Friday Fables



This term we focus on caring for other people, appreciating that we are all different, unique individuals but fundamentally the same. Grasping these concepts through stories helps children to gain greater insight into how we can work together for a common good.  Stories can help children to develop mutual respect and tolerance, treating all people usefully and kindly. 

This term we are thinking all about how we can care for ourselves; whether that is managing our emotions, developing resilience or learning to appreciate the little things in life.  We want you to be the very best version of yourself you can and we hope the stories and poems we share this term give you lots to think about. 

As we move into Summer term with longer, brighter days and nature more in evidence, we are reflecting on our mission to care for our environment. Stories can be useful ways of examining our own thinking about something. We hope the stories this term will encourage everyone to think about how they think about nature. Is it something to be used, picked, trampled on or moved to make way for us? Or is it something we are part of, a place we live within, something that enriches our own lives?

The Whale Song by Dyan Sheldon and Gary Blythe uses language and haunting illustrations to explore the sheer magic of seeing animals in the wild. What are wild animals for? Grandma and Uncle Fredrick have very different ideas.

Under The Same Sky was written and illustrated by Britta Tekentrup and shares the world we share with our fellow creatures.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is an old story and a very odd one. Our new King may talk to trees but this tree talks back. Ms S never knows what to make of this story; it's a bit one sided with the tree doing all the giving and the boy all the taking. It invites us to think about our own relationship with living things.

Our Planet by GM Goffstein is neither a story book nor an information book so much as a beautiful work of philosohy, in words and pictures. Published in the UK in 1988 there are some clues that it is, in fact, an American author/illustrator as the wildlife is both similar and different to ours. The philosophy it shares chimes with our values in school, we can be just like a single grain of sand (or indeed a blade of grass as we thought of in assemblies and making work this week) and live a good life. Good for ourselves, good for other people and good for all life on Earth. 

The Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle by Beatrix Potter was chosen because the Eco Group are working with Northwich Hedgehogs for our school to become Hedgehog foster carers, nurturing young hedgehogs to be released into the community. We hope that our work might mean that Hedgehog sightings are increasingly common on Kingsmead. Beatrix Potter's watercolours of British flora and fauna are still the go-to for accurate images. She is the artist who has put a rabbit in a jacket and shoes, a mouse in a gown and a hedgehog in a bonnet and the animal is still anatomically accurate. Her books don't talk down to children, they bring wonderful vocabulary and a conversational writing style. Genius. 

A story is quite unlike anything else and a story read in book is specially wonderful. For when we read a story ourselves or hear someone else read a story to us we experience the thoughts, actions and feelings of the characters as if they were us. Quite magical.

Watching a film or TV programme or see a play you learn about others. But take away the actors, in a story read to yourself or heard aloud you understand characters' as if they were you, as if their feelings were yours. And of course the first step to caring for others isn't what we do for them but how we see them. As people. People like us.

The Invisible Child by Tove Jansson - This is a beautiful and interesting story. It helps us think about anger - our own and other people's. Published in 1962 it is in some ways a very modern tale, showing the author's deep understanding of human nature and the importance of being useful and kind - unlimited. It is a very interesting book for helping us think more deeply about anger. Anger, it it appears, is neither good nor bad but an interesting emotion and part of our shared humanity.

Max Velthuijs - Frog in Love, Frog and the Stranger and Frog and the Birdsong - Three stories for people of all ages. Deceptively simple these tales invite us to reflect on our relationships with other people.

The Tales of Beatrix Potter - These are 'Classics' and have delighted children and adults for over a century. No one can draw a rabbit in a dress where it is still a rabbit's body (not a human one with a rabbit head) like Beatrix Potter. Beatrix Potter's beautiful and genius illustrations are accompanied by stories with a rich vocabulary the hint of anarchy that makes a great tale. We know her characters from our own lives: exhausted parents, disobedient youngsters and siblings, problematic neighbours, thieves and vagabonds, hardworking and resourceful people. The tales are told without a hard moral purpose. Life may not be easy for the animals in her stories, but it is interesting. People do daft things, some learn from them, others don't. We catch in Potters' characters glimpses of ourselves and other people, in all our variety, with all our flaws and also our ability to deal with danger and difficulty.

We beging the Autumn term in the last days of Summer and end it in the depths of winter. The two tales take us from Summertime to Wintertime as well as giving us lots to think about ourselves. 

One Fine Day in Summertime - Aesop's Fables - Max Bollinger, illustrated by Jindar Čapek

We started the term with Aesop's fables, tales that have come down from Ancient Greece but are as relevant today as when Aesop told them to Ancient Greeks, sat around fires in the days when all stories were told orally and there were no books. Aesop's Fables, as with many of this term's stories, are about animals. 

