New resource helps parents bring stories to life in lockdown

A free resource has been launched to help parents bring stories to life and engage children in a creative and fun way during lockdown.

The resource, called The Gift, has been developed by Makers of Imaginary Worlds who have worked with the Mixed Reality Laboratory at the University of Nottingham to create a series of online workshops with artists, theatre makers, parents, and early years practitioners in Nottingham.

From their unique perspectives, a storyteller, a puppeteer, a dance artist, a theatre practitioner and a sculptor share their experiences and skills in this easy to access resource. The Gift helps parents and carers to have fun exploring different ways of storytelling with their child. Through short films with storytelling hints and tips, pdf guides for making exciting props and objects that are used in the films, and links to a number of useful online resources, The Gift is a fantastic resource for anyone with children.

The project has been led by Roma Patel an Alumni of Horizon CDT at the University of Nottingham and Rachel Ramchurn, who wanted to support parents and carers during lockdown. Rachel said: “Storytelling is such an important part of childhood and education that is being made more difficult due to the pressures of lockdown and homeschooling. Reading and telling stories are a gift that parents and carers can give to a child. Storytelling is about listening to stories and sharing experiences and quality time together. Children gain confidence; improve their vocabulary and literacy skills. Parents’ voices are familiar and can be comforting to children.”

The main part of my PhD thesis at the University of Nottingham explored making interactive performances for children under five and their families. My research revealed that playing with children is not easy, some adults find it challenging to play, may feel embarrassed. While some parents believe that children should play without adult interference and others were confused about how to support them. The Gift was conceived as direct result of my research to help parents play more by giving them practical accessible, tools, especially in our current climate.

The project has been funded through the Small Steps Big Changes (SSBC), COVID-19 Ideas Fund. The Ideas Fund is an opportunity for local community groups and local organisations to pilot new initiatives designed to help achieve developmental outcomes for under 5s in Nottingham.

Amanda,SSBC Family Mentor took part in The Gift online workshops and consultancy to help develop The Gift resource in Nov 2020, she said: “The Gift workshops were really inspirational and will prove to be extremely helpful moving forwards with our families in igniting enthusiasm and a passion for storytelling in so many different ways and in raising parental confidence. We can’t wait to get back to face to face groups to use these fantastic ideas!”

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