Time travels: Abington students learn
about Thanksgiving from storyteller
By Mikaela Slaney
Thu Nov 19, 2009, 08:50 AM EST
Their teacher for the afternoon, storyteller, Andrea Lovett, had taken over Adrienne Whalen’s Center School 3rd grade class to teach the children about what life was like for pilgrims, in preparation for Thanksgiving on Nov. 26.
The students also spun wooden blades like helicopters into the air, and played with the well-known wooden ball-in-a-cup game.
But Lovett’s engaging program—A Journey Through Time: A Pilgrim’s Story—was not all fun and games, Lovett said. It was also a chance to learn through the art of story telling.
“I think it went very well,” Lovett said. “ when I checked in with the students, they understood the message of the story…I try to create images so they have a clear picture of where we are traveling within the story.”
Earlier in the demonstration, the children were asked to sniff a plant and guess what it could be. Lovett revealed they were mint leaves, which pilgrims used in tea to curb stomach ailments.
By playing word games with each other, Lovett tested the students’ ability to answer one popular pilgrim riddle—What is full all day and then empty at night?
After several guesses, Lovett revealed it was shoes.
“It was fun because we got to make the toys and play with some of them, and smell the plants,” said Fraser Toomey, 9. “I think pilgrim life was fun and sometimes a little bit bad because sometimes there wasn’t a lot to eat.”
Lovett said she started storytelling 17 years ago, noting she has studied the art of storytelling in classes and workshops .
“Narrative language is a natural to the brain,” Lovett said. “It makes it easy to grasp information. We think in images.”
Lovett also teaches storytelling to students at Gardner Elementary School in Allston, adding studies are being conducted in some schools on the possibility that storytelling improves MCAS literacy scores for children when used as an academic literacy tool.
She currently participates in “Story Slams,” five minute storytelling competitions in Boston, and she also co-founded massmouth.com, an Internet site focusing on storytelling.
Whalen explained that later this semester, her students will be reading historical non-fiction about young pilgrims Sarah Marten and Samuel Eaton.
They will also learn what it was like to be a child back then, through the eyes of someone their own age.
“We’re really just building background in terms of the holidays, talking about Thanksgiving and what they’re thankful for,” Whalen said.
From Nash School in Weymouth