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A cracking welcome

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By James Campbellwriter, storyteller and stand-up comedian

Use the power of laughter to welcome children back to school, promote inclusiveness and inspire storytelling

Group of children laughing

A couple of months ago, I was in a primary school staffroom, somewhere in the wilderness of the East Midlands, when I overheard a conversation between two teachers, about a five-year-old girl. The whole class had been colouring in pictures of badgers and, whereas everyone else had used black and white, this little girl had made her badger black and pink. They were trying to work out why – maybe she was going through a pink phase? I thought there was probably more to this, so during my next session I had a chat with the little girl. It turned out that the reason for her black and pink badger was that the only badgers she had ever seen had been run over!

Tapping into children’s experiences

The more I work with children, the more I realise that there is an awful lot going on in the background of their lives. They’re the kind of random, mundane things that we don’t always think of tapping into. Pets, for example, can be a mine of inspiration. Most children have had a pet at some point, or have a relative that has one, and you can bet that there is a funny story about it. I once got some children doing stand-up comedy about dogs. We had everything from dogs running into patio doors, falling into ponds and eating shoes; to a very sad story about one that had died the previous day. The storytelling that came out of this was very powerful; it was true and personal, and all children were able to relate to it in one way or another. I think this is comedy’s strength.

Laughter as an ice breaker

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