Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 The Year of the Tiger

The Chinese New Year, the Year of the Tiger, begins on February 14, 2010.

"The Chinese New Year is now popularly known as the Spring Festival because it starts from the Beginning of Spring (the first of the twenty-four terms in coordination with the changes of Nature). Its origin is too old to be traced. Several explanations abound. All agree, however, that the word Nian, which in modern Chinese solely means "year", was originally the name of a monster beast that started to prey on people the night before the beginning of a new year (Do not lose track here: we are talking about the new year in terms of the Chinese calendar).

One legend states that the beast Nian had a very big mouth that would swallow a great many people with one bite. People were very scared. One day, an old man came to their rescue, offering to subdue Nian. To Nian he said, "I hear say that you are very capable, but can you swallow the other beasts of prey on earth instead of people who are by no means of your worthy opponents?" So, swallow it did many of the beasts of prey on earth that also harassed people and their domestic animals from time to time.

After that, the old man disappeared riding the beast Nian. He turned out to be an immortal god. Now that Nian is gone and other beasts of prey are also scared into forests, people begin to enjoy their peaceful life. Before the old man left, he had told people to put up red paper decorations on their windows and doors at each year's end to scare away Nian in case it sneaked back again, because red is the color the beast feared the most.

From then on, the tradition of observing the conquest of Nian is carried on from generation to generation. The term "Guo Nian", which may mean "Survive the Nian" becomes today "Celebrate the (New) Year" as the word "guo" in Chinese having both the meaning of "pass-over" and "observe". The custom of putting up red paper and firing fire-crackers to scare away Nian should it have a chance to run loose is still around. However, people today have long forgotten why they are doing all this, except that they feel the color and the sound add to the excitement of the celebration."

Here are some Chinese folktales and terrific tiger tales to help you celebrate in style!

Chinese Fables and Folk Stories – Download this book by Mary Hayes Davis, Chow-Leung, published in 1908. http://tinyurl.com/yda28q4

Why Oxen Do Not Have Upper Front Teeth and Tiger’s has Black Stripes - Khmer

Tiger and the Firewood Collector - Bali

The Tiger and the Frog - Asia

The Priest, the Tiger and the Jackal - India

The Tiger, the Ram and the Jackal – South Africa

The Tiger King’s Skin Cloak – Mongolia

Picture courtesy of http://www.theholidayspot.com/chinese_new_year/images/tiger.jpg

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Land of the Polar Star

Edmund Dulac
Fairy-Land 1912

The Land of the Polar Star
from the book,The Star Fairies by Edith Ogden Harrison, 1903.

* Click on The Star Fairies hyperlink above and it will take you to the book and you may download it for free.

In days long gone by, in the most beautiful country in the world, a kind king and queen reigned. Their friend, the Fairy King, gave them a magnificent jewel, more precious than any other on earth. He warned them that no human should ever put a hand on it once it was placed on the roof of the palace treasury or they would all be banished from their kingdom forever.

The people of the kingdom carefully guarded the glistening gem but never touched it. The beautiful Queen Gertrude, however, trembled with excitement when she dreamt of the jewel shining in her lovely hair. Each night, as she gazed in her mirror, she thought, “No jewel is so beautiful as the Fairy King’s, and I am the most beautiful woman in the world. I should wear it!”

Soon her desire overwhelmed her. She snuck into the treasury house and crept up to the roof. As her hand grasped the jewel, terrible noises thundered around her and the palace shook. She dropped the jewel, but it was too late. The Fairy King appeared before her and roared: “This jewel is contentment—something that you will never have again! I shall hide it and for the rest of your life, you shall long for it, but never find it!”

Since his favorite daughter begged him to reconsider his harsh punishment, he gave her the jewel as a wedding present: “You cannot give it back to the mortals for at least a thousand years! If you do this before the time has expired, I condemn you and your new husband to fade away into moonshine and mist.”

The King and Queen and all their subjects wept as they left their beloved country to live in exile. The fairies wrapped the country in a glittering gossamer web of snow and ice. As the years went on, the mortals longed to return to their first home. Sailors set sail to recapture the city, but their ship stuck in the ice and could move no further. The men soon ran out of food and wasted away, close to death. The fairies took pity on them and lifted the ship up out of the ice and placed it in open water headed homeward.

Every year since then, generation after generation,ships have set sail seeking that wondrous land with its fabled treasure. None have ever found it. But the thousand years may soon expire, the ice and snow may melt away, and the brilliant jewel may once again pass from the fairies to more deserving mortals.

The picture above was one of the many illustrations Edmund Dulac painted for 'The Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe' in 1912. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Weight of a Snowflake

On December 10 the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded. In honor of this day I offer you some stories, curriculum connections and crafts to share in the classroom and beyond.

The Weight of a Snowflake

"Tell me the weight of a snowflake." A mouse asked a wild dove.

"Nothing more than nothing," the dove answered.

"In that case I must tell you a marvelous story," the mouse said. "I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow,not heavily, not a raging blizzard, no just like in a dream without any violence. Since I had time, I counted the snowflakes setting on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952, when the next snowflake dropped onto the branch- "nothing more than nothing" as you say-the branch broke off."

Having said that the mouse went away.

The dove, thought about the meaning of the story for a while and finally said to herself, "Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace to come about in this world."


