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Try these fun ways to help children get creative from the National Centre for Writing in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 19:00 08 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:41 09 September 2020

The National Centre for Writing has launched a resource pack of  fun ideas designed to help parents, carers and youngsters share the joy of storytelling. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The National Centre for Writing has launched a resource pack of fun ideas designed to help parents, carers and youngsters share the joy of storytelling. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Today, September 8, is UNESCO International Literacy Day and to mark the event the National Centre for Writing in Norwich has created a free, digital resource packed with fun ideas designed to help parents, carers and youngsters share the joy of storytelling. Why not have a go at some of them with the little people in your life?

UNESCO International Literacy Day is a worldwide opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of writing and reading in our everyday lives.

And to mark the occasion, the National Centre for Writing (NCW), based in Norwich, has shared a free, digital resource pack which gives parents and carers some simple tips for creating fun and engaging stories with children aged 0–5 years.

Neverending Stories is a pack of ideas, activities and colourful cartoons designed to encourage storytelling, imagination and creativity in the everyday lives of young people. Inside, there are ideas for new stories, simple ways to create the physical space and time to tell stories together in a busy schedule, plus hints and tips on how to tell a great story to a child – all you need is some time together and willingness to be silly.

Neverending Stories is produced by the National Centre for Writing and funded by Anguish’s Educational Foundation, with support from Arts Council England.

Arts practitioner Becky Demmen, who was commissioned to create the pack on behalf of NCW, said: “It was really important to make this pack fun, because the enjoyment of reading is so important for nourishing creativity and a love of books throughout life. What’s amazing about this project is that we created something that parents and kids may use for the entirety of their childhood. A lot of the activities in here can grow in complexity as the child grows. I love the idea of somebody having this in their kitchen, grabbing for it when they need a distraction and their kid growing up with this pack and it growing with them.”

The awareness raised by International Literacy Day feels more crucial than ever in 2020. More than 62% of the world’s student population have faced disruption from school closures due to the Covid-19 crisis. In Norfolk, the majority of pupils across 422 schools have been learning from home since March, and libraries and nurseries have also faced periods of closure.

Norwich joins many other UNESCO Cities of Literature marking International Literacy Day, all over the world including Nottingham, Edinburgh, Dunedin (New Zealand), Granada (Spain), Kuhmo (Finland), Lillehammer (Norway), Montevideo (Uruguay), Nanjing (China), Québec City (Canada), Seattle (USA), Ulyanovsk (Russia) and Wonju (South Korea).

Have a go at a few of the storytelling ideas from the book:

Under one minute

Describe the nearest object to you – what is it for? Tell a story to your child of how you got the object – tell the truth or be as imaginative as you like!

Under five minutes

See how many blue things you can find. How many yellow? What can you smell? What can you see? This is all about building memories so, for example, if you are out one day and smell freshly cut grass, and then you are reading a book and it mentions freshly cut grass, you can turn to them and ask them if they remember how that smells. Remember when we smelt it on our walk the other day?

Under 10 minutes: Make a Bag of Stories

What you need:

A bag (a tote bag works well)

A few everyday items

How to use your Bag of Stories:

1. Give them the bag and open it together

2. See if you can make a story out of the objects you find inside

3. What kind of character would this bag belong to?

4. What else could the items be used for?

5. What do they feel like? How many ways can you describe them?

With a bit of preparation, this is a great exercise to be able to pick up and do together.

The Neverending Stories pack can be downloaded at nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk/neverending-stories. A limited number of free hard copies are also available (payment for postage and packaging only) on a first come first served basis – to request a pack, please email info@nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk.

Follow the International Literacy Day celebrations on Twitter by searching the hashtag #InternationalLiteracyDay.


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