How to set up a Story Tellers Workshop!
Are you part of a home schooling community? Do you meet up for Home-Ed trips and play dates? Have you thought of running any workshops? Well, we did just that! We wanted our kids in our homeschool community here in Saudi Arabia to come together to celebrate books and reading, as unfortunately libraries are scarce! So we collaborated with other home school mums to set up The Story Tellers Workshop! This article will take you through what we did and how to set up your own Story Tellers Workshop.
Work with other Enthusiastic Homeschool mums!
Work with other enthusiastic Homeschool mums you know who you could easily work with and share the same passion and commitment. Share out jobs and ensure there’s a project manager for direction. It’s always a good idea to write down a shared vision of what you want from these workshops. Our vision was to celebrate the love of books and stories through creative fun learning.
We started by planning realistically, thinking about how often we could actually meet. We settled at every 6 weeks and planned in ideas for books we would cover for the year. We decided on the books for the year including: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Gruffalo, Never Too Small by Zanib Mian and a special session before Ramadan using the book Ramadan Moon by Naima Robert.
We thought of the age group we aimed the workshop for (4-8 year olds). We split the children into 2 groups 4-6 year olds and 7- 8 year olds. We felt 2 and half hours was sufficient time for these workshops, including a snack break half way through. Also we capped the number of children to 20 children maximum per workshop. You may find you can accommodate more or less, either way be realistic about how many you can. We also included a £3-£5 fee for the workshop to cover the cost of materials, snacks and prizes for our competitions. I would advise you look at your costs before determining your own workshop fee and be sure to explain to parents what the cost will be covering. We communicated with parents through a WhatsApp group (you could also set up a Facebook group too).
Our first workshop we focused on the fantastic story ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ by Michael Rosen. There were so many wonderful activities and ideas to choose, but with the time frame, number of kids and resource budget we had to limit and narrow down with what worked best for us. The best way to do this is keep in mind, the learning outcomes or objectives. Our learning outcomes or objectives for our first workshop was to retell the story, and to visually map and sequence a story. In other words, by the end of the session we wanted the children to able to go home retelling the story in its catchy repetitive way to their parents. In other workshops, the objectives have been describing words, writing recipes, writing letters etc.
Resources and Preparation
We decided our activities would be based around retelling and sequencing the story in our first workshop – We’re going on a bear hunt! So we prepared what we needed to before hand including a small world tray, props and fabric we needed for a BIG trail of the story of We’re going on a bear hunt. The children’s activities were a visual map for our 7-8 year olds and a small world craft for our 4-6 year olds. Other times we linked in making Gruffalo crumble and focused on recipe writing for this workshop. Either way whatever you decide, just prepare any resources you think you may need for the day before hand!
The Outline of the day
Our 2 hour workshops run for 2 different age groups meant we had to have a clear outline of the session, especially as we had parent volunteers helping us too. Whilst nothing runs like clockwork, its nice to know the timings of how long each activity is, when the snack breaks are etc ensuring you don’t get carried away in activities and run over the planned session time.
So after the first reading of the story We’re going on a bear hunt as a whole group. We read it again, this time through BIG actions by walking around the room, tiptoeing, swimming through the river. Then we broke off into our groups to work on your story sequence activities tailored to our age groups. We wanted the activities to be light and easy so a visual map (for 7-8 year olds) and small world sensory tray (4-6 year olds) worked best for our kids. It did require some preparation for 20 children but it was needed for this story in particular. After an hour, we stopped for a 15 minute snack break. We prepared some fruit and sandwiches beforehand.
After the break, we continued setting up a BIG TRAIL using our prepared props and set up the room so that we were going on a Bear Hunt while narrating the story out loud as a group. We laid out some green fabric to represent the grass, and the children went up a play slide and slid down into mud (represented by brown paper). They entered the bathroom, and stepped into a bath which we had filled with blue plastic bags all cut up representing the deep cold river. The children crawled under wooden chairs set up with green fabric thrown across them (like a den) representing the forest. The snowstorm was represented by white fabric and small styrofoam pieces and a fan. For the cave, you can easily set up a tent and leave a flashlight and teddy bear inside! We had a dark room set up in a similar way.
The children really enjoyed this experience. We also had time to set up a treasure hunt, hunting for gummi bears in mixed ability groups which meant younger children had the chance to learn from older children etc. All in all it was fabulous day which marked the start of our Story Tellers Workshop which the children in our home schooling group looked forward to getting together for.
We set up a book title poster competition of a new book ‘We’re going on a Dinosaur Hunt’ to encourage some follow up activity at home for our 4-6 year olds. In the same way we asked our 7-8 year olds if they could write their own story of ‘We’re going on a Dinosaur Hunt’ using the language and ideas they learnt from the workshop on We’re going on a bear hunt. This follow up activity allowed for the children to continue their learning at home with their families.
I asked some of our parents to feedback about the Story Tellers Workshop. This is what they had to say.
“It brings similar age kids together and has given them a chance to take part in hands on activities with their friends and made the books come to life.” (Umm Zaynab)
“The hands on activities were educational and fun. Having the classes with similar aged children who are their friends increased them in their excitement! They feel so happy when I tell them they have the next one coming up soon.” (Baziga)
We also came together on World Book Day and dressed up as our favourite book characters, plus a picnic and even a Sports day! All in all it’s a nice way to meet up and meet other homeschooling families by setting up your own Storytellers Workshop! It’s a real celebration of books too which is fab for the kids who are getting started with reading! Are you running something similar or thinking of starting one up? Let us know in the comments below!
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