Mr Biggles – from Hook to Book

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

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!


Embla xxx

PS Don’t forget

Competition information is here…

The EmblaBee May Competition – Who Is It?

Announcing the first ever EmblaBee competition

Competition information is here…

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…

The Storytelling Gang love spending time together, telling tales and making up games. Which is your favourite?

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!

Character of the Week #2 continued!

My favourite alien, Mr Oggy Boggles, is back for another turn as Character of the Week!

Available for sessions in schools and at parties, Mr Oggy Boggles loves telling stories and helping children to write their own. He even has his own book to share with children.

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:

The Curious Tale of Mr Oggy Boggles – Part One

The Curious Tale of Mr Oggy Boggles – Part Two

Embla the Bunny Story Detectives

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.

Bob and the Very Rainy Day

NB Bob is lovelilicious but has his own idiosyncratic way of speakaling. It is infectious. All spelling mistooks are his fault, not that of the author. EM


Bob and the Very Rainy Day

Bob decided that it was going to be one of those dumbtwiddling days. He looked out of his window in his home at the base of an ancient hollowed out oak tree, and all he could see was big wetty gobbley droppers pourling down and making hugelymungiously soggy puddly muddles on the ground. On dumbtwiddling days like this, he knew there was only one thing that you could do. Sit in front of a warm fire with a hot chocolate, marshilymallowsqueezies and cake, and thunkle up stories. The problem today was that it was so cold and miseryshiverable that it was making him hard of thunking and coming up with a story of his own was making his brainynoggin do hurting.

When this kind of thing happened, and when you are a little acorn of huge lovelybugness, but little brainynoggin, it is good to look for help. So Bob did just that. He went to his shelf of huge books for little hands and took one that he loved the most. It said GRIMM TALES on the front cover, and Bob knew why it said that, because most of the tales were quite grim. Sitting by the cosy fire, but not too close, as Bob is wood mostly after all, he read for a little while, before he found his head doing nodding and dreaming…


Bob’s Grim Dream

Once upon a timey-wimey, there was a brave little acorn called Bob. He lived in a biggle huge castle with a wickedly beautilicious step-Queen, Nepetitious, and her two mugly pine-conely sons, Stinky and Squashy. They were all mega mean to Bob and made him do all their homework and never let him eat cake, not even on Sundays or chocolate Fridays. Bob was sadly thunking, but not miserigrumpilicious, because he could never be that.

One day there was an announcement from a neighbouring land that the Very Lovely Princess Anna to her handsome Prince, Arthur. There was going to be hugelymungous party and everyone for miles and miles and lands and lands around was invited. Best of all, Monsieur Fancy Cakes was going to be making the cake. This made Bob VERY happy and excited, and he couldn’t wait to go. But then… OH NO! Bob made specially gorgeous cake gobbling-up and smartling looking outfits for him and his family when that mean lot took all their clothes, and left him in a high tower with no door and only one window so high high high up his brainynoggin went squirrly and his tummy went flippy floppy when he looked out of it.

Poor Bob. He sat alone in his scary tower and started to cry. For the first time ever, he really did feel miserilicious and he didn’t like it one bit. To cheer himself up, he started to sing a little song, a song that he’d always loved, perhaps you know it…but I don’t. And when I asked him, he couldn’t remember, so I can’t tell you now. He danced and he sang, and it worked! He was soon much happier.

And then something miraculicious happenated. Outside there was a shuffling and bumping and moaning and arguing noise. Bob felt brave, and stuck his little head out of the window. He couldn’t believe what he saw. Seven little acorns, just like him, were climbing up a ladder! They were soon in the tower with him. They explainated that they had been given the job of seeking those in trouble by an old, old man with reindeer long, long ago, and when they had heard Bob’s singing they thought there was someone in a lot of painisufferin’. Bob was a bit upset that his singing must’ve sounded that bad but was happy that they were rescuing him. They asked him what he was doing there and they were sad and angry about what happenated to him, and wanted to get revenge on the evil step-family of pine-cones. One of them, who was known for extree goodly thunking, smiled a special smile and told them all that she had a plan, and not to worry, it was all sorted.

