Nana’s Zoo is a brand new venture, associated with Stories My Nana Tells.
With a growing Zoo of over 500 animals of all kinds, from around the world, Lesley Dewar is using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to bring story telling for kids up to an exciting and different level.
So, how did this happen?
1. Nana’s Zoo was born at local markets
For several months, we used Facebook and social media to promote Stories My Nana Tells personalised books and printed editions at local markets. With a free “lucky dip” at all the events, it was easy to attract children, and then engage their parents by showing them the excellent quality of the finished stories. Not only in print, but with the digital copies as well.
By Christmas 2017, Stories My Nana Tells had become quite a feature for storytelling to children at local markets, and in support of various community groups.
Over the last few months of 2017, Lesley Dewar began acquiring a few high quality animal figurines which children can handle without constantly being told “don’t touch that”, and “put it down”, and so on. Children love being “hands on” and the more animals we had to share, the more quickly the audience grew.
2. The collections grew rapidly and needed story line focus.
The collections quickly grew into a Nana’s Zoo of over 500 – divided roughly into six categories:
* Australian wildlife
* Domestic and farm animals
* African wildlife and some Asian wildlife
* Marine life – including North and South poles
* North and South America
* Prehistoric creatures
There is some overlap between land and marine creatures – and we haven’t even begun to explore avian worlds, yet. That will be a whole new Zoo world of its own!
The quality of the reproductions we purchase for Nana’s Zoo is quite astounding.
Their authenticity of detail, their strength to stand up to wear and tear by children in group situations, and the variety available is enormous.
With a wide variety of creatures, it’s easy to develop story lines which follow the natural enquiring minds of whomever is the current audience. Marine creatures are definitely one of the most popular.
We know the dinosaurs are going to be a huge hit. A day spent at the Western Australia Museum meant a swag of new critters were added to the Zoo.
4. It turns out Lesley Dewar already know a lot.
One of the amazing experiences so far is finding out how much Lesley Dewar already knows. Bringing Nana’s Zoo into the world of children, and matching that knowledge with her audiences, nevertheless means she has to stay on her toes.
At first, the “hands on” creatures acquired were those closely related to the personalised stories already available. It simply makes good sense to include alpacas, camels, donkeys, octopuses, and giant crabs, because our fans already know them. Even better sense when we have whole families of them.
Other critters soon followed, mostly selected by popularity and their relationship to questions regularly asked. Or gaps in children’s knowledge about wildlife where we saw a need to be addressed. With backup from Google and other search engines, verifying their facts is both important and easy.
It’s already a great learning experience. Kids love being hands on, and it’s a fabulous way to introduce them to many of the mysteries and quirky habits of various kinds of wild life.
- single Dads raise every emu chick.
- whale shark is neither a shark nor a whale. It’s a fish!
- why do giraffes have to spread their legs to drink, and what happens if a giraffe falls over?
We saw lots of Mums having WOW moments at our Nana’s Zoo events, as well.
5. Community groups offered to hire us.
Lesley began supporting various public community events, as a way to interact with children, tell them stories, and add to the attractions at local happenings.
Being able to engage and entertain a group of children for more than an hour, by giving them hands on experiences proved to be popular. Additionally, giving them the freedom to ask questions and get good answers, while learning new things in a “non-educational” setting was a great draw card.
Play centres and community groups need quality, interactions for children, who often like to be the drivers of the activity. With Nana’s Zoo, they are free to choose a theme of animals and pose their questions themselves. In addition, we have some simple but high quality books to help direct the action, and background boards on which to act out a story.
It was a short step from there to being hired to do what we do, for fun. Which only means more critters for the Zoo.
6. Nana’s Zoo will lead to new storylines
Writing new personalised stories for Stories My Nana Tells means being in touch with our audience. We need to know what children want to talk about, learn about, experience, and know.
A suggested story line about flightless birds, for instance, will include emu, cassowary, ostrich, penguins and more. Which leads us to ask: “do you know some penguins raise their chicks in a desert?” Explaining the different child raising traits of flightless birds is just the beginning of opening a whole new world of story telling.
Which will lead into the amazing dinosaur collecting currently being assembled and researched.
Not every story needs to be fully personalised, either. There is huge scope for some new story telling, with adventure and humour.
7. It’s fun! And we are very good at it.
That’s it, in a nut shell. Who wouldn’t love to have this job? Children are wonderful. Filling their minds with awe and respect for the natural world is something we love doing.
From books like Hey Dude! Who Moved My Gumnuts? an educational study in plant and environmental science for 10yo and older readers, to the dazzling marine science of Sophie and the Giant Crabs where three children share one great adventure, Stories My Nana Tells produces serious science.
Where is Nana’s Zoo located and available?
Lesley Dewar lives in Mandurah, in Western Australia. Nana’s Zoo is available for hire for events, play groups, birthday parties, and child care centres. Working generally in about a 100km radius of her home, she is primarily based in the 6210 and surrounding postcode zones.
Ideal for entertaining children aged 4yo to 10 yo, Lesley’s astonishing knowledge of wildlife will keep them enthralled. For bookings and more information, please contact her through our contact form here, or through Facebook.