Mr Biggles’ Storytelling Sessions are aimed primarily at EYFS and Key Stage 1 aged children, although they are adaptable for older children too. Activities are based on the environment and the natural world, especially that in Britain, and woodlands in particular.
Mr Biggles started as an idea – as a storyteller, I have been lots of books as part of my research into the history of folk tales. Many of the European stories feature bears, especially those from Germanic areas. Those of that have read my blogs before will be familiar with the peculiar story of The Turnip Princess, in which a small bear is a witch’s familiar, although this is a bit of a red herring (if you pardon the pun). I have been slowly creating a Storytelling Gang of characters that I use as focus objects during sessions, so it became obvious that a bear was necessary.
But how to make a bear?
Well, I have made a few characters now and most of them have come from the crochet pattern books of Kerry Lord from TOFT, an alpaca wool manufacturer. Her patterns are brilliant and make fabulously lovable and tactile, appealing creatures. They have a definite ‘look’ about them and they easily be given a personality all of their own. On finding the pattern for the bear I wanted, I looked for suitable materials and colours. I went for bamboo cotton for its durability (it will be handled by many times and in different conditions, weather etc) and shades of brown, to keep an edge of realism. Once I had completed all the parts of the bear, the face posed the most difficult part of the puzzle, as this is the most important piece. Needless to say, it took ages to get this right. The shape of the eyes, the nose, to smile or not, the shape of the smile and the size of it – all almost impossible! Somehow, the face suddenly revealed itself. Almost like a carving coming out of stone. And wow, what a lovely little face too!
Mr Biggles came out of the Storytelling Gang bag for the first time the next day, and barely had his nose poked out, when I heard a little boy proclaim that he knew his name was Mr Biggles, and that was that. I had been struggling to name him, so it is always wise to consult the experts on these matters. The eight and nine year olds (and their parallel class) given the job of naming Mr Oggy Boggles in January are still buzzing with excitement over that ceremony, five months later.
What happened next…
The shaping of the character of Mr Biggles pretty much at the same time as he did. The process of crochet and pattern I followed involves a great of shaping and creation, thinking about the general shape of the character, his face, how his body will work and move, all contribute to how he will be. More than that, as a storyteller, I think about what he might get up to, think about the stories he will get involved in, the stories that he knows. Of course, there will be elements of my personality going into his personality. He is, after all, my creation, and that is bound to be inevitable in some way. Once a character has met children and I talk about them, things can change as this when they really come to life, especially when I hear my responses to questions that I never thought I’d be able to answer.
And then, of course, there’s writing a story about them… but that really is a whole other story!
PS Don’t forget
Announcing the first ever EmblaBee competition
I’d love to hear from whenever you can send me an entry, just make sure that it gets to me before the end of May. All entries will be judged by a set of creative and experienced judges and winners will be notified by the end of the first week of June, so if you have not heard anything by then, please know that you can always try again in another competition in the future. The judges are lovely, but their decision is final and may eat you if you want to argue with them (not really). They are looking for originality, exciting and with personality.
The winners will receive their prizes as soon as EmmisMakes (that’s me, too) can make them, add the magic (about this much) and can make arrangements to get them to you safely.
Draw a Character – Hints and Clues
Members of the Storytelling Gang so far look a bit like this…
Find out more about them on the Meet the Team Page
This page might give you some clues about how to create your character and what they might look like. We’re really interested in what they like and what they get up to, so add that information too, if you can.
Create a Story – Hints and Clues
If you have been reading any of the blogs about Oggy Boggles and his book about storywriting, there are hints there about the kind of thing we are looking for the create a story part of the competition.
There are lots of things that you can do to start thinking about writing a story, and this exactly what I do when I put a story together. When I start writing or thinking up a tale on the spot to tell children, very often I start off with choosing a character, deciding where they are going, what they are doing, and why they are doing it. They might meet someone to have fun with that makes the story exciting, or something might happen that stops what they were hoping to do and they have to do a brave thing or use a special tool or magical gift to help them get out of trouble.
Send us five ideas for a story that get us excited about the story we could make out of them, like:
Princess, bear, prince, cave, turnip (sounds crazy, but there is a very old story about those five things… you can read my version of it here: The Turnip Princess)
Three bears, little girl, porridge, broken things, asleep – bet you can guess the story from those clues. But what other story could you create from the key words?
Boy called George, Girl called Rosie-Mae, mountain bike, pony, magic key
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
If you’d like to add some illustrations to your story ideas, we’d love that too.
A quick reminder of the prizes!
Good luck everybody! Looking forward to all your entries!
Say hello to this week’s brand new character of the week…
Just Saying Hello!
