One of my favourite activities as a storyteller is Story-making. My definition is simply “using the power of improvisation and imagination to create something unique”.
As Albert Einstein said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’.
My favourite audience is of course children however, this works with all ages.
My 3 key tips for running a successful story-making session are as follows:
Introduce the audience to the concept of the ‘mind’s eye’. When children see the little tree growing out of their hand or the dragon crawling out of a crack in the ground, then you’re ready to start. It doesn’t take long but it does feel like you are introducing them to something unknown.
Start the story and move around the group asking individuals for their input. Depending on the age you could just let it flow or you could help create a mix of description, a stir of action with a twist of dialogue. Try not to dismiss anything innocent. Use common sense for appropriateness. Don’t worry too much about a plot. The beauty in this exercise is that it acknowledges interest. For a child to know that his or her ‘part’ was acknowledged and included is by far so important.
As the Storyteller, stop and actually tell the story to a point. This is very important, especially if you want to retell the story at a later point or even type it out. By retelling the story, the story gets slotted into The Storyteller’s memory banks. This also showcases the pure magic of what has just been created. In my experience, this goes down a treat.
There are many tips that i could share but these three are my favourite.
I was asked recently to perform at a 7-year old’s birthday party. The theme was ‘Paddington Bear’ so the children created a story of ‘Paddington Bear’s Adventure in the Woods’. They introduced the characters, including the villain and the plot evolved into something quite remarkable. I could not have imagined some of the things that were added. The following day, I typed out the story and did an audio recording. The children now have something tangible and beats any party bag gift by far.
The story is as follows:
CLICK HERE for the audio recording.
Paddington Bear’s Adventure in the Woods
Created by Florence and Friends 10 November 2018
Adapted and Written by Andy Copps (www.andycopps.com)
Once upon a time, Paddington Bear went for a walk in the woods.
He was quite surprised when a Frog, that went “Ribbit!” and a Flamingo, that stood on one leg, came up to him and said ‘Can we be friends?’
‘Of course!’ replied Paddington Bear.
They carried on walking and heard something that sounded like a crying baby, ‘Waaaaaaaaaah!’
Sure enough, they came across a baby and right next to the baby on the ground was a Poppy flower.
Suddenly, there was a rustle in the bushes and out came a Fox. ‘Good day to you. My name is Fergus’, said the Fox in a polite and posh voice.
Paddington Bear was just about to say something when out of the bushes followed Rapunzel and her Prince. Paddington Bear knew it was Rapunzel because she had long golden hair that she was carrying in a bundle, in her arms.
‘Now where have you all come from?’ asked Paddington Bear.
‘Well’, replied Rapunzel, ‘this Prince of mine fell out of my tower and pulled me with him.’
‘Goodness me’, said Paddington Bear, ‘are you hurt?’
‘Thankfully, we landed on some very soft, bouncy bushes so we were not hurt at all’, replied Rapunzel, taking a deep breath of air and continuing ‘and we decided to run away fast, before the Witch could catch us and then this fox………’
‘Excuse me! My name is FERGUS!’ interrupted the Fox, rather loudly.
‘Oh yes, sorry Fergus’, said Rapunzel, rather apologetically.
Rapunzel continued, ‘then Fergus the Fox came running after us and asked if he could join us because he likes running.’
Rapunzel heard the Baby crying and bent down and picked the Poppy flower and gave it to the Baby to hold. The Baby stopped crying.
So, there you have it. Paddington Bear, a Frog that went “Ribbit”, a Flamingo that stood on one leg, a Baby with a Poppy in its hand, a Fox called Fergus, Rapunzel and her Prince.
There was a flash of lightning and then the boom of thunder. Everyone looked up and saw the dark rain clouds above.
‘We had better get a move on’, said Paddington Bear.
‘I agree’, replied Rapunzel, ‘the Witch will also be looking for us now.’
Rapunzel paused and gave the matter a thought.
