Midweeks are always tiring, right? Well, not when the Story Time team is in town! On the 3rd and 4th of September (Wednesday and Thursday), we headed for National English School, Kolkata – for interactive digital storytelling sessions for kids. We had hoped for the sort of response we had received at Park English School and International Public High School. The proceedings turned out to be even grander here!
The first day of the 2-day program was hosted at the main branch of National English School, at Baguihati. As per prior agreement with the headmistress of the institution, we were scheduled to organize story sessions for Classes I & II on that day. Thanks to the world-class audio-visual arrangements – right at par with the setups at leading Australian and US play schools – there was not any delay whatsoever in the start of the sessions. Students from Classes 1A and 1B filtered in the designated room sharp at 8:30 AM, and the fun started. The evidently eager kids were treated to the classic story of ‘Ugly Duckling’. During the digital storytelling and afterwards, fun quizzes were held. Going by how almost everyone got each of the answers right, it was evident that they had been very attentive indeed during the storytelling.
Next up, it was the turn of the students from Classes 1C and 1D to join in the fun. Once everyone (including the class teachers and the monitors) had taken their seats, the animated ‘Ugly Duckling’ reappeared on the Educomp screen. This time, there were applauses too after the end of the storytelling, and a clamor for more questions – after the quiz time was over. We obliged the little ones, by posing a few more (easy!) questions, and the students left the arena with a smile on their faces. That was all Story Time has always been after!
By the time the sessions for all the four sections of Class I had finished, it was already 11:00 – and it was time for Class I-III students to leave for the day. As such, the session for Class II had to be postponed for the next day. In the little bit of time that was available, forms for the Story Time Lucky Draw were handed out to the students, along with the catalogue of the Story Time paperback/hardcover books. Those who were willing to buy books (that was practically everyone!) were told to get the money on the next day and submit it to their respective class teachers. The process via which kids could buy books online was also explained. We gave a brief preview of the Story Time mobile app for kids as well, to the teachers. They loved it!
Day 2 of our program dawned – and the rains stayed away again – and we were back at National English School (Baguihati) at 8:30 am. The students of Class II (with eager faces and a general air of anticipation) had already taken their places, and we started immediately. It was the animated tale of ‘Hero’ which regaled the children on the day. After the storytelling and quiz was done with, the book catalogue and Lucky Draw forms were distributed. Our representatives took time out to visit the Class I sections, and give out the forms to those who were absent the earlier day.
A minor hitch came up next. Judging by the time, and the total number of Class III students scheduled to come in next – there was no way in the world that we could finish the storytelling for them within 11:00 am. But hey, when it’s Story Time, there’s always a way!
Instead of rushing through the digital storytelling session over there, the Story Time team instead headed out for the Rajarhat branch of National English School next. Half an hour or so later, we were there – and the campus was stunningly beautiful, to put it mildly. We had already coordinated with the headmistress of the Rajarhat branch, and she was more than cooperative. The computer teacher was assigned to set up the Educomp system (it had been Sony at Baguihati, and Onida here!) – and things were ready to roll within fifteen minutes. The only thing that had us down a bit was the news that the attendance levels were quite a bit low (exams for the little ones had got over only the previous day).
As things turned out though, our disappointment was pretty much baseless. Even with the so-called ‘low’ turnout, there were around 150 students (the first batch included Class I and II students, while Classes III and IV followed next). ‘Hero’ was the story of choice for the first set of students – and after quite a bit of deliberation as to whether we should go for ‘Naughty Ninja’, ‘The Boy & The Apple Tree’ or ‘Ugly Duckling’ for the second batch, the last option was selected. As we had done at the Baguihati branch, the Lucky Draw forms and book catalogues were distributed. Our story narrator was surrounded by clamoring kids – each wanting to know how they could buy the books and/or purchase books online from www.storytimeforkids.info later. We had hoped for a decent response, and were pleasantly surprised at how excited the li’l boys and girls were. The Story Time effect, perhaps!
A word here for the discipline and decorum among students at National English School (at both Baguihati and Rajarhat). The behavioral training provided at the institutions were obviously excellent, going by the neat and organized way in which the kids lined up on their way in and out of the storytelling room. Everyone saw and listened to the animated stories in rapt silence. The teachers and other staff played their part in making our event a grand success. The Story Time team is thankful for their cooperation.
Before the day’s activities drew to a close, we organized a brief demo session for the Story Time Android/iPhone app for kids too – for the senior teachers of National English. The educational elements of our free children’s app came in for praise, and many of them promised to try it out as soon as possible. Two days of great fun for kids was what we managed to deliver, the teachers were visibly impressed, and the Story Time team members left with not a little bit of happiness in their hearts.
For all the parents reading this, you can purchase the Story Time books directly from http://www.storytimeforkids.info/bookstore/. The storytelling app for kids is available for download at https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/story-time-for-kids/id410788584?mt=8 (iOS version) and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=info.storytimeforkids.storytime&hl=en (Android version).
We will be back soon, with a storytelling program/book fair at another top-ranked school in the city (we have plans to conduct similar sessions in certain schools across the UK from the next quarter). Everyone at Story Time will be looking forward to the benchmark in responsiveness set by the students of National English School – that much is for sure!