Hello, Welcome to ‘TellTales2kids’, the podcast that helps you develop your skills in telling your own stories, making them up and sharing them with your (younger) children. my name is Julie Pryke, Storyteller and Children’s Author and most importantly, I’m a Nana, to 4 children and young adults.
Each time, I’ll try and give you new and easy tips to storytelling and, at the end of the podcast, I’ll also tell an example story for your children to listen to with you, or for you to tell them yourself later. So, let’s get going.
- Episode 5 Timing & Inspiration
Today I’m going to be talking a bit more about how you manage your ideas when that sudden light-bulb moment appears, perhaps not at the most appropriate moment –you could be at work and needing to get on with something that you are committed to, you may be at home changing a smelly nappy or you may be out with others and don’t feel you can break off to note it down. I’m assuming normal times here, not the restrictions we’ve all become used to/resigned to. Of course smelly nappies and other situations can arise at any time so all of us writers have to develop coping strategies.
- If you are really stuck and can’t note anything down then say something about the idea silently, at least 3 times, but try to imagine a link to help with it. Either the situation you are in or a colour or number to help prompt you. For example, if I thought of a story with lambs in it I would picture a lamb with yellow wool and maybe try to add two other factors into the picture, the dog who might upset them or look after them and the new alpaca that has come to live in the same field. I would probably imagine the dog with yellow collar and the Alpaca with a yellow flower in it’s mouth. I’d say to myself “Yellow, lamb, dog, alpaca” and say it 3 times.
This method does work but sometimes can be a bit distracting as you imagine a nice farmyard setting instead of a big disaster looming for your heros. Quick include it in your image as a big grey cloud in the shape of whatever the trouble is.
But please don’t keep repeating your scenario more than about 3 times as your creative mind will start to expand on it, as soon as you aren’t looking 😉
- You could try repeating the idea out loud to that captive baby/child of course. If so, again repeat it 3 times, they probably won’t mind!
- Oh, but what about the situation you can’t interrupt? Well, of course I can’t necessarily offer a solution for every occasion, but there are so many different ways to try & just note the basic idea. Have a scrape of paper, or a dedicated page in your notebook to hand and write down 3 key words or do a little sketch/sketches if that is easier.
- Then if you want to develop the idea further you have a basis to prompt your memory and get it written down. Though I’d add at this stage, if despite your memory aids it doesn’t come back, don’t worry. You’ll produce another story with similar characters, Lamb, dog and Alpaca – it might be different but that doesn’t matter; or you may come up with a completely different story about a pirate ship, a pop star and a bicycle – who knows. Or you may come up with nothing at all. But relax – you are not employed as a Children’s Author, or if you are, would you please consider doing a Podcast I can listen to too!
- You have to decide how you’d like to record your story, I know I have talked about spontaneous story-telling a lot but it is such a nice feeling to have achieved a story for your youngsters. A version of a story, informally written, in a notebook in pencil is great; a typed up Word version can be saved on your laptop or tablet, a memory stick and be sent easily by mail/email, as I often do to my Grandchildren in Canada so that my son can read it again as often as they want. Plus, he can print it out for them to read themselves – don’t forget to space it out a bit bigger and well spaced out if they are going to try reading it for themselves.
Nowadays with printers which connect to Wi-fi you can ofcourse send a document across the airwaves, directly to their home if they also have a Wi-fi printer. How good is that?
- There are other apps which are so useful, if for example, you are recording your ideas on your mobile.
- Speechnotes – allows you to dictate your story and it turns into text! A bit frightening at first if it doesn’t like your accent but it soon learns to recognise you.
- WhatsApp, use the record button for little messages and stories.Two things to remember, don’t take your finger off the button whilst you are recording and you might find you need to do the story in more than one recording (2 or3) if it’s a couple of minutes, so just warn them before they start listening to the first part.
- Make use of a MindMap/ spidergram app such as Mindmo on your tablet or PC or just draw one out on a piece of paper to plan everything out or record all the basics of your story – it really helps for planning.
- Finally, Inspiration – if you have listened before you will know my main inspiration is changing an ordinary situation into an unusual one by adding magic . This is an easy choice as no rules apply except amusement/fun, a problem and a good solution.
