April 15, 2010


Yesterday afternoon, Giraffe-Nanmen, one of the many bushibans I work for here in Tainan, had their ‘in-house’ story-telling pre-contest. I, again, was one of the judges of this pre-contest. Over the past couple of weeks, Janice, the manager of the school, has been going around to the various classrooms, listening to the students tell the various stories.

After the students have read, all the students choose who they believe did very well, and should represent their class in the ‘pre-contest. As this first process is up to the students themselves, I personally, find it interesting who the classes have chosen. In some cases, they choose wisely. In other cases, I have no idea – popularity??

There were four stories, each for a different level of student: “Froggy Gets Dressed”, a story about a little frog wanting to play in the snow, but forgetting to put on various clothing items (pre-k, kindergarten, grades 1 and 2); “Lizzy the Lion Cub”, a story about a little girl lion cub who wants a mane (grades 2-3); “The Truth About Hansel and Gretel”, a ‘news conference’ where the old lady (aka witch), tells the ‘real story’ of what happened on the fateful visit of Hansel and Gretel to her home (grades 4-6); and “The Quirky Queen”, a story about a queen who chirps to birds (grades 5-7).

There were a total of 53 story tellers this year. Of these, the 3 students from each level who score the highest marks, will compete at the next ‘in-house’ contest. Of those students, 1 from each level will go on to compete at the regional level. The regional level includes all of south Taiwan, from about Chia-yi all the way south, but not including the east coast. You will have to look at a map of Taiwan to get the idea of the area involved. Roughly, 1/4 of the island.

At this level, 2 or 3 students from each group will go on to compete at the national level in Taipei. Conceivably, 3 students x 4 categories x 4 regions, a total of 48 students, give or take.

In the past couple of years, our school has had very good success, considering the levels of students that are competing. Tainan is the fourth largest city in Taiwan. Taipei (4.7 million), Kao-hsiung (2.5 million), Taichung (2.0 million), Tainan (.8 million) – approximately. Exactly how many Giraffe locations there are in Tainan, or all of Taiwan, I have no idea. I suppose I could ask, but that would only boost my confidence more.

The first year that I helped get the students prepared, 2 of our students won 1st Place at the national level. The second year, 3 of our students won (2 – 1st Place and 1 – 2nd Place, I believe). This year, if things go the way I hope, we should be able to win 3 if not 4, 1st place prizes. I am very confident, that if the right student wins, we have some pretty darn good stories, and some pretty darn good students as well! I am very proud to be a part of this event.

For your reading pleasure, I have copied the stories here. This will give you an idea, based on grade level (taking into consideration the fact that, for some of these students, English is their 2nd and/or 3rd language) of what they are doing. As well, at the regional and national levels, these stories must be memorized – no paper in front of them! They are allowed to dress up, use props, sound effects, move around the stage… anything that will help them to win!

*****
Froggy Gets Dressed (幼)

Hi, name is ______. I want to tell you a story about my silly brother, Froggy.

It was cold. Froggy looked out the window. “I want to go out and play in the snow!” he said.

Froggy put on his socks – zoop ! He pulled up his boots – zup ! He put on his hat – zat ! He flopped outside into the snow – flop flop flop.

“FROGGY!” called mother. “You forgot something.”

“Oops!” cried Froggy, “I forgot to put on my pants!”

He flopped back inside – flop, flop, flop. He took off his hat. He pulled off his boots, but left his socks on and slipped his pants on – zip !

He got dressed and flopped back outside – flop flop flop.

“FROGGY!” called mother. “You forgot something.”

“Oops!” cried Froggy, “I forgot to put on my coat!”

He flopped back inside – flop, flop, flop. He took off his hat, but left his pants, boots and socks on, and put on his coat – zut !

He got dressed and flopped back outside – flop flop flop.

“FROGGY!” called mother. “You forgot something.”

“YOUR UNDERWEAR!” mother laughed.

“Oops!” cried Froggy, looking more red in the face than green.

He flopped back inside – flop, flop, flop.

He took off his coat, unzipped his pants, pulled off his boots, took off his socks , and slipped his underwear on – with a zap ! of elastic.

He started to get dressed, stopped and said, “I’m too tired.”

And went back to sleep.

*****

Lizzy the Lion Cub (初)

Hi everybody. I’m going to tell you a story about my friend, Lizzy the Lion Cub.

Lizzy the Lion Cub wanted a mane.

She went to see Paully the Peacock.

Paully looked at Lizzy’s head. “Okay,” he said. “I have an idea for a mane.”

Paully had Lizzy try on a paper mane, but it tore apart easily.

Then, she tried on a leaf mane, but the leaves kept falling.

Next, she tried on a SpongeBob mane, but SpongeBob was too silly.

