Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Little Story Teller's Adventures

'Tis the time of the year for project work again. Every year, before the June break, we wait anxiously to find out what project the twins will be involved in for the next term. I love project work season. I love how their classes take on relatively simple and straight forward themes (they are all pre-schoolers after all) and turn out mega projects. It always culminates in an Open House at school that I am guaranteed to leave with my jaw on the ground. I think I am relishing this year's projects with the twins more than ever because I know that it will be their last.

This is the first of 2 posts. One for Jordan and the other for Evan. Next year, Muffin starts his annual project cycle. Unfortunately, the twins would have gone on the Primary One by then. It would have been great to go to 3 project work presentations at school.

Anyway, Jordan's class project is about books.

We'd done an array of projects at home to do with books. We did some of it during their "Fake Birthday Party" but that seemed to make the project totter dangerously around obsessing on Charlotte's Web. So we moved away from the spider and the pig.

The great thing about these projects is that we can base it on what piques their interests and we can build on it. Jordan loves drawing. At the same time, with no surprise coming from a family with two English teachers, her Chinese ain't that hot. So to help her do something she wouldn't be all that comfortable doing (reading an entire Chinese story book), I get her to illustrate her book as a puppet show. And that's where she takes off. She draws all the characters herself though by the lion, she gets tired and asks me to do it. I tell her, truthfully, that I can't for the life of me draw a lion for her. I could write her 10 stories in Chinese better than I could draw the lion. I am not sure what that is testament of; my inability to draw or the delusion that my Chinese is actually better than my art.

Anyway, she came up with all the puppets, coloured and mounted them herself. I painstakingly wrote a 4 page script, careful to only use words that she could read. It became a task of Dr Seuss proportions (Green Eggs and Ham was written with 50 words). All we were short of was a cardboard theatre stage but her 'wayang kulit' attempts that started with halting Chinese soon gave way to smooth Chinese story-telling with the help of the table's edge. (Video will go up once I get one without Muffin squealing in the back ground or Evan talking to me.)

Today, she came home with an addition to her project. What must have been a lesson in school about writing a narrative was very quickly assimilated. She told us that stories required 'conflict' and could quite quickly identify 'conflict' in her bed time stories with us. On top of that, she produced a little story booklet, complete with 'conflict' as well as an ending open enough to warrant a sequel.

It combines her loves of My Little Pony (very very hot favourite with both Jordan and Evan), drawing and story telling. We left it mostly intact, wanting it to be all her  (The first page, she corrected when we read it out loud and she realised her mistakes. We stopped because we wanted to keep it in the spirit it was written).

And tonight, as a family, we discovered an almost wordless book with only 12 words in it. It's called Tuesday by David Wiesner. It's a great book because we get to make up stories based on the pictures. And we took turns making up stories. Each of us, Packrat, the twins and myself (Muffin was happy counting frogs or toads as Packrat claims) came up with a story paying attention to different details and each of us had different favourite images.  And what we identified as 'conflict' was entirely different. A lesson on perspective if you will.

We will probably let her bring the book to school to share with her class. I'm going to miss doing these mega projects with them next year when they go up to Primary One. Fingers crossed that they get to do these things then but I'm not putting any money on that.


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