Session 1: introduction

When: June 5th, 2012
Where: Primary school Jean Monnet, Saint Romain le Puy, France
Grade: 5th
Number of students: 21
Lenght: 1h45
Myth we told: Orpheus and Eurydice
Number of stories we heard: 13

There we are: our first session with a whole class is done, and let’s say it, well done. I have to admit that before our meeting, I was stressed out. First, because it was the first time we would end up exchanging stories in a classroom, full of students: we were pretty sure that kids would like the experience, but we still had some doubts about a few things. is it the right story to tell? Will I be able to tell it right? Will the children be willing and happy to participate? Will we have time to do everything in time? So many questions we couldn’t answer before we were in the classroom. And second, because this was happening where I grew up, in my own primary school, in the class taught by my own 4th grade teacher. Pressure on! So, yeah, I was not showing off much before the lesson … But at the same time, we were really eager to meet with the class, to discover their reactions, to share with them our passion for storytelling and drawing. And thus we went to the school, Erika behind the camera, and Janyce in front of it (pressure, I tell you!).

There’s so many things to say about these two hours, I don’t know where to begin: I need to organize my thoughts! We will write a few posts about it so that you won’t end up with a 17-pages-long article to read. Also, we have to wait and see if we are authorized to post the videos of the children speaking online… Juste a few more days and we will know (let’s hope!). Well, let’s begin with the beginning: the organization and the way it went.

Once we had presented ourselves and the project, we introduced briefly Greece, Antiquity and mythology, and the children quickly started answering our questions: a lot of them knew where the country was, who the gods and heroes were … Their will to share their knowledge was a good sign for us! Mostly because their teacher told us that they had not prepared our visit at all. After this introduction, I dived in the story of Orpheus’ tragic love for Eurydice, illustrated by our drawings. The class seemed to appreciate the story, and even more Erika’s drawings.

At that point, it was the children’s time to work, to draw and tell stories! To make them more confident, and to be sure everyone would have time to speak, we allowed them to work in pairs if they wanted. We gave them 30/40 minutes to draw, while we tried to help the ones who could not find a tale to tell, to encourage the ones who didn’t know where to begin their story, to see how they felt about it … Once they were done, and after a few second of hesitation, the first group came up to tell their version of the Little Red Riding Hood. And then everyone, even the shyest ones, came in front of the class to tell their story: Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Bluebeard and many others.

To end this lesson, we explained to them what we were doing exactly with this project, and it seems that the idea of going around the world, for a whole year, is quite an unbelievable one: “And you won’t even be here with your parents for Christmas?” was the last question we answered before it was time for their afternoon break.

We begin our trip – in my hometown – on a very encouraging note, thanks to this enthusiastic and motivated class. We are ready to take off!

Very soon, we’ll put up our story and drawings; their beautiful drawings; the videos, if we can (crossing fingers); and our conclusions. Stay tuned for it!

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