Finally, she tried on a popcorn mane, but the flies kept bothering her.

Lizzy returned home that night. Her head was full of peacock feathers. Now, she had a mane! The peacock feather mane was beautiful.

“You look silly,” laughed her brothers.

Lizzy looked at herself in a pool. She thought the feathers were better than being bald.

The feathers made her head hot in summer. Sometimes they got into her eyes.
It took a lot of time to comb.

One day, Lizzy and her brothers were playing on the riverbank. Later, they jumped into the river for a bath.

While they were washing, Lizzy pulled off her feather mane. It was covered in mud, so she threw it away. Then she went home for tea.

Lizzy felt better without the mane. She had no trouble seeing. She wasn’t hot anymore.

“You look lovely without it,” said her mother. Lizzy looked at herself and was happy.

*****

The Truth About Hansel and Gretel (中)

This is my house. Isn’t it beautiful? The walls are made of gingerbread and the roof is made of toffee.

I decorated it myself with all my favorite sweets.

I suppose you have read the stories about me. They are all untrue, you know. I’m not really a witch. I’m just a harmless old lady..

Once upon a time, I was very happy, living in my beautiful house in the woods.

Then those dreadful children came along and spoiled everything. I spotted them from my window. Hansel and Gretel were their names.

I was going to invite them in for a nice cup of tea. Imagine how cross I was when I opened the door to find them eating my beautiful house!

My new sugar windows had just been fitted. That naughty boy was snapping part of a peppermint window frame off. His nasty sister was licking one of the strawberry lollipops on my wall. What a pest!

I shouted at them to stop, and do you know what those rude children did? They yelled, “Leave us alone, you old witch!” As you can imagine, I was really cross and I started telling off those naughty children. But they just sniggered and ran straight past me into my house!

You won’t believe what happened next. I followed the children into my house. Just as I was asking where they lived, that wicked boy pushed me into the oven! His horrid sister was no better. The dreadful pair ran away, laughing.

Then, to make matters worse, those awful children told terrible lies about me. The shame of it! Hansel told people that I locked him up. What a story! And Gretel said that I was an old witch who like eating children. What a wicked thing to say!

Life has never been the same since the stories about me were printed in the local newspaper. I don’t get any visitors now. People are afraid of me.
After all the dreadful stories Hansel and Gretel told, people think I’m a witch.

But you can see I’m not, can’t you?? Heh heh heh! [cackle like a witch]

*****

The Quirky Queen (高)

This story is about our queen.

You may think that all queens are the same: majestic, beautiful, and sociable. But you would be wrong.

Our queen was so unlike other queens that we called her the ‘quirky’ queen. She had strange habits. She was quiet. She didn’t speak. She wrote messages to us. She was not quirky because she was quiet. She could speak, but chose not to. No one knew why.

The oddest thing about our quirky queen was her fascination with birds. She built the biggest aviary. It was as big as the castle. There were hundreds of birds in the aviary. Our queen spent all her time there.

There is nothing quirky about a queen that loves birds. Well, there isn’t! BUT, our queen, who did not talk to people, talked to birds. That is to say, chirped with birds. Her favorite bird was a quail. She would spend hours chirping to it.

One day, another bad queen named Quintella, knew about our queen. “What a stupid queen. Spending all her time chirping with birds. Taking her queendom will be quick and easy,” she thought.

Quintella ordered her loyal soldiers to attack the castle of our quirky queen. The soldiers were happy to do this. They thought it would be a piece of cake.

That night, something weird happened in the aviary. The birds started flying all over and looked upset.

The next morning, the soldiers could see the castle in the distance. They were very pleased. It seemed our queen was unaware of the attack about to start. All was very quiet.

Suddenly, they saw something in the path. It was our quirky queen. They laughed at her. She was only one person and how could she stop any soldier.

“Get out of our way,” yelled the soldiers.

Our queen was quiet. She didn’t say a thing.
“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” they laughed at the queen.

Our queen shrugged her shoulders, took a deep breath, opened her mouth and screamed.

Her voice was so powerful that all the soldiers were lifted into the air and thrown far, far away.

Our quirky queen returned to the castle. We were amazed. That’s why the queen never spoke. Her voice was so powerful that it would be dangerous. Now, our soldiers use her voice as one of their most harmful weapons.

Our queen’s quirkiness had saved our lives. So, the queen continued to have her quirky ways. Even we’ve learned how to chirp with our queen! But no one makes fun of her, anymore.

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1 Comment

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One response to “April 15, 2010

  1. Lori

    I am quite impressed with the vocabulary of these kids. I am willing to bet many North American kids their age wouldn’t be able to beat this. I hope (and I’m sure it is)it’s the direct result of some good, dedicated and caring people who have gone to their country to teach English. Congratulations!

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