Since our visit last week, my 5 year old keeps asking if we can go back to “the story farm”. I kind of like the way she calls it a farm! Farms are about growing and that’s exactly what The Story Barn does: it grows stories, story tellers and readers. What a wonderful place! It is full of story-everything: story telling, story reading, story immersion and story making. Paradise!
As soon as you arrive, you are met with a setting to encourage reading, with books on offer. My little one took no time to get stuck straight in to the book tree shelves until we were met by the story hunters.
Our captain and first mate arrived and began in full character, capturing the children’s attention and imagination immediately. The scene was set with a song and a chance to join in. Those shy children were drawn into the story world and were all joining in before long.
With the scene set, our journey to discover what happened to the shipmates established, we entered the wonderful barn itself. As the children went upstairs and entered the story space, you could hear the wows and oooos of delight from children and parents alike. I could stay in there all day, namely because everywhere you looked there were books, glorious books! It is a book heaven. I love the hot air balloon, too! Oh the stories you could create in there.
There was no rush in getting the children together again. They were given time to discover and be excited, allowing the narrative to evolve. Children in the group of varying ages were engaged and excitedly looking for story clues. The story hunters took each of their suggestions equally and expertly wove them in to the story.
The group was then invited to create the pirate ship. This was my daughter’s highlight. She just loved being IN the story. To watch her face light up was lovely as a parent too. She had no inhibition about making suggestions: she was story making, writing and doing it confidently. How fab!
Within the collective narrative, the children were guided to find the treasure. Of course it was the best kind of treasure – a book. Now I was as excited as the children, as it was a book new to me, too! Brilliant. So we all listened in as our story hunter read aloud to us. What a great book choice it was! I have even bought my own copy now. A great book to encourage story tellers. I’d recommend it!
The story fun continued as children were invited to take part in craft activities linked to the story: jelly fish, telescopes, maps and pirate hats.
There was still more story fun to be had, as children were invited through the ‘Once Upon a Time….’ door into the park space. By this point, all the children were so invested and involved, there were no shy moments or inhibitions. Children were darting around, hunting for clues. There was much enthusiasm and excitement!
Finally, these clues, with the children’s creative ideas, were woven cleverly by our story hunters into a unique verbal tale. There were many smiles and lots of laughter during this part. Also a lovely sense of pride for the story created. You could see the children felt it was their story.
We left with that warm, fuzzy feeling only stories can bring, and that we’d been part of something special. My daughter truly believed she was a story maker, as her ideas were valued and used. How empowering!
I would highly recommend a visit with your own children or a class. Free parking is available in the park. There is also an ice cream parlour next door to add another treat to your trip!
The Story Barn will be with us at our Reading Rocks Event on 14th October. Be sure to check out their stall.
Before then, if you can make it, check out the FREE event being hosted at The Story Barn on 9th September.