Month: September 2011

Story Begins Here

Posted on Updated on

Saw this in a shop’s display. Hope it inspires you 🙂

The sign says: Home is where your story begins



Stories from my students

Posted on Updated on

Stories come in many shapes and forms. In this section, I’d be publishing all of my student’s stories (with their consent of course :)). No amendments/corrections have been done as I want to keep them original. Hope you enjoy reading them!

Stories using sentences they’ve made on prepositions
Edward Wong, 8 years old

We learnt some new prepositions in class. To give them more practice, I asked them to come up with their own sentences. Then I challenged them to create a story using the sentences they’ve just made. I let them decide whether they want to partake in this challenge or not. Two of them decided to do so. One of them is Edward, the youngest student in this class, but one of the most polite, pleasant and hardworking 🙂

Edward is indeed a joy to have in class, always willing to help and share. Never once has he created havoc in class. He adheres to all classroom rules and puts his whole heart and soul into all the class activities. And this is the story he’s written 🙂

My Dream by Chien Wen (page 1)

Chien Wen is one of the most enthusiastic and hardworking students I know. Her vivacity and positive attitude are infectious. She has shown great leadership qualities too. Her love for reading is amazing. This girl has definitely got a bright future ahead of her. Keep up the spirit, Chien Wen! 🙂

My Dream by Chien Wen (page 2)

Vámonos with stories in English and Spanish (by Lillian Rodrigues-Pang)

Posted on Updated on

This is a collection of folk tales told in English with repeated Spanish phrases so you can enjoy the culture, the Latin American and Australian locations, the characters and the language – fun for all ages.

(Vámonos means ‘let’s go’ in English) I was a little apprehensive about buying this CD. Listening to stories without any visual stimulants could be quite a challenge for me, because I’m more of a visual person. But because I like Lillian’s style, I trust that this CD will be worth the try. And I was right. The stories were good but Lillian made them even better and more entertaining.  The music also set the mood of the stories and made them more intense too. Listening to them made me laugh and shudder; smile and wonder; definitely took my mind off the busy roads on my way to work 🙂 This is the list of stories and songs:

  • Mouse Family – Raton Familia
  • CD Introduction
  • Perfect present – Regalo Perfecto
  • Leave this place – Sal de Alli
  • Senior Billy Goat – Senior Cabro
  • The Butterfly – La Mariposa
  • Wings of Blue – Alas de Azul

It’s hard to pick my favourite story from this list. But if I had to, it has got to be ‘Mouse Family’. Lillian’s voice is so versatile. I loved how much character she gave to the mice and the cat by merely using her voice. ‘Perfect Present’ was warm, endearing and a beautiful story to tell younger children. ‘Wings of Blue’, which is a song, has a very catchy tune. Singing along with it would definitely take away your Monday blues! 

A great company to be with when going on long family trips and to keep your children entertained! 😉 Ask them to guess the ending of the story, play a game like ‘What happened when…’/’What if’ after listening to one story, learn new Spanish words together, or try singing along to ‘Wings of Blue’ together 😀

Malaysia International Storytelling Festival 2011 (Day 2)

Posted on Updated on

Sheila Wee from Singapore

(Continued from Day 1)

Day 2: Step into Storytelling – Storytelling for Beginners by Sheila Wee
I enjoyed Sheila’s workshop immensely. She was so well-prepared (she even prepared extra shawls for those who couldn’t stand the cold!), knew exactly what she wanted and needed to do; she even timed each session so that every minute in the workshop was well spent.

So, let me go straight to the meat of her workshop. When storytelling, you:
• use your own words
• make eye contact
• change the delivery of the story according to how the audience reacts (i.e. be spontaneous)
• choose a style that suits your personality; something you’re comfortable with

Storytelling is a ‘connective’ (not sure if I copied correctly) art. It is engaging and is the theatre of the mind. It transfers images from one mind to another through the bridge of oral language.

