SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Friday, December 19, 2008

Having a blast at my special school...!





Yep! I had a blast!
Today was the culmination of my efforts in storytelling for this term at my special school. Over the last 4 months, I've been doing one story with the special children in the Non-Formal educational group, every Thursday.( Non- formal implies that these children, who have cerebral palsy and other associated disabilities like mental retardation/sensory impairments, get training in a number of life skills, along with some functional literacy skills.)
Every week it was a challenge selecting a story for this group. The story had to be simple and realistic enough for them to relate to. Fantasy doesn't work, as it has no meaning, long plots also have no value.
Finally out of all the stories done, it was Varsha who decided that it would be the story of the Milkman's Cow. Varsha is a shy, reserved, non-verbal teenager, and when i started off with these sessions, she would be looking elsewhere, not interested, just not connecting.
Then I did Milkman's Cow, and Varsha just enjoyed herself thoroughly! She called me close to her and made me show her the pictures, looked at every character, making a specific action for each. Her class teacher was so excited at her involvement, that she was communicating so spontaneously with gestures that she drew out the entire story onto another book, and had Varsha tell the story. .
So when it came to selecting a story for the show, I wanted to do this as it was this story that had connected me with her.
Every one of the class children participated. As we assigned roles, some children demanded to do certain roles. The narrator was selected, the milkman, the cow, policeman, vegetable women, cobbler, ice cream man, peanut seller, muscle man, and finally a small boy who manages to make the cow get up from the middle of the road by offering it grass, where all the others fail! Simple, effective story.
We practiced it for 4 sessions and on the final day everyone of us got on stage, with costume and make up.
Some glitches were there, mike wires running everywhere, so wheelchairs could not move, some of the characters would not talk unless the mike was placed near their mouth! But the show got done, claps and appreciation were received. We all heaved a sigh of...relief!

The other part of the show was the LKG/UKG group, who did the story of Baby Jesus, followed by Santa and Jingle bells! I condensed the entire story of Nativity to 4 lines.
The children had just 4/5 simple lines to work with:
This is the story of Baby Jesus
I am Mary/I am Joseph
We go to Bethlehem.
We take Baby Jesus( from an angel!)
We are 3 kings(enter the kings),
We carry gifts to Baby Jesus
We carry toys, dresses, and Video games(!!!),(that last input by a child who insisted on it!)
Chaos reined, as one of the sheep( child in costume), refused to sit down and insisted on roaming around the stage and distracting all!
Very entertaining, but a tad tedious for our older audience, who found all the disturbances very.....disturbing!!
Anyway we had a great time putting it together, so what if the end was not as effective! This was the first time for the kids, they did a great job....!