The Storying Doncaster Sounds project brings together Masters-level Education and Architecture students in the production of an educational storytelling app which would allow young children to record, visualise and narrate the sounds they hear in the built environment. Working with young children, early years practitioners and app developers the students will develop the app design and content with the wider aim of exploring the potential of using the built environment as a learning resource within the early childhood curriculum.
The learning and teaching project follows the knowledge exchange project ‘Sounds of Childhood’, where we worked in partnership with Doncaster Civic Trust and Woodfield Primary School, Doncaster, to explore how young children perceive sound in the environment. As part of this work we drew on the engaged with artist Nicky Ward of the Bower Wirks to develop artistic methodologies for engaging with young children’s soundscapes. As the research activities, which involved sound gathering walks and visualising sound workshops, we began to recognise the potential of sound as a resource for imaginative storytelling. As the children began to visualise the sounds, they also began to create characters and scenarios. Their stories blurred the boundaries between the real and the imagined, and demonstrated the strong potential of using sounds to support creative storytelling and at the same time develop children’s literacy.
Through the Sounds of Childhood project we developed a physical toolkit. Children listen to pre-recorded sounds and then select from a series of images, or create their own image, to add to a narrative board. As they listen to more sounds they add new images in sequence and narrate their own stories.
The Storying Doncaster Sounds project will allow us to develop an app to enhance the physical toolkit. The app will allow children to capture their own sounds and images of the environment and drag and drop them into an annotated storyline to create their own real or imagined stories about the spaces and places they visit.