Below you will find Nicola’s story of how the Wiggly Worms performance of ‘The Story Book Race’ came to be. Children enter a world of storying from a very early age and we wanted the children to enjoy the pleasures of storytelling as much as we have over the years. We are always in awe of people who can tell a great story and the children are the greatest storytellers of them all. Every day we observe how the children’s imagination is sparked by the world of stories, how significant a role they and storytellers play in the lives of children, and how children naturally use their creativity and imagination to tell stories. I am amazed at how the children manage to create a story together. Somehow, they manage to find a way to understand each other’s perspectives and to come together and agree on a story that everyone can connect with. I am so impressed with the process of constructing the story for the assembly. The children were completely absorbed and emotionally involved in the proceedings and developed their story in a shared dialogue and understanding. The children were impressive in their abilities to gradually construct a story together, sincerely listening to each other’s ideas and perspectives. The story was negotiated and enriched by the children’s multiple sources of learning, identity and knowledge, showing the value of learning as a group.
“Everyone will clap and say it is the best show!”
Children are naturally drawn to stories and tell them in a variety of ways every day, through role play, drawings and writing and the scenarios they create with models and small world figures. When the class were charged with the task of creating a story to perform to their families there was certainly no shortage of ideas.
We were fortunate enough to watch the Year 1 assemblies around the time of planning, so our initial question was:
“What makes a good show?”
“Flowers. They smell nice and people throw them when they like the show." – Noah
“Singing. And music.” – Lara
“Talking. With a good voice." – Valeria
“Dancing.” – Blaike
“Fireworks.” – Juliette
“Songs.” - Bilal
The next question I put to the children was
“What can our story be about?”
"Princesses.” – Anna
“We could do a butterfly one and fly around.” – Juliette
“Fireworks." – Blaike
“Lightning McQueen. I love racing cars.” – Noah
“A storm and racing cars.” – Bilal
“The storm hits the racing cars.” – Jude
“A ghostbuster that blasts ghosts.” – Eli
“Fairies.” – Chloe
“Some birds.” – Valeria
“Elsa.” – Lara
“Lightning McQueen.” – Muhammedali
“I want Lightning McQueen and ghostbusters and Buzz Lightyear.” – Luke
“When the storm hits the racing car it turns into Bumblebee.” – Jude
We revisited these ideas later in the week and asked what characters they would like to play in the story when they performed it.
“Lightning McQueen. He’s a minicon. Or Bumblebee.” – Jude
“Spiderman.” – Bilal
“Elsa.” – Lara
“A bird.” – Valeria
“A unicorn.” – Chloe
“Spiderman.” – Muhammedali
“A butterfly.” – Blaike
“Cinderella.” – Anna
“Power Ranger.” – Luke
“Ghostbuster.” – Eli
“A pink bird.” – Noah
“A tiger.” – Mia
“A butterfly.” – Juliette
I noted that once the children selected their characters many of them seemed even more engaged in the process. They invested a great deal of effort in drawing their characters and adding details.
Our next step was to talk about what would happen or what their character would do.
“Lightning McQueen can go to get petrol.” – Bilal
“Birds can fly around.” – Valeria
"The ghost buster can go to the fire station.” – Eli
“Lightning McQueen likes storms. And when the storm hits him he turns into Bumblebee.” – Jude
“The butterfly could get hit by the storm and then it falls down." – Blaike
“Cinderella can’t go to the ball.” – Anna
“When the butterfly falls, Elsa will freeze the butterfly.” – Lara
“The butterfly goes under the storm.” – Juliette
“Unicorn see the butterflies.” – Chloe
“Lightning McQueen is at the gas station and meets his friend and says hello.” – Luke
“They go in a race.” – Muhammedali
“The tiger comes second.” – Mia
“The police man tries to catch Lightning McQueen.” – Muhammedali
“The car flips over and crashes and they call the police.” – Noah
At this point it became clear that a lot of the children were thinking carefully about their own characters but needed some guidance in making it a group project that could incorporate all their peers. At our next meeting I explained that there were a lot of cars and maybe they wanted to consider Muhammedali’s idea of having a race. We took a vote and the race idea won by 9 votes to 5. This then allowed a stronger structure to the story.
