Creative topic: The Silver Shilling

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By Teresa Saundersfreelance writer and education journalist

A journey packed with colourful characters, this enchanting story is the perfect starting point for a cross-curricular adventure…

Hans Christian Andersen was a superb storyteller. In each of his tales he embarked on a magical journey through the imagination, choosing as his travelling companions some of the most potent of human emotions – hope, happiness, loneliness, rejection, jealousy and fear. The Silver Shilling, one of his earliest stories, is perhaps also one of the most characteristic, containing many typical Andersen storytelling techniques.

He uses a very simple tale to explore deep-felt feelings, emotions and observations of life and relationships. The story conveys strong messages and morals on human behaviour. And it embraces a wide range of feelings and emotions, introduces a host of different characters and settings and, most important of all, provides the happy ending Hans Christian longed for all his life but, in his personal life, never managed to achieve.

Such a combination makes it a perfect stimulus for speaking and listening activities – encouraging children to describe and empathise, to discuss and present, to explain and interact, to recite and role-play and to become storytellers in their own right. Using the journey metaphor will give your speaking and listening study a strong theme and a firm basis from which to explore the wealth of cross-curricular ideas the story presents.

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