Mr Biggles is a lovely, friendly bear, that lives in a wood and knows a great deal about the countryside and our world. He can help you find out about animals, birds and trees in the forests he loves in Britain, and every other living thing on Earth. An expert on what makes the planet as wonderful and powerful as it is, he can tell you about rivers and mountains, skies and seas, earthquakes and volcanoes, tiny streams and mighty moving floods of water and soil. Also a believer in being a responsible member of the world, Mr Biggles can talk to you about recycling, using electricity and water wisely and how to take care of our environment.
Mr Biggles’ Book
Like every self respecting member of the Storytelling Gang, Mr Biggles has his own book that travels around with him when he meets children in different classroom and storytelling sessions. This one is full of ideas about his friends, the environment, and woodlands in particular. There’s a story about some bears his friend, Bob, met in woods and what they got up to as well. Take a look at some of the pages from the book.
Mr Biggles was born only a couple of months ago and has been one of my most popular characters. He was named not by me, but by a pupil I was teaching at one of the schools I visit regularly as a supply teacher. Barely (if you pardon the pun) had his nose poked out of the storytelling bag, when the little burst out with “I know what his name is. It’s Mr Biggles.” Up until that moment I had been thinking of a few different names, and nothing had really seemed right. Well, Mr Biggles it was and it has suited him ever since. There was a brief foray into Mr Biggle, though it didn’t last. Always trust children on these things.
For the past two weeks, Mr Biggles has been working his big strong paws off in Reception classes at a number of schools. The children have learnt to sequence pictures from a story, to use relative positional language (not in those words), to draw different animal homes and to understand how an acorn grows into an oak tree. For one little boy, he learnt that acorns are called acorns, not oakanuts, which was a hard won contest. Acorns, pine cones, sticks and other outdoor materials were used on one particularly cold and miserable afternoon to create ephemeral art in the classroom, and the pictures were fantastic. The bark rubbing collages totally made by the children were unexpectedly delicious, as they were far more imaginative with their use of shape and colour than I anticipated them to be, which just go to illustrate my earlier point of trusting children of these things.
Anyway, TTFN, and I’ll be back soon!
P.S. I will posting news about a competition on Tuesday, so look out for that!
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My favourite alien, Mr Oggy Boggles, is back for another turn as Character of the Week!
Today, we have been working on adding some illustrations to his story, and we have something to show you. Take a few minutes to enjoy highlights from his life story so far, and then click on the links below to read the full story.
To read Mr Oggy Boggles’ full Origin Story, read on MacDuff:
To mark Shakespeare’s birthday on Monday, 23rd April, how about doing some of the Witches’ Spell activities I have placed FREE to download on TES resources? Based on the Witches’ Spell from Macbeth, there are sequence of lessons and activities, with lesson plans (with aims and success criteria included), worksheets, presentations, resource lists and all you need to get going on great sessions with children from EYFS to LSK2. There’s a little taste of everything there, from Drama (of course), to Maths, Science, Music, Art, Craft, PE… plus extension ideas too.
These have all been revised since they were first published and new additions have been made, so are well worth a second look if you have the time.
Clink on the links here for more information and the links to the TES resources:
And for those with more money than time, a bundle of all them that you can pay cash monies for:
This week’s featured character is…
Arriving on Earth after a freak incident on the Moon shook him loose in his little Moon Rock house, Oggy is now on an ongoing mission to seek out new stories and new poetry sessions, to go boldly where one stripey little alien has never before gone (or something like that anyway).
This week, Oggy and I have held high powered talks over cups of tea and packets of Malteasers (what with Moon Cheese being so rare and all, down here on Earth), and we have continued to develop his Go Bananas! Do Stories! Book and series of lesson plans.
As part of that, with his guidance of course, I produced a set of illustrations for Oggy’s book, that can help take writers through the different elements needed to write simple stories.
Mr Oggy Boggles and I are available to come to schools to share his book and discuss the storytelling strategies we’ve come up with together, and may be a story or two with pupils and teachers too, as we both love stories. Follow-up lesson plans and teachers’ packs are available. If you are interested, have a look for more information on booking us here: Storytelling – Information and Fees
To read Mr Oggy Boggles’ own Origin Story, read on MacDuff:
Meet the brand new character to be part of the gang with Bob and the animals and creatures in the EmblaBee storytelling bag.
An expert in traditional tales, Mr Wolfgang Eriksen is especially keen on stories about wolves (obviously), but can spin you are a yarn about adventurous girls and brave boys, sneaky animals and clever fairies, wicked witches, and more about magical turnips than you will ever want to hear.
A simple to use powerpoint presentation for primary aged children, and has ENGLISH subject tasks, requiring reading comprehension, and a understanding of plot, character and setting. The powerpoint can be used for group work, class work or guided reading activities, so is versatile and easy to adapt for individual classes. Basic lesson objectives and success criteria are included, as well as handy hints and notes along the slides. The Story Detectives resource bank uses entirely original stories written by Emma Middlemiss (that’s me) about a bunny, facing new beginnings and changes, with a hint of Nordic mythology and history, as well as other characters to draw out the best of children’s imaginations and interests.