In a conventional communication, you only have one active participant, i.e. the speaker, while the listener’s passive. Whereas, in storytelling, both speaker and listener are active, because when listening to a story, your imagination is activated, and you create a ‘new’ story in your mind, therefore taking ownership of the messages in the story. I think this explains why many research have proven that storytelling contributes to brain development, imagination, problem-solving skills and perspective taking.

Participants sent on a Scavenger Hunt

Storytelling also improves your listening skills, comprehension, vocabulary and speech. It helps to bond two individuals or more (ever tried talking to someone you’ve just met and ask them about their background? You’d find, almost immediately, the ‘stranger’ isn’t a stranger anymore. This point was proven with the ‘Scavenger Hunt’ activity :)). Stories also create a sense of belonging, helps an individual to empathise; they also instil positive values and give hope.

For successful storytelling, choose a story that you really like that has a simple plot and choose a simple, clear, natural manner of telling. Here are some tips from Sheila:
– use your posture to illustrate the characters (remember to mind your distance from the audience.)

Sheila telling us about 'Truth & Stories'. I loved this story!

– use natural movement and gestures
– begin with confidence
– signal story coming to an end
– don’t worry about making mistakes (If you realised you missed an integral part of the story, you can try phrases like “What you didn’t know…”, or “I haven’t told you this…”

A major part of her workshop was dedicated to various activities that involved the participants, making the sessions very hands-on and more memorable. These sessions I find, answer the objectives of her workshop. They aren’t just sessions just to get the participants to do something, but sessions that help the participants achieve their goals and understand the reason for doing them. If you have the chance to attend a workshop by Sheila Wee, GO FOR IT.

Jeeva Raghunath from India

Talking Tales – Building Communication Skills by Jeeva Raghunath
Jeeva stressed the importance of communicating effectively and how to do so by:
• stressing key words in a story
• not swallowing your words
• pronouncing your consonants
• express is with the right emotion (face, body language, voice/volume, intensity) and intonation

Then she told a story in a very unique way. She tore a page from a newspaper into different shapes and sizes. She just tore and tore, letting some of us help her out too. Then, using the torn papers, she asked us to label the papers with names of objects/things/people. She chose 6 shapes and we labelled them as a car, fish, cat, shoe, knife and stairs.

Jeeva telling us a tale using newspaper

I came up with this story: The cat was eyeing the fish in the fish bowl near a window. Then he heard a honk from a car outside which startled him. It’s his master. Heard the keys at the door. The master took out his shoes and went up the stairs. The cat was relieved now that he could proceed with his plan. As he was about the pounce on the fish, suddenly a knife landed right in front of him. The cat meowed and ran out of the kitchen. “Crap! Me and my butter fingers!” cried the master’s wife.

You can also create a story using just one object. Jeeva used the example of the water bottle which could be a torchlight, a tower/building, a microphone, a dumbbell, etc.

To be a good and effective communicator, you’d have to be clear of what you want to say using the right emotion, expression, body language and tone of voice.

She also gave us each a handout about storytelling techniques that’d improve your communication skills: How?
* Begin with a familiar story (Repeat it as often as you like. It’d help improve your verbal skills)
* Listen to stories (to improve your listening skills. Listening is part of communication skills too)
* With some creativity, develop your own imagination to make your story more interesting (use different voices, add ‘meat’ to your character and settings)
* Draw charts with who, where, when, what, why and how and fill it with information from the story (this will help with your analyticial skills)

That’s the end of my Day 2 🙂

If you’d like to see more pictures from MISF 2011, you can find me on Facebook (Jee Wan).

The Stories Every Student Needs To Know (by Roger Jenkins in MISF 2011)

Posted on Updated on

The Moso Bamboo

List of stories from Roger Jenkin’s workshop in MISF 2011
Here are the stories I managed to list down during the workshop. I’ve also included the links so that you can obtain the complete story.

Honesty & self-respect: Jewels under the Saddle: to make an abstract concept concrete (on honesty and self-respect) Tried googling the full version of this story but couldn’t find any, so I’m going to write what I can recall. It’s about a man who bought a horse and found jewels under the saddle. Deciding against his friend’s advice, he returned the jewels to the rightful owner. To show his appreciation, the owner asked the man to take one of the jewels for himself, to which the man said, “No, I returned these jewels without expecting anything in return. Moreover, I have came here with 2 jewels in my hand – honesty and self-respect.” (It was of course told in a more interesting way)

Inspiration and motivation: The Man who moved the Mountain

“How” stories: How the years were named in a Chinese calendar: This is a story you could pass on to your future generation, or to make learning more fun when learning the Chinese horoscope. Here’s one for the Roman calendar.

Unity: Chopsticks: If I recall correctly, it was about a dying father who wanted to his children to learn the importance of staying united, so he asked them to break one chopstick, then a few, then a whole bunch. I’m sure most of you already know this story 😉

Kindness, faith and perseverance: The Sword of the Wood: About a poor man who finds opportunities in every challenge he faced.

To confront stereotypes: The Good Samaritan.

To give hope and encouragement: Personal or true stories are good to comfort and inspire someone, for example, the story of William Kamkwamba and his windmill (The Boy who Harnessed the Wind) or Vaishali Kiran Grover, who discovered a biodegradable enzyme treatment using papaya and pineapple, a better alternative to the usual anti-fouling paint that was commonly to get rid of barnacles that attach themselves to the hulls of ships.

Team work and to add general knowledge: Why geese fly in a ‘V’ formation, and the Moso Bamboo tree story. The moso is a bamboo plant that grows in China and the Far East.  After the moso is planted, no visible growth occurs for up to five years – even in ideal conditions. Then as if by magic, it suddenly begins growing at the rate of nearly 2 ½ feet a day, reaching a full height of 92 feet in six weeks. It’s not magic. The moso’s rapid growth is due to the miles of roots it develops during those first five years; it has to build a strong root system; i.e. If you want to succeed, you got to first lay a strong foundation for yourself/be well-prepared.

To explain natural phenomena to explain natural phenomena: Pourquoi tales. For example: How the leopard got its spots; Why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears.

Hope some of these are useful to you, or will be useful to you one day 😉

Malaysia International Storytelling Festival 2011 (Day 1)

Posted on Updated on

The MISF Booklet

When? 9 – 10th Sept 2011
Where? Sunway International School (SIS), Selangor Darul Ehsan.
What time? 9.30am – 4.30pm

The night before MISF, my hubby and I were at The Lion King Musical in Singapore (it was spectacular!), which ended at about 10.45pm. Right after that, we rushed back to my aunt’s place, got all our bags into the car, then headed back to Kuala Lumpur and reached at about 4.30am. That morning itself I had to attend MISF. So, you can say, I was half awake when the workshop started.
I decided to attend Roger’s session since I didn’t get the chance in Singapore. I was quite interested in the topic too, because I teach as well, but turned out this is more appropriate for older students. But I still got something out of it 😉
10th September 2011: The Stories Every Student Needs to Know (And How to Tell Them) by Roger Jenkins
Roger started the workshop with ‘The Crocodile and Sister Hen’ and my, did I enjoy it! I loved the way he told it as it included participation from the listeners, some sign-languages and hand gestures involved. His facial expressions made the story even more hilarious. Moral of the story? We’re all the same; we’re all brothers and sisters, so treat each other with respect. No bullying, no derogatory comments, and definitely no eating! 😀
Roger & Boys role-playing a story

In the next session, Roger got two participants from the crowd. If I’m not mistaken, both were students from SIS and got them to role-play in the next story about two friends fighting over a packet of Oreos, each claiming he saw the Oreos first, so it was his. Roger told both of them what to say in each part and the students, very amazingly, dramatized and acted out the scene perfectly! The boys really got into character. I had fun watching. The story ended with a teacher (Roger) asking them the colour of paper he was holding (One side was black, the other was white) So the person standing on one side, would only see the colour he sees. So the boys argued that the paper is the colour they saw. Then Roger asked them to switch places, then the boys realized the other party was right. An interesting way to learn ‘perspective/point of view’, might be a little complicated for younger learners though.

