Monmouthshire County Council obtained a grant aimed at improving Boy’s Literacy from the Basic Skills Agency.
The project was based on the making of Digital Stories. Storyteller Philip Hyne visited the schools to share stories on the theme of "Heroes" with all the Year 6 pupils.
Following this visit, about 10 boys in each school worked as a team to create their own digital story in response to the stories Philip had told.
The boys discussed the idea of Heroes, came up with a story, created amazing images through drawing and collage, recorded their script, played out the roles for their story in photo-shoots and learned the process of editing it into a final film. The films were screened in the separate schools and at a final joint celebration at the library.
Their stories were to be featured on the Library Service website and the project was supported at all times by Gareth Hayward, from Library Services.
Vivienne Thomas, Community Librarian: Services to Children and Young People
Monmouthshire Library and Information Service says:
"We like the fact that you are reliable, time focussed and keep control of groups without over-dominating. It is also important, from my point of view, that the final work is largely the boys’ own with minimal alterations.
It would be too tempting for many adults to steer the script towards something more conventionally acceptable and so squash the very creativity they are trying to nurture.
I employed you on this project because I knew that you would deliver a good end result and would adapt to the settings and equipment, or lack of it(!) available and can deal with a range of ages and abilities.
I also knew that Gareth, who is confident with pre-school groups, but learning how to deal with groups of older children would benefit from observing you in action, and he has!"
Jimmy the Hobo
At the rugby club in Caldicot, there is a small copse with a tunnel leading through it.
Inside the tunnel, there is left-over rubbish, old washing machines, rusty old bikes –– and this is where Jimmy the Hobo lived.
He slept on an ancient mattress, under an old barrel split in two.
Crunchy and Caramel slept in the other half of the barrel.
To keep fit, Jimmy worked out by lifting weights that had been thrown away by the gym next door.
One day, a monster called Tingtong arrived in town.
He would swivel his head towards a road and rampage along it,
destroying buildings from one side of Caldicot to the other.
Even worse, he squashed the bin bags.
Everyone was scared, even Jimmy the Hobo, the hardest man in town.
As Jimmy was walking down a street near his hideout, he spotted a woman.
Tingtong was attacking her fiercely, but she grabbed her handbag
and whacked Tingtong across the what-looked-like his face!
Jimmy the Hobo ran up to the woman and said, “Nice guts, Supergranny!”
Jimmy the Hobo knew he had to rescue Caldicot.
After all, he thought, “I am the hardest man in town,
and Tingtong is the hardest problem we’ve had for years.”
Jimmy trailed behind and watched Tingtong carefully.
He noticed that, as he stomped along, Tingtong sniffed.
He sniffed the ground and he sniffed the air.
Occasionally he’d bend down and pick something up,
but Jimmy was too far away to see what he was collecting.
Then a money van screeched past and Tingtong went wild, dashing after it,
crushing everything in his frenzy to get that lovely, metally smelling money.
Now Jimmy knew what to do.
He was going to use a giant mouse trap and a gi-normous, strong net.
He was going to put a bag of coins on the trap to attract Tingtong.
The time came to set the trap. Jimmy was nervous.
He hauled the trap out, loaded the money, and waited.
Tingtong soon turned up, sniffing and snuffling.
He stepped hard on the trap and CRUNCH!!
His toes snapped and fell into the net.
He was knocked out, and the fall was so hard that a crayon and a camcorder fell out of his head.
Stuck in the trap, Tingtong was so scared, petrified really, that he didn’t know what to do.
It wasn’t his fault that he was getting all the money.
Professor Long-fingers had trained him.
“I remember that day perfectly,” he thought.
“Professor took me to Chapmans discount, and got me a pound’s worth of sweets. He gave me an injection,
and then I think he stuck a crayon in my brain so my mind changed.
I wasn’t addicted to the smell of money before that.”
Then, Tingtong had a brainwave. He told Jimmy!
And Jimmy told the police.
Now, Professor Long-fingers lived in a dark, gloomy bunker in the moors.
He wanted to take over the world,
and he had put a camcorder in Tingtong’s eye so he could control what Tingtong did.
With the camcorder gone, he knew he was in danger,
but he couldn’t prepare for what was coming next.
That night, the police crept up to the moors, keeping their sirens silent,
and they invaded Long-fingers’ bunker.
He was crouching down, shielding hundreds of bags of money.
It was easy to grab the coward, clap on the hand-cuffs and drag him into the van.
But as they were about to drive off, they heard a strange noise,
even louder than their sirens, so they went back to have another look,
leaving one officer to guard the evil professor.
To their surprise, they found all the superheroes in the world,
hidden at the back of the bunker.
Long-fingers had captured them, hoping to drain their powers for himself.
The superheroes were very glad to be set free!
The police sped Long-fingers off to prison, and when they got there,
they cut his finger nails very, very short so he couldn’t escape.
The superheroes followed, parading into town.
Superman, Batman and a random lifeguard called Bob carried Jimmy the Hobo to a podium.
“A parade for me?” asked Jimmy the Hobo.
The Mayor of Caldicot announced that,
with the money Long-fingers had stashed away,
they could rebuild everything Tingtong had destroyed.
