Using computer technology and imagination, a group of youngsters produce "Too Much Noise"

VICTOR — People have been telling stories since the dawn of time, said Victor Farmington Library staff member Judy Plum.

Recently she found a way of doing this digitally.

In November she gathered together a group of 7-, 8-, and 9-year-olds to voice and illustrate something called a “digital play.” Plum said the format allows for a “wonderful combination of traditional literacy skills and computer technology to tell a story.”

Her call to put on a play in the digital age brought kids to the library to read, rehearse and record lines from, and illustrate, an Eastern European folktale called “Too Much Noise.”

Over the course of three Saturdays, the children read and familiarized themselves with the script, signed up for parts, chose music for the scenes, and illustrated drawings for the play. Each student took turns recording his or her voice and sound effects for the play using a free software program called Audacity.

Once all the illustrations were complete, Plum scanned the children’s artwork to the computer and used PowerPoint to create illustrated story frames. Microsoft Movie Maker was then used to combine the story frames and recorded voices. Music, title and end credits, and cast photos were added to create the short digital video that was uploaded to the library’s website and Facebook page.

“This is a beautiful way to teach kids about stories and technology,” Plum said. “Plus they have a great time doing it.”

She first created digital plays when she was a reading teacher in the Livonia school district, where she taught reading for 30 years before working at the Victor Farmington Library. A librarian at the school, Anne-Marie Gordon, introduced her to various digital storytelling techniques.

For the library’s first digital play, Plum said she wanted to pick a fable or folktale. These are short stories, typically with animals as characters, that convey a simple lesson. She ran across the European folktale, “Too Much Noise,” a few months ago and knew it would be perfect for the project.

“This is an old-fashioned story,” she said. “It’s easy to learn and it’s entertaining. It has a simple, repetitive story structure that works well for many ages. It also has great images — a cat, a rooster, a sheep, a cow — that are easy for kids to draw.”

Plum said she and the students took three Saturday sessions to work on the digital play. They each had a script of the story, and used a storyboard, just like professional moviemakers, to guide them through the process. They referred to book and online examples to create their own independent, imaginative illustrations.

“The kids used incredibly vibrant colors for the illustrations,” Plum said.

Once the movie was complete, the kids had their very own movie premiere at the library’s Christmas in the Village event, complete with popcorn, and a behind-the-scenes video. Plus, each child got a copy of the movie to take home on CD.

The library staff plan to create new digital plays in the future and encourage children who enjoy performing, illustrating and digital technology to register.

“I don’t know of any other public library doing this type of project,” said Plum. “I call these children digital pioneers.”

 

On the web

To view “Too Much Noise” and “Behind the Scenes” videos, go to www.victorfarmingtonlibrary.org/digital-play/.