Learning to Give - Stories, lesson plans and parent resources to involve students in philanthropy and serving their communities. http://www.learningtogive.org/

Peace Corp World Wise Schools – From Africa to the Pacific Islands, stories collected by Peace Corp volunteers around the world. http://tinyurl.com/ye5u3wf


Peace Corp World Wide Schools – Lessons plans to fit a variety of subjects from Grades 3 – 12.

Anti-Bias Lesson Plans and Resources for K-12 Educators
A good place to start if you are planning a program or lesson on anti-bullying. Discussion guides, extension plans, statistics and an annotated bibliography of
children’s fiction. http://tinyurl.com/66kyjp

Race Bridges
The artists associated with this organization are accomplishing amazing work and offer free lesson plans and resources. Take a moment to cross the bridge and envision a brighter world!

Teaching Tolerance - Promoting Peace
This is a collection of resources I have gathered over the years.


Peace on Earth - Handprint Craft

Origami Peace Crane http://www.planetpals.com/IKC/peacecrane.html

Peace Lantern http://www.planetpals.com/IKC/peacelantern.html

"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children." Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Best Wish - The Story of Three Brothers and an Angel

Pear Trees in Bloom at Eragny, Morning
Camille Pissarro, 1886

The Story of Three Brothers and an Angel 

Czechoslovak Fairy Tales by Parker Fillmore, published 1921

There were once three brothers whose only possession was a pear tree. They took turns guarding it. That is to say while two of them went to work the third stayed at home to see that no harm came to the pear tree.

Now it happened that an Angel from heaven was sent down to test the hearts of the three brothers. The Angel took the form of a beggar and approaching the pear tree on a day when the oldest brother was guarding it, he held out his hand and said, "In heaven's name, brother, give me a ripe pear."

The oldest brother at once handed him a pear, saying,“ This one I can give you because it is mine, but none of the others because they belong to my brothers."
The Angel thanked him and departed.

The next day when the second brother was on guard he returned in the same guise and again begged the charity of a ripe pear. " Take this one," the second brother said. " It is mine and I can give it away. I can't give away any of the others because they belong to my brothers." The Angel thanked the second brother and departed.

The third day he had exactly the same experience with the youngest brother. On the following day the Angel, in the guise of a monk, came to the brothers' house very early while they were still all at home.

"My sons," he said, " come with me and perhaps I can find you something better to do than guard a single pear tree."

The brothers agreed and they all started out together. After walking some time they came to the banks of a broad deep river. "My son," the Angel said, addressing the oldest brother, " if I were to grant you one wish, what would you ask? "

"I'd be happy," the oldest brother said, " if all this water was turned into wine and belonged to me."

The Angel lifted his staff and made the sign of the cross and lo! the water became wine from great wine presses. At once numbers of casks appeared and men filling them and rolling them about. A huge industry sprang up with sheds and storehouses and wagons and men running hither and thither and addressing the oldest brother respectfully as "Master!"

"You have your wish," the Angel said. " See that you do not forget God's poor now that you are rich. Farewell."

So they left the oldest brother in the midst of his wine and went on farther until they came to a broad field where flocks of pigeons were feeding. "If I were to grant you one wish," the Angel said to the second brother, " what would you ask? "

"I'd be happy, father, if all the pigeons in this field were turned to sheep and belonged to me." The Angel lifted his staff, made the sign of the cross, and lo! the field was covered with sheep. Sheds appeared and houses and women, some of them milking the ewes and others skimming the milk and making cheeses. In one place men were busy preparing meat for the market and in another cleaning wool. And all of them as they came and went spoke respectfully to the second brother and called him, "Master!"

"You have your wish," the Angel said. " Stay here and enjoy prosperity and see that you do not forget God's poor!"

Then he and the youngest brother went on their way. "Now, my son," the Angel said, " you, too, may make one wish."

"I want but one thing, father. I pray heaven to grant me a truly pious wife. That is my only wish."

"A truly pious wife! " the Angel cried. "My boy, you have asked the hardest thing of all! Why, there are only three truly pious women in all the world! Two of them are already married and the third is a princess who is being sought in marriage at this very moment by two kings! However, your brothers have received their wishes and you must have yours, too. Let us go at once to the father of this virtuous princess and present your suit."

So just as they were they trudged to the city where the princess lived and presented themselves at the palace looking shabby and travel-stained. The king received them and when he heard their mission he looked at them in amazement.

"This makes three suitors for my daughter's hand! Two kings and now this young man all on the same day! How am I going to decide among them?"

"Let heaven decide! " the Angel said. " Cut three branches of grape-vine and let the princess mark each branch with the name of a different suitor. Then let her plant the three branches to-night in the garden and to-morrow do you give her in marriage to the man whose branch has blossomed during the night and by morning is covered with ripe clusters of grapes."

The king and the two other suitors agreed to this and the princess named and planted three branches of grapevine. In the morning two of the branches were bare and dry, but the third, the one which was marked with the name of the youngest brother, was covered with green leaves and ripe clusters of grapes. The king accepted heaven's ruling and at once led his daughter to church where he had her married to the stranger and sent her off with his blessing. The Angel led the young couple to a forest and left them there.

A year went by and the Angel was sent back to earth to see how the three brothers were faring. Assuming the form of an old beggar, he went to the oldest brother who was busy among his wine-presses and begged the charity of a cup of wine.

