‘A Stunning New Musical for Australian Schools!

This great resource for children aged  5 – 12 years blends songs, drama, comedy

“Award winning author Phil Cummings and renowned composer/songwriter Glyn Lehmann launch their new musical Arlie Abbstock and the Incredible Cape.

Written for performers aged 5-12 years, this work is full of songs, drama, comedy, action and even a rap. This work celebrates difference and explores themes of resilience, perseverance, resourcefulness, artistic endeavour, empathy, acceptance and recycling!

The story revolves around Arlie Abbstock who lives in a small medieval village. The other children like to play with swords and battle axes but Arlie likes to stitch and weave and sew. When the king is captured by a dragon, and the bumbling knights fail to rescue him… Arlie has a plan of his own.”

Available Now at: www.songlibrary.net/Arlie-Abbstock

Arlie Abbstock and the Incredible Cape

…a magical, medieval musical script and lyrics by Phil Cummings

music by Glyn Lehmann
There’s a terrible dragon, a kidnapped king, a feisty queen, a plucky princess, bumbling knights…and then there’s Arlie Abbstock.
Arlie Abbstock and The Incredible Cape

Arlie isn’t like the other children; while they play with swords and battle axes, he likes to stitch and weave and sew. When the dragon kidnaps the king, the knights attempt his rescue but return blackened and defeated.

Who will save the king now?

With help from the princess, Arlie puts his plan into action by doing what he does best. Teased by the other children and scorned by the knights, Arlie surprises them all; proving that friendship and a little self-belief go a long way.

Drama, comedy, songs, rap and much more!
For performers aged 5-12 years.

Duration: approximately 40 minutes

MORE INFORMATION
Arlie Abbstock and the Incredible Cape celebrates difference and explores themes of resilience, perseverance, resourcefulness, artistic endeavour, empathy, acceptance… and recycling!

Key aspects:

  • 19 speaking parts and chorus opportunities in which many children can participate.
  • Easy, flexible costuming options with opportunities for recycling.
  • Staging suggestions for do-it-yourself stage design and props.
  • Parts included for beginner recorder and ukulele players.
  • As well as the obvious benefits of being involved in a school production there are a number of themes that may be expanded upon in the classroom. We have provided suggestions in the accompanying materials.

We hope you enjoy teaching, learning and exploring our new musical.

Phil and Glyn

Pirates – part 2

I do not ask the children to stop thinking about play. Our contract reads more like this: if you will keep trying to explain yourselves I will keep trying to help you think about the problems you need to solve.

Vivian Gussin Paley (1981) Wally’s Stories

 The pirates nudging each other

When Richard told me his next story Ned was sitting next to him.
‘I’m going to do a play,’ said Richard.
‘There’s only two people. Ned, do you want to be in my play?”
Ned didn’t answer.
‘Ned, do you want to be in my play?’
Silence
‘Ned, do you want to be in my play?’
Nothing.
‘Ned, do you want to be in my play?’
‘Maybe’. Continue reading

Storyplaying, Storytelling, Storyacting (SPSTSA)

a-on-the-journey-copyNudging and Narrating

I am no longer teaching but my whole philosophy and way of teaching was built around shared story telling in all of its forms – storyplay, art (drawing, painting collage, making), story writing/dictating, storyacting, music, song, movement dance, and all of the ideas and emotions that the children themselves brought up throughout a day, a week, a month, a year. To establish a group culture we used the children’s own ideas and experiences as a starting point, so that from the beginning the children and adults together created their own curriculum. It was a ‘thinking-on-your-feet/nudging and narrating’ process for the children and the adults. It was fluid, challenging and allowed ideas to be explored over a day, weeks, months and even over a year. With this way of learning/teaching I needed to have resources and/or knowledge, or ways of finding out, at my fingertips. I learned to listen, to interpret underlying meaning. I also needed to keep in mind my learning/teaching intentions for myself and those of the children. I learned a way of responding to issues as they arose – for me this meant getting into the habit of not jumping in, but waiting, watching, listening, nudging before questioning,

Quick as a Wink Fairy Pink – Teacher Notes

Teacher Notes
by Janet McLean 

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Written by: Lesley Gibbes
Illustrated by: Sara Acton

Young children will want to jump into bed as quick as a wink to have this story read to them. It is a delightful story of play, hide and seek, and finding ways not to go to bed.

Five little Flutter Fairies going off to bed.
Fairy Blue, Fairy Green, Fairy Gold, and Red.
But one of them is missing. Which fairy do you think?
Could it be the smallest one?
Is it Fairy Pink?

WRITING AND LANGUAGE
As a former teacher Lesley knows the kind writing techniques that young children respond to, and that will help them to learn in a fun way. Quick as a Wink, Fairy Pink is an interactive book, enticing readers into a game of fairy-hide-and-seek. The regular rhythm and rhyme throughout the book is infectious. Children will soon pick up the pattern of the words and will begin join in (some spontaneously, and some with a little encouragement). The repetitive, predictable pattern of the text and the layout is set up in the first three pages.

