Storytelling with Stick Man is a fun activity to bring literacy to life and inspire children to tell stories using natural resources and the space to move about in an outdoor environment. The activity is based on the popular Stick Man book by Julia Donaldson making it particularly suitable for FS1 and KS1 children but can also be adapted and extended for older KS2 children allowing them to take their stories to where ever their imaginations will allow.
In the Stick Man story, Stick Man undertakes a courageous journey to get back to his Stick Lady Love, their children and their family tree encounter a range of dangers along the way. After reading the Stick Man story, children can create their own version of events using the outdoor environment and natural materials that they find to help stimulate their imagination.
The activity is best organised in an outdoor area with trees providing adequate sticks, natural materials and features for the children to use to develop their stories. First they will need to find a suitable stick which can be made in a Stick Man (or lady) by glueing on wiggly eyes using PVA glue. Whilst they wait for the glue to dry, the children can begin to collect a range of natural materials and explore the area for features which could be part of their story.
The activity is easy to set up in an outdoor area with some trees where children can collect their own sticks as well as a range of other natural materials. They will first need to find a stick that they can turn into a stick man by sticking on some wiggly eyes with PVA glue. Whilst the glue has time to dry, the children can hunt for a selection of natural objects to help with their storytelling.
Children work alone to create their story and then in pairs or small groups telling their story to others who can help to develop the story further by asking questions. They could work through three stages to create their story.
1. Setting the scene. Where does the story take place? what is the Stick Man like?
2. What happens to the Stick Man? Can they create a picture of how the Stick Man is feeling as the story progresses by describing how he acts e.g a tear rolled down his cheek (he is feeling sad), his shivered (he is scared).
3. What happens in the end? do they want a happy ending or could they create suspense with an unexpected ending to their story?
Our helpers choose trees for their Stick Men to live in as well as finding pine cones to become hedgehogs and leaves to become parachutes in their stories. They quickly became absorbed in devising their story lines and animated when telling their stories offering lots of opportunities for using descriptive adjectives, verbs and adverbs.
Tip: Children can use white boards outdoors to think of and write of interesting descriptive words that can be used in their stories. How does the Stick Man feel? What descriptive words could they use to try and convey this in their stories?
- Use the natural resources collected to make Stick Man pictures.
- Explore the work of illustrator and animator, Axel Scheffler including illustrations featured in Stick Man, Gruffalo and Room on the Broom books. Use a variety of media to create Stick Man pictures inspired by these illustrations.
- Read the story of the Stick Man and look at the pictures. Discuss how the Stick Man is feeling and how you can tell from his facial expressions. Can children describe different feelings that they have and make faces to express them?
- Learn about the properties of wood and other natural materials. Does wood float or sink?
- Children can read and explore other books by Julia Donaldson including the Gruffalo and Superworm. Are their any similarities? Can they find the rhyming words in the books? Can they discuss which stories they like best and why? Can they make their own rhymes? The Gruffalo story sack can be used for children to develop literacy and story telling skills further.
- Children can create their own mini story books, writing their Stick Man stories down for others to read.
Learning Outcomes for KS1 & KS2
- Spoken Language
- Reading – word reading
- Reading – comprehension
- Writing – composition
- Writing – volcabulary, grammar and punctuation
- Writing – planning, revising and evaluating
EYFS learning goals supported by Stick Man storytelling activities:
ELG01 Communication and language development: listening and attention: children listen attentively to adults reading the Stick Man story and other children telling their stories. They respond to stories by making comments and asking questions.
ELG02 Communication and language development: speaking: children can express themselves using past, present and future forms accurately. They can develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.
EL04 Physical development: moving and handling: children are active in exploring the outdoor environment and finding natural resources. They move confidently, negotiating space and practising control and co ordination in bending and stretching to collect natural materials.
ELG 06 Personal, social and emotional development: self-confidence and self-awareness : Children are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about ideas for a story and the resources needed.
ELG07 Personal, social and emotional development: managing feelings and behaviour: managing feelings and behaviour : Children talk about how they and others show feelings and how they can adjust their behaviour in different circumstances.
ELG 08 Personal, social and emotional development: making relationships: children play co operatively working in pairs or small groups to collect objects and taking turns telling and listening to stories.
ELG10 Literacy: Writing: children can write their own simple Stick Man stories.
ELG 12 Mathematics: Shape, space and measures: children can measure and sort sticks into size order.
ELG14 Understanding of the World: The World: Children can talk about features of their own immediate environment incorporating aspects of the outdoor area into their stories. Children can experiment and discover differences and similarities between different materials.
ELG16 Expressive arts and design: exploring and using media and materials: children use a variety of natural materials to experiment with colour, design, texture, form and function.
ELG17 Expressive arts and design: being imaginative: children represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through their Stick Man stories.
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