‘I have a great idea!’ shouted Rapunzel and with that she dropped her bundle of golden hair onto the ground. She then started to move her head round and round and round, spinning the hair above all her new friends. With a final flick of her head, the hair flew out straight across the path and landed softly, all very flat. It looked like a golden carpet.
‘Everyone, climb on and hold tight. You are going for a ride!’
So, Paddington Bear, the Frog that went “Ribbit”, a Flamingo that stood on one leg, a Baby with a Poppy in its hand, a Fox called Fergus and the Prince, all climbed onto Rapunzel’s hair and held on tight.
Rapunzel started to run and the hair lifted off the ground and all the friends seemed to be flying like they were on a magic golden carpet.
‘Rapunzel’s flying golden hair carpet!’ shouted everyone, ‘woooooooo-hooooooo!’
Rapunzel saw someone ahead and she stopped suddenly. The hair came down onto the ground with all the friends. It was a bit of a bump.
‘Ouch!’, shouted Paddington Bear.
‘Waaaaa! Ouch!’, shouted the Baby, still holding onto the Poppy flower.
‘Gosh! Ouch’, shouted Fergus the Fox.
‘Oooooh! Ouch!’, shouted the Prince
‘Ribbit!!!’, went the Frog, very loud of course.
The Flamingo didn’t say much as it just spread its wings and landed softly and then stood on one leg.
Everyone stood and looked down the path.
There in front of them was a lady, dressed in black with a large pointy black hat and a long pointy nose.
‘That’s the witch!’, said the Prince.
‘Good to see she dresses the part’, joked Paddington Bear.
There was another rustle in the bushes to the side of the path and out came Harry Potter.
‘Harry Potter!’, shouted everyone, very pleased to see him.
Harry Potter stepped forward and was just about to do something, with his wand no doubt, when Paddington Bear walked in front of Rapunzel.
‘I have an idea’, said Paddington Bear.
Paddington Bear took off his hat and reached inside and took out a Marmalade Sandwich.
‘I hate to waste a good sandwich’, he whispered to himself.
And with all his strength he threw the Marmalade Sandwich at the Witch.
Paddington Bear and all his friends watched as the Marmalade Sandwich went flying like a frisbee and just before it hit the Witch the two slices of bread opened up and “SPLAT!”.
Two slices of bread were stuck to the Witch’s face.
The Witch screamed as best she could because one slice of bread was covering her mouth.
“Eeeeeeeeeehhhhh! Aaawwwwww! sssssspppfffff!”, was the sound the Witch made.
‘Gosh’, said Paddington Bear, ‘she sounds like a donkey going “Hee-Haw!” while blowing raspberries at the same time.’
Paddington Bear and all his friends, including Harry Potter, burst out laughing.
The Witch was not pleased. She wiped furiously at her face, flicking the slices of bread away and trying to wipe the sticky marmalade away with her hands but it was sticking everywhere.
‘I will get you for this Rapunzel! You and your prince and that silly horrible bear and that ridiculous flamingo standing on one leg, oh and that frog that keeps saying “Ribbit”, as well as that baby holding that poppy and that fox ….’
‘My name is Fergus!’, shouted the Fox.
‘I don’t care!’, screamed the Witch, ‘now, where was I? Oh yes, who else is there? Harry Potter! I will get you too Harry Potter!’
The Witch started waving her hands in the air.
“Stand back everyone!’, shouted Harry Potter, ‘the Witch is about to cast a spell but don’t worry I will protect you!’ Harry Potter pulled out his wand from inside his cloak.
Before the Witch and Harry Potter did anything, a gigantic red Dragon flew down and scooped up Rapunzel with its massive claws but was very careful not to hurt her. Rapunzel lifted off the ground with her long golden hair rising slowly.
‘Grab onto Rapunzel’s hair everyone!’ shouted Paddington Bear.
