paintings telling stories

my emily carr forest painting

my emily carr forest painting

This week I asked my students to imagine being in a deep green colorful forest similar to the ones in Canada, a boreal forest with tall pines with different species of trees and animals. Just as being inside an Emily Carr forest scenery. Telling them stories about Haida people, the native americans…Who are this people? kids are asking me. For the little kids to speak about how Indians live in communities, eat what they hunt and  have a different language than english, it was a big challenge. To make it easier, and funny, I made up an Indian Costume and started telling the story about Emily Carr and her relationship with Haida people.

For the older kids, it was easier to explain, but I could see still surprising faces after knowing that America has a different tribe of people beyond the Hollywood one.

Kids of all ages love stories, and honestly most parents and educators usually forget the importance of telling stories. It is beneficial in many ways; it builds up imagination,  enforces critical thinking skills, learning how to be a better communicator, enhances listening and vocabulary knowledge etc..

So it’s time for the painting story… starting painting a nice background on a canvas, by doing a deep blue wash and giving it the look of a cloudy sky…here some pictures:

blue wash with clouds

blue wash with clouds

Then the story begins. Giving the kids a piece of chalk,and asking them to imagine themselves walking through a deep forest, with different kids of trees (pine trees, oaks, chestnut trees…), they can encounter animals (wolves, bears, deers, owls) and maybe someone, such as Emily Carr. That’s the result…

lucy's apple tree monsters

lucy’s apple tree monsters

A story about apple tree monsters collecting apples and bringing them to Emily Carr’s house…hahaha!

lucy's apple tree story

lucy’s apple tree story

Some other paintings were about; Emily having a birthday party in the forest, another about a princes sleeping on a tree (sounds familiar…), Emily’s cousin collecting apples from the tree to make an apple cake and so many more. Anything that had ever come to my mind (of course, silly me… I am not a child!)

Some reasons on why storytelling is always a good technique, you can find it in this website: It is the story of a married couple that dedicates their time to tell stories and teaching how to tell them…Wow! not that easy.

Considering very useful the following handouts: – Why use storytelling as a teaching tool   – Why should children should be given the opportunity to tell stories

Well, I found out that by telling stories related to artist and putting some magical spark into kids imagination, not necessary has to be unreal what you tell about the artists,  can be more amusing. It definitely makes Kids more excited and love the artist.

The British National Gallery has a good guidance for Art teachers who wants to explore the storytelling through paintings, or guidance on ways of looking into a painting. Also, I came across Story Arts, a website that is helpful for some curriculum ideas.

Not to mention that another way for kids, teachers or people to improve storytelling skills is by listening to professional storytellers, here some of my favorites:

Karen Chace: she has a very helpful blog with fantastic ideas and crafts for the classroom

Priscilla Howe: her storytelling resources and tips are great! Thanks!

The Moth: a non-profit organisation dedicated to the art and craft of telling stories. You have a life experience you wanna tell in front of people, then this is the spot to be…it is interesting to see that they have an education programme, offering workshops and opportunities to high school students and marginalized adults, many in underserved communities.

As more as I research on this topic, as more I get interested and excited about it…I cannot promise anything, but I will keep looking into storytelling and come back with some more information and checked ideas on my students. Of course, any other tips & tricks to this post are more than welcomed 🙂


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