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  • Tim Hartman

What topics do you address in your Assemblies? "Construct-a-tale"

What topics do I address in my Assembly programs? Writing. This subject is very important in standardized testing, and inspiring children to communicate through writing can be difficult.

"Construct-a-tale" allows the audience to experience the tools used to create a good story.

The audience and I 'build' the traditional French fairy tale of "How Johnny Pancake almost married the Princess of France". Through the story the children are taught the building blocks of good story writing; 'Character', 'Conflict', and 'Setting'.

Johnny Pancake is from a tradition of stories called "Jack tales". These stories are found in many cultures. The main character named either Jack or Johnny, who is an innocent, has to manage his way through difficult situations, and it is his kindness and good nature that allows him to stumble into a solution to his problems.

It doesn't hurt that the story is just plain funny, and audience participation is used throughout the telling.

I often do writing workshops in conjunction with this story. Third through sixth graders really benefit from these sessions. I explore the ideas of sensory detail and plot, and reinforce the concepts taught through "Construct-a-tale", and then challenge the children to write their own stories. I have even, on occasion, had the luxury of reading the stories that the children have been inspired to write, and have re-visited the school again to perform, for those same children, some of their best stories.

Every time I have gone through this process, teachers have told me there are children, they didn't even know had a talent for writing, come forward with some wonderful stories. If you are looking for a way to get your children excited about writing, please consider having me in for a performance of "Construct-a-tale".

"How can I ever thank you. Think of your influence on all of those kids! The gifts you shared were so welcomed, and supported a level of confidence that will serve those students well for so many years."

Marina Stockdale, South Side School teacher

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