"Be off with you, you old vagabond!" the oldest brother shouted angrily. " If I gave a cup of wine to every beggar that comes along I'd soon be a beggar myself!"

The Angel lifted his staff, made the sign of the cross, and lo! the wine and all the winepresses disappeared and in their place flowed a broad deep river.

"In your prosperity you have forgotten God's poor," the Angel said. " Go back to your pear tree."

Then the Angel went to the second brother who was busy in his dairy. "Brother," the Angel said, " in heaven's name, I pray you, give me a morsel of cheese."

"A morsel of cheese, you lazy good-for-nothing!" the second brother cried. " Be off with you or I'll call the dogs!"

The Angel lifted his staff, made the sign of the cross, and lo! the sheep and the dairy and all the busy laborers disappeared and he and the second brother were standing there alone in a field where flocks of pigeons were

"In your prosperity you have forgotten God's poor," the Angel said." Go back to your pear tree!" Then the Angel made his way to the forest where he had left the youngest brother and his wife. He found them in great poverty living in a mean little hut.

"God be with you! " said the Angel still in the guise of an old beggar. "I pray you in heaven's name give me shelter for the night and a bite of supper."

“We are poor ourselves," the youngest brother said. " But come in, you are welcome to share what we have."

They put the old beggar to rest at the most comfortable place beside the fire and the wife set three places for the evening meal. They were so poor that the loaf that was baking in the oven was not made of grain ground at the mill but of pounded bark gathered from the trees.

"Alas," the wife murmured to herself, " it shames me that we have no real bread to put before our guest."

Imagine then her surprise when she opened the oven and saw a browned loaf of wheaten bread. "God be praised! " she cried. She drew a pitcher of water at the spring but when she began pouring it into the cups she found to her joy that it was changed to wine.

"In your happiness," the Angel said, " you have not forgotten God's poor and God will reward you!"

He raised his staff, made the sign of the cross, and lo! the mean little hut disappeared and in its place arose a stately palace full of riches and beautiful things. Servants passed hither and thither and addressed the poor man respectfully as " My lord! " and his wife as " My lady!"

The old beggar arose and as he went he blessed them both, saying: " God gives you these riches and they will be yours to enjoy so long as you share them with others."

They must have remembered the Angel's words for all their lives long they were happy and prosperous.

An adapted version of this tale may be found in Stories of Hope and Spirit by Dan Keding.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Silver Cones - A Christmas Tale

Photo by Karen Chace
Adapted from a story by
Johanna Spyri
Found in Educating by Storytelling Published in 1918

In the mountain land of Bohemia there lived in the long ago a miner with his wife and little daughter. They were happy in their hut in the forest, but after a time the father and mother died, and the child was left alone in the world. She had no money, and no aunts or cousins to take her in, and it seemed as if she would have to go hungry. But always there are kindly hearts among the poor, and one of the miners opened his house that she might have a home. He had six children of his own and little bread and meat to spare, but his good wife said, "We will divide what we have," So little Hilda became one of the family, and they grew to love her very much.

It was midwinter, and Christmas day not far away. The children thought of nothing but the coming of St. Nicholas, who they hoped would not forget them on the Holy Night, when every boy and girl in Bohemia expects a visit from the gift bringer. But when they spoke to the miner about it he shook his head and said, " Do not set your hearts upon his coming. Our hut is very small and stands so far in the forest that he may not be able to find it."

Gretchen, his little daughter, had a very different idea. She declared St. Nicholas could find a house in the dark if it were no bigger than an ant hill, and went to bed to dream of the toys and sweetmeats he would bring.

Day after day passed, and nearer, nearer came the season of Christ's birth. The children talked of him as they sat by the fire at night, as they picked up dead branches in the forest, and as they bedded the goats and shut them in, for Bohemian mountain folk are a toiling people, and even boys and girls must work.

At last the day before Christmas came, and in the afternoon little Hilda started out with her basket to get some cones. She wanted the fire to be brighter and more cheerful than ever that night, and perhaps if she met a servant from the castle, he might take some to feed the prince's fire, and give her a silver piece.

"And if he does," she thought as she trudged on her way, "I can buy something for the miner and his dear children."

Moritz von Schwind, 1851
Now, in that land of Bohemia, on the summit of a lofty mountain, a creature named Riibezahl made his home. He possessed all magic powers, and was so mighty that his sway extended to the very center of the earth. There he had chambers of gold and silver, and diamonds and jewels without number, and often gave of his treasures to those who were good enough to deserve them. He could change himself at will into any form. Now he was a bat flying in the night, now a country swain selling his wares at the fair, and now a woodman cutting down trees in the forest, because thus he was able to find out who was worthy and who unworthy, and to reward or punish them as they deserved.

Hilda had often heard of the strange ways of Riibezahl, and wondered if he would ever cross her path.

"I suppose not," she murmured, "because I am just a little girl."

As she came near the fir trees, a tiny white-haired man walked out of the shadow. He had a long white beard and a jolly red face, and looted as if he were the friend of children.

"What are you doing?" he called to her.

"I've come to gather cones," she replied; "some for our fire and some to sell, if the servant from the castle will only buy."

Then she told him of the miner's family, of how eager she was to get some money that she might buy a gift for his children, and of her hope that St. Nicholas would not forget them on the Holy Night.

The little old man seemed much interested, and when she finished her story he said, "The largest cones are on that tree. If you hope to sell, gather the best ones."

