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'Stringman' ties learning to fun

Stringman spun Anansi The Spider to life for Pat Henry Elementary students Tuesday.

Story about stories

Using strings and the spider folktale from Ghana, West Africa, and other folktales, David Titus  known as Stringman  encourages reading, creativity and imagination as he has done for students in Oklahoma and worldwide for more than 30 years. 

"I am telling them a story about how stories came into the world. For each grade-level, they learn appropriate string figures," Titus said, explaining by the end of the day at each school he visits, the school will have collected 35 string figures that the students can then teach to each other. 

Although Titus does normally charge to visit schools, he is volunteering his time at the Lawton and Cache schools. By "using string and story helps them to relate to life and encourages reading," he said. 

The love of reading is part of Titus' DNA. He was a school librarian in Elgin and then Cache, as well as other states and in Honduras, he said, before going into storytelling. Since retirement, he has been to 43 countries collecting stories and teaching the string stories. 

"In November, I was at a school in Costa Rica. I have done many workshops, many of them spiritual," he said. 

Beyond just fun

The string figures and the folktales do much more than just entertain, he said, explaining that they help set up connections in the brain. The workshops also build communities and help set boundaries for students. 

"It is very tactile  using multiple parts of the brain and helps with cross-hemisphere learning," he said. Children "who fidget need something to fiddle with and they don't need a plastic" item to fiddle with. 

The workshops he does  many for adults  help build communities. "People start talking to each other" to share what they've been taught, he said. "It is also safe touch. It is reaching out and touching someone's hand to (follow) how the string figure is made. I ask permission and it teaches the children about boundaries."

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