Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Danny Kaye: Storyteller!

OK - so the kids are "acting", but if you watch the audience carefully, you can see that some of them are truly enjoying themselves.  This feels like a live performance in so many ways.  I love when they all pounce on him!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dream of Sheep

Some of you know that I'm obsessed with a wooden sheep that I saw at the New Brunswick Museum when I was about six years old. I was with my mother and she told me that she remembered that sheep standing in front of a yarn & wool shop when she was a little girl. Years later during a family trip with Beryl, Phil, Sandy, Julia and Sarah, I needed to find my sheep, so I got dropped off in front of the old museum on Douglas Avenue and ran up the stone steps in the rain. Inside, I found that the old building was now offices, archives and administration. No displays. All of the museum displays had moved to the new museum down by the newly touristy and splashy waterfront. (Sarah and I spent an afternoon there and it was awesome. I have a saber tooth tiger magnet on my refrigerator.) BUT the nice people there told me that the museum still owned the sheep and that she was in storage (phew-she's safe!)

Recently I tried to find out more about my sheep. And today I finally found a picture on the museum website!!! (So I "stole" it for posterity 'cause it wasn't there last time I looked.)

Anyway-I have included the caption from the site...

sculpture : The Davidson Wool Shop Sheep
Robert Graham
c 1875
painted pine
78 cm x 32 cm x 104 cm
Gift of John Alexander Davidson, 1961 (1961.22)

So far I have only found a fragment of detailed information, but it's pretty cool. In a story from Ruby M. Cusack, a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada ("Whittling Away the Winter", published in the ESCAPADE Section of the Telegraph Journal on Saturday, February 17th, 2007), the children in the family had been doing some wood carving and they showed their work to their grandfather who "related to Dad an old tale told by Joe from Primrose about Tommy Moran accidentally decapitating the wooden sheep in front of Davidson's Wool Store on Union Street one night when he'd had too much too drink. If the story told by Gramp is true, the sheep had his head reattached, as I remember it standing on guard in front of Davidson's as a 'trade sign'. Carved by Robert Graham in or around 1875, it is now part of a New Brunswick Museum collection." So I learned a little bit about the man who carved my sheep and a funny story about my sheep's eventful life.

So-here's a neat article that I found during my quest: How fibre arts have developed in New Brunswick and around the world No wonder I'm all textiley!

And, in a totally unrelated tangent, here's a great quote from Robin Mckinley's blog:
"Please. Buffy isn’t television."

Live in a Trailer, Sailor

Here is a photo of the Ryder Mobile Home Park in 1939

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mr. Rogers

"I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex."
~Fred Rogers

Great articles here and here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chase Your Tail!

In this workshop, children will learn about sequencing and story line using circle stories. They will also practice storytelling as collaboration through round robin storytelling.

Publicity Blurbs:
Round Robin Circle Storytelling Workshop
Circle stories—like “The Stonecutter” or “The Fisherman & His Wife”—can teach us lessons in irony, but mostly they are just plain fun! Play a rousing game of “Round Robin” storytelling and then create your own Circle Story Hat to share with family, friends & classmates. The workshop will last 1hour. (I did this with Grades K-1 at Minds in Motion-2005, I think)

Chase Your Tail! A Storytelling Workshop
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Higgins Room
3:30 - 4:30pm
Grades K-2
Circle stories can make you dizzy, but mostly they are just plain fun! Come play a giddy game of “Round Robin” storytelling and then create your own Circle Story Hat to share with family & friends.

Introduction with Demo Story #1 :00- :05
Introduce yourself to the group and have the children do the same. Tell the story of "The Stonecutter", "The Fisherman and His Wife" or "The Wonderful Cat" (see resources.) This one can be fairly elaborate since you are using this story to engage the children and ignite their interest, so use your own style and embellish freely. All three of these are circle stories that (usually) use magical transformations as a plot mechanism. Just for fun, why not have everyone say “Poof!” all together each time there is a transformation in the story!

What is a Circle Story? :05 - :10
Have the students identify the different things that happen in the story. For instance, depending on which version of “The Stonecutter” that you tell, the stonecutter becomes a prince, the sun, a cloud and a mountain before he goes back to being a stonecutter. Draw a quick doodle of each story element on a pad or a whiteboard (or tape up photocopies from a book if you are uncomfortable drawing) and try to place them in a roughly circular form. When every story element has been identified, draw a line through or around all the pictures to unite them in a circle. Point out how the story ends as it began so that the stonecutter has traveled “full circle.”

Ask the children to stand up all together and look straight ahead at some object in the room. Have them turn around slowly until they end up where they started. A circle story does exactly the same thing—it ends up where it started!

