CHILDREN will be encouraged to take the lead in new storytelling and music sessions in Poole.

The Story and Creative Play workshops starting at Lighthouse this week are designed to encourage children to use their imagination through play, stories, singing and dancing.

Actress Michele O’Brien will be using well-known stories to help develop the language and confidence of the under-fives who attend her sessions.

“I aim to share my love of story and imagination with parents and children, and enjoy the delight as children gain confidence of telling stories,” she said.

“With sadness, joy and laughter all woven into the delight we have to make sense of the complicated world we live in.

“And the evidence is clear that the more we can nourish the imagination, then the more we can develop language and listening skills in the young.”

Michele will be reading much-loved stories like The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Little Red Riding Hood with other activities springing from the readings.

She uses a carpet dubbed ‘the magic carpet’ and the storytelling stool as well as hats and other objects as the children re-enact the stories and join in with other fun activities.

“The idea is to get some listening going on but the children are not made to listen,” Michele added.

“From reading the story we see where it goes and if the children want to re-enact it with them playing the parts they can.

The sessions will start on Wednesday, January 8 at 11am.

Michele attended Ashley Cross school in Poole and went onto Bournemouth and Poole College, where she studied under Terry Clarke at the Jellicoe Theatre.

She then progressed to the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, going on to perform on Max Hillman’s Radio 4 play Cocaine in 2000.

She has also toured in various other shows and is an associate artist with Bournemouth’s Arts By The Sea Festival.

“I am very grateful for the support from Lighthouse, encouraging me to form a company with visual artist Hazel Evans – the Valise Noire Storytelling Theatre,” Michele added.

They created the new fairytale The Girl and the Shoes and have been performing the show as part of the ArtsReach group. Michele will also perform her solo show The Spice Box on Brownsea Island this summer.

Dates for your diary

Story and Creative Play at Lighthouse in Poole.

  • 8 January – The Fish Who Could Wish by John Bush and Korky Paul
  • 22 January – The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
  • 5 February – Whatever Next! – Jill Murphy
  • 5 March – Little Red Riding Hood
  • 19 March – Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Eric Carle
  • 2 April – Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
  • 16 April – Wolf by Sara Fanelli
  • 30 April – Jack and the Giant. This is recommended for children aged 18 months to four years.