The Magic Of Story Acting

Posted February 7, 2023

The Magic of Story Acting
By Amber Scheibel

Children’s minds are bottomless vessels of creativity, full of adventure, wonderment, fears, wishes, and magic. This is easy to see in their questions, their play, the way they dress, and even their day-to-day activities. Putting on a simple hooded jacket transforms a child into a character from a movie. A headband with ears has them acting like a cat while walking into school. And getting ready for bed is so much more fun when you are pretending to be a dinosaur! Children love pretending and making up stories in their minds. We as teachers love to capture and nurture this magic through story writing and story acting.

Story acting is incorporated into our curriculum in a couple of ways. Sometimes we act out original stories that were created by the children and written in their journals. Each child has their own story journal – a blank book that is just for story dictation. The child dictates a story to a teacher who writes what they say down word for word, without worrying about story structure, context, or character development. Our goal is to simply capture the children’s ideas.

When it is time to act the child’s story out, everyone gathers on the rug. The author decides what character they would like to be in their story, and then each child is offered a role. There are no small parts and the children take all the roles seriously, whether they are being a unicorn, a monster in the woods, a river, or a rock. This practice is not only great fun; it also builds comprehension, instills pride in the author, and builds community among the children.

We also like to act out stories from published books we have read aloud. Once a month the classrooms prepare a short skit based on a book to perform upstairs in the Community Room for the senior residents. So far this year we have performed The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, Caps For Sale, and The Gingerbread Man. The children come alive during these performances! They are enthusiastic and expressive in their facial and body movements, and if they have a speaking role, they speak into a microphone with articulation and emotion. Even if performing in front of a crowd is not something they are entirely confident doing, they are happy to play a smaller role- whether it is pretending to be an object such as a berry bush from which someone must pick fruit, or a sun that rises in the sky. A truly special thing to witness is when a child who has previously been uncomfortable acting in front of a crowd or speaking into a microphone gains the confidence to do so through watching their peers in previous performances. As you can imagine, because these are 3-to-5 year olds, these performances are not without hiccups. However, the goal is not a perfect performance. Instead, the plays are enjoyable experiences that help to build self-confidence while inspiring and celebrating the creativity of children.

Help Wanted

Posted January 24, 2023

Help Wanted
By Amanda Janquart

Building bridges between the preschoolers and the senior residents happens in a myriad of ways. Children act out storybook plays, build sugar cube castles, shake percussion instruments while singing, play seasonal BINGO, and decorate Valentine’s cookies alongside seniors who meet them in the community room at the scheduled times. Or senior readers will make their way into the classrooms, young ones already gathered on the rug in anticipation to listen to a book or learn about Grandpa Dick’s ostrich egg.

My favorite bridges though, are the unexpected and spontaneous ones: popping upstairs to hand out meringue cookies, dressing up as doctors to check seniors’ hearts, plastering stickers on whoever we bump into. We’ve surprised grandmas and grandpas while they were in exercise class and helped put away their hand weights. And although preschoolers in the past have grabbed their lunchboxes to join the “men’s table” for lunch, children have never before been invited to do so by the chef – all of them, at the same time!

Chef Cory is new to Inver Glen, and he already understands the value in connecting the generations. Wanting to bring smiles to his diners, he reached out to the teachers with an idea. Would the children come and “work” for him, help out during lunch? There was no question as to their interest! Cory provided name tags, signifying the importance of being a staff member. Preschoolers listened closely to the procedures from their “boss” as he pointed out the cart where the menus are collected and demonstrated how to ask seniors if they needed something.

Then it was go-time. Children flocked to the diners, patiently waiting for them to circle their lunch choices on their menus. Some children called over a teacher to read the menu out loud for seniors with poor vision. They carefully delivered ice water and fruit cups. Preschoolers stood tall and spoke clearly, earnestly wanting to do a good job. When the first courses were all passed out, it was time for the children’s own lunch break. They found their lunch boxes and took seats where Cory had set aside a group of tables. “Whoa, this is like eating in a restaurant.” “Yeah, but a fancy one with chandeliers!” While they ate, the conversation was all about their first day of being servers. “I knew I had to hold the cup with both hands.” “I helped Grandpa Charlie get water.” “Grandma Lucy picked fruit. I like fruit too.”

Cory returned from the kitchen to thank everyone and let them know the diners were very pleased with their work. While he couldn’t pay them real money, he did happen to have a box of ice cream bars to share!