Everyone grabbed hold of a chunk of Rapunzel’s hair and there you have it. A gigantic red Dragon flapping its wings gently and magnificently, while holding onto Rapunzel with her long golden hair, trailing below with Paddington Bear, a Frog that went “Ribbit”, a Baby still holding onto a Poppy, a Fox called Fergus, the Prince and Harry Potter, clinging on as best they could. Oh, and the Flamingo but it didn’t need to hold onto Rapunzel’s hair. It just flapped its wings and was able to stay close.
The Witch was standing now with her mouth slowly opening and closing in utter shock of what she saw.
A drop of Marmalade fell off the tip of her pointy nose and landed on her bottom lip.
She shook her head and then realised she had lost her chance to cast a spell. She started to run after them.
The Dragon saw a clearing just ahead by a small lake of water and he decided to come down.
‘We are going down!’, shouted Paddington Bear, ‘get ready for landing in about 10 seconds’.
Everyone started counting down together, ‘Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One!’
The Dragon came down like the gentle giant it was and placed Rapunzel carefully onto the ground. The same could not be said for the friends. Rapunzel’s hair also come down but quite quickly with everyone holding on and they hit the ground again with a BUMP!.
‘Ouch!’, shouted Paddington Bear.
‘Waaaaa! Ouch!’, shouted the Baby, still holding onto the Poppy.
‘Gosh! Ouch’, shouted Fergus the Fox.
‘Oooooh! Ouch!’, shouted the Prince
‘RIBBIT!!!’, went the Frog, the loudest ever.
‘Should have used my wand! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!’, shouted Harry Potter as he bounced three times and came to a stop.
Now the Witch just had to follow all the noise and it did not take her very long to find them.
‘I have you now!’ she screeched, ‘and you can’t escape!’
‘I can handle this!’, shouted Harry Potter. He reached into his cloak to get his wand and his face suddenly looked very worried.
‘Oh no!’, he shouted, ‘I must have dropped my wand when we came down with a BUMP!’
The Witch now started to laugh, a horrible screechy laugh that sounded like a barn owl and a laughing hyena singing a song together.
‘Heeee heeee haaaa haaaa eeeeeeek haaaa haaaa eeeeeeeek!’
The friends were now in stunned silence, except for the Frog who still went “Ribbit”.
Paddington Bear turned around and suddenly had an idea. He carefully took off his hat ,checked there were no spare Marmalade Sandwiches inside, and took a few steps back. He was now at the edge of the lake. He bent down and filled his hat with water.
The Witch did not notice Paddington Bear as she was still laughing. By this time all the friends were finding the constant screeching just rather annoying.
Paddington Bear used the opportunity to carefully walk towards the Witch, pretending he was just simply carrying his hat.
‘Excuse me madam,’ said Paddington Bear, in his usual polite voice.
The Witch stopped laughing and looked at Paddington Bear, scrunching up her face clearly showing her dislike for him.
‘What do you want, horrible little bear?’, asked the Witch in her high pitch scratchy voice. ‘That was not nice to throw Marmalade at me. So, for that, I am going to turn you into an orange.’
‘Oh, I see,’ replied Paddington Bear very calmly, ‘but before you do that, I want to give you something.’
‘Not more Marmalade, I hope?’, asked the Witch.
‘No, this!’, shouted Paddington Bear and he threw his hat of water all over the Witch.
The Witch screamed in terror, so loud that all the birds in the forest flew off and all the friends had to cover their ears and fell down onto the ground. The Dragon curled himself into a tight ball, wrapped up in his wings.
And then suddenly there was a squelchy noise “Spplllssssssfffff!!!!!” as the Witch frizzled and dissolved.
Everyone looked up and saw that the Witch had disappeared.
‘Hooray for Paddington Bear!’, they cried out.
‘How did you do that?’, asked Harry Potter.
‘I read it somewhere in a book that witches don’t like water,’ replied Paddington Bear.
Everyone laughed and celebrated and the Dragon blew fire into the sky.
‘Ooh, I do love fireworks’, said Paddington Bear.