Some things are permanent and delightful in our world. Two of these things are children’s love of story and hide and seek. Put them together and you create magic. The pocket story apron is indeed a source of endless creative joyful magic!
In olden times country fairs had a pocket lady meandering the fair grounds with an apron or coat covered with tiny pockets. Each held a tiny ‘treasure’, and for a small coin, song, riddle, or tale, you could choose a pocket and gain the treasure for your own.
As a storyteller I have used a pocket story apron for many, many years. At May Fairs and similar events, children would follow me like I was the pied piper, eager for their turn to choose their pocket. Whatever I find in their pocket will remind me of a story and I begin weaving the bridge from pocket treasure to story. It has been such a popular storytelling tool, it warms children’s hearts, promises laughter and develops skills of speech, memory, imagination, story creation, and connecting with the storyteller.
One kind of story apron I have used is a direct relative of that old country fair tradition. The apron is covered with stars and moon of hand dyed wool felt, made even more visually festive with star sequins, ribbons, and bells. I hide tiny ‘treasures’ in each pocket. Shells, shiny smooth stones, little dolls, finger puppets, pinecones, any small item will do. A favorite is a quartz crystal as a first time pocket treasure.
Then a child chooses a pocket. Oh, what is found? A feather! This leads to poems, songs, little stories about the treasure the child chose. It can be a made-up story, a familiar story, a nursery rhyme song, or a memory from a family outing. A small doll’s bowl can lead into a wonderful version of The Three Bears. Or it can spark a memory of a bowl full of ripe juicy raspberries hand picked at grandmas and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It can also be as simple as a bell inspiring a hearty round of Jingle Bells.
The gift of this kind of story apron is the joy in children’s eyes as story after story unfold out of the mysteries hidden in each pocket, each heart, each imagination. A common place to use this kind of apron is an outdoor Festival, where there are lots of people, and the pocket treasures and little tales change whether it be a Halloween festival, May Day, Easter, or Summer Solstice!
The way you proceed will depend on the age of the child choosing a pocket. With the youngest ones you can ‘help’ lead them in to a world of nursery rhymes or lullabies. Mary Had a Little Lamb can come from a little girl doll, a wool fleece lamb, or a lamb finger puppet to put on their finger and move along to the verse.
Maybe a basket of favorite storybooks you’ve collected to match the treasures can lead to a close sharing cuddling read. For instance, that package of carrot seeds can lead to a telling or reading of ‘Runaway Bunny’. A carrot package can also lead you to beginning a tale of a child’s garden in spring, or a bit of Peter Rabbit!
The possibilities are wonderfully endless. By far the realm of Nursery Rhymes, lullabies, poems, and songs are great for young ones.
I have no doubt that once you begin you will come up with endless stories to tell. But here are tried and true ideas anyway to help get you started.
Things from nature/ crystals, feathers, special rocks, shells, acorns, sunflower seeds, dried flowers, crab apples, wool fairy fleece, small driftwood shapes, autumn leaves...
Now to put it together. - treasure and story:
Here are some sparks, you’ll get the hang of it and never stop!
* autumn leaf- autumn songs, leaf raking family days, sing ‘Come little leaves said the wind one day’,
*crystal - gnomes in the mountain song, a story of the crystal mountain
*feather - family tale of watching baby birds growing in a nest, the story of Raven the Trickster
*special rock - a family walk on a beach or by a river
* shells - can remind you of the ocean, The Fish Prince story, a boat ride, row, row, row your boat
*acorns - a magic acorn, plant it and a magic forest will grow
*birthday candle -the child who chose this pocket gets to make a wish!
*dried flower - flower fairy secrets
*crabapples - memories of gathering farm apples, eating apple pie, Mother Earth tales
*wool fairy fleece - Once I saw a cloud that looked like a cloud pony, then you shape a loose pony from the wool.
*driftwood shapes - this one looks like a snake! or a bird, or the walking stick of Baba Yaga the Witch!
*dollhouse bowl - can remind you of stories ‘Sweet Porridge’ or ‘The Three Bears’
*beeswax - a little red piece to make a little gnome tale.
*yarn doll - tell a story of a dream keeper who sleeps under your pillow and brings sweet dreams
*square of silk - to make a knotted doll shape
* miniatures - tiny baskets for a tisket a tasket, or the story ‘Mashenka and the Bear’ or Little Red Riding Hood
*a ring - ring around the rosy
*gold stars - sprinkling of ‘Star Child” (Grimms tale)
*Christmas ornament - you can get angels, fir trees, bells, great for sparking traditional Christmas songs and stories
*package of spring seeds - carrots for Peter Rabbit tales, pumpkins for ‘Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater’
*a string loop - perfect for a string game or cat’s cradle
*tiny toy pumpkin - a lead in for a Halloween story or song
*Easter egg - Peter cottontail song, Country Bunny story, remembering egg hunts, or egg dyeing
*Fimo shapes - my daughter makes horse shapes, try Mother Goose horse rhymes
This is a delightful way of connecting with people at bigger events, and just the colorful nature of it draws the children to you!
Part 2 of this story apron theme will come in a couple of weeks, and will cover the evolution of using this kind of apron to evolve to a themed apron, I will be sharing a 'garden' theme for you, perfect for spring and summer settings for outdoor storytelling with puppets.
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