A Happy Halloween Indeed

Posted November 9, 2021

A Happy Halloween Indeed

By Sarah Kern

It has been over a year and a half since our lives were turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been over a year and a half since we had a “normal” school year. It has been over a year and a half since the children have been a regular part of our seniors’ lives — a year and a half without the joy and connection of our time with the residents.

A couple of weeks ago, we got a glimpse of the past, of what it used to be like, every day, with our seniors. The children of All Seasons celebrated Halloween by putting on a parade. Unlike last year, when the children only got to wave to seniors through their windows, we were able to go upstairs for the parades. One of the parades even included a trip into Memory Care.

As the children excitedly dressed for the Halloween parade, the teachers prepared them for what would happen. Leaving the school and riding in the elevator was a new experience for almost all of the children. Walking through the halls, staying together, following a teacher — these were rules the children needed to know. But none of us could have been prepared for what happened when we entered the Memory Care units.

There were the seniors, waiting in their chairs and on couches for the children. The looks in the seniors’ eyes and the joy on their faces was indescribable. Amidst the “oohs” and “aahs,” seniors reached out their hands and held open their arms for the children. And without prompting, the children fell into their arms. They gave handshakes and high fives. They shared the physical touch so many of us have been missing over the last 20 months. The seniors perhaps have missed it the most; so much of the touch they’ve received has been perfunctory as they received care from aides.

The teachers’ eyes filled with tears as we remembered the way it used to be and all that we have missed. It was a glimpse of the past, yes, and also a glimpse of the future, of the coming times when we will all be together again.

Out on a Limb…With a Wheel Chair

Posted November 24, 2014

by Amanda Janquart, Spring Room Teacher


Forming intergenerational connections is a strong tenet of our curriculum at All Seasons. It can be exciting and scary at the same time. I do believe that overcoming fear leads to a deeper sense of accomplishment, and takes us to a point where multifaceted learning happens. The fleeting nature of our lives becomes more apparent as we age. Forming a relationship with Grandma Bette, our classroom grandma, evoked fears in me, and perhaps spoke to a larger cultural issue. It meant opening up to the possibilities of heartache. But it is now harder to imagine what would have been lost if I’d let worry stop me. Along with being the Spring Room’s weekly story reader, Grandma Bette has become a part of our class’ story. She is who the children want to build ships for, make cards for, parade in costumes for. Children push us to take emotional leaps just as we encourage them to do the same. They can plow through countless obstacles without a backward glance. I have been thoroughly humbled by their example.

I’ll share a recap of a recent morning in the Spring Room, one with a focus on our relationships:

There were numerous examples of how comfortable this class has become – with the environment and each other. Outside, they requested the “roll the ball down the hill” game, then moved seamlessly to basketball, which was near the trikes, so riding them was next. They helped each other back onto the sidewalk when tires slipped off (those darn “flat tires” became quite comical), and reinforced what the street signs meant – One Way and Stop. They did all of this with such camaraderie and compassion, calling out support as well as lending a hand. They rocked at clean up too, “Hey, I’ll put that ball back for you” and “Yep, the shed is all shut.” But by far, their strength of relationships was showcased that morning when we went to get Grandma Bette to spend time with us in our classroom. They urged each other to hurry with snack (cheese and apples) so we wouldn’t be late to get her. They cleared chairs out of the way so I could push her wheel chair through the dining area. They very excitedly pointed out new photos of themselves in the hall – “That’s me, Grandma Bette!!!” They warned her repeatedly about how to keep her fingers safe in the elevator. In the room they got to work immediately on what they had earlier planned out to show her – the magnatile rocket, the pumpkins in the kitchen, and the triumphant (if temporary) return of the marble run tower. It was unclear who was most excited; the boys or Bette.  She met one of our stick bug pets and was “served” a few wooden cookies before Amy helped her back upstairs. Before she left, she was already asking about her next visit.

Yes, starting a relationship can feel awkward as an adult. The hugs and handshakes can feel rote, but keep going and get past that stage. I can say that compassion is contagious and if you feel any hesitancy, follow a child’s lead (new beginnings are a constant in young lives and they don’t waste time getting to the point where it feels good). Or, follow the senior’s lead; (they are done wasting time on what doesn’t matter). Oh, how I’ve failed to find out Bette’s perspective in all this relationship forming! Perhaps because it will be a little scary to ask and then listen, not knowing where it will lead? I’m sure to be humbled yet again.