reveal (how many?) one hundred and seventeen rings.  And how the one piece of firewood had thirty eight rings.

Her father told her how trees grow rings every year as they grow up, up, up and a little bit out.  In fact, big, old cedars like the ones the wise old owl sleeps in can be hundreds of years old.  Middle sized ones like the one that fell across the path would have been saplings (baby trees) when her great, great, great grandfather was a boy.  And that the smaller tree would have started growing the year her mother was born.

And so it was, that the squirrel and the trees of the forest helped Pippin learn another secret of the earth.