Please Vote for Story-Worlds at http://Story-Worlds.tk Exploring exciting story-worlds to captivate, fascinate and ignite the imagination of little ones and their families using sound, puppets, story-telling and lots of bubbles. This is a new project run by established charity Open Minds to fill a need in local provision. Mums and Dads of toddlers in Rotherham don't have a group to take their little ones to explore stories and books. Rotherham still has lower adult literacy levels than 10 years ago and this project aims to develop the confidence of both parent and child in exploring stories in a fun, practical and engaging way. Directly, 40 families from deprived wards will be given the tools in weekly sessions to bring stories to life exploring the characters, scenery and sounds using music, games and movement. They will be inspired to create story boxes and story sacks to make at home to retell the stories and to encourage the making up of new stories. Producing these resources will involve families being creative in finding and making small props to encourage talk, imagination and literacy skills. We will also create on-line resources so that thousands of families can interact with our story sessions and each other. The sessions will be designed and led by Simon, a qualified and experienced English/Drama teacher who has a 17 month old daughter, Holly. He has been developing creative methods to raise literacy attainment amongst older children for 20 years and realised, after having his own child, that there weren’t any groups locally to take his little one along to. He joins Open Minds to combine his teaching background with a desire to create something new and delightful for toddlers and their Mums and Dads. He will be joined by our experienced practitioners who are experts in a range of disciplines including music, puppetry, arts and crafts and dance/movement. Volunteers with additional skills including working with children with special needs have already pledged their time and support for this project. Although the sessions will be invaluable for families with young children of talking and walking age, we are also keen to include little ones who haven’t made their first steps or who don’t yet speak; an ideal time to introduce and explore stories with their parents. Sat on Daddy’s lap, shuffling on their bottoms towards Mummy or crawling amongst the bubbles as we explore the sounds of the story; the scenery or terrain; the different characters we meet on the way and even the emotions we display as we read, have consistently been found to improve early learning outcomes by 4 months. Additionally, parental engagement in early years is consistently associated with children’s future academic success. On average, approaches that encourage parents to participate in activities in the early years setting, have led to a positive impact of five additional months progress over the course of a year (Education Endowment Foundation, Early Years Toolkit, 2015). Open Minds has over 10 years’ experience in running youth theatres for older children and it is a natural progression to add value for the youngest ones. The skills that the grown-ups and children will learn will last a life-time, and we expect it to be sustained long after the community fund has ended by expanding into other areas of South Yorkshire. Motivated by our on-line reading packages we will seek commercial sponsorship to expand and sustain our work. This level of funding from the Aviva Community Fund will allow us to reach more families and develop on-line packages to reach a global family audience. Please vote for Open Minds’ ‘Story-worlds’ so that we can establish and grow a unique story-telling, story-sharing group for toddlers and their parents or carers in Rotherham. Help us to captivate, fascinate and ignite the imagination of little ones and their families.
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