Bob’s new friends were excited about the party at the palace when he told them about it, so if they rushied up quickly they’d still make it in time for the cake. The seven little acorns helped Bob down the ladder and on to their dwarf horses and they raced to the party on the other side of Blue Shimmer Lake.

Arriving at the woods, just outside the palace, the acorns changed into their best party outfits and went into the palace and looked very handsome and beautiful. They were very relieved to find out that they hadn’t missed the cake and dancing but had missed the singing (Bob was confused about why they were relieved about that, but guessed they had their reasons).

Bob was just about to have a big bite of delicious Malteasers chocolate wedding cake, when out of the corner of his eye he saw his evil step family approaching… His little legs started to tremble with fear, his hands started to shake so much that he nearly dropped his dessert fork, and tears sprang to his eyes. Then his rescuing acorns’ plan swung into action. They encircled the evil family and presented them with a beautiful spinning wheel, dancing around and saying things like it was magic and if they didn’t take it, they’d regret it and it was special and fabulous, and so on. His evil family were greedy for money and magic, and very, very silly, so they snatched the spinning wheel, but as soon as they did, they fell to the floor. It was magic. It was enchanted with a spell that made anyone unkind and selfish go to sleep for one hundred years and dream about yukky things like maths homework the whole time.

The Very Lovely Queen Anna and the Handsome King Arthur came over to see what all the fuss was about and when they heard Bob explainate everything that had happenated to him, they fell in love with him. They ordered that his evil family to be taken to a dark and dank dungeon to sleep for their hundred years with a sign outside saying ‘no kissing allowed’, just in case anyone was tempted to wake them up early. Bob stayed with the Very Lovely Queen and Handsome King Arthur, and they all lived happily ever after.


Bob woke up, stretched and had a sip from his hot chocolate, and was happy that it was still warm. Outside, the rain had stopped a little and a beautiful rainbow was stretching out of the woods into the sky, carrying dreams and light into the sky. Rainy days aren’t so miserilicious, thought Bob.


Be a History Detective – teaching investigation skills

I’ve just created two easy to use lesson plans based around the concept of asking and answering simple historical questions – why, when, where, what, who, how, can, do. Designed to get Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 children thinking about the key questions they should be asking when carrying out investigations about the past, these two lessons take the children, step-by-step through the process of thinking about why we need to ask questions, how to ask questions and how to answer them based on evidence. They aren’t period specific, so please feel free to adapt them to your circumstances.

Aims and success criteria are included, as are downloadable resources to help you construct a lesson, worksheets and interactive wall displays and further resources. All you need is here to get you going and start being creative with your thinking.

Download for FREE from TES resources by clicking on this link:

History Detectives – Questioning skills

EmblaBee can run these lessons as a workshop in your school. Please contact her directly for more information:

Go Bananas! Do Stories! – What makes an interesting character

The second of my lesson plans designed to help teachers and TAs introduce the fundamentals of story writing to children in a straightforward and painless way!

A simple to use lesson plan, designed for teachers and teaching assistants to pick up and get going with straightaway, with hints and suggestions to make this a great lesson to use quickly and easily. This is an introduction to story writing for children, as it goes through the basics of identifying what makes a character interesting and then how to create characters , step by step. There are tips for the adults in how to deliver the lesson, aims, success criteria, an easy resource list, downloadable resources with success criteria included, and separate learning objectives for your assessment files. This is a lesson that has been tried and tested in the classroom and works! Adaptable across the primary age range, this lesson works best with Key Stage 1 and Lower Key Stage 2.

Follow the link here: Go Bananas! Do Stories! What makes an interesting character?

EmblaBee runs workshops on story-writing for children and adults, so you can book her to come to your school or setting, and she will lead a session like this one with you and your pupils or group. Please get in touch for more information, at emma@emblabee,org  N.B. Special offers apply until the end of January, with an extra discount for the very last week of the month!

Image by Jack Moreh

The Curious Tale of Mr Oggy Boggles – Part One

The Curious Tale of Mr Oggy Boggles

When you look up at the moon at night, do you ever wonder who lives up there? We think we know that there are astronauts and cosmonauts and dust and rocks up in space, and that there are no such thing as aliens, but are you sure? Just because you have never seen a thing, doesn’t mean it is not real, does it? I have never seen electricity or the wind or the air, but I know they exist. Is it just that aliens are always where we’re not when we’re looking? Are they just really good at hide and seek?