He pointed to a great, dark fir just beyond them, and then went back into the shadows of the forest.

Little Hilda thanked him and ran to the spot. She could see the cones like beehives on the branches, and just as she came under them there was such a downfall of beautiful brown things it frightened her and she began to run. But thinking of what she could do with such big ones, she went back, filled her basket, and started homeward.

It was very heavy, and the farther she went the heavier it grew.

"I'll have to ask little Gretchen to help me take it up the hill path to the castle," she thought. But by the time she reached the hut it had become such a load she could not move it, and the miner had to carry it in himself.

"They are lovely big ones and of a beautiful brown color," she said as the children crowded around to see.

But when they looked at the basket again, they saw no brown at all. Instead there was a gleam brighter than that of the moonbeams through the fir trees, for a wonderful thing had happened. In the twinkling of an eye every one of those cones had turned into shining silver, which sparkled and glistened so that they dazzled the eyes.

Then the little girl remembered the old man in the forest and told the miner about him.

He nodded his head in a knowing way and said, “Surely it was Riibezahl, and he has rewarded you for being sweet and gentle."

All of which seemed like a dream to little Hilda, but when she looked into the basket she knew it was true. And so knew all the other mountain folk, when the stars of the Holy Night shone out and the children went from door to door distributing silver cones. The good folk who gave her a home received so many that never again were they poor. They built a fine house with a porch and twenty windows, and were as rich as anyone in Bohemia.

To make things lovelier still, St. Nicholas found the hut, just as Gretchen had said he would, and left some sweets and toys for the children. He laughed loud and long when he saw the shining cones, for he had heard all about it from Riibezahl himself.

Pronunciation - Riibezahl (re'be tsal)

For another story about Silver Pine Cones visit my friend Granny Sue's beautiful blog at http://tinyurl.com/ykgulqg


When you are done reading bring the fun indoors with some easy pine cone crafts to entertain the children.

Pine Cone Tree

Pine Cone Angel

December Is...

By Hal Borland

December is the year in age and wisdom, a woman with starlight in her frosted hair and a snowflake on her cheek and a sprig of holly on her coat. The light in her blue eyes is young as this morning and old as time. She has known youth and love and age and heartbreak, and she still can smile, knowing that life is not all of either. She is December, which is a kind of summation not only of the year but of all years' ending.

For December is bare trees and the evergreens, it is rustling weed stem in the ruthless wind and partridgeberry on the hillside. It is ground pine, older than the hills where it grows, and it is a seeding maple from two years ago clinging to one last scarlet leaf. It is a stiff-tailed young squirrel scrambling up an oak tree, and it is the masked coon in the moonlit cornfield, listening for the hounds. It is ice on the pond and lichen on the rock and a flock of chickadees in the pine thicket.

December is a blizzard in Wyoming and a gale on the Lakes and the Berkshires frosted like a plate of cupcakes. It's fir trees going to the cities by the truckload, and red ribbon by the mile and tinsel everywhere. It's so many days till You-Know-When. It's the Winter solstice and the shortest day, and it's a snow shovel and galoshes and a muffler around the neck. It's 30 below in Medicine Hat.

December is the hungry owl and the fugitive rabbit, the woodchuck abed and the crow all alone in the pasture. It's soup in the kettle and a log in the fireplace and long wool socks. It's a wind at the door and a whisper in the air and a hush on the evening when the carols are sung. It's the wonder and the glory, and the holidays.

Photo courtesy of http://www.weathernewengland.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Celebrate All Year with the 2010 Story Café

Tis the season to be jolly and what could make you happier than a year filled with amazing opportunities to see some of the finest storytellers from near and far! The New Year is just around the corner so I am offering you a head start in filling up your shiny new 2010 calendars. Break out the pens and start writing, you won't want to miss a moment!

January starts us off on the right foot with
Featuring the Stand-Up Chameleon
Jackson Gillman

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Quick before those New Year’s resolutions are yesterday's news resolve to start the year with some "Hardy Laughs and Hearty Stories." Jackson Gillman of Onset, MA has stories that sparkle with energy, wit and whimsy. He has been Teller-in-Residence at the International Storytelling Center and featured at national festivals. Known for his eccentric comedy, Jackson also enjoys using the quirks and quiet in daily life for grist in his storytelling. You'll get a taste of both tonight as Jackson flashes back on the year, and life in general, regaling us with his perceptions, astute and askew. And when all is said and sung, it is apparent that there is an underlying foundation of beneficence, hope and spirit infusing all of his work.

“A zany kind of comic mutant” - Maine Public Broadcasting

“…a masterly storyteller. Compelling…” – Christian Science Monitor

“…All in all, the incredible scope of Gillman’s talents, his love of the natural world and the warmth of his relationship with the audience make an event with Jackson well worth while.” - Bar Harbor Times

Come to the city early, stroll the beautiful historic district and catch dinner at one of the local restaurants withing walking distance of Artworks. There is so much to do and see. http://www.newbedford-ma.gov/index.html


February 13, 2010 - Leeny Del Seamonds - Massachusetts
March 6, 2010 - Marni Gillard - New York
April 10, 2010 - Michael Parent – Maine - This will be a fundraiser for ArtWorks/Story Cafe thanks to Michael's generosity. Tickets required
May 15, 2010 - Joanne Piazzi - New Hampshire
June 26, 2010 - Eshu Bumpus and Motoko - Massachusetts
July 24, 2010 - Katie Green - Massachusetts
August 21, 2010 - Bob Reiser - Massachusetts and Clare Vadeboncoeur - Rhode Island
September 18, 2010 - Dale Jarvis - Newfoundland
October 16, 2010 - Tim Van Egmond - Massachusetts
November/December 2010 - No Story Café