But stories about animals are more often not about animals at all. They are stories about ourselves, humankind. Perhaps these stories were told because it's easier to think about our daft side, the unkind or boastful, foolish or harmful side of our natures when we are thinking about them through the eyes and ears of animal characters!

Some of the stories have you feeling 'it served them right' when those who are boastful and unkind get caught out. Others have you feeling sorry for the people who come off badly; these are often people who may have been silly but didn't deserve the unkindness they received. 

The Snow Queen - Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Sanna Annukka and translated by Jean Hersolt

After half term, The Snow Queen takes us into Winter. Through his fairy Tale, Hans Christian Anderson invites us to think about ourselves. What do we notice in the world? What do we notice in other people? What is it to be a friend? We have been unkind, chosen a bad path, are we stuck with our choice or is there a way back? Can we change our characters or are we stuck? 

2021-2022

A year of hoping for the end a pandemic. Some winter disappointment and a more hopeful summertime. 

Spring term is when we move from thinking of our unique self and to the wonderful variety of the people we share our planet with. English literature, myths and legends are full of tales of other people and also about animals or mythical creatures. But when Homo Sapiens (the scientific word for humankind - our species) write about other animals, creatures or aliens it is more often that they are sharing with us something about ourselves and what it is to do the right thing, by others.

In Autumn we think deeply about how we care for ourselves. Myths, legends and modern stories are full of characters who overcome difficulty, triumph or succeed because of their good character, perseverance, hard work or sheer creative imagination. 

2020-21

June is a month for celebrating and learning about the lives and contributions of Gypsy Traveller communities. Storytelling is a big part of all human cultures and Gypsy Travellers are no exceptions. We hope children will notice not only what is interesting and different about the lives of our Gypsy Traveller neighbours but also the many more things we have in common.

Thinking about our wonderful world this term, we are sharing some creation stories. Long before Science was part of human culture, people looked out at the world and wondered about what they saw and how it came to be. 

Without scientific explanations, myths and legends emerged. What is interesting and surprising is how much these stories have in common. Long ago, Africans, Americans, Asians and Europeans developed similar stories. And they all had tricksters, beings, Gods and semi-gods who moved between the heavens and Earth, solving problems, helping people and causing bother too! The Greek god Hermes, Anansi in the Caribbean, Coyote for the first Americans and Loki for the Vikings all feature in stories around the world.

Science took a long time to become part of our human history. Science has helped us know and understand ourselves, others, our Earth and the Universe. But perhaps it's no bad thing Science took its time. The world would be much poorer without the wonderful stories that were imagined in its absence!

Stories for all ages - something to think about over the weekend.

Afraid of the Dark? - Lemony Snicket's fable is one for you!

Had a bad day? - Rosemary Wells' trilogy Voyage to the Bunny Planet will give you the day that should have been.

Girls and Boys - what do you think about boys and girls? - The Paper Bag Princess looks at fairy tales, princesses and princes through a different pair of glasses!

Ever been bullied? Ever bullied anyone? - John Burningham's Tug of War is for you.

Our third lockdown and right in the middle of winter. It's like we have all been sent into hibernation. There's only one story for such times as these: Moominland Midwinter!

Moominvalley is home to all sorts of people. Some have lived there for thousands of years, others come for refuge or just to spend some time. Some folk are easy to understand, others hard to comprehend. But everyone is welcome, everyone has their place. There are no outsiders in Moominvalley.

The chapters are long though. Listeners may well prefer to pause and listen in instalments!

Mrs Rutter-Brown and Ms Stewart are taking turns to tell a story to send people off into the weekend with something to think about! Because Upper Key Stage 2 are studying Ancient Greece, Ms S is sticking with Greek myths (you can find all the recordings via our Greek Myths page). On alternate weeks, Mrs R-B will be taking us off somewhere else, equally wonderful and thought provoking, for different things to think about. 

2020

July 2020 - last lockdown fable before we were back together in September 

Here's a myth, this one is from West Africa, that attempts to explain why we are all different colours. 

Scientists who study human beings (biologists, geneticists and anthropologists) know and understand there is really only one race - the human race. In our one human race people come in many different colours from the palest of pink and beige to the darkest browns, ebonies and black. And all the shades and tints in between. This is because each person has a different amount of melanin in their skin. People with more melanin have darker eyes, skin and hair colour and even in families people have different tones of skin. Long ago, people didn't understand or know about melanin and science; they thought people of different colours were completely different races. Long ago, people told myths to try and explain what they didn't understand. Thank goodness for Science - we can understand the world more deeply and enjoy myths for what they are - marvellous and enjoyable stories containing many truths and ideas about our wonderful world.