Episcopal’s Storytelling Curriculum consists of folktales from around the world as well as original stories and music that serve as a basis for a wide range of literacy experiences. Storytelling classes incorporate rhythm, rhyme, humor and repetition. Classes are specially calibrated for each age group to match students’ intellectual, emotional and social development. Many aspects of the curriculum, including the building of listening skills and the development of sequencing and vocabulary growth, also enhance pre-reading skills.
Our program is designed to allow children to become familiar and comfortable with simple story structures and to learn from experience what makes a good story. As the years progress, the stories become more complex. By the end of their time at Episcopal, our students have heard dozens of folktales and stories from around the world and are eager to create their own. Many of the stories told at Episcopal are original and contain elements that include the children during the telling. Participatory listening helps children understand the story and its structure from a different perspective and creates a richer, more nuanced understanding of character and plot.
For the last thirty-seven years, Bill Gordh, Director of Expressive Arts, has stewarded storytelling at Episcopal. Seated on an African Akamba stool, Mr. Gordh uses his considerable skill as a musician and a myriad of different voices to captivate his young audience. Lower than a child’s chair, it allows him to look directly into the faces of his rapt listeners while being slightly above them to better show his facial expressions. At the end of the school year, a second stool of the same height is placed next to Mr. Gordh’s stool. Before they graduate from Episcopal, every child has had the chance to sit on the “guest” Akamba stool to tell their own story with excitement and confidence as Mr. Gordh plays the banjo and their friends act out the story.