ADULT OPEN MIC: Sign up for your eight minute turn at the mic beginning at 7:00 p.m. Share your own story, song, music, essay or poem. Feature begins at 8:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Artworks, 384 Acushnet Avenue, New Bedford, MA
TIME: 7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. (Feature begins at 8:00 P.M.)
ADMISSION: FREE (pass the hat for the featured performer)
AUDIENCE: 18 and older
For more information email Karen Chace at storybug@aol.com  or call Artworks at(508) 984-1588
DIRECTIONS: http://www.artworksforyou.org/hours.html

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Put Some Pizzazz in Your Presentations!

Cartoon courtesy of http://blog.falcon-software.com/page/2/

"The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public." George Jessel

Many storytellers also present workshops at conferences and schools around the country. While our presentations are interactive, there are times when we must and should take the opportunity to use available technology; it may further define our message and make the information easier for your audience to digest.

The next time you want to add a bit of techno-magic to your tales here are some sites I researched to help put some pizazz into your presentation. When you are ready to present, remember, it's EASY!

Eye contact
You are the expert!

Beyond Bullet Points  – Telling a story with your presentation.
The Business of Storytelling
How to Present with PowerPointhttp://tinyurl.com/yz26m6l

Choosing Colors for Your Presentation Slides

Choose the Right Colors in PowerPoint

What Are The Best Fonts for Making PowerPoint Presentation
The article is also accompanied by an excellent video presentation.

Relaxation Information - Included is an audio guide you through some relaxation exercises. http://tinyurl.com/y9d2qbe

Just as there are many ways to give presentations, there are different styles of storytelling. Here are a few sites on combining the power of Oral Tradition with the digital era.

Center for Digital Storytelling
This California arts organization assists “young people and adults in using the tools of digital media to craft, record, and share the stories of individuals and communities, in ways that improve all our lives.” http://www.storycenter.org/

Do History

From Harvard University, a virtual how to on piecing together fragments of the past using primary resources; step-by-step guidelines are also provided.

Information and resources, everything you need to help students craft a digital story.

Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling
Examples, tools, evaluations and more.

History Matters
Designed for high school and college teachers, and students it serves as a gateway to web resources offering materials, first-person primary documents, and guides to analyzing historical evidence. An extra bonus is a host of resources to assist you in completing your own oral history project. http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/oral/online.html. For the main site go to: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/

In The First Person
Over 2,500 collections of oral history from around the world: personal narratives, letters, diaries, memoirs, autobiographies, and oral histories; a goldmine of information.

Lesson Plans for Digital Storytelling
A step by step guide, rubrics and additional resources.

Oral History Resources
My personal collection of websites gathered over the years.

Oral Tradition Journal
A fabulous resource you will return to again and again. The Center for Studies in Oral Tradition at the University of Missouri has generously placed twenty-two years of their journal online. The site contains nearly 500 articles and 10,000 pages with the contents downloadable as pdf files. The site is also searchable by keyword or author name.

Schrockguilde.net Digital Storytelling Meets the Common Core

Using Technology to Tell Stories
Create your own digital storytelling project. The site includes a step by step guide, examples of digital storytelling, rubrics assessment, lesson plans and additional web links. In no time at all you will be saying, “It’s a wrap!”

Karen Chace ©
This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at storybug@aol.com. Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Friday, October 30, 2009


There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience”. -Alexander Gregg

Some studies have shown that fear of public speaking ranks up there with the fear of death. The more I read about the subject the more convinced I am that the art of Oral Tradition should have it's rightful place in school curriculum. I have personally witnessed the shyest students blossom as they take the stage armed with the tools they learned from participating in my storytelling troupe.

Recently, I came upon an article written by my friend Bill Lampton, leader in the field of corporate communication. It is amazing how many of his points apply to the storytelling as well.

First, here are some of the storytelling tips I share with my student tellers.


1. Visualize– Let the story live in your mind’s eye. See the details, hear the characters.

2. Create an Image -What do the characters and places look like, smell like, and sound like?

3. Voice- Use your voice to define characters and establish mood and attitude.

4. Add Energy to Your Story - Gestures and body language will help identify characters and bring it to life.

5. Make It Your Own - Let the story live, bring your own images and emotions to it. If you make a personal connection with the story the audience will connect as well.

6. Pay Attention to the Audience - Scan the faces in the audience. Find those who are right in the story with you. Notice their facial expressions and body language. They are giving their energy back to you! Use it and relax into the story.

7. Imagine Success - Hear the audience applause. Relax, breathe. This is about connection, not perfection!

Now, juxtapose the above with the tips Bill shares below.

By Bill Lampton, Ph.D.

When I provide individual speech coaching, and when I direct presentation skills seminars, I emphasize these 7 necessary steps for speaking with poise, power, and persuasion.

1. Adopt an upbeat ATTITUDE
Form a mental picture of success. Anticipate your audience's unbroken attention, laughter, and applause. Assume you have something worth saying, and that you will say it well.

