Li’l Stories Launches a Fundraising Campaign for P.S. 43

Click image to hear The Caterpillar Goes Everywhere by 1st Graders at P.S. 43, December 2017

You’ve heard me talk about Li’l Stories quite a bit over the past few years, and many of you have helped me make the project a reality in 2015 via Kickstarter. After developing the language arts framework, the Li’l Stories team has started implementing it through our Labs, one-week storytelling programs at public elementary schools throughout New York City. We now have two teachers who run our Labs at schools and work closely with educators and students.

This past fall we started working with first and second grade classes at P.S. 43, using Li’l Stories for different curriculum units and learning goals. The fundamental skills that our Labs are founded upon are creativity and collaboration. These are not always evident in today’s classrooms, particularly in high-needs settings. Title 1 schools like P.S. 43 are one of the audiences we had in mind when we first developed Li’l Stories.

Children tell stories as a natural activity every day. It’s part of their spontaneous play, and they share ideas openly with each other without hesitation. In the classroom setting, however, the pressure to put ideas in writing often limits the creativity and imagination of young, emerging writers. The storyboarding activity of Li’l Stories is designed to nurture the whimsical nature of children’s story creation process.

The initial storyboards of first graders in our December Labs at P.S. 43 demonstrated that the string of events in children’s stories are often fanciful and outlandish, yet ultimately make sense. In the story “The Caterpillar Goes Everywhere,” a pair of collaborating students sketch the tale of a caterpillar that goes from his home to outer space in the morning, then returns home to watch TV and eat salami for dinner. There’s little concept of time and space, but it’s the students’ story, so why shouldn’t the caterpillar go to space after breakfast?

Teachers were impressed with the results and students had a lot of fun using storyboarding to develop their own visual narratives. We hope to continue our work with the P.S. 43 classes this spring. Contributions to our campaign will pay for materials and supplies (storyboards, Post-its, markers, custom materials), our Li’l Stories teachers, and custom development of our programs and tools. All donations are tax-deductible.

We’ve been inspired every time we work with the kids at P.S. 43, and we can’t wait for Li’l Stories to make more of an impact.

A Year Full of Stories

Greetings from 2018! Before we get too far along in the New Year, we wanted to take a quick look back at what we’ve been up to. 
Over the past 12 months, as we’ve heard incessant references to “fake news,” we’ve been reminded of the power of words and narratives to accurately convey what’s going on in the world. This has resonated with us as we’ve continued implementing Li’l Stories, our language arts framework for kids, and as we’ve started working with The New York Times. We choose to escape all the competing versions of reality with a good book—fiction or non—and we’d like to share our annual reading list of recommendations.

Storytelling comes into play in our work for Li’l Stories, the language arts framework that guides students through the collaborative creation and sharing of a visual narrative. This year we developed several different collaborative storytelling Labs and worked with teachers and classes in one-week workshops at P.S. 3 and P.S. 43. Students had a lot of fun using storyboarding to create their own animal stories, retell books like The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and develop original stories based on the title character. You can read more about our labs at P.S. 3 here.

This past fall, Li’l Robin began working closely with The New York Times, consulting with their brand identity group to help create design system and cross-platform consistency. For this year’s edition of our annual reading list, we asked our colleagues at the Times for their recommendations. The selected books range from gripping personal memoirs to engrossing novels to detailed scientific explorations.You can find the selections on our 2017 bookshelf.

And last but not least, we’re proud to share that Li’l Robin founder Anke Stohlmann has been named a 2017-2018 Fellow at the Revive the Dream Institute, the non-profit working to ensure all students receive an excellent education.

We wish you all the best for 2018, and hope we become part of each other’s stories in the New Year.