Last week I had the pleasure of attending Fashioning Winter: From Fairy Tales to Fashion at Somerset House, for the start of their winter season events.
The evening was hosted by Shonagh Marshall, curator at Somerset House and Camilla Morton, a London-based fashion writer. In brief, the panel discussed storytelling within fashion (even quoting some of my childhood favourites, such as the Princess and the Pea, Sleeping Beauty, and the Elves and the Shoemaker) and how these stories influenced the work of fashion designers Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.
A poignant comment from Camilla was ‘Every object has a story’. I listened attentively as Camilla spoke about narratives in stories and how these can bring a fashion show to life.
This made me reflect on using objects to share with children, to deepen their understanding of oral stories and the history of objects, be they natural or man-made. Ooh, there’s so much to link to the seven areas of learning and the three characteristics of effective teaching and learning: adding new and unusual words to children’s vocabulary, worldly stories for children to listen to, emotional links.
Take this conch shell, which I brought back from my parents’ birthplace of St. Lucia on one of my visits. You can feel it, you can hear it and you can play a tune on it! A totally sensory interaction.
This particular visit was for my grandmother’s 100th birthday. It provides many stories to share with children: Where is St. Lucia? What exactly is a conch shell? Discussions of sea life, families and life-cycles.
In addition, we can use inquiry-based questions, such as:
- What does the shell remind you of?
- What happens if you blow into the shell?
- What does the shell look like?
- What does the shell feel like?
- What do you feel when you hear and listen to the shell?
And of course, lovely Ofsted would be very impressed to observe an Educator using inquiry-based questioning with children!
This is why I always suggest that Educators should think outside the box and be creative, leaving boring topics and themes locked away! I’ve discussed my love of provocations and invitations before.
So, what objects do you have that you can share with children? How can you elaborate on stories and use questions to support their critical thinking and help children to solve problems?
Please see my ‘Conversation Cards’: Confident Talkers
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