On her third visit to the woods Ruby asks if she can borrow my notebook. She has settled on a log under the “tent”, a tarpaulin strung overhead in the trees in the place where Ruby and Greg built their den the week before. She is sitting with Anna who is also writing in a practitioner’s notebook.
I realise that Ruby is speaking at the same time as writing and ask if she can tell me again what the writing is saying. I’m intrigued to hear two stories of lost and found, of danger and safety - exactly the big ideas Ruby, Evie and Libby have been exploring in their play since the beginning of the project (see their game of the dead daughter coming back to life in Exploring the Park).
Ruby’s first two stories (as she tells them she follows the words in her writing with her finger):
“I’ve been to holiday and I’ve been lost so I have to find my parents. I didn’t get lost like that. But I did. But somebody did. I must find them straight away – otherwise I be so frustrated. I hope I find them otherwise I be so sad.”
“I like going to the woods and I like going with my friends. And I like going to my parents’ house. And I like being in the whole garden. And I love my friends.”
At the end of the session when we meet back at camp the other children want to hear Ruby’s stories. Immediately after, Greg says “I’ve got a story” and we record and read back his:
“Someone went to the woods in the night – called Greg – and he saw a shadow in the woods and then he saw a skeleton.”
“I’ve got another…Once upon a time Ruby and me went out in the woods in the night and we saw a shadow in the bushes and it was a dinosaur. And we ran away as fast as we could and the dinosaur didn’t know, so we pressed the button – and we went home. And the dinosaur smashed the window, and we went under my cover and the dinosaur couldn’t find us so he went back to the bush in the wood.”
More children want to tell stories. It’s contagious. They listen with complete concentration. But it’s the end of our time, so we promise to bring the notebooks back next week and in the meantime at school anyone who has a story can draw it or ask for someone to write it down…