School life | Roald Dahl week roundup
17 September 2018
Last week went by in a whirl of fantastical creatures, charming characters, delightful dreams, gruesome villains and special children discovering magical powers. Of course, it was the magic of Roald Dahl’s stories that brought all this excitement into Wellington, as we celebrated the iconic English storyteller’s birthday with a whole week of activities. Wander through the Prep School corridors now and you’ll find the walls brimming with descriptive displays, stories, comic strips and pictures that show just how much Dahl’s works still fire children’s imaginations even decades after their time of writing. The pupils have outdone themselves in producing the kind of stories and ideas that Roald Dahl set out to inspire with his writing. The library was at the heart of all this activity, and the children were treated to a series of workshops with Eden Ballantyne, repeat visitor to Wellington and – like Roald Dahl – an exceptional storyteller. Eden ran imagination games with Reception, helped years 1 and 2 bring The BFG characters to life through acting out hot-seat interviews and delivered a dramatic storytelling performance of The Magic Finger to year 3. After the storytelling, Eden worked with the year 3s in coming up with spells that they would cast if they had the power of the magic finger. You’ll be pleased to know that they created some nice spells – cleaning up the ocean, helping others feel better, making everybody smile – but really struggled to think up the more mischievous spells! Years 4 and 5 were treated to an audience with the BFG himself, as Eden was able to pull off a very convincing transformation into the titular giant. The pupils happily chattered to him about the world of the BFG as well as many of the other Roald Dahl books that they’ve been reading: “It’s been incredible to see how much these pupils know about the characters and worlds of Roald Dahl’s books. In the older Prep years especially, they are so widely read and they clearly love to engage with these stories. I feel that this comes through their love of the fantastical nature of the stories, but also their love of learning and playing around with language. While it’s true that for non-native English speakers, some of the humour and cultural references of Dahl’s stories might be too Anglo-centric for them to fully grasp, but it’s so creative and fun that this isn’t as big a problem as you might think. The pupils I’ve been working with all week have completely bought into the idea of having fun with words and not being afraid to play around with language. In the story, the BFG himself is always mispronouncing words and apologises to Sophie for getting them wrong, but she tells him that it’s fine to make mistakes and she wants to help him with his English. I think that’s a lovely message, and one that’s completely relevant for any international school where people of all different backgrounds come together to learn and understand.” – Eden Ballantyne As with previous years, Wellington saw some absolutely brilliant costumes on Thursday, Roald Dahl’s actual birthday. Fantastic Mister Foxes, Matildas, Miss Trunchbulls, Willy Wonkas, Oompah Loompas and more were on display, as both teachers and pupils got into the creative spirit of the day. “I’ve been reading every Roald Dahl book and my absolute favourite is Fantastic Mister Fox, that’s why I chose him for my costume!” – Noah, year 5 “I like the BFG the most of all. I enjoy the parts about catching good dreams. It was really fun to meet the BFG today too.” – Constance, year 5 It was a delight to have such a colourful week of storytelling and creative writing at Wellington, one which will no doubt be a source of inspiration for the rest of the term and beyond!