Posted on 29th January 2021 in Blog by Andrew Mitchell
For National Storytelling Week, explore different ways in which we can create our own stories that are inspired by the landscape.
Write your own stories
Usually, during National Storytelling Week we would be working in schools and in The Sill to tell some traditional Northumbrian tales, and explore different ways in which we can write our own stories that are inspired by the landscape. This year we have to do things a little differently, but we still wanted to celebrate the week and to share an activity you can do at home linked to storytelling, literacy, reading and drama, to help you get inspired to creare your own nature inspired tales.
This activity is called Mystery Object
For this, you will need a bag and some interesting items to help you create your story. Hopefully, you can get outside and gather some natural objects, such as pine cones, acorns, and conkers (you might still have some you collected in the autumn!), leaves, interesting shaped stones, shells, bark, flowers, and sticks. Remember to only do this safely, near your home, maybe on a local walk or in your garden, or you might already have some things at home that you have collected in the past.
Next, have a look for some interesting objects in your room, like cuddly toy animals, a keyring, small plastic figures or dolls, or little trinkets like a bracelet. If you can’t find any natural objects, don’t worry. you can draw or print some pictures, or maybe write down some ideas on separate pieces of paper, or just use items you can find at home (remember to ask permission first!).
The idea is that all of the objects will go into a bag, and you will select one at a time from the bag without knowing which one you will pick next. Choose an item from the bag to start your story – think about the object, what it is, where it might have been found, or who might have found it. Some items might make you think of a place – the leaves and sticks could be from a forest, or the shells could be from a beach.
Be as imaginative as you want – perhaps your conker could be a little football for a pixie, or the shells could be tiny boats, or the leaves could be magical tokens. You can feature as a character in your own story, or you can make up a character to have adventures. If you prefer, you could line up a few objects first before you start, or you can choose one item at a time from the bag, letting the objects decide where your story goes.
Try and make sure your story has an intriguing beginning, an exciting middle, and a gripping ending!
If you can, write down your story as you go. You could illustrate it, or print some photos of the objects you have used. You could easily make this into a book using just a few folded sheets of paper and some coloured pens or pencils.
Or perhaps you could use a phone or a tablet to record your story, holding the objects while you talk about them. Another way of using your story is to create a performance, and outdoor spaces are great for this, especially if you can find a place that is similar to the one described in your story.
At The Sill we have hosted several outdoor performances, as the views of the landscape can really help the audience become immersed in the tale that is being performed. Perhaps you could get family members to take part in your play, and if you’re feeling extra creative you could even create some costumes for them to wear!
And when performing, don’t forget to use different voices for the different characters!
We would love to see any stories you create. With an adult to help, you could share images and films of your stories with us online. Please share any images on Twitter and tag our page @NlandNP.