STORY STONES INSPIRE CREATIVITY
AND ENRICH ORAL STORYTELLING
Grades 1, 2, and 3, Buchanan school
Submitted by Renee McGurry, Laura Warrenchuk and Linda Stuart
Students in grades 1-3 at Buchanan School learned about Aboriginal oral storytelling.
This involved spending time with a variety of Aboriginal storytellers, as a large group and then in smaller, classroom groups. Storytelling visitors to the school included Renée McGurry (St. James Assiniboia Indigenous Educator), Edgar Desjarlais (author of the book titled The Tobanz) and Cory Campbell (story teller, cultural advisor).
We were able to connect via video with Cree story teller, Tasha Spillett, and heard the story “Why the moose lives alone in the swamp.” Joe McLellan (author of the Nanabosho series of books) sent us a collection of his books. From all of these story tellers, students learned about the components of legends and their purpose and place in First Nations communities throughout history.
The goal of storytelling was to have students listen to stories and retell their own unique story that contained a moral or a lesson with appropriate behaviors or actions.
Volunteers in the community helped in the preparation of felt, leather, paint and materials for this hands on project. The first step in students story telling was the creation of personal stories on story vines. Children learned how to braid and create their personal story on picture discs that they sequenced on their vine to assist with the retelling of their story.
Secondly, students worked with an Aboriginal visual artist and designed their own symbols to depict the characters in their legends. Working individually, students created storyboards using visual images, which they painted onto their rocks. In addition to creating and designing rock designs, students decorated their story bags with art. Students used their decorated rocks to retell stories to their peers, families and in cross-grade groups.
Throughout this project students learned First Nations oral-stories, sequencing, and the retelling of oral stories. More specifically from the art curriculum, students gained a deeper understanding of: Art Language and Tools, Creative Expression in Visual Arts and their Artistic Experience. This project integrated Art, Language Arts, History and Aboriginal Perspectives in an interesting and engaging way, which connected creativity to literacy and built a strong sense of community.
We were fortunate to have an Aboriginal artist working in the St. James Assiniboia School Division (Victoria McIntosh, Indigenous Liaison) provide cultural lessons to accompany her art on the rocks in the outdoor classroom. Now all of the students and community can appreciate and share the creation story as depicted on the rocks.