Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Way to Your Way

I received a comment asking if I told my board stories from memory, note cards or some other way.  Rather than a quick comment I thought I would write about telling longer tales using the flannel board because that is how I learned to tell stories.  Also, telling stories with the flannel board gave me the confidence to try other storytelling formats.

When I first started as a Children's Librarian, I knew that there would not be much singing in my storytimes since I can't carry a tune.  I also didn't want to just sit and read books so I looked for other ways to tell stories.  I found that paper cutting, draw and tell and board stories were perfect for me and I've been using them ever since.  For years I was the only Youth Services Librarian so I learned to make things as simple as possible.  Memorization went out the window pretty quickly.

One of the first sources for flannel board stories that I used was Teeny Tiny Folktales by Jean Warren.  The stories were short and did not require many figures to manipulate on the flannel board.  As I became more confident, I moved to other stories.  I also ended up making the simple stories not so simple over the years (see my post for 8/22/11).  I just recently started adapting stories myself.  I also started using other props to tell stories because I wanted to give my programs some variety.

It's important for me to pick a story that I really like.  If I enjoy telling the story, that will come across to the audience.  I tend to pick humorous or silly stories.  I also enjoy stories about animals.  I am not above changing or leaving out elements that I don't care for in a story.  I want to be completely comfortable with the story I tell.

I never memorize a story.  I read it over several times to get the general plot.  I may memorize a key phrase if it is important or repeated often.  I use each figure as a cue as to what comes next in the story.  I simply place them in the order they come in the story with the first figure on top and the last on the bottom.  Each figure then reminds me of the next part of the story as I place it on the board.  I tell the story in my own words.  Sometimes I leave things out and in most cases it doesn't matter or I am able to backtrack.  I do always keep a copy of the story nearby in case I need to refer to it.  (I always do this with rhymes so I get the rhyming words in the correct order.)  Telling the story in my own words takes the pressure off for getting it just right.  It also lets me change things if I want to.  I may tell a more elaborate version to an older audience or keep it short for a younger one. 

If you haven't told folktales using the flannel board before, start with a familiar tale such as "The Three Little Pigs."  This story allows you to "ham" it up as the wolf.  (I go all out trying to blow the brick house down.)  The story also naturally lends itself to audience participation. 

So, if you have only used the flannel board for rhymes, do give storytelling with it a try.  It takes me longer  to memorize a five line rhyme than it does to learn a five paragraph story.  The rhyme won't work if you don't get the words right.  The story can be told your way.

As to the second question about being videoed - I'm wary about doing a video of a story because of copyright issues, though now that I am doing more original material, it's something to consider. 

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