Let me tell you The Curious Tale of Mr Oggy Boggles and I’ll you decide.

Many years ago, far away on the moon, there lived a curious little fellow, by the name of Mr Oggy Boggles. He didn’t know how he came by this name, because there was no-one around to call him by this name and he couldn’t even remember seeing anyone else at all, only him, so the need for a name seemed rather curious. Nevertheless, Mr Oggy Boggles was his name and he lived, all on his own, on the moon. His favourite food was, of course, cheese. Perhaps, more surprisingly, his second favourite food was marshmallows, even though he’d never eaten any. He loved playing football, although he kept losing the ball because it floated off into space and he wasn’t very good at catching it. At the end of each of his two legs was one large, heavy foot, which helped him stay on the dusty ground of the moon. At the end of one of his arms was a large, three-pronged claw, which was very good for catching moon-cheese weevils and for being in goal, but was rubbish for doing complicated models out of lollipop sticks. On the other arm, he had a hand that looked a mitten, which was much more useful, most of the time.

The most curious thing about Mr Oggy Boggles was that even though he was quite, quite alone, and for all he knew, had always been that way, he never really felt completely lonely. On the very top of his head was an impressive antenna. He had nice little ears too, pretty much like you and me, except they were white and pink and green and blue (which was the same as the rest of him), and he could hear normal sounds through them. But with his antenna, he could hear the sound of stories on Earth. Old stories, new stories, funny stories, sad stories, true stories, made up stories, stories for children, stories just for grown-ups, all sorts of stories. He could choose which ones to listen to, as we can choose which radio station to listen to, and he imagined the faces and places that went with them, and made the pictures up in his head. Being the only being on the moon and seeing on himself and the moon, most of what he saw his head looked like him and the moon, but he loved the stories and whenever he felt a bit sad or on his own, he would concentrate really hard and listen to a story. Oggy really liked the ones about cake and marshmallows the best, but he liked the ones about fighting princesses and rescuing dragons too. Sometimes he thought that he might have muddled things up because he carried around so many stories in his head. He decided that it didn’t matter, it is enjoying the stories that counts and may be listening again next time will help.

One day, everything changed. Mr Oggy Boggles was in his garden, tending his Wensleydale Cheese Plants, which were just coming into bloom, when he heard a terrible crash and a roar. Not ever hearing or seeing anyone else before, he didn’t know what to do. He ran this way and that. He picked up his watering can and put it down four times. He hugged the Cheddar Tree and stubbed his massive toes on the wheelbarrow. Eventually, he ran into his little moon house. The whole of the moon seemed to be shaking and quaking around him. Every plate on his sideboard fell to the floor with crash, his favourite cup with a picture of an acorn looking man on it fell into the sink from the draining board. Poor Oggy didn’t know it was the sound of an explorer vessel from a nearby space station coming in to land to search for life on the moon. He was very afraid, so he pulled the shutters tight across the windows and bolted the door and hid under the table. The shaking didn’t stop and soon he felt his house start to break away from its foundations and drift away into space…or so it seemed to him.



Go Bananas! Do Stories! What makes a good story? Lesson Plan

My first lesson plan from the GO BANANAS! DO STORIES! Teaching Pack is now available from TES resources.

It is a simple to use lesson plan, designed for teachers and teaching assistants to pick up and get going! This is an introduction to story writing for children, as it goes through the basics of identifying what makes a good story, step by step. There are hints for the adults in how to deliver the lesson, aims, success criteria, an easy resource list, downloadable resources with success criteria included, and separate learning objectives for your assessment files. This is a lesson that has been tried and tested in the classroom and works! Adaptable across the primary age range, this lesson works best with Key Stage 1 and Lower Key Stage 2.

To find out more and to make a purchase, just click on the link here:

Go Bananas! Do Stories! What makes a story?

EmblaBee runs workshops on story-writing for children and adult, so you can book her to come to your school or setting, and she will lead a session like this one with you and your pupils or group. Please get in touch for more information, at emma@emblabee,org  N.B. Special offers apply until the end of January, with an extra discount for the very last week of the month!