2.Focus on the AUDIENCE
This way, you won't become excessively concerned about yourself. Remember, audiences want you to succeed. They aren't critics, they are your cheerleaders. Embrace them--then they'll embrace you.

Listeners don't want to wonder if you have a pulse. So don't read or recite your message. . . tell it as energetically as you would describe a fun weekend. Move away from the podium, gesture freely, vary your voice, just as you do in casual chit chat. Createwhat actors call "The Illusion of the First Time."

Remain on the lookout for audience feedback. When you detect confusion, restate your point. When you see listeners nod in agreement, let their support energize you.

Even adults love "once upon a time." People remember and learn from your stories, not statistics. Paint word pictures, giving a "you are there" feeling. Use suspense with the skill of a novelist. Paul Harvey carved a grand speaking career as a master story teller.

6. Sharpen your APPEARANCE
Although casual and sometimes sloppy dress have gained some acceptance, your audience wants you to dress a notch or two above their norm. Tasteful, professional clothing reflects that you respect them and the occasion. Not surprisingly, you will gain confidence and energy as well.

Do something different from other speakers. Examples: unusual props, impersonations, games, regular audience interaction, or magic if that's your talent. Note: Every season, new TV shows succeed because they become distinctive.

Next time you speak, try these "7 A's." They work. Your audience will give you an "A" grade for sure.

Whether it be in schools or the corporate arena, communication skills are necessary for personal and public success. For more on the value of bringing storytelling into our schools go to Storytelling In Schools, an amazing, downloadable booklet and brochure. It is filled with quantitative studies, innovative projects books, journals, articles and web sites are all at your fingertips.

For additional research on how our brains are hardwired for story, visit the Teacher's Page on my website at http://www.storybug.net/teachers.html.

Picture courtesy of http://www.panicfreepublicspeaking.com.au

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Time to Be Thankful

by Eric Enstrom
November is just around the corner and the month brings my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Here are some sites to help you enjoy the day.


Native Languages of the Americas Wampanoag Indian Legends Meet Moshup the Giant, read about Squant the Sea Monster and more. There are also additional links and resources to help you learn more about this Indian nation. http://tinyurl.com/l5tx8x

The Circle of Life and the Clambake – A lovely story from the Wampanoag culture that encompasses the spirit of thanksgiving, the circle of life and caring for the earth. http://tinyurl.com/kpdyaq

Thanksgiving Short Stories for Kids

The Scarecrow’s Thanksgiving – A Canadian Thanksgiving story.


Blessing Boxes

Thanksgiving and Fall Crafts for Children

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages


Wampanoag Culture and History Links – Geography, lifestyle and traditions, books and more. http://tinyurl.com/njqk6y

Wampanoag Indian Fact Sheet for Kids

Learning to Give
– Native American Lesson Plan for grades 9 – 12 in Arts, Language Arts, Library / Technology, Philanthropy and Social Studies. Includes numerous folktales to share. http://learningtogive.org/lessons/unit226/lesson12.html

All ‘Bout Cranberries - A comprehensive cranberry curriculum for grades K-8 covering many aspects of cranberry growing and takes the user on a journey from the Cranberry Bog to the Kitchen Table. It is designed to give students an appreciation of Massachusetts number one food crop through problem solving and thought provoing activities. http://www.cranberries.org/cranberries/teachers.html

American Indian Leather Painting– For grades 5-6, students will create stories that resemble ol Indian leather paintings. Students will tell a story using only pictures and drawing them in sequence so others can read the story back.

The Pilgrims Voyage: A Map and the Mayflower - This project teaches geography and history. The student makes a map of the voyage and a tiny replica of the Mayflower. http://tinyurl.com/mauanx


Charity Navigator
- An independent charity evaluator; provides tips for making decisions about donations, statistics, information about workplace donation campaigns, and a list of the highest and lowest rated charities in various subject areas.

The Hunger Site - Since its launch in June 1999 the site has established itself as a leader in online activism, helping to feed the world's hungry. All it takes is a click of the computer keys. What could be easier?

Rwanda Baskets - Proceeds benefit Rwandan genocide widows who weave these exquisite baskets to provide for themselves and the orphans of this war-torn nation.

Give A Good Card - Give a gift card for charity where the recipients get to donate to their charity of choice.

Oxfam America Unwrapped - For those of us who are blessed to have what we need, why not wrap up your holiday spirit and pick one of the 120 countries from around the world to help? Whether our budget is small or large, we can all do our part to help others in need.

Global Action for Children - A nonpartisan, coalition dedicated to advocating for orphans and highly vulnerable children in the developing world. Their goal is for all children to have the health care, education, food, and protection they need to grow up safe and healthy.

Donors Choose.org - This simple yet brilliant idea was started by a teacher. It is an easy way to provide students in need with resources that ourpublic schools often lack. Teachers submit project proposals for materials or experiences their students need to learn and concerned individuals, whom we call Citizen Philanthropists, choose the projects to fund. This is a non-profit agency. http://www.donorschoose.org/about/about.html

Points of Light Institute - Website for an organization that promotes volunteer activity and civic engagement in the U.S., helps develop infrastructure for community change, and "demonstrates the power of citizens actively engaged in changing our world and solving problems." Includes a directory of volunteer centers, description of programs, resources for volunteers, and related material. http://www.pointsoflight.org/ Copyright LII http://lii.org/cs/lii/view/item/27943

African Artists Community Development Project - While traveling this summer I met two wonderful women who donate their time and energy to this amazing project. One of the ladies shared a story of bringing some of the funds to a woman in Zambia and seeing her joy as she clapped her hands and said, "Now I can buy a chicken!" She also told me of sitting on the floor with these women, helping them make handbags out of recycled materials. She said,"They are so poor but they are happy. I love sitting with them and listening to their stories." I promised them I would spread the word about their amazing project so other women will be able to buy animals to add to their small farms and support their families.