Roger telling the extended version of The Hare and The Tortoise

Next, he told ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’. This was fun. Might tell it to my students 🙂 Some of you might have heard of these versions before. After the race has ended, the hare realized his mistake, so he challenged the tortoise to another race. Learning from his mistake, the hare won the race this time. No doubt slow and steady is good, but fast and steady is even better!

Being the ever-confident hare, he decided to race with the tortoise again, allowing the tortoise to choose the track, because he got bored with the old track. When they raced, the hare came upon a river and was dumbfounded because he didn’t know how to swim. He panicked and decided to take a different route, while the tortoise, who loved swimming, calmly swam across it. The tortoise won the race in the end. This part, the listeners should learn that one should identify their strengths and use them to their full potential. In the final part, the hare and tortoise became friends and decided to compete in a marathon. They made use of each other’s strengths and won the competition!

After this session, we adjourned to a different room where we did some role-play activity. With a partner, we were asked to pick a story and tell it in different ways – a first person point of view, using only actions, very simple English to someone from China who has limited vocab, put the story in a different time and location, tell it very enthusiastically and tell it like you’ve told it a thousand times. This can be quite a fun class activity; very adaptable to different types of lessons too.

When we returned to our classroom, Roger told us some stories we could tell our students and showed us a list of them. Click here to get the list.

Dr. Wajuppa Tossa opens with 2 traditional songs

Riddle Stories – Creative Storytelling by Dr. Wajuppa Tossa
I find this session interesting and would love to apply this in my lesson. I know my students will love it 🙂 What I’ve learnt is that, any stories can be turned into a riddle story. It’s just a matter of turning a certain part of the story into a question or a problem to be solved.  Here were some of the riddle stories Dr. Wajuppa told us.

The Three Friends (the elephant, monkey and bird) (Great for pre-school), The Nine Bamboo Clumps (Some calculations are involved. Appropriate for 12 and above) and the Rich Man who seeks a Daughter-In-Law (for older audience).

Then we were asked to solve some riddle stories. Out of the list she gave, we picked 6 stories – One Cookie (from Europe), All is Mine, Serving Giant (from Laos), The Magic Stick (India), Bird in Hand (India) and Guilty Stone (China). It’s interesting to see the different answers given in some of the stories, as I like learning a different person’s point of view, or way of looking at life/a story, and how they derive at that answer.

After that mind-boggling session, we were then asked to turn a story we know into a riddle story. Our group decided to pick the story of The Golden Swan. Upon deciding the ‘riddle’, we then chose a storyteller to present the story. Unanimously, we picked the youngest 😉 And she did really well!

Attentive participants

The art of turning a story to a riddle story? Simple! Either leave the ending open or pick the highlight of the story, then ask why or how. If you want to add another question, just ask your listener to guess its title. This would be fun if you’ve got a funny title or a title that plays with words.

Although totally knackered after the workshops, I left feeling excited about preparing for my future storytelling sessions. I also attended the showcase that was held tonight from 8pm – 10.30pm.

If you’d like to see more pictures from MISF 2011, you can find me on Facebook (Jee Wan).

Click here for Day 2 🙂

The Musical Fart

Posted on Updated on

I read this real-life (I think?) story from a friend’s Facebook (FB) post, and it really made my day. And I hope it’d brighten your day too 🙂

“I was in Starbucks recently when I suddenly realized I desperately needed to fart. The music was really, really loud so I timed my fart with the beat of the music. After a couple of songs I started to feel better. I finished my coffee and noticed that everyone was staring at me! And suddenly I remembered I was listening to my ipod…”

I shared this story with some of my friends just to make them smile. And they did! You and I know a smile can do wonders right 😉

Moral of the story? Don’t fart in public! Haha!

Go on, make someone smile or laugh today! 🙂