Children are full of stories. At least three times during every class, we’ll listen to a passionate digression about an exciting moment from their week, or a funny thing that happened involving a slide and a shoe. Stories are an integral part of what shapes our understanding of the world: the way we string together what we see colors our sense of belonging and our relationships to one other. And I’ve noticed that at a certain age, kids are poised at a precipice where they are concerned with being able to properly tell the “real- life” stories that surround them. They want their apples to fall close to the tree, because that is the truth of apples, and children are learning that the truth is one of the most significant virtues. As they grow to value that, it’s no surprise they want to show others that they do.
The first step in the process of story creation at Little Opera has been to honor the children’s appetite for talking about the ordinary, everyday stuff, and to creatively explore their roles in the many contexts and communities they are daily members of. It’s an important responsibility to be yourself, isn’t it? And it is understandably a source of pride for our kids to want to express themselves by starting at the source: sharing stories with each other about the things they feel and know.
Once we are more comfortable being ourselves, and can relish in that expression — “This is me! Here I am!” — our fantasies are free to run wild and we start to tell bigger stories with more features and less constraints. This is the part of story writing where we ask kids to answer the “never-ending whys,” since even in the highest realms of our imagination, there must be causes and reasons for things, however silly or strange; there must be an internal logic to it all. And in this process of getting at the “truth” of our tale, exploring its themes and characters, desires and consequences, we grow new skins — which can include feathers and scales, of course.
– By Eva Langman
Lead Teaching Artist 2014-2015