Mission to Liberia – This cause is near to my heart as one of my dear friends is connected with this agency. “Old shoes. Very old shoes. These took me on foot, away from the gunfire, far from the shelling of embattled Liberia, my homeland. Joseph Deranamie recounts his days fleeing as a refugee. Mission to Liberia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to serving the health care needs of fellow Liberians who did not escape the devastation that decades of civil war left behind.” http://missiontoliberia.org/

Karen Chace  ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at storybug@aol.com. Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Today I had the pleasure of visiting with two of my storytelling students from previous years, they are two talented brothers, Tyler and Kyle, both now in Middle School.

The youngest, Kyle, shared this poem he wrote for his class. He gave me permission to post it here for everyone to enjoy.

Fall Is
By Kyle Leve © 2009

Fall is going door to door in the darkness only lit by the full moon, yelling “Trick or Treat”! To anyone who opens the door.

Fall is seeing green goblins, green skinned witches and white ghosts running in the night.

Fall is going to the soccer fields to kick 100 shots in the net on a nice sunny day.

Fall is hearing people’s beautiful voices singing “happy birthday” to me at my house.

Fall is tasting the warm, chocolaty sensation of hot cocoa on those breezy days.

Fall is smelling the sweet Hershey’s, butterscotches, lolly pops, kit kats and more after a long fantastic night of “trick or treating”.

Fall is feeling the tingly sensation when I jump into a gigantic pile of different colored leaves.

Fall is seeing everyone as far as the eye can see carving orange pumpkins, making them as spooky or frightening or happy as they want.

Fall is tasting the stuffing filled turkey with gravy on it and cranberry sauce on the side.

Fall is feeling the soft mushy pumpkin seeds and other stuff in the orange pumpkin.

Painting by Sir John Everett Millais June 1829 - August 1896

Monday, September 28, 2009

October Story Café

“Bella Notte” - Stories from the Italian Tradition
Featuring Storyteller Carolyn Martino
October 17, 2009

A beautiful night of Italian tales and personal recollections with storyteller and 2nd generation Italian. Meet a plucky Palmero princess, a Sardinian seer, a swan tenor, some distinctive Italian fairy tale, and more. Enjoy the musical rhythms and joyous logic of all that is Italian in a Bella Notte of Italian storytelling.

“The audience, whether of Italian descent or not, was laughing out loud.”
Friends Newsletter, North Providence RI Public Library

“ A beautiful night it was, too! Filled with pathos and joy and the sensibility the Italian outlook on life provides to the world. You did the Italian culture proud!” Laurie Burke, Community Services Librarian, Barrington, RI Public Library

“We were spellbound. You have a great fit and it’s a privilege to watch you use it.Buono fortuna!” Audience Member

ADULT OPEN MIC: Sign up for your ten minute turn at the mic beginning at 7:00 p.m. Share your own story, song, music, essay or poem.
TIME: 7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. (Feature begins at 8:00 P.M.)
LOCATION: Artworks, 384 Acushnet Avenue, New Bedford, MA
ADMISSION: FREE (pass the hat for the featured performer)
AUDIENCE: 18 and older
For more information email Karen Chace at storybug@aol.com or call Artworks at (508) 984-1588 For directions: http://www.artworksforyou.org/hours.html

Schedule for 2010

November 7, 2009 - Michael Anderson - Massachusetts - This will not be a regular Story Cafe, but a special event at ArtWorks. Tickets required.
December 2009 - No Story Cafe
January 2, 2010 - Jackson Gillman - Massachusetts
February 13, 2010 - Leeny Del Seamonds - Massachusetts
March 6, 2010 - Marni Gillard - New York
April 10, 2010 - Michael Parent – Maine - This will be a fundraiser for ArtWorks/Story Cafe thanks to Michael's generosity. Tickets required
May 15, 2010 - Joanne Piazzi - New Hampshire
June 26, 2010 - Eshu Bumpus and Motoko - Massachusetts
July 24, 2010 - Katie Green - Massachusetts
August 28, 2010 - Bob Reiser - Massachusetts and Clare Vadeboncoeur - Rhode Island
September 18, 2010 - Dale Jarvis - Newfoundland
October 16, 2010 - Richard Martin - England/Germany
November/December 2010 - No Story Cafe

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast ye Hearties! September 19 is Talk Like A Pirate Day so I offer some sites to help you develop some pirattitude!

The picture is of Ching Shih, a famous female pirate in late Qing China. Ching Shih's real name is unknown as is where she was born. "She was born in 1785 and died at the age of 69 in 1844.

Zheng Yi belonged to a family of successful pirates who traced their criminal origins back to the mid-Seventeenth century. Following his marriage to Ching Shih, Zheng Yi used military assertion and his family's reputation to gather a coalition of competing Cantonese pirate fleets into an alliance. By 1804, this coalition was a formidable force, and one of the most powerful pirate fleets in all of China..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ching_Shih


Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates

Blackbeard the Pirate
... and the Presumed Wreck of Queen Anne's Revenge http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/maritime/Blackbeard/

Blackbeard – Terror of the Sea


The Origins of the Compass Rose

Pirates! Fact and Legend

Women In History - Female Pirates


Public Domain Books you may download for free.