On the first page there’s elements of humour and suspense – the text says, Five little flutter fairies going off to bed, Fairy Blue, Fairy Green, Fairy Gold and Red. We hear five, but we only see four fairies climbing the stairs. Turn the page, and open to a  double page spread and YES! out pops the fifth Fairy – from under the bed ‘shooshing’ us with a finger to her mouth.

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The blue, green, yellow and red fairies all have their own double-page spread to brush their teeth, have a bath, get dressed, or read a book before bedtime. The rhythm and beat of the text on each these pages follows the same pattern 

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Between each double page spread the reader is asked to look for, and find Fairy Pink.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-3-03-11-pm Continue reading

My Brother – Teacher Notes

‘When a gentle creature sets out to search for a lost brother we are taken on an ethereal journey across land and sea to strange, beautiful and faraway places. To fantastic, floating cities, and mediaeval towns full of dark alleyways and winding staircases – to vast open grasslands and eerie, silent forests – and eventually to a place of timeless beauty and light. My Brother is a metaphorical picture storybook for older children that looks at loss and grief from a sibling’s perspective.’

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TEACHER NOTES
by Janet McLean 

My Brother
by Dee, Oliver, and Tiffany Huxley


WRITING / ILLUSTRATING / DESIGN STYLE     
My Brother has been created by Dee Huxley, with her son Oliver, who created the visual characters, and her daughter Tiffany, who designed the book. Together, they drew on a heart-rending experience to create a book in which the words and pictures tell a moving, symbolic story of loss, and grief, and of the gradual steps taken towards the hope of renewal. Dee Huxley says,

 This book came about because of the loss of a loved one in tragic circumstances, & our world changed forever. It is both a tribute & a release. A tribute to a beautiful, empathetic soul, who touched so many lives, young & old, & who will be loved & missed forever. A release, albeit sorrowful, to be able to make this book for him, & us, & others like us, & a hope that he is somewhere beautiful & safe now. The main character, a metaphorical gentle creature, represents the emotional journey of loss, disbelief, grief, but also a journey of hope.”

The reader is led gently into the story through the title page with a soft black and white drawing of a pair of carelessly discarded boots; and the dedication page with a simple inscription and a drawing of a single tree. On the next two pages Tiffany sets up a layout that will be the pattern for most of the book. She has used various design techniques that help establish the pace and mood of the story. The text sits, like a stanza of poetry, on the stark white left-hand page. The text is spare and understated, but every word and line, and the placement of text on the page, adds to the deep meaning of the story – beginning with a simple statement:‘I miss my brother’. The space that is left between this line and the next, creates a catch-of-breath pause, before: ‘I’m so l o s t without him’. The tiny word ‘so’ combined with the word ‘l o s t’, with a space between each letter, heightens the sense of anguish.

On the facing right-hand page a single illustration is enclosed within a white border. In contrast to the pared down, but poignant, text, the illustration is complex and layered with meaning. Graphite and watercolour have been used for the illustrations in this book, although the watercolour is not introduced until the last three double pages.

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On this page:

  • The softness and sharpness of the moonlit shadows in the blacks/whites/greys of the graphite drawing evoke deep sorrow.
  • The reader’s eye is first drawn to the creature seated at a table. This character represents the journey that must be taken through grief and loss, to a place o
    f release and hope)
  • The creature is placed in the centre of the picture – drooped head, slumped shoulders, downturned eyes, a piece of pie uneaten, on the table.
  • Around the room are real and metaphorical images that relate to the lost Brother, and to the intense sorrow of the main character
    • Light from a full moon shines through the window where a duck (in boots) stands keeping a watchful eye a friend.
    • A flock of dark birds gather near the ceiling, symbolising dejection and loss.
    • Two hats and two coats hang sadly on the wall.
    • Two pairs of boots wait on the floor.
    • On the table sits one cup, untouched, another is still on a hook.
    • One dark bird nestles in a coat pocket.
    • Another bird is anchored in the bottom left-hand corner investigating the rest of the pie, a passing allusion to the child’s nursery rhyme, Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds.

On the wall is a memory of happier times – a picture of the siblings together. Continue reading

Emily’s turtle

One day Emily brought her pet turtle, Kirk, to kindergarten (preschool).

I found him in Grandpa’s dam.
Was he swimming in the dam
No. There wasn’t any water in it.
Mum said I could bring him home.

When Emily came in a few days later I could tell something was wrong –
watery eyes, sad shoulders and mouth.
She came over to me where I was squatting on a child’s chair.
She leaned into me and said,

I lost Kirk.
Ohh. What happened?
Mum said to put him in the garden for a wander.
And now we can’t find him.
I wonder why Kirk went away?
I wish Kirk hadn’t gone away.

Later that day Emily painted a picture.
When she’d finished it she brought it to me and said,
Can I do a play?.

Image: © Janet McLean 2016

Can I  do a play?                                Image: © Janet McLean 2016

She dictated her story as a play script which we acted out at mat time.

