• Pridie Tiernan

STORY #15: THE ELDER TREE WITCH

Let's get local with our folktale today - sharing a story from Somerset about a witchy tree that tries everything it can to get into a family's house! Fear not, for there's a feisty granny in this tale that saves the day! Oh, we'll pop in a little bit of teaching about building tension!

FACEBOOK LIVE SESSIONS ON TUESDAY AND THURSDAY AT 10.15AM, THEN UPLOADED TO WEBSITE! Or, click here to watch it now!

BACKGROUND-BYTE: I'm hoping that many of you will have encountered elder on your walks about during lockdown. It's the one with the bright white (fizzy tasting) flowers that you make elderflower cordial with!

This tree has had a mixed reputation historically! Some people used to say that to burn elder wood brought disaster down upon you and in certain parts of the country the tree was never touched after dark. Apparently, if elder twigs were added to a fire, it apparently showed its displeasure by going out, and apparently, and food cooked on it (should you have been foolish enough to do this) would definitely not be fit to eat! But other people also believed the elder tree was sacred – that a spirit or goddess lived inside of it. In German and Scandinavian lore, they referred to this goddess as old Elder Mother (Hyldemöer). It was thought that this tree spirit had the power to protect people - gifting us with flowers and berries, and the leaves could be said to protect a home or a person from evil spirits when hung in a doorway or around the neck.


With all these things in mind, you might find that the folktale of the 'The Elder Witch' begins to make a little more sense!

ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN - EYFS / KEY STAGE 1 (0-7 years):

1. Test how good you are at tree spotting - https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/03/tree-id-kids/

2. Make your own elderflower cordial at home - https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/homemade-elderflower-cordial

3. Grab some props - of the general household variety - and check out just how dramatic you can make your own re-working of our tale!

4. Try telling the story from the tree's perspective - here's a funny little video to help remind you how to organise your story - www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpWHZJZQDSE

5. Using story stones/dice to devise the next adventure for our prince and princess!


ACTIVITIES FOR OLDER CHILDREN - FOR KEY STAGE 2-4 (8-15 years):

1. Test how good you are at tree spotting - https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/03/tree-id-kids/

2. Make your own elderflower cordial at home - https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/homemade-elderflower-cordial

3. Create an comic strip or animation of the story - https://www.imagineforest.com/blog/how-to-create-a-comic-strip/ , www.storyboardthat.com/storyboard-creator https://www.canva.com/create/comic-strips/

4. Try writing a story that explains why the Elder Tree Witch wants to get into the house - https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zwjsyrd/revision/2 , www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpWHZJZQDSE, don't forget to build tension as best you can - https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z2hr9qt/revision/3'!

FOR GROWNUPS - STORY-ORIENTATED ESCAPISM:

1. The tale of the Elder Tree Witch comes from Katherine Briggs' collection of 'British Folktales and Legends' - definitely worth dipping into if you feel like reading more folktales!

#story #stories #storytelling #storytellingforkids #storytellingwithkids #thewildofthewords #thestoryblog #katherinebriggs #britishfolktalesandlegends #britishfolktales

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