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© Christopher Jelley © PoetryPin  ©Storywalks - all rights reserved 2019

Sprites at the Museum

February 20, 2018

Next week will see the first trial of keyword Storywalks at the Museum of Somerset and the pupils of Parkfield Academy School will be the first test pilots. Two new narratives have been written to engage readers and writers in the Making Somerset Gallery of the Taunton museum and we are very excited that this Arts Council England supported project is finally underway.

 

The first Storywalks sessions in 2014 were with Norton St Phillip school near Frome, there we developed a formula through trial and error, of how many pupils per trail there should be and the optimum length of a walk. The key has been to write an over arching narrative or vessel story which then has a repeat element inside. This repeat can then be scaffolded up for each in the class to be creative with. Their words then displace the same segment in the story and when complete we go out and re read this new tale with the pupils words inside. 

 

 

The first new Storywalk is for years 2 - 4 and called Sprites at the Museum and the second, a more complex tale is called The Moonlight Lifter (years 5 - 8). The perfect formula for a Storywalk must tick several boxes, they must be neither too long nor too short, they must have a repeat which feels natural inside the storyline but not forced nor clumsy. They must fire up the imagination of the pupils involved and most importantly, they must work as a whole when many pupils have added their creative writing. It will be interesting working with year 8 pupils as to the volume of words they create and how this impacts on the flow of the Storywalk through the gallery.

 

And there before you is the great bell, heavy and solid on the plinth but when you look through your lens you can see deep into its history. From its earliest moments of being in a rock before the ore was even mined and smelted. Then you see the bell being hoisted up into the church, followed by its daily peels to the final resting place here in the gallery. 

 

This little snippet from the 'Sprites' script (yrs 2 - 4) gives you a flavour of the third person writing style which is a must for Storywalks. The first chapter of this walk is attached below and will be read aloud to the whole class in the gallery whereas the later chapters like this snippet will be read to each other by the pupils themselves. This means that the words need to be within their language capabilities and of course year 2 are at the emergent reader stage. Perhaps the word 'hoisted' is a bit too ambitious, but i'll leave it in for the moment and see how they react.

 

 

When the pupil begins to write, we hope they will be drawn into the history and story of the artefact, be carried through the glass and begin to see their item in a wider context. It will also be a great opportunity for them to add their creative input to the layers already provided in the museum.

 

But this is work still in progress and the first outing will see plenty of tweaks in depth, length and general logistics of delivery, but it is great to finally be making a mark and a start with Storywalks in The Museum of Somerset in Taunton.

 

 

But before I leave you with this little except, I will say that next weeks groups story is called 'The Moonlight Lifter' and is about a character who breaks into the gallery and begins swapping artefacts with fakes using her homunculi assistants and gadgets a plenty. I'll let you know how they get on in the next blog and hope to include some of their writing too,

 

Sprites at the Museum

 

Chapter 1

 

I am the professor

And beg you gather close

For we have an infestation here

For which we must make the most

 

There have been reports and sightings

Through these galleries wide and long

And with a little patience we might spy them

Though in truth I might be wrong

 

So steady your nerve and with a focused will

We shall endeavour to spot our quarry

But nothing shall befall our souls

So please no need to worry

 

First we must make a spy glass

With thumb and finger round

Then we shall search amongst the gallery treasures

To see if these creatures can be found

 

But before we go hunting

Your lens must be perfectly clean

So pay attention to this method now

And your Sprites will be easily seen

 

Blow three times through your lens bright

Then blow three times again

Now blow three more

Just to be sure

And one through the lens of your friend

 

And with this tool we shall go hunting

To spy a natural Sprite

I'm told they are active during day light hours

And generally sleep at night

 

So get your Sprite spotters guide

And be thorough with these directions

And perhaps we'll see something amazing here

Besides these incredible collections

 

Chapter 2 (read by pupils to their peers in front of a specific artefact)

 

It is generally best

When close to a Sprites nest

To be as quiet as a bird

So raise your hand

With thumb and finger as planned

As shush is the magic word

 

Blow three times through your lens bright

Then blow three times again

Now blow three more

Just to be sure

And one through the lens of your friend

 

And there before you is the great bell, heavy and solid on the plinth but when you look through your lens you can see deep into its history. From its earliest moments of being in a rock before the ore was even mined and smelted. Then you see the bell being hoisted up into the church, followed by its daily peels to the final resting place here in the gallery. 

 

One of the scenes from this history is of a wedding day, the bell is swinging and the clapper knocking loudly and all about people are dressed in their finest clothes, smiling and having fun. Sun is shining and tears of joy stream down faces, happy for the newly married couple.

 

But the bell is swung with such gusto that it breaks free of its frame and begins to fall, then the scene dissolves before more is revealed. You hope the Sprites are going to be alright.

 

Now make a mark 

On your spotters guide

Before we move along

How many

How tall

What surrounded them all

And what if anything was wrong

 

 

 

This Storywalks pilot is made possible with support from Rook Lane Arts of Frome, Heritage South West and an ACE grant from The Arts Council England.

 

 

 

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