Wednesday, 9 November 2011

5 minutes with Maggie Kenneady - 'Good Morning Maggie'

Maggie is our much loved 'Good Morning Maggie'. Maggie brings her passion for children’s stories, drama and art to little listeners at Karrinyup Shopping Centre every Wednesday.

Why is storytelling important?

Storytelling has been a way to teach and entertain through funny, sad, strange and adventurous tales way before the written word existed. It enables a  passing on of knowledge of the human condition and of dealing with things, to the next generation.  I relish telling the traditional stories like "The Boy who cried Wolf" and "the Three Little Pigs". Entertaining picture story books with situations and dilemmas children face in our society by our Australian writers and illustrators are tops and serve the same purpose.
What's your favourite story to read aloud?
My favourite stories to read aloud to pre-school children are by Pamela Allen. She is the Russell Crowe of children's literature -  a Kiwi born Aussie!   One of her books, The Bear's Lunch is full of drama. A picnic is interrupted with the scary roaring of a predatory bear. The children bravely face danger and find they can bluff the bear to save themselves. If a child remembered this story if they were ever bullied it could be helpful. 

I love to read Feathers for Phoebe by Rod Clement because it calls for me to produce distinctive voices for Zelda, who thinks she is chic and posh, for the timid Phoebe, and for the amorous male bird who Phoebe falls (literally) for.  It's a book about self acceptance.

Another favourite is Kip by Christine Booth. I encourage the children to crow with rooster Kip as I read and it's lots of fun. The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky gives me the pleasure of using a variety of animal voices. The children anticipate and join in saying "the terrible plop!" with me.  It's a book about conquering the fear of fear.

I don't dwell on the moral of the story or the lessons to be leaned from the stories.  Through fun and involvement a child can feel empathy and soak up the message in the process.

Your life before Good Morning Maggie
Before "Good Morning Maggie", some of my occupations have been Bank Officer, clerk at Sotheby's in London, typist/receptionist  at a US Army Base  hospital in Munich, Outback 4x4 Adventure Tour operator and cook, language teacher for the Adult Multicultural Education Service.  

Something I never envisaged was conducting the workshop with young children for Barking Gecko!  Major parts of my life could be seen as preparation for just that.   GMM has three segments - a drama exercise, reading a story, and an art activity (all worked around the theme of the week's story) and it enables me to use many of the disciplines I've practiced over the years.  I've been actively involved in theatre since I was a teenager (eons ago!).  I majored in Drama at Deakin Uni, was a primary school teacher for 14 years, did a graduate diploma in Art Education and became an Art teacher.  Being a mum and a grandma helps heaps too.

As country-town kind of people my husband and I choose to live among the trees in Roleystone. My interests are; my garden of mainly WA natives and some drought hardy exotics and also my organic vegetable garden; taking long walks each day with our labradoodle, Edsel; painting and drawing most days.  I'm a vegetarian who is passionate about animal welfare (stop all exports of live animals!), upholding the international rights of refugees, and the preservation of the natural environment, especially in WA.

How is storytelling important to the arts?
Storytelling opens a path to the arts.  It starts from safe exposure to experiences, ideas and characters, and leads to the opportunity to understand, accept and explore feelings and to have a go at all forms of self-expression.  Stories are full of drama.  They expand the mind.  Sharing stories with children creates a link between language and drama.  In role-play we internalise understanding. Children gain the ability to model language from good literature.  

Favourite moments from Good Morning Maggie sessions this year
My favourite moments during "Good Morning Maggie" are simply observing the looks on the children's faces on the occasions when they are deeply involved in role-play, totally absorbed in a story or eagerly working on their art activity.  Then I know it's all so worthwhile.  

Join  Good Morning Maggie at Karrinyup Shopping Centre on Wednesday mornings during school term.Suitable for Under 5's and their grown ups!