Building on her Super Shed Stories digital storytelling innovation, Samantha Hallows together with her student film-maker son Aaron Hallows is now producing online stories with intergenerational solidarity themes in mind. Read her blog to find out more.
The arrival of a new year sparked reflection on 2022 and I found myself feeling grateful for all the learning opportunities I have experienced, particularly completing “Together Old and Young” online course in December 2022. I am currently teaching in a primary school in Ireland and I am the coordinator for our school’s “Pieta Amber Flag” application. This is an initiative that recognizes the efforts of Irish schools, and children, youth and community groups to create healthy and inclusive environments that support mental well-being. One of the aspects of our application is intergenerational storytelling.
I need to go back to March 2020 when COVID arrived in Ireland to explain why storytelling is so central to my teaching. At that time, I owned and managed a pre-school. I was trying to reconnect with children and families digitally when pre-schools and schools were forced to close because of the pandemic. Together with my son Aaron I created a YouTube channel called “Super Shed Stories”. Super Shed Stories is an online space where children can request their favorite story and send their artwork. We then record the story in a playhouse shed in the garden. Sometimes interviews with people in the community are featured. It was the pre-school children that christened it “The Super Shed” because it was very fancy inside. During the COVID lockdowns Super Shed Stories maintained relationships as well as supporting children’s literacy and emerging interests.
When children returned to pre-school, they spoke about their favourite Super Shed stories, seeing their friends artwork and hearing their news. At the time I had not realized that we had created a digital diary together of the things that we loved and cared about the most during such a difficult time. Now working in a primary school community where there is a strong focus on children’s mental health and well-being and caring communities, I decided with Aaron’s help to produce three more Super Shed story videos this time focused on intergenerational relationships.
I chose these three children’s books as they demonstrate care for the community in different ways. The first book, “The Song and Dance Man” by Karen Ackerman celebrates a grandad’s joy of sharing his life experience, skills, gifts and talents with his grandchildren as a singer and dancer. The next book is “Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge” by Mem Fox. This story shows older people’s individuality and personality along with how children can be caring towards their community. The actions of the young boy in the story to help an elderly friend shows respect and empathy towards older people. The last book “Age on Together” by Steph Lowrey-Willson provides children with the language and vocabulary to share their intergenerational learning from the stories.
I’m hoping these Super-Shed stories will challenge stereotypical beliefs about aging and give children positive messages about older people. Another goal is to inspire teachers and early childhood educators to combine traditional and digital storytelling in a way that is fun and engaging for children and reaches out to the community.
You can view the Super Shed recordings of the three stories here:
I invite you to use these stories along with many others to promote “Anti-ageism” messages and to provide opportunities for intergenerational learning in your school or pre-school setting.
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You can read more about IGL storytelling in the Children’s Books Ireland IG Reading Guide: Share a Story