We were thrilled to help the children begin work on their storytelling this week. After singing our sea shanties, which we encouraged them to use in their own stories, we divided them into small groups of five or six. Each group was given a simple stimulus, such as ‘the birthday party’ ‘the magical wishing fish’ or ‘lost treasure’ to help kickstart their imaginations, but quite a few of the eight groups chose to tell their own original stories.
Before the work on the stories began, we shared and practiced with the whole group, including the guests of Age UK, some simple puppetry techniques for fish and mer-people, including swimming, diving and jumping out of the water.
Each group of children was encouraged to share their work with a couple of guests of Age UK, talking to them and listening to their advice for the development of the story.
We helped with the rehearsal and storytelling process, watching work in progress and offering puppetry tips!
Our final week of A Sea of Stories was dedicated to performances of the work the children had created, for the friends they had made at Age UK and an invited audience of parents and teachers.
After a group warm up, sing-a-long and recap of the puppetry swimming techniques, the class split into their groups for a final rehearsal. Katie established a puppet hospital for last minute repairs to a few of the sea creatures who had been rehearsing a bit too hard!
We all gathered together for the performances. The children and guests alike were a lovely appreciative audience for the eight very different tales of the sea, nodding and clapping enthusiastically at the end. We especially loved it when the children’s tales had song and music as well as puppetry using the creatures they had made – including a great rendition of Baby Shark!
A short film was made about the project, which we hope to be able to share soon, and there will be an opportunity to see some of the amazing puppets made by the children on display during Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival, as part of our exhibition Detailing Delight. Find out more here.
Our thanks to Age UK Tunbridge Wells, St Barnabas School and Maple Class, and of course to Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival for generously supporting such an enjoyable and interesting project. We will really miss our weekly visits to the Age UK centre and hope to return in the future!