Round Robin Game (Group Story) :10-:20
Sit on on the floor in a circle. Give each child a puppet or a stuffed animal and tell them that they are going to invent a circle story together. Each child should think about their animal a little bit so that they have some ideas when their turn comes up. What does each animal like? What would be the most fun about being that animal? The group leader needs two puppets to begin and end the story. This game is really fun if the first animal is something small, like a mouse or a ladybug, and the final transformation goes from something big and powerful, like a dragon or a lion, back to the initial tiny creature. The group leader controls the beginning and the end of the story by controlling the first and the last puppets. (Say “Poof!”)

Demo #2 with Story Hat and Story :20 - :25
Demonstrate a very simple circle story using a story hat created ahead of time. Make this a circular transformation story that is similar to “The Stonecutter” except that it only uses three animals. The story hat should be circular. I was able to get child-sized “gangster” hats with a brim (available in neon colors where party hats are sold.) I punched three holes in the brim and used brightly-colored string to suspend three wooden disks from the hat brims (I pre-drilled holes in the disks and painted them black.) I allowed one of the disks to hang down in my face and spaced all three two evenly around the hat. I chose three brightly-colored animal cutouts and affixed one to each disk—the first animal in my story hangs down in front of my face. The basic idea here is to use the hat as a storytelling prop, turning the hat as you tell the story. A paper plate or a big circle of cardboard with three animals pasted around the edges would work just as well (hold your disk up with the first animal at the top and rotate the disk—each time an animal transforms--as you tell the story.)

Children Work on Project :25 - :40

-a selection of pre-cut animal shapes—three for each child
(foam shapes with self-adhesive backs are ideal, but paper shapes and glue sticks are fine)
-round hats
(alternatively you may use paper plates or cardboard circles cut to fit over the crown of a child’s head and rest above the ears—however, anything circular will work, even if it is not a hat and is just something that the child will hold up for the audience while storytelling)

Allow the children to select three animals each to create their own circle stories (or have them draw their own animals.) Remind them that they should think about the things that make each of these animals special or different from each other. Help them affix their animals to their hats or their circles.

Story Pals Share Stories :40 - 1:00
As the children finish their projects, pair them up to tell their stories to each other. If there is time when everyone is through, ask the children to share their stories with the whole group.

More ideas:
The circle story hats can also be used to create different stories by starting with any of the animals and moving the circle clockwise or counterclockwise .


The Stonecutter, by Demi (Crown, 1995)

The Stonecutter : A Japanese Folk Tale, by Gerald McDermott,
(Viking Press, 1975)

The Stonecutter : An Indian Folktale, by Patricia Montgomery Newton
(Putnam, 1990)

“The Stonecutter” from Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children, by Judy Sierra & Robert Kaminski (Oryx Press, 1991), pp. 104-105.

Stories in My Pocket: Tales Kids Can Tell, by Martha Hamilton (Fulcrum, 1996)
Includes a short version of “Stonecutter.”

The Fisherman and His Wife: A Tale
, by Jacob Grimm (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1980) illustrated by Margot Zemach

“Too Many Wishes” from Paper Stories, by Jean Stangl (Fearon, 1984),
pp. 73-76.
This is a “fold & cut” version of “The Fisherman and His Wife.” If the mechanics with the paper prop are too daunting, just tell the story straight.

The Power of Storytelling: A Step-by-Step Guide to Dramatic Learning in K-12
, by Harriet Mason (Corwin Press, 1996)
“Circle Story”, pp. 47-49.

“The Queen’s Favorite Pet: An Asian Folktale” from Terrific Tales to Tell: From the Storyknifing Tradition, by Valerie Marsh (Alleyside Press, 1997), pp. 41-43.

“The Wonderful Cat” from Read for the Fun of It: Active Programming with Books for Children, by Caroline Feller Bauer (H.W. Wilson, 1992), pp. 148-149.

“The Extraordinary Cat: A Chinese Tale”
from Twenty-Two Splendid Tales to Tell From Around the World, Volume Two,
by Pleasant DeSpain (August House, 1994), pp. 15-16.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Story Vine

I keep a bunch of baubles on a necklace which I call my story vine. Each token represents a story that I can tell--my story vine helps me remember what I know! I will continue to update this post with links as I have time...

Circle of Love Stories

Here are a few longer, quieter stories. They are mostly appreciated by adults and older children because of their subtle social commentary and philosophical themes.

”In Those Days”
A queen’s love for a flower gives rise to a law that exists for centuries. From a short story by Eleanor Farjeon.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Flower, military, law, government, time, history, geography, beauty

A Japanese Fairy Tale
Neighbors wonder why a beautiful woman is happily married to a repulsively ugly man. This bittersweet love story explores the ancient Shinto belief that the kami, gods of Japanese mythology, predestine the love affairs of people. Adapted from a book by Baruch Zimmerman and Jane Hori Ike.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Love, destiny, Japan, beauty, ugliness, marriage, life before birth, self sacrifice, Shinto, Izumo temple, O-Kuni-Nushi

Savitri’s Quest
In this tale of ancient India, a young woman undertakes a journey to rescue her husband from Death. Derived from Hindu mythology, this story is found in the Mahabharata, India’s great epic cycle of literature and legends that was written 2000 years ago.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Love, death, India, Yama (Hindu god of death), Hindu mythology, Mahabharata

Circle of Campfire Stories

My favorite spooky stories usually have a surprise ending that makes them more funny than scary. These are chilling tales for older kids that can be “lightened up” for younger listeners.

Red, Red Lips
“It was a dark and stormy night, and there was a knock at the door…”

Old Bess
A man futilely attempts to avert a fortune teller’s dire prophecy.

In a Deep, Dark Wood
Take a trip through the universe, the galaxy and our solar system on the way to a deep dark corner of a deep dark closet.

Teeny Tiny
This famous English jump tale is kinda creepy, but mostly silly.

The Ghost of the Two White Eyes
I first heard this story during recess (or maybe at a slumber party) when I was in elementary school. I was really happy to rediscover it years later in a library book.

The Body in the Barn
Based on a true(ish) story told by my great grandfather (by all accounts he was a liar.)

It Floats

Pourquoi Stories & Trickster Tales

Traditional “pourquoi”—or “how & why” stories--and trickster tales--in which clever heroes outwit their opponents--are among the oldest stories ever told and they are found all over the world. The basic structure of these tales is easy to emulate, so they make wonderful story starters in the classroom.

The Story of Io
Poor Io! Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, flirts with her and then turns her into a cow to hide her from his wife, Hera. Now Io is stuck in the body of a cow and Hera has Io in her clutches.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Io, Zeus, Argus of the hundred eyes, Hera, Hermes (trickster), Greek mythology, peacock, pourquoi (how & why), Isis (Egyptian goddess)

”The Beginning of the Armadillos”
If you have ever seen an armadillo, you know that it’s one of the strangest looking animals on earth. In his Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling pays tribute to pourquoi folklore by imitating its language and cadence. This tale tells why and how the first armadillos came to be and can be told with or without puppets.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Turtle/tortoise, jaguar, hedgehog, South America (Brazil), armadillos

Rabbit & Crocodile
Many cultures have pourquoi stories that explain how & why rabbits have short tails (or long ears!) This one is from Japan.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Japan, island, crocodiles, how & why, pourquoi, rabbit, trickster

Nine in One…Grr Grr / Save the Tiger!
A how & why story told by the Hmong people of Laos. Adapted from a book by Blia Xiong & Cathy Spagnoli.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Tiger, sky god, Laos, Hmong, Southeast Asia(?), how & why, pourquoi, endangered species, predator, prey

Coyote & Lizard
In this southwestern trickster tale, Coyote the trickster is himself outwitted by a mother lizard.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Native American, trickster, Apache (Dineh), Hopi, Ute, coyote, lizard, sunflower, desert, small vs. big, weak vs. strong, escaping

Just for Fun Stories
I learned to tell these stories just because I like them.

The Girl Who Could Think
In this tale from China, a clever young bride overcomes the challenge of a rash promise and reaffirms her devotion to family. Can be told with or without paper folding to illustrate how the riddles are solved.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
China, Korea, origami, paper folding (fan, lantern, flower), family, shrewd daughter-in-law, petulant mother-in-law, riddle

The Peddler
A poor peddler listens to a dream which leads him to a treasure. This story comes from Jewish, English and Irish traditions.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Treasure, dreams, bridge, tree, shopkeeper, Jewish, Irish, English

Marushka and the Month Brothers
An oppressed heroine overcomes obstacles through hard work and a good attitude. This is a traditional eastern European tale from Slavic folklore.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Eastern Europe (Russia, Czechoslovakia), courtesy, value of hard work, seasons, bonfire, violets, strawberries, apples, blizzard, snow, January, March, June, October

The Story Bag
Not only is it selfish to keep a story all to yourself, it can be downright dangerous. In this Korean tale, a young man learns a lesson about respecting the story spirits.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Korea, Cambodia, storytelling, tradition, story spirits

The Soup Stone
When selfish townspeople refuse to share their food with a hungry traveler, the traveler gets his revenge—or does he? (Told straight up or with a twist…ie. A rock collector has a station wagon full of rocks and a town of busy families that eat out too much need some good, home-cooked food.)
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Variants of this story are found in the folklore of Sweden, Yugoslavia, England and other European countries. Hans Christian Anderson even wrote his version. Aesop?

