Crafty Storytelling

25 Sep

It’s a beautiful combination, craft making and storytelling.

I’ve been running storytelling training for five years but earlier this year I did something totally different. I worked in collaboration with craft instructor Jaimie MacDonald to create a new course, Crafty Storytelling.

We ran an afternoon workshop with Youth Workers and After School Club Leaders for the Lothian Association of Youth Groups (LAYC). Something magical happened when we worked together…

While people worked on a craft with their hands they had time to reflect on the storytelling exercises they had just done. Then they got to use their new craft for the next exercise, building knowledge and confidence. Imagine using the rainstick you’ve just made to give atmosphere to a story you’ve just learned to tell – it gives both the stick and the story a greater significance.

The storytelling exercises aim to push people out of their comfort zones but not so much that they don’t ever want to leave them again. Several of the more challenging exercises near the end of the course are in pairs – they perform stories to each other but not in front of everyone.

One of the finger mice created and then used for the counting rhyme group challenge

Who came?

The participants on the course had a range of experience. One person had been on two storytelling courses at the Scottish Storytelling Centre already. Another worked running sports clubs so had never done craft or storytelling. Some worked with big groups and others worked one on one with special educational needs children. There were ten of us in total, eight participants including the Director of the LACY!


At the end of the course we passed a stick around the circle and people shared what they wanted to share. I was almost in tears, it was just so good to hear people sharing that they hadn’t believed they were able to do this and that this course had showed them they could. Here are the results from the written feedback forms:

Very Good Good Average Poor Very Poor
The content of training was ….. 7
How useful did you find the session? 7
The knowledge of the tutor was … 7
The delivery by the tutor was…. 7
The methods used by the tutor were 7

What was the most useful part of the training?

  • Gaining more confidence in speaking through stories and learning more crafts for use with larger groups
  • The craft ideas and how to make them coincide with the story to get them involved
  • Demonstration – story told at beginning of session illustrated how it was done.  Templates for use
  • The way it was delivered.  The handouts were very good.  The crafts were easy enough for the children to do themselves
  • I liked all of the training.  It was fun
  • Combining craft with the story brings the story alive
  • Gaining the confidence that even if the details in the story are wrong that it won’t matter

What was the least useful part of the training?

  • None x 2
  • It was very short (again sorry I was late)
  • None.  It was all useful
  • Blank x 3

How will participation on this course impact upon your work with children and/or young people?

  • Will help with reading stories for primary 1’s and 2’s in current setting
  • I learned a lot and can pass all this on in future storytelling.  I also learned crafts which were new
  • I will use this at the after school club and pass it on to my colleagues
  • I will use the mouse story with the P7’s.  They can make the mice and tell the story to the new P1’s
  • Will engage participation and interest in story with animation and props
  • A good piece of experience to open my mind up to more activities
  • Encourage more group work

Additional Comments…

  • This was great fun
  • Emily was really kind telling me what I had missed because I was late.  (She told me the whole of the owl story).  Thank you
  • Loved this.  Was a bit nervous about story at end, but realised that I could ad lib if bits forgotten.  The process was the main thing.  Would like to do more courses
  • I didn’t know what to expect from today but really enjoyed it – very glad I came
  • Very well animated

What’s next for Crafty Storytelling? 

The director of the LAYC Ian Boardman was the eighth participant on the course, he loved it and has booked us in to run more courses including a full day of crafty storytellling in March. We’re also hoping to run a weekend course for Speygrian this November – dates to be confirmed. I loved working with Jaimie. When she’s not creating crafts she’s a Jeweller and a Life Coach. Read more about her in an interview on this blog here.

How did we create the Crafty Storytelling course?

Jaimie already ran craft workshops with the LACY and asked if I would consider collaborating with her to come up with a new course. I said yes! That was over tea and cake (the best things are often created with cake).

I asked for a list of all the crafts she already made. Some of them could be changed from one thing to another else quite easily like this brilliant owl made especailly for the course from a CD (you can turn it around to make it the moon!).

I’d just ran an afternoon course for 18 teachers with West Lothian Council so I had a really good idea of timings for all of my exercises. I put together a run order with alternate storytelling exercises and craft exercises. Each craft would be used as a prop for a storytelling exercise. I added columns for time in minuets, who was running it and equipment needed. Jaimie updated it with her exercises.

I timetabled a storytelling performance at the start to demonstrate each of the exercises and to show how everything builds together in a story session.

We had sections that could be shortened or taken out since we knew timings may depend on the group.

On the day somethings did take a little longer than expected but the great thing about facilitating in a pair was while Jaimie was teaching I could check on times and rearrange the timetable if required. Then we could have a quick chat while people were getting on with a practical exercise. It meant everything ran smoothly even though we changed several things as we went along.

What did I learn?

Creating a new course in collaboration reminded me how important it is to be brave and try new ways of doing things, there’s a risk when you step out but it’s worth it…


Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Education, Events, storytelling


Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Crafty Storytelling

  1. Claire C

    September 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    I love the owl!

    • auntyemily

      September 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Thanks Claire! x

      • Claire C

        September 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm

        Looks like a great project, loving all the creative craftiness!


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