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Baby Bear comes home/Baby Bear speaks…

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By Antony Lishak — Children’s Author

A delightful caption story poster, launching a six-part story-writing workshop by Literacy Time PLUS’ new Writer-in-residence, Antony Lishak.

Background information

This downloadable poster presents a caption story about a baby teddy bear accidentally left in a school and the twilight journey of Mummy and Daddy Bear as they go to rescue him. The story is the starting point for a six-part story-writing workshop by Literacy Time PLUS’ new Writer-in-residence, Antony Lishak.

In Part 1, Baby Bear speaks… (Leaflet 1 – available only in the PRINT version of the magazine) the children can hear Baby Bear’s point of view and discover the story behind the story. Future leaflets in the series will focus on other characters in Baby Bear Comes Home and tell their story, inviting children to think about point of view, and planting seeds in their mind for a whole range of other stories to tell and write.

babybear.jpg

Using the poster

Activity 1: Retelling the story

  • Ask the children to recount the story. Encourage them to use the phrases ‘at the beginning’, ‘in the middle’ and ‘in the end’ to help them structure their retelling.
  • Invite them to identify the problem (Baby Bear has been left in school), the adventures (what happens to the characters on their journey) and the outcome (how everything is resolved).
  • Very young children could verbally retell the story to a group, while older children could create a sequenced storyboard of what happened.

Activity 2 – Making a story map

  • On the activity sheet below is a story map that charts Mummy and Daddy Bear’s journey. In its simplest form, you can use this for a sequencing exercise – copy the sheet and cut out the text boxes so they can be manipulated by the children on a table. But you can also use this as your own reference for a group discussion activity, working with the children and using a flip chart or interactive whiteboard to note the story events and start sorting them into a sequence. The children could draw a picture to accompany each event, making their own caption story.

Further reading

Baby Bear Comes Home by Antony Lishak was first published as a Heinemann KS1 Blue Bananas fiction book. Find out more in the Books section of Antony’s website www.antonylishak.com, where you can also download images from the original book which you are free to cut and paste for further storytelling activities.

Read Antony’s online blog, and chat with him, at literacytimeauthor.blogspot.com

  • Ask a group of children to make their own story map. This is more than just a way of testing their memory: the resulting flow chart can provide a framework for the children to create their own alternative events and endings.
  • This is a really good opportunity to ask lots of ‘What if?’ questions. What if the bears slipped off the frogs’ backs? What if the classroom toys were holding Baby Bear for ransom? Anything is possible when you’re dealing with ‘What ifs’! Encourage the group to come up with their own suggestions and add them to the original flow chart, demonstrating how new ideas could completely alter the direction of a story.

Activity 3 – Using drama

  • Invite children to take on the roles of the characters in the story and to act out what happens. Encourage them to take on the characters’ personalities rather than just reciting lines.
  • Once the re-enactment is underway, throw in the alternative ‘What if?’ suggestions from Activity 2. Make a note of the dialogue the children create to cope with the new directions the stories take. When ideas appear to be tailing off, ask ‘How do you think this should end?’ This will lead to further discussions of alternative endings, provide another opportunity to demonstrate the power of the imagination, and show just how easy it is to create new stories.

Using the leaflet

  • Share Leaflet 1 in small groups. In the leaflet, Baby Bear speaks directly to the reader and tells the story from his point of view. Future leaflets in the series will tell the story from the viewpoint of the different characters from the story, helping the children to empathise with each character.
  • Download the character outlines from the website. Let the children colour them in and add speech bubbles saying things like, I am Owl/Frog/Basher the cat/Baby Bear etc… This is what really happened, or This is what I saw.
  • Next, either verbally to a group or written individually on paper, the child can tell the story from the particular character’s perspective. Encourage them to use the first person (eg, I woke up and found that Baby Bear was missing. I tried to sit on the frog’s back but it was very slippery). This is a good opportunity to delve below the story surface. Lion, for example, appears in only one of the pictures and appears to play little part in the story. He is actually one of the classroom toys who keep Baby Bear entertained while his parents are on their way. Getting the child to say what Lion could have seen and done would involve making up what might have happened while the main action of the story was going on. The child will have to use what they know about the story and the characters to create the scene.
  • The most powerful motivation for a child to tell a story is the certain knowledge that someone else is going to hear it. Writing is an unavoidably abstract activity – a child has no idea how long they’ll have to wait before their written words can be read and reacted to. As a result, verbal vocabulary is seldom reflected in a child’s writing. So try to encourage real, face-to-face storytelling, either through a one-to-one conversation or a one-to-group storytelling performance.

Literacy Framework

See the Using this issue chart to identify the Learning Objectives covered by these activities, to track progression from Reception through to Year 3, and to identify links with Year 1 and 2 Planning Units.

One-to-one

Ask the child ‘Tell me what happened…’ or ‘What do you remember…’ questions and act as an enthusiastic audience. Try to instigate these conversations while the child is actually writing so that when they come out with really great use of language you can supplement your ‘Wow!’ with a ‘Why don’t you write those very words down in your story?’ You will be demonstrating how writing is merely speaking through your pencil, and that the words that come out of your mouth can be used on paper as well.

One-to-group

  • Allow the children to take the role of the storyteller. Let them sit in your seat to tell their story and put yourself as a member of the audience.
  • After the story, ask the audience how they felt. Which were the exciting parts? Which descriptions do they remember the most?
  • Ask the storyteller ‘What did you want us to feel?’ and ‘How did you want us to react?’ This will help demonstrate how written words, as well as spoken words, can be invested with emotion and can elicit reactions in others.

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