However, it was not all plain sailing as when we next discussed it the car characters had all changed their minds. Still, the general feeling was that they still wanted to race. I asked why they might be having a race.
"So people can see them race.” – Jude
"To see who is faster.” – Bilal
“To win a trophy.” – Eli
“They can win the biggest chocolate ever.” – Noah
The group decided on the biggest chocolate bar ever as the motivation to race.
So our next step was to decide how the children would place in the race. Most of the children wanted to be first so in order to make it fair we picked the names from a hat and placed them in that order. I asked them to think of reasons why they placed as they did and these comments were put into the script.
With the date of the show growing closer and a storyline agreed upon, we asked the children how they were feeling. Their comments showed how invested they were in the story and their different emotions about performing in front of an audience.
What do you think about your performance?
“I’m excited about my costume.” - Jude
“I’m excited for my show because it’s soon.” - Theodore
“Everybody will say it’s the best show.” - Lara
“I’m excited because there’s lots of characters.” - Juliette
“I’m excited because I’ve never done a show before. I’m a bit scared.” - Anna
“I’m excited because I went to see Shrek and I wanted to be on the stage.” - Valeria
“We have to have microphones, for speaking, the microphones are on the stander.” - Juliette
“My mum can come.” - Chloe
“I get stopped by the policeman, it’s the story.” - Bilal
“I’m excited for the lights. I want to say, ‘Wow!’ when the lights go on. 3D lights…like pop out.” - Olivia
“It will be fun. I like running. It’s a race.” - Ethan
“We have practiced on the stage outside. So, we practiced so we weren’t shy. And we all got not shy.” - Juliette
“I love shows! Shows are my favourite! I really love them. I love being a bunny. I love getting my costume.” - Karma
“Happy. I like all the things, the costumes and my mummy comes. I like the stage. I like all the lights and I like the race.” - Eli
“I’m excited because I made a costume.” - Mia
“It’s story race.” - Anna
With the date fast approaching we set about deciding on props and costumes. Many of the children wanted to bring costumes they already had at home, while others had to come up with ideas of how they would make their own costumes. And of course, they all wanted to be involved in making the giant chocolate bar.
The day of the performance brought much excitement and the children’s performance made both the staff and their parents extremely proud.
The following day the children reflected on the experience.
“That’s all the chairs. And that’s Eli saying, “I was busy blasting ghosts.” “ – Bilal
“That’s the stage and those the steps and that’s all the children and those are the lights. I felt good. But my face is sad because the show is done.”
“That’s my mummy, that’s my dad and that’s my sister. That says butterfly. I was nervous and good.” – Blaike
“That’s Alex watching the show. He sat with my mummy. Daddy was at work.” – Ethan
"This is me and this is my mum. My mum liked it. And I’m happy because I know that we’ll have another show again.” – Mia
“This is me and Jem and mummy and daddy. They loved it. They all clapped. I was so happy.” – Lara
“I wrote all the people’s names and the microphones. The stage is happy. My mum is sitting on the chair. My whole family came. That’s Bilal’s speech bubble.” – Eli
“This is my family. I couldn’t draw all of the persons but this is Luke and Lara and me. I was really happy and I liked using the microphones.” – Juliette
“My mummy and daddy liked the show. They liked all the shows. The Busy Bees and the Dragonflies and our show.” – Anna
“This says ‘I love you.’ Mummy thought it was good. This is Olivia and this is me. I was feeling happy.” – Chloe
“These are the seats and this is snow. This is the people on stage and that’s the frame where we had the movie. It was so good.” – Valeria
“This is the seats. This is me wearing the police clothes and I put buttons on. This is Eli and this is Bilal. This is the door and that’s the microphone.” – Muhammedali
“This is Noah and a ghost and Eli trapped the ghost. I liked wearing my costume on the stage.” – Luke
I was delighted with the enthusiasm and dedication the children showed for putting on the show and the pride they showed in their efforts. I’m looking forward to the stories they will tell in the future.