THE STORY THE LEARNING
Emily had ‘written’ other stories and she knew that I couldn’t write as fast as she could talk. She told her story slowly so I could keep up, word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase.

Once there was a creek.
In the creek there was a turtle living.
Some people went to the creek.
They found a turtle.
The turtle was the same turtle
and something was the matter.
The turtle was funny because it was lying still. And it was still funny.
The people caught it.
They brought it to the vet.
It was having a baby.
The mum loved the baby.
The people that found it took it home.
They kept it forever.
The baby turtle…
The baby turtle growed and growed,
and until it was a adult.
It had it’s own baby.

At mat time we displayed Emily’s painting as a backdrop for the play. Before we acted out the play I asked Emily to tell us about her painting.

The turtle is lying on its back. And that above, that is what he’s thinking.

What is the turtle thinking?

It’s thinking about the family that it lost,

So this is like Kirk, You were his family, and he lost you?

 No, They died in the war.

Recalling and using symbols Emily drew on and used her own experiences and knowledge to paint her picture, and to tell and dramatise her story.

Expressing feelings: Emily expressesd her feelings directly in conversation, and figuratively in her story

Literacy: Emily used a classic narrative story structure: There’s a beginning: “Once there was…’. Early in the story she introduced the main character – the turtle, Kirk. There was a problem (something is wrong the Kirk).The problem was solved (Kirk was rescued and taken to the vet). The ending was satisfying but open-ended – the family took the turtle in. The turtle had a baby which grew up to have baby of it’s own. Her story about Kirk was complex and metaphorical.

Visual literacy: Emily’s painting depicted ideas drawn from personal experiences. She included universal symbols (hearts, for love), and she included the literary device of a speech balloon.

Literacy through social interaction – with adult. Emily chatted with me in a natural way. We exchanged ideas. She asked me to help her express her ideas in written form. I helped her find new, more complex ways of expressing her thoughts – verbally, written, and visually.

Social interaction – with children. Emily has two close friends, Ruby and Ari. The three of them play together, in all areas of the program. However, Emily often works independently, developing her own ideas. She wanted to share her ideas with the other children – the whole group.

Further thoughts:
Emily trusted me to listen to her, and to take seriously the ideas and feelings she was trying to express and share with me, and through me, with the other children

I searched for the hidden meaning in her story and picture. When I talked with her and her Mum I discovered  hidden meaning embedded in her story and the picture. Her Mum filled in some of the details. On the ANZAC Day long weekend Emily went to visit Nan and Pop in the country with her Mum, and her sister and brother. They found Kirk along with dozens of other turtles floundering in the near-empty dam. While they were at Nan and Pop’s caught up with lots of  Aunties, Uncles and cousins, and there was lots of talking around the kitchen table. One of Emily’s great-uncles was one of the oldest living ANZAC soldiers, and on ANZAC Day  his photo was in the local paper. They found out which Aunties were expecting babies. Then, on the way home they stopped for a picnic near a river, and found an injured swan. They called the ranger to come and look after it.

I thought ‘funny’ was a funny word to use. until II realised she was using it to mean odd, or strange – her use of funny is idiosyncratic, immediate and touching. At mat time I helped Emily to choose other children to be the characters in the play. Together we directed the action. First I read the whole story, then broke it up scene-by-scene:

  • The children on the mat became the creek, gently swishing their hands.
  • The ‘funny’ turtle lay on his back next to the creek.
  • The family came along, found Kirk, and took him to the vet.
  • The family took the turtle home.
  • The turtle had a baby.
  • The baby grew up.
  • The baby had a baby.

Today, Emily worked over a long period of time, in different areas, to work through and express her ideas.

She actively participated in shared learning through creative literacy and art experiences.

In the process she created a coherent metaphorical tale of rescue, love, and the circle of Life, drawing on a number of different real-life experiences

© Janet McLean

A 68-word story

Sorry for the poor quality of the reproduced drawing. I hope you get the idea how Tyler used the drawing to help process his thinking.

And there was the day Tyler asked me if he could ‘do a play’.

Sure, I’ll just go and get my writing book and a pen. 

Tyler fetched a large sheet of drawing paper, and the red, blue, green, black, and pink markers. He placed these side-by-side on the table, and said:

Captain Planet gave some rings, with diamond rings, to little kids.

While I was writing Tyler started his drawing. Up in the top right hand corner of the paper he used the blue marker to draw Captain Planet. Then he started on the rings, which he placed on either side of Captain Planet, and as he drew he said,

A red diamond on it.

A pink diamond.

A blue diamond.

Now, there’s two more.

Now let’s see – green, I think.

Now, one more.

Blue – water.

Red is fire.

The pink one’s heart.

The green one’s …

I’ll just make up a name for green.

The Black one’s wind.

I’ll just call green, earth.

 I need to draw the little kids.

Red is fire.

Now, what was the second one?

Heart Continue reading