Stories with Families

December 15, 2016

We are delighted to have received funding from Children in Need to continue delivering the Stories with Families project.  We are now in our sixth year working with Children’s Centres in Merton to deliver storytelling and creative play workshops with children under 5 years and their parents and carers.  In November we completed the first phase of this project with workshops at Abbey, Steers Mead and Newminster Children’s Centre.

Families enjoyed taking part in craft, movement and drama activities linked to themes such as autumn, space, winter and the weather or stories such as When We Went to the Park by Shirley Hughes or Snow Bears by Martin Waddell.  The children have had fun creating their own varied imaginary worlds: making pretend food with play dough, preparing imaginary soup using a big stretch of elastic to be the saucepan, creating a dragon, designing their own planets and working as a group to travel to the park, around the jungle or to reach the moon!

The children were at various stages in their language development and it was noticeable across all the groups that they were very receptive to the use of rhythm in the stories or in the ways that they used their bodies. This in turn helped the younger children to begin to mimic the sounds of some of the words used.  They all enjoyed the framing of the sessions and the familiarity that this brought to the sessions, with opening and closing songs and rituals such as making imaginary breakfast together at Steers Mead, before starting on their journeys, using bowls and wooden spoons to mix fluffy baubles and glitter.  One mother commented how her son liked to repeat at home, a song he had heard at Newminster: ‘Shall we listen to a story?’ which was the cue to the storytime part of the session.

‘Absolutely brilliant.  Very interactive and creative.  The facilitators were great at engaging and getting the best of all children.’  Parent at Steers Mead Children’s Centre    

The sessions in all of the centres followed a format of an opening craft activity to introduce the theme of the week such as creating patterns with leaves, pine cones and paints on a big sheet of paper in the autumn week, a group activity to bring to life a story or imaginary world and then closing with snack and social time for the children and their parents and carers.

It has been an exciting and vibrant start to the project and we’re looking forward to welcoming families to Polka in January 2017, to our storytelling event, World of Stories and Music and to see the Polka and Oxford Playhouse production of How to Hide a Lion in Polka’s Adventure Theatre.

Fran Chabrel

Community Engagement Manager