Great Pirate Stories by Joseph Lewis French in 1922

The History of the Pirates published by Thomas Carey in 1825

Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts by Frank R. Stockton in 1919


Shanties and Sea Songs - Well shiver me timbers! This site offers a boatload of shanties, pilot verses and sea songs. There is also a treasure chest full of CD and book recommendations, and information on tall ships, pirates, and sailing books. You’ll be singing and sailing the seven seas in no time at all! http://shanty.rendance.org/index.php


New England Pirate Museum
– Educational material from Elementary School to High School, including historical perspectives and poems and biographies for teachers.


Jolly Roger Pirate Flag Poster

Pirate Activities for Children – Make a Treasure Map or telescope, your own pirate ship and more!

Family Crafts - Halloween is around the corner. Why not shiver their timbers with this pirate costume?

DLTK- Kids - Make your own pirate, parrot or mouse bookmark.

Pirate Sticker Sheets



What did Pirates eat and drink?

Fun pirate foods for kids

Pirate Fun Facts 

Pirate Jokes


Image courtesy of http://tinyurl.com/mqzll3

Please note, websites change at a rapid pace and weblinks may change or break without notice. I cannot be responsible for redirected or broken links.  At the time of this posting all links were in working order. Thank you for understanding.

Karen Chace  ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at storybug@aol.com. Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If You're Fond of Sand Dunes...

So begins one of my favorite old songs by Patti Page. I can still hear my father singing it all around the house when I was a child.

I am blessed to live fairly close to Cape Cod, or as we New Englanders call it, "The Cape." I am within a few hours’ drive and it is a sure sign if you are a tourist if you refer to it as Cape Cod. Since summer is beginning to wane here in Massachusetts I thought I would give you a taste of Old Cape Cod.

I am lucky enough to live close to the sea and the boats that will take you to either of the outer islands, beautiful Martha's Vineyard and quaint Nantucket. There is nothing like these two islands, filled with history and charm. This July I went over to 'the vineyard' for a few, gorgeous sun-filled days and reveled in a much slower pace.

View from the hotel overlooking Vineyard Haven. Ahhh, I could get used to this life very easily!

Days were spent biking from one end of the island to the other, picnicking in the park next to the Inkwell gazebo and grand Victorian houses dressed up in their finest colors to welcome visitors.

I love the tiny Gingerbread Houses at Oak Bluffs.

"Oak Bluffs became a Mecca for travelers from around the world as early as the beginning of the 1800‘s. It also became a center of the thriving 19th century Methodist movement.

In the area known now as the Martha's Vineyard Campground Meeting Association (MVCMA) or “The Campground“, members of the Methodist church would come each summer to pitch tents and have open air meetings. As these meetings became more and more popular, returning visitors began replacing the tents with small wooden buildings generally known now as Gingerbread Cottages. This name originated from the ornate molding and bright colors that these summer homes were painted and because of their quaint, almost storybook look. With the Methodist camp meetings taking place in the center, the campground expanded in a circular pattern around the meeting area until hundreds of the small cottages sprang up. Later a more permanent structure was built, called the Tabernacle. This covered open sided structure allowed speakers and meeting attendees to weather the elements and gave rise to a community center which is still in use today.

The campground Gingerbread cottages are cherished historic landmarks as well as very expensive real estate. Many are still family owned and passed on generation to generation."

I defy anyone to say that the sunsets at Menemsha beach are not some of the most beautiful you have ever seen. This does not even begin to do it justice.

Scores of vacationers and locals gather at the beach, hours before evenings end. It is not only a tradition but an event! No PB&J sandwiches for these hardy souls. Folks set up table lined with fresh lobster, glasses of wine, and of course, cameras ready to snap the sun as she tickles the horizon. She seems to hang there for a moment, saying her last good-byes to the day, before she slips below the surface.

While at Menemsha waiting for the sun to set I spotted this young boy with a starfish. I hope he threw it back in the ocean after he shared his find with his friend.

I love lighthouses! This is Telegraph Hill on East Chop, Martha's Vineyard.

This lighthouse stands off shore at Aguinnah, also known as Gay Head.

Stumbled upon this lovely shop while lazily window shopping on the last day. It is off a side street in Vineyard Haven and the garden that led to the shop was full of delightful statues.

Statue of smiling Buddha.

Statue of Ganesha

Saw these scenes while biking to Edgartown. It was worth it to stop and capture them on camera.

Heading home on the ferry...I can't wait to return.

The sun sets on a beautiful vacation!

Sit back, relax and have a listen to Patti Page sing.

Old Cape Cod

If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air
Quaint little villages here and there
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod

If you like the taste of a lobster stew
Served by a window with an ocean view
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod

Winding roads that seem to beckon you
Miles of green beneath a sky of blue
Church bells chimin' on a Sunday morn
Remind you of the town where you were born

If you spend an evening you'll want to stay
Watching the moonlight on Cape Cod Bay
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod

If you spend an evening you'll want to stay
Watching the moonlight on Cape Cod Bay
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod

[From her album: 'Greatest Hits' (Columbia)]