We started the first two weeks of our Roald Dahl term with Fantastic Mr Fox. During our first week the children helped me to tell the first half of the story together. Stood in a circle formation, everyone took it in turns to step into the acting space in the middle of the circle and become the characters. My aim of working in this way is to give the children the chance to act out a range of characters, whilst giving every child an equal opportunity to be involved. This method of storytelling, where I feed the children direct quotes from the book to repeat in character, is a valuable way of helping to increase their vocabulary. Children act out verbs as they repeat the lines so they gain an understanding of the meaning of the words.
Our first three farmers were a formidable bunch and they stomped on the spot to the rhythm of Dahl’s refrain,
Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean
These horrible crooks
So different in looks
Were none the less equally mean
If the farmers were a formidable force then their enemies the foxes had to dig to escape knowing their lives depended on it. Learning to work together as a team is at the heart of all our sessions, which is why at this point the group was split up into two teams and each team worked together to come up with a series of actions for digging. Team farmers and team foxes went head to head in a dig off, face to face the teams stood, chanting the refrain with passion and purpose as they dug with brute force.
In week two we picked up the story from the foxes, weak and starving and trapped underground whilst the farmers waited with their shotguns outside. This week, I developed the group’s teamwork skills by taking a different approach to telling the story. We began the class with simple storytelling. Sat in a circle on the floor, as though around a campfire, I told the group the second half of the story. The children were then split up into four small groups and with props and costumes they were given a section of the story to practice and perform to the rest of the group at the end. Working in this way, my aim is to build the idea of imagination as the children are given more of a free reign to come up with ideas for themselves, to use their imagination in order to improvise and act out characters.
Over the coming weeks children will continue to tell more of Dahl’s fantastic stories in this same way, split up in small groups. I am very excited to see what creative interpretations of these brilliant classic tales we will discover!
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