One of a series of workshops for home-educators.

Try them as a family or form a group with friends on-line and share your ideas and creations as they unfold.

13 – Story Mat for Bufeo Colorado

This challenge is for you to design and make a story mat – a physical space in which the story of Bufeo Colorado can unfold. You can make your mat exclusively for this one tale, or extend this challenge to curate a landscape for many different stories. You can bring together a collection of objects that will return to their original places after your tale is done or craft a creation that you can bring out and reuse whenever inspiration strikes.

This challenge shouldn’t be an excuse to spend money on beautiful material and trinkets, but an opportunity to see everyday things in a different light. Use your creativity to reinvent and reuse.

So what’s the story?

This story was one of three South American tales that featured in a Mythstories 2006 NESTA-funded project. Percussionist Rick Wilson, helped by reception children from Whitchurch Infants School created a Soundscape for the tale. Listen to their version here…

What do we know about the story?

copyright Dez Quarréll

This story seems to have influenced how the indigenous people who live in the forest today act towards the river dolphins. When the rivers of the rainforest flood, dolphins will follow the floodwater into the forests to eat the fruit off the lower branches of the trees. Often the floods subside quickly, leaving the river dolphins stranded and any found by the people are clubbed, rather than helped back to the water. This is a major factor in the near-extinction of the river dolphin.

The story is possibly not as old as many traditional tales and could refer back to events four or five-hundred years ago. In the early 1500s some of the first Europeans to explore what is now rainforest reported seeing cities, roads and farmland. In the 1540’s a Dominican friar, Caspar de Carvajal, kept a diary of his journey along the River Amazon and described sprawling towns and large monuments.

Archaeologists have recently uncovered evidence of dense urban centres that would have been home to up to 10,000 inhabitants with fields and cultivated orchards of brazil nuts, palm and fruit trees. Remote sensing has revealed earthworks, cities, causeways, canals, and graveyards; homes to a complex society of millions of people. These remains date back 3,000 years or more. No-one yet knows why the people, their buildings and farms disappeared into today’s rainforest.

So what can Story Mats look like?

Earlier in 2021, students on the MA Creative Practices in Education course at University of Chester spent an hour on this challenge. This picture shows a scene from one student’s story mat…

And storyteller Marion Leeper has made this magnificent Story Mat which she uses in her work:

The only real limit to what a Story Mat can look like is the extent of your imagination – take the challenge – let’s create at home!

and here’s an example of what was created by Mythstories – Let’s Create at Home Facebook Group in March 2021…

Thanks to

B & Jas for their ongoing creativity and sharing their wonderful video.

University of Chester students on the MA Creative Practices in Education course.

Storyteller Marion Leeper and Wendy Dacre of Raventales for their inspirational work in developing this Craftform.

The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts logo
The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts

who funded Rick’s Soundscape and Dez’s painting of Bufeo Colorado