As you all know, stories are a very important part of The Playgarden's curriculum as well as the class rhythm. Story time allows for a wonderful in-breath between the out-breath of play. This holds true both at our school campus as well as in the forest. Each teacher joyfully prepares for the story that she will share with the children. A lot of thought goes into what story would be both beneficial as well as seasonally relevant. Puppets are prepared and the story is memorized and held not only in the mind of the teacher, but in her heart as well.
Our Jacksonville preschool curriculum allows for a story to be told over the course of several weeks. This repetition allows for the story to begin to live in the child's head and heart, as well as be expressed in their play. For a variety of reasons, each year I find some stories resonating with a class of children in a special way. Last year I found this to be the case when the children were hearing about mulberry pie as mulberries were literally falling out of the trees and onto the story blanket!
This year I was so happy to see that the children embraced the story about Saraya the Forest Fairy* and her friends as they try to pull the "biggest, crunchiest, sweetest" carrot from the earth...
Rabbit, Rabbit pull with me
Pull as hard as hard can be
So that soon we can eat
A crunchy carrot that tastes so sweet!
...only to find that the carrot's root gnome is pulling the other way! Luckily the forest friends are given some helpful advice by the Honeybee, who suggests that they ask the root gnome if they can pull the carrot.
Gnome, good Root Gnome
May we please take your carrot home?
So that soon we can eat
A crunchy carrot that tastes so sweet?
After hearing the story several times, Miss Katherine and I began to notice that the children were lining up just like the forest friends in the story. And one brave soul would volunteer to be the carrot!
Well, after the Root Gnome knows who is pulling the carrot, he allows the carrot to be pulled from the earth, with each forest friend falling back with a "THUD!
After checking on each other, the friends enjoy the biggest, crunchiest, sweetest carrot ever!
These heart-felt stories are a soothing alternative to a child in a world of two-dimensional images that change quickly and without repetition, scrolling by on a screen. At our charming Jacksonville Beach preschool, these stories allow for the child to imagine them and breathe life into them during their "work", which for a child is, in its truest form, play!
This is why a child may ask for the same book to be read to them over, and over, and over...These stories are both pre-literary tools and enriching to the growing brain of the child. It is this imagining of images and actions that will one day serve them in a classroom when a teacher is giving oral directions. The child will be able to envision what these directions "look" like and then act them out!
So, yes, these stories help to support the children in their growth and development. However, it's also important to celebrate another very tangible benefit: JOY!
*The story told to my class was an adapted version of "The Story of Hugin and his Carrot"!