We at Story Time are really getting into the groove of having fun with the little kids of the city. On Friday morning, we visited the third branch of National English School (at Deshbandhu Nagar, Kolkata). The other two branches had been visited a week or so back – and we looked forward to a similarly enthusiastic response over here. Suffice it to say, the interest levels at this branch of National English was, if anything, a couple of notches higher!
The sun smiled (some might have found it a trifle too hot – but hey, we were not complaining!), as the Story Time team set forth for the school tour. Half an hour of cab ride later, we were at the principal’s office – and she expertly gave out directions, to set up the Educomp system for our digital interactive storytelling session. Proceedings started at 10:00 am sharp. They say that Indian institutions are not as punctual and systematic as their counterparts in Australia and the United States (where we have conducted several such sessions) – but we certainly did not find it to be the case.
The storytelling kicked off with students from Classes I & II as our first batch of audience. We were spoilt for choices on the day – for we had carried as many as 6 digital stories, from which we had to take our pick. After much deliberation (and taking a hint from the little ones’ reactions to the first screens of the stories!), we zeroed in on ‘The Ugly Duckling’ for the first installment. There were giggles, astonished gasps, and murmurs of appreciation (from the teachers and class monitors who were present), as the tale of the famous greyish duckling who grows into a ravishing swan was narrated. After the story, there was the customary quiz session and the token gifts.
As the juniors filtered out of the audiovisual (AV) room, it was time for their seniors (not ‘senior’ literally, of course – they were students of Classes III & IV) took their place. For this batch, the story of ‘Naughty Ninja Robot’ – which is, incidentally, a huge hit on our mobile storytelling app for kids too – was selected. The way in which children laughed at Ninja’s pranks, shrieked when he hurt his robot friend Tutu, and clapped when Ninja became a ‘good’ guy after his visit to Earth (‘land of humans’) proved that our choice of story had not been awry. In fact, several students requested for another story. There was a time-constraint though, but we promised to return sometime soon.
Next up, there was a surprise waiting for us. The headmistress of National English School, Deshbandhu Nagar, requested us to conduct a similar session for the pre-primary section students as well. How could we ever let the chance of putting a smile on the faces of toddlers pass us by? Within a split second, the decision was made, we agreed to stay back, and the smallest kids at the school took their seats for their date with story-viewing. ‘The Boy & The Apple Tree’ and ‘The Ugly Duckling’ were the two story options for this round – and ultimately, we went with the latter. Another rip-roaring success it was!
After each of the storytelling sessions, the students were given two pamphlets. The first one was the Story Time lucky draw form – in which kids had to provide their name, school name, age and contact information – to stand a chance of winning attractive prizes. The other (the one we take the most pride in!) was a catalogue of the Story Time paperback and hardcover books. Although people from all over were evidently ready to buy books online from us (via eBay), we had a special offer price for the kids at National English. Our resident story-narrator explained how the kids had to select the books they wanted to purchase (the li’l ones surrounded her to get a first look of the books!). The class teachers took up the responsibility of collecting the money from children and delivering the books they wanted via us during the next week.
One thing that gave us particular joy during Friday’s sojourn was how our stories made a child with special needs chuckle, and clearly, very, very happy. He sought permission from the teachers to attend two of the sessions – and was more than eager to participate in the quiz and provide us with his feedback. Story Time has been making kids from all over the world – be it from Texas, America or Kolkata, India, smile – but letting a special needs child have the time of his life was a first even for us!
That about wrapped up our activities at National English School. Before leaving, we gave a brief demo of Story Time For Kids – our free Android/iPhone app for kids. The faculty members were visibly impressed by the innovative, award-winning app, and many of them told us that they would download and check it out that day itself.
Laughing with kids, telling stories, and interacting with caring teachers – it was the best way in which the weekend could start for everyone at Story Time. There are quite a few similar storytelling tours lined up in the coming weeks – let’s hope we are successful in delivering the same amounts of joy at those places too.
Thank you, National English School, for having us!