11/21/2012 - It's Elementary
Each week, I work with Nan Wilkinson’s 5th & 6th grade class at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center – Phoenix, AZ

Magic Trumps Logic
We started with stories from the kids today.

Tye told about when his family tricked him by hiding. He looked all over the house but couldn’t find them. He sat on his bed and thought about calling 911, and then they jumped out from hiding. He had good energy, and his face and eyes showed how scared he was.
Natasha told about Leonard the Elephant, who wanted so much to be able to talk. He had a dream where he found a bag of magic beans. When he woke up, he still had the beans and ate one, and was then able to talk. She had great facial expressions and a lot of energy.
Donny thought it wasn’t “logical” to dream about something and have it become real, so we talked about “magic” vs. “logic” in stories.
And to show how even logic can be different for different people, I told the story of The Beggar Takes the Larger Coin.
A beggar is ridiculed every day by soldiers who offer him the choice of two coins: a small coin worth five kopeks, and a large coin worth only one kopek. The beggar always chooses the larger coin that is worth less. When the Rabbi sees this happening day after day, he questions the beggar to find out why. The beggar reveals that he is not as mindless as the soldiers think. “Rabbi, if I take the smaller coin that is worth more, the game is over for the soldiers, and I will get no more alms.”
When I tell this to the kids, I always stop before the beggar answers the Rabbi and ask them why they think he takes the larger coin. Someone almost always figures it out. 
The story led to a discussion about bullying. Who has been bullied? How can you respond to someone who ridicules you, or calls you names, or tries to play tricks on you? The kids all had great responses like, "I just say smank you very much".
One of the kids asked how old the beggar was. I always turn the questions back on the students, “How old do you think he was?” They all give different ages. I love it when they say something like, “In his mid-seventies.” We talked about how the teller describes the image in his/her mind, and then the listener sees a different (their own particular) image in their mind. Then Zoey, one of the best tellers in the class, said the image she had of the soldiers was of Rottweilers. Aha! I seized the moment!
With Zoey’s help and her images, we retold the story.
The soldiers were a roving pack of mean Rottweilers. The beggar was an old Poodle with matted fur. The rabbi was a wise old St. Bernard. The Rottweilers offered the Poodle a choice between a large, raw onion, and a tiny morsel of juicy meat...
It was one of the best moments ever in the class. Storytelling and magic, in more ways than one!

©Mark Goldman 2012

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


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