10/31/2012 - It's Elementary
Each week, I work with Nan Wilkinson’s 5th & 6th grade class at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center – Phoenix, AZ

This Old Man...He Played One
He didn't play knick knack on my thumb, but he did go to the 5th & 6th grade class this Halloween morning! The kids were surprised to meet Mark's father, and see the striking resemblance!

First off, Zoey told a story about a young girl who had no Halloween costume to wear. She did a great job of describing images.

The kids were talking about hurricane Sandy, and the old man started telling a story about a storm that washed away the bridge on the river where an old widow lived...The Devil's Bridge. Then Nan (the teacher) told a personal story about a time the family decided to cross country ski to a cabin in the woods to cook Thanksgiving dinner but got lost.

The old man used that story to talk about story structure: The normal world; the world gets turned upside down; there is progress in solving the problem; (perhaps a helper appears); in the end, there is a new normal. We talked about a “normal” winter day with snow. How did their day get turned upside down…they got lost. What was happening to the people in the story? They were scared, worried and anxious. How could we show those emotions vs. just telling them?

Here’s what the kids came up with: 

Maybe the moon was shining through the trees, swaying in the wind and the shadows looked like monsters.
Maybe the wind through the trees made a sound like a monster.

And here’s the pièce de résistance, when I asked how else we could show that the moon was shining besides just saying it, one of the gals said, “The light was glistening off the lake.” Was that not a similar answer to Chekov’s, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint off the broken glass”? Oh my, I was amazed.

The story always seems to come out when I simply ask questions.

The old man had a great time, Nan laughed a lot (and the kids did a little too).

P.S. While talking about what a "snow day" might be like with the world "turned upside down", one boy said, " The sun comes out and melts all the snow." Little Gabby remembered that, "That's what happened in Mikku and the Trees." I just love when these kids remember the stories!

©Mark Goldman 2012

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For more information contact Mark Goldman - 602-390-3858 - Mark@Storytellermark.com


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