social spark Aisling Beatha: Story Telling - Learning the Bare Bones

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Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

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Monday, October 08, 2012

Story Telling - Learning the Bare Bones

This is my day eight post (there was no day 7 post) for the "31 days of blogging in October" challenge.  I am blogging 31 days of Children's Ministry.  To find links to all the other days (as they get posted) go to DAY 1.  Today I am just going to share links to some bible props and costumes that I have shared in the past.


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On Saturday I promised you a post about learning a story by the bare bones method.

I shared with you a recording of me telling the story of Big Bad Brian the Lion.  Here is the text of that story as it originally appeared in the book:


Once upon a time, there was a lion. He was called Brian. He was very big and very strong and ... and he was a bully! He thought he was bigger and better than any of the other animals in the jungle. 

Everywhere he went, he boasted about how clever and how strong he was. 'I'm big bad Brian the Lion!' he would snarl at anyone he met. 'RRROOOAAARRR!!!' And he showed all his huge teeth and his huge claws and his huge orange lion's mane. 
The other animals were scared of him. I don't blame them, do you? 
For instance, one day, Mr Giraffe was quietly minding his own business, chomping away at the sweetest, tenderest leaves on the topmost branches of the trees. Big bad Brian the lion crept up behind him so softly, so quietly, and then ... 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion!  RRROOOAAARRR!!! ' 
Poor Mr Giraffe! He was scared out of his skin and ran off into the jungle. Brian just laughed. 

For instance, one day, Mrs Elephant was quietly minding her own business, having a nice cool mud bath at the edge of the river. Big bad Brian the lion crept up behind her so softly, so quietly, and then ... 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion!  RRROOOAAARRR!!! ' 
Poor Mrs Elephant! She was scared out of her skin and ran off into the jungle. Brian just laughed. 

For instance, one day, Mr Monkey was quietly minding his own business, chomping away at a banana, peeling down the firm yellow skin to enjoy the soft white middle. Big bad Brian the lion crept up behind him so softly, so quietly and then ... 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion!  RRROOOAAARRR!!! ' 
Poor Mr Monkey! He was scared out of his skin and ran off into the jungle. Brian just laughed. 

What a rotten bully! 

Now, one day, Brian was swaggering through the jungle, thinking how big and strong and clever he was, when suddenly..... a huge net dropped out of the trees right on top of him, and several fierce-looking men with spears jumped out from behind the bushes. 
Brian snarled and roared and struggled and rolled, but he couldn't get free. The fierce men bundled Brian into a large bamboo cage on wheels and pushed him down the jungle trail. Before long, they came to a wide road that led them to a huge walled city, and Brian's cage was wheeled through the open gates. 

People on each side jeered at Brian and threw stones and rotten fruit at him, He growled and snarled and scratched but he couldn't reach any of them. In the middle of the city, the cage was pushed up to the edge of a great hole in the ground and Brian was suddenly tipped in!

It was dark and dusty at the bottom of the hole, and there were several other lions down there, but Brian was bigger and fiercer than any of them and they soon backed off. When his eyes grew used to the gloom, Brian saw a man sitting in a far corner of the hole, He had his back to Brian and his hands clasped together. He seemed to be muttering something under his breath. Here was Brian's chance to really frighten someone! Big bad Brian the lion crept up behind the man so softly, so quietly and then. . . 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion  
RRROOOAAARRR!!!' 

The man didn't move! He didn't seem to notice Brian at all and just kept on muttering, his head on his chest. Brian was puzzled, This had never happened before. He took a deep breath and growled even louder, 
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion! 
RRROOOAAA.RRR!!! ' 

The man still didn't move!! He just kept talking quietly under his breath, his head bowed and his hands clasped tightly together Brian took a huge deep breath. His eyes bulged! His great fangs stretched wide!!  His huge black lion's mane stuck straight out from his head, making him look twice as big!!!
'I'm big bad Brian the Lion! 
RRROOOAAARRR!!! ' 

The man still didn't move!!! Suddenly, something tapped Brian on the shoulder.  He turned round and found himself facing a gigantic figure over ten feet tall, all dressed in shining white with massive golden wings. 
'MY NAME’S GABRIEL AND I'M AN ANGEL!!!' 

Poor Brian! He was scared out of his skin and ran whimpering into the corner like  a frightened little kitten, 
And do you know what? I think it served him right! 


When I learnt the bare bones method I was told you only ever use 5 bones.  I'll be honest and say I often shift that to 6.

Basically, the method involves breaking any story down into 5 or 6 main points or sections and summarising those points in 1 or 2 sentences. Each of those points is a bone and it is the bones that you learn, the bones that you memorise.  Then, having read the story through a few times and with your story telling skills at the ready, you TELL the story, from those bones, embellishing as you go.  As I said on Saturday, it is not about reciting, it is about TELLING.  You don't need to learn the whole story by heart, you just need to learn those bones and although the details of the story may come out slightly differently each time you tell it, the STORY itself will be the same, you will have communicated what you intended.

Let's face it, if you have ever told a traditional fairy tale or folk tale to your children, from memory you have probably already done this without realising it.

This method can be used for stories from quite short right up to huge long stories.  There is one story that I tell that takes over 30 minutes to tell, and I learnt that in exactly the same way, through the bare bones method.


So, for Big Bad Brian the Lion, my bones might be:

  1. Brian is a lion and a big nasty bully
  2. He scared the giraffe.  And the elephant. And the monkey.
  3. He was captured my some men and taken to the city, where he was tipped into a hole with other lions.
  4. There was a man in the pit who wasn't afraid of Brian.
  5. Behind Brian, the angel appears in ALL his glory.
  6. Who's afraid now?


So you see, if you've read the story a few times, or listened to it, so you kind of know the way it goes and learn those bones, your telling of Big Bad Brian the Lion might come out differently than mine, and mine will come out differently the next time I tell it, but we will still be telling the same story.


Go split your favourite story into bones and come back and tell me how you got on.



You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, where you will find various props for bible story telling.  I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

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