Are you ready to take your children on an adventure?
Adventure stories are stories that are set in different parts of a room, the house, the backyard, or the playground. The storyteller along with her entourage of listeners travels from location to location while telling or dramatizing the story. Stories that have multiple settings adapt well to this activity.
For one French story, Drake’s Tail, I set up the playground at a preschool to represent the different locations in the story. In this story, the main character, a duck, traveled a great distance to meet a king. During his journey, he encountered friends at specific locations along the route. One by one, the friends joined him on his adventures.
In short, the duck walked down a road, through a swamp, over a bridge, over a mountain, across a sea, until he arrived at last at the kingdom of the roi.
This is how I represented these different locales in the story:
The photo above is a chalk drawing on concrete – it’s a bit hard to see in the photo – I used two colors for either side of the road. The children skipped or galloped along the road as they played the duck in the story.
I made circles out of train tracks to represent the swamp. Children were to leap into each circle without falling outside in order to get through the swamp as the duck.
I used a plank to represent a bridge in the story. Later one of the students laid down blue cloth underneath the plank to represent the river. The children crossed the bridge by balancing on the beam. Some of the students challenged themselves to hop on one foot along the bridge as well! Others walked backwards!
The climbing structure was, of course, already part of the playground. I decided that it would be the mountain the duck climbs over.
Mats were laid out to represent the sea. The children had the best time rolling across the mats as ducks over water! I added a little extra zest by floating a blue cloth over them as they rolled.
This was by far the most challenging part of the set-up. However, because it is a traditional chalk design used in French games – the escargot – I thought it appropriate to include in a French story. Children jumped from section to section to get to the center of the escargot – in this case, the center represented the palace of the roi.
How to make an Escargot
The white spirals in the escargot were made by attaching a long cord to a 5-gallon bucket on one end, and chalk on the other. Starting at the outer edge of the spiral with the cord taut, I marked the chalk on the concrete while circling around the bucket in the middle. With each completed circle, the string wrapped itself around the bucket, and hence, the spirals were automatically created! So cool!
Adding a Map
Because I was presenting the French story for older preschool children, I chose to include a map of the story’s different locales to further challenge their complex thinking skills. They had to relate the symbolic representations on the map to the locales represented (again symbolically) through the physical props. It was challenging for some children initially, but they were able to figure it out with a little practice – and once they made the connection, they were glued to the map after that! The map includes the pictures of the friends the duck meets at each of the locales: a fox, a ladder, a river, and a wasp’s nest – I know…the story is a bit wacky!
Simple Adventure Stories
Although the escargot in the French story took a bit of prep, adventure stories do not need to be complicated. A story can begin under a table (a cave) and move on top of the couch (a raft) and then over to an island (a rug). If you have time, by all means, set up some extra objects to add interest. But, don’t avoid doing an adventure story because it seems complicated!
In the adventure story above (actually it was an adventure song), we just tied together some bamboo sticks which we covered in brown cloth to represent a mountain, a hula hoop wrapped in green ribbons to represent a forest, a green shawl on the ground to represent a meadow, and blue fabric for the river. It was quite simple… although, in retrospect, I would recommend props that don’t require an adult to hold up.
After telling an adventure story my experience is that the children re-enact the story again and again on their own. The physical props representing the locales stimulates and facilitates this re-enactment.
I often do a sit down telling of the adventure story first so the children can concentrate on the details of the story. By the second telling, the children are quite ready to dramatize the story in the adventure format as they journey with me from locale to locale.
Do you know of any stories that would adapt well to an adventure story? Please share them with us!
Here is another post on adventure stories from Storytime Crafts: