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.