Sunday, April 27, 2014

A treasure chest full of stories by Katerina Kyriakidou, Despina Vardaki & Elpiniki Psomataki - Report

With a treasure chest full of realia,  numerous oral story telling techniques and a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm, Katerina Kyriakidou, Despina Vardaki and Elpiniki Psomataki presented seven suspenseful, enjoyable teaching stories, pretending to be sailors who decided to entertain their shipmates!

Sky Basses – A string story
Despina Vardaki was the first one to start with a story of a pirate called Sky Basses and her confrontation with an annoying mosquito, which constantly disrupted her from weaving! Despina used finger knitting to visualize parts of her story and made matching sounds to emphasize the mosquito’s buzzing noise.

Naughty Marysia – Use of puppets
This story was presented by Elpiniki Psomataki. It was about Marysia, a naughty little girl, who decided to play hide and seek with her younger sister, but stayed hidden for so long that her family got worried and set out to look for her. Elpiniki used a set of five nesting dolls (wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other) to represent the family members. She started off with the biggest doll (the grandmother) and she gradually took one doll out of the other, while telling the story. Repeated, rhythmic speech patterns successfully introduced new vocabulary.

At the playground – A string story
The next story was presented by Katerina Kyriakidou. It was about two girls, playing in the park. Hide and seek and skipping were just a few of the games mentioned in this descriptive story. Katerina used a string to visualize an amount of related to the games vocabulary.  So the string turned into a smile, a slide, glasses, a jump rope, a stethoscope and many more. Children’s rhymes, relevant to the games, were also harmoniously incorporated in the story.

The Little Duckling – A puppet story
It was again Despina’s turn. Her story was about a plain duckling, whose unadorned appearance made him sad. Amazed by other animals’ outstanding characteristics, every time it admired something on an animal, it got it on the spot! What would it look like in the end? Would it be happy? Despina used a hand puppet, which she cumulatively created through simple clothing items, as she went along with the story, to show the duckling’s transformation. So she put on a woman’s long white glove to show what the duckling would look like with a swan’s neck and two blue stone rings to symbolize the Siamese’s sapphire blue eyes. Gestures and facial expressions, heightened speech and clearly enunciated words added to the understanding of the story.

The paper hat – An origami story
Elpiniki moved on with another story which she presented using the origami technique. In her story we followed the adventure of a man who started off with reading a newspaper in the park and ended up in a boat in the middle of a terrible storm! Through graduated paper folding and cutting, Elpiniki constantly transformed the newspaper into something new, into a fireman’s hat or a boat to support her vivid narration. The outcome surprised us every time, as the paper shapes emerged at the right time, following the narration and sometimes even preceding! Elpiniki also used her voice a lot to create the appropriate tension.

A cloth roll
For this story Despina used a cloth roll with drawings on it. Together with Elpiniki they held it upright by its two ends. While telling the story, Despina slowly unrolled the cloth roll, showing us the drawings of the scenes. It was the story of a young pirate who left his ship, went through a dark forest and other places, up a hill and into a dark cave to find a treasure. But instead of finding the treasure, he bumped into something in the cave that scared him so much he ran off to save his life. After this unexpected twist, Despina started rolling up the cloth roll, following the pirate back to his ship, through the same route he took to get to the cave, this time speeding up the pace of the story to create the appropriate atmosphere. Despina revealed us what was in the cave only at the very end, this way  keeping  our attention alive during the whole time.

Little Red Riding Hood – A scarf story
The tale of Little Red Riding Hood came to life by Katerina who embodied all the characters in a theatrical performance without narration, just monologues and at some points even dialogues. She used a scarf which she quickly put on differently each time she shifted from one character into the other.  A specific way of wearing indicated the corresponding character. Grandma wore it, for example, on the head, whereas the lumberjack had it around his neck. Katerina also made different voices and changed her posture, giving each character their own unique existence. This way we got to know the grumbling grandmother, the devoted lumberjack, the devious wolf and the carefree Little Red Riding Hood. The same well known tale, but yet so different and fresh, due to a witty script and a captivating performance!

Listening to all these imaginative, entertaining stories, so grippingly and skillfully presented, we all had the chance to step into the learner’s shoes and experience the benefits of oral story telling first hand. A precious stepping stone for us teachers to guide our students on their learning journey!

By Aspa Georgopoulou

Interviewed by our Roving Reporter: Jo Psarra

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