Really, these rules are all you need for most stories for younger children. Some of you may ‘hate’ that I give animals human or magical characteristics – that’s fine, because what you do relates to you and your children.
Maybe a look at Nature is your thing, History ( think of Horrible Histories) Family History “I’d like to tell you a story about when I was 9 years old …”, Geography, Science, Pirates, if it interests you and you can use it in a way the listeners will enjoy then that’s the topic for you – or it could be different every time. Just relax and enjoy it with them.
Now it’s time for the story, inspired by a name: Mr Nobodyman – a phrase overheard on a train.
- Fini’s adventure: Dancing, spinning with fairies
It was a lovely sunny day and Fini’s brother Thomas had gone to play with his friend so Fini was all on her own. She’d helped Mama for a bit but now Mama was working and Opa (her German Grandad) was there to look after her.
She picked up her little bag, with the magic wooden cat, Wanda in it. She went into the garden and through the fence to a woody area. As usual she was singing to herself and then she started dancing. She was spinning round and round when suddenly she heard a lovely tune being played, but it was very quiet as if it was far away.
She wondered where it was coming from and started to look around and walked towards the big tree in the garden but no, everything there was quiet. Then she turned round and went towards the Lavender bush. To her surprise she heard a cross little voice say “Why have you stopped dancing?” She jumped back and then looked around but she couldn’t see anyone, she knelt down & then started lifting up the leaves on the bush.
This time the voice was even crosser when it said “Don’t do that! You’ll knock all my washing off the line” Fini stared and she saw a tiny little man with a blue hat and a yellow jacket. He was waving his stick at her. “Oh I am sorry, said Fini “I didn’t know you were there”. “No, that’s the trouble with you humans”, grumbled the fairy man.“You never notice anything!” Fini said “That’s not fair! I notice lots of things and I’ve got a magic cat called Wanda!” She was going to lift Wanda out of the bag to show him but then suddenly remembered that she wanted to ask the fairy man a question. “What is your name?” she asked “and where is all that lovely music coming from?
“Well I don’t know why you want to know but my name is Mr Nobodyman and the music is the Fairy band. They are sitting just over there”, he said as he pointed, “but I think you’ve broken the big bass drum! ” “Yes, she did” said a little mouse with straw hat on. “I can’t play it anymore”. Shre looked so sad.
“Oh no! Sorry!” said Fini,” Can it be mended?” she picked up the little pieces and said “I’ll just ask Opa” and dashed back to the house. Her grandfather looked at the drum and said, “Well I think I can mend it but it won’t sound the quite the same anymore! Why don’t I make a new one?” He looked in the kitchen cupboard and got out a little spice jar that was nearly empty. He washed it out, got the drum skin that had been on the fairy drum and carefully fastened it on with some thread. He tapped on it with his fingers and it made a little ratatat. “There you are”, he said, “now you can go out and play with your dolls again now.” But Fini wasn’t playing with her dolls, was she?
She rushed back to the Lavender bush and called out “Hello Mr Nobodyman I’m back!” She put down the new drum and immediately the tiny mouse rushed up and grabbed it. She was just trying it out when Wanda the magic cat fell out of Fini’s bag and turned into a real cat as she always does.
The poor little mouse was very frightened but Wanda said to it “It’s alright. Why don’t you and the others all climb up onto my back and you can play your tunes there?” Fini said promised it was ok so the mouse, lots of other tiny animals and people all with whistles and violins, a trumpet, a flute and a double bass climbed onto Wanda’s back whilst she lay down on the grass. Fini helped Mr Nobodyman lift his grand piano on as well & they all started playing.
Fini started dancing & spinning round to the music and a few of the fairies danced and spun too as they played. Soon Mr Nobodyman asked them to keep still because they were making him feel dizzy. Then, very gently, Wanda floated up in the air but no-one fell off.
After they’d had lots of fun Fini could hear Opa calling so she said “We’ll have to go now.” The fairy creatures all climbed off Wanda’s back and she jumped back into the bag and became a little wooden cat again. “Bye!” called out the fairies. “Bye!” said Fini as she went off to see Opa and try the lovely biscuits he had just made.