“And you, Jimmy,” declared the mayor, “are promoted to Jimmy the Gypsy.”
“But if I’m a gypsy, I need a caravan,” thought Jimmy.
“Look behind you,” the mayor suggested. And there it was.
In a daze, Jimmy went over to the caravan.
Super-granny was standing on the doorstep.
“Will you marry me?” she asked.
“Oh, yes,” said Jimmy the gypsy.
So Supergranny ditched her lovely life and her luxury house
to live with JIMMY THE GYPSY!! In his caravan!!!!
“Hooray!” shouted all the superheroes, all the people and even the Mayor.
“Come on,” said Caramel the gorilla, “Let’s have a pizza. Will you join us, Tingtong?”
A Hero is Born
Jack: It was a dark night in the town. Everyone was asleep.
But there was one house where a baby was being born.
It was a boy, and its parents called it, Jack.
That was nine years ago, and that baby was me.
I’m in Houston Texas, following NASA's amazing mission to the moon.
Two days ago, we saw the shuttle taking off,
and today we're bringing you a live link with the astronaut
who is about to make this historic landing on the moon.
Hi Sir, can you tell me how things are going up there?
“Lift off was pretty amazing. I could hear all the noises of the shuttle.
It's called the Lucky Penguin and it's my lucky ship.
I'm going to be the first man on the moon.
It's running fine.
Not long till the landing now, and I can already feel the adrenaline pumping.”
Big noise cuts the TV voices out.
Just then, I saw something burning flash past my window.
I wanted to investigate, so I called, “Hey, Dad, can me and Sam go to the den?”
Be back at 5, and remember, no going into the woods.
Dad always wants me to go to rugby training and play for Wales.
So, as typical brothers, well, we went into the woods.
That was where the burning object had been heading.
We walked round cautiously,
and then a big voracious noise rang through the woods.
Some twigs snapped not far away. That worried us.
Then we saw red eyes staring at us.
I turned and spotted movement.
A crunch behind me made me turn a second time –
my heart was pumping so fast it was just about to explode.
A great white monster was right in front of our eyes.
Incredibly close ––
about to get us.
“RUN!!! Get AWAY! QUICKLY!!” we screamed at each other.
Then we fell backwards …..
We landed on a small, narrow ledge.
It began to crumble under our weight
and I had to reach out quickly to stop Sam falling,
but he was really scared and began to cry.
Before we knew it, the monster had lowered itself to us,
attached a rope round our waists and was pulling us up.
Sam was limping.
“I think I’ve sprained my foot,”
There was no chance of escaping.
The Monster tucked one of us under each limb and marched us back to its machine.
We were scared. Was it going to eat us? But then, why had it had just rescued us?
Inside the machine, the monster closed the door and took off its helmet.
It went over to the fridge. As the door opened, we gasped.
It was stuffed with doughnuts, icecream, iced tea and burgers,
and every single one of them had a stars and stripes on it.
When you get traumatised, you don't notice things.
Looking at the astronaut again, we could see the NASA symbol on his suit.
As he came towards us with the icepack.
We asked him why he hadn't taken his helmet off before.
“No oxygen out there,” he replied, “but how come you are here?
I've never heard of big life forms on the moon before.”
“We're not on the moon. We're in Wales. You need to look at your compass.”
Then, we heard noises outside……
heavy footsteps tramping through the wood and what sounded like helicopters overhead.
Sam peered out of the window and signalled for us to duck down.
“Why?” I asked.
They seemed to be getting closer and closer.
But Sam had stumbled to the door. Gripping it firmly to stop himself from falling, he tugged it open and lurched forward, shouting at the top of his voice,
“Hold your fire. Hold your fire.”
What a hero!
The men hesitated….wondering what to do.
And then, there in the middle of them was DAD!!!
“Sam, are you alright?” he shouted.
Fade to family and astronaut watching themselves TV
you let your boys go into the wood and you called out the police and the military.
Do you think you are a responsible parent?
Yes I feel like a responsible parent.
NASA are the ones who should feel irresponsible, scaring my kids like that.
It doesn't give a very good impression of an international company.
Jack, how did you feel after your ordeal?
I felt scared because my brother had sprained his ankle
and I didn't know what to do when the ledge crumbled.
Thank goodness the spaceman was there to save us.
Dad's going to be so angry that Sam can't go to rugby training tomorrow.
Sam, what gave you the courage to go out when all the military and the police were targetting you? Seems pretty brave to me.
“Well um, the astronaut helped me with my sprained ankle.”
And you, Sir, are you upset that you didn't go to the moon? Were you terrified?
Yes, I'm annoyed not to go to the moon, but I've always wanted to go to Wales.
And as a thank you to Sam and Jack here, I've contacted NASA in the US,
and we are leaving the Lucky Penguin here as a gift.
They can have it as the best den ever.
Fades out of TV
It was a dark night in the town. Everyone was asleep.
But in one house, a hero had been born.
He was a boy, and his family called him, Sam.
The boys from Rogiet worked by acting to develop their script. It is therefore not possible to upload images from this story.
However, the head of the school expressed herself delighted that these particular boys were clearly enjoying their involvement with the project and became very enthusiastic.