When I tell stories to older kids, I often start with a jump tale. You know, the kind of story where there is a sudden bit that makes the listeners jump. Afterwards, the kids usually turn to each other to laugh and talk about the jump. In order to bring them back to a place where they can listen, I give advice on how to tell these stories. Here's a clip from a show at a school in Quito, Ecuador last month, thanks to videographer Sandro Rota.
I had a great time telling stories in China. Most of the performances were tremendous fun. Generally, the level of English was quite good and the students were engaged. The teachers and administrators were easy to work with, often going out of their way to make sure I was comfortable. I love these tours, even with the intense schedule of 64 performances in four weeks (four per day, four days a week). I was in eight schools in five cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi and Ningbo.
Enough statistics. Here are pictures from the schools:
The school work began successfully on Tuesday. We took a taxi and despite traffic and pollution, we arrived on time. On Wednesday, we were going to another school, one closer to the hotel. Because there's a small window for getting through rush hour, we had trouble getting a cab. Yikes! What to do? Take a tuktuk! I didn't get a picture of the one we were riding in, but I did get views during the ride. Yes, we were facing backwards.
We arrived at the school on time. Being in the tuktuk meant that we could zip in and out of traffic, rather than getting stuck in it in a taxicab.
I'm home from Colombia, having had a great time telling stories for four weeks. I did 63 school performances in English, from preschool to high school, and took part in a public performance at a lovely park. Here are some miscellaneous pictures of the schools.
This was over the door of the libary at St. Bartolomé La Merced. It's from the book The Little Prince, and the quote is "What is essential is invisible to the eye." You can see the flying dragon through the door.
This is the same school that has this cozy reading nook.
Here is the mascot of the school, a magpie (I think) that looks remarkably like the early Kansas Jayhawk. This school backs up to a huge wooded park.
I spent five days at Gimnasio Vermont, where I told the kids that I moved to the state of Vermont in the US when I was 11. They practically gasped in disbelief. The school has an immersion program for their students with St. Michael's College in Colchester, VT, near Burlington, where I went to the University of Vermont.
At this school, I began with the 4th through 7th grades, then went to preschool and kindergarten (up to age 7), then 1st to 3rd grades. The other two storytellers touring Colombia will visit the high school. One of the things I loved about this tour is that I was at fewer schools, for more days.
At Vermont, the young children have a garden, in which they plant lettuce and chard. These plants are labeled with each child's name and the students take them home at harvest.
I was fed a snack and lunch at most of the schools I visited. At these private schools, the food was fantastic, and the kids had plenty of time to eat, unlike the standard 20-30 minutes kids in the US usually get. Here is what I had for elevenses (morning snack) at CIEDI, a great school not far from where I was living:
This delicious arepa (corncake) filled with cheese went nicely with the capuccino.
And here are some girls working peacefully together in a spookily-decorated spot in the library at St. George's School, where I spent three days.
I was pleased to tell stories in several libraries, including at St. George's School.
But in the preschool and kindergarten of Gimnasio Vermont, I was in the dance studio. I've rarely been able to see myself in a mirror as I perform!
I moved to the primary school library for the rest of the performances at Gimnasio Vermont, which was decorated with illustrations from children's books.
I hope this gives you a taste of the experiences I had at the schools. Questions?