The audience stands up to act out the hunt of the Jabberwock and we discover together that the nonsense of Lewis Carroll makes the best sense of all. This poem first appeared during a conversation between Alice and Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Creative movement, pantomime, group participation, nonsense, language

Yay! Boo!
An original nonsense yarn adapted from American folklore. The audience helps keep things moving with a “Yay!” and a “Boo!” Great fun for all ages.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Audience participation, pilot, airplane, haystacks, pitchforks, humor

The Mosquito & the Story Weaver
For thousands of years, storytellers from many cultures illustrated their tales with string figures (think “Cat’s Cradle”). Here, a storyweaver loses the thread of her narrative when a story turns into a pesky mosquito.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Africa, Pacific region, Europe, Papua New Guines, Inuit, string, mosquito, storytelling

The Squeaky Door
Sleeping over at Grandma’s for the first time becomes a slightly alarming (and very silly) adventure for a small child. Noisy kids in motion help bring this story to life!
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Grandmother, sleepover, family, cat, dog, cow, audience participation, carpentry, sound effects

The Tailor
Bit by bit the tailor cuts down his worn out clothes until he has nothing left but a story. Derived from a traditional Jewish folktale, most recently retold in the picture books Bit by Bit, by Steve Sanfield(?) and Joseph had a Little Overcoat, for which Simms Taback won the 2000 Caldecott Medal.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Thrift, making the best of things, something from nothing, Jewish

Naughty Marysia
Russian nesting dolls act out the story of a mischievous little girl and her family. Preschoolers love helping everyone in the family find their way home. Adapted from a story by Anne Pellowski.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Nesting dolls (matryoshka/matrioska), Russia, size, memory game, group participation, sequencing(?)

Circle of Story Songs
Sometimes a story is a song—and everyone can join in!

Little Rabbit Foo Foo

Willy the Whistling Giraffe
From an old LP recording that I listened to as a child.

Circle of Moon Stories & Songs

A great supplement to a school unit on the moon, this cycle of stories & songs lasts about one-half hour when told all together. Good for a group of mixed ages.

A story-making experience in which the audience helps figure out a way to convince the foolish characters in the story that the moon has not fallen into a pool.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Ceylon, England, Turkey, Poland

The Rabbit in the Moon
Have you ever seen the Man in the Moon? People from various cultures around the world, including Native American and Asian peoples, tell stories to explain why they see a Rabbit in the Moon. This story is a Jataka tale, one of the 500(?) teaching tales from the Buddhist tradition which is based on the mythology of ancient India.
Genres, characters, cultures and themes:
Visualization, India, Shakra the sky god, rabbit, monkey, otter, figs, fish, self sacrifice, generosity, friendship, fire, , Buddha, charity

“Wynken, Blynken and Nod”
Audiences of all ages remember and love this rhythmic lullaby written by children’s poet Eugene Field in 1894.

I See the Moon
“I see the moon and the moon sees me and the moon sees the one that I long to see. So I wave to the moon and the moon waves to me and she waves to the one that I long to see.” --Adaptation of an old song

Hey Diddle Diddle
The cow still jumps over the moon in this slightly rap version of the famous nursery rhyme.

Circle of Old Favorites
These familiar stories are just right for little ones, and everyone is welcome to join right in! Many of these “fairytales” can be “fractured” for older audiences.

The Three Little Pigs
“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!”
“Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!”

Jack and the Beanstalk
“Fee Fi Fo Fum”

The House That Jack Built
A cumulative story that the audience can pantomime, with or without flannelboard characters derived from Arthur Rackham illustrations.

Henny Penny
Told with or without a flannelboard.
“Where are you going Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey?”
“We are going to tell the queen that the sky is falling!”

The Three Little Kittens
Lots of drama here—mewing, crying, purring, etc.

Going on a Bear Hunt
Together, we take a lively journey through grass, mud and water to a big, dark cave.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

It Was a Loverly Spring

Recitals, graduations, gardening and good times with family. There are also fun videos on my YouTube channel. This post is peppered with links to some of the best ones.

Sarah's spring concert weekend:

Wizard Watching on Holy Saturday >>

Sarah's graduation:
(Real diploma inside folder!)
(Julia & Sandy)

Brook's dance recital:
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy >>
(shy Debbie)

Memorial Day:
Cowgurl in pool >>

Magic Diver >>

(too tired to post more of these...)

Alice's graduation:
(Brook & Vincent)
(Debbie & Phil)
(Scott & Beryl)
Land of Hope & Glory! >>
(good friends)

Asparagus roots:
(they grew!)