Friday, June 18, 2010

Beauty Floats on the Water

Claude Monet is one of my favorite painters and the water lily is also one of my favorite flowers. Once, when I was visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art some of Monet's paintings were exhibited. I stood there in front of his gorgeous work completely mesmerized. It took every ounce of effort not to reach out and touch the canvas.

In summer's past I have vacationed in New Hampshire, high up a winding mountain road that leads to a lovely cottage. The front porch offers a gorgeous sweeping view of the lake, home to loons, beavers and water lilies.

When I am there, one of the most relaxing moments for me besides reading on the porch, is kayaking among the delicate, white water lilies that speckle the lake. The experience always feels magical, almost reverential, as I slowly glide past, gently touching the velvet, soft petals. For some reason, the flower came to mind today and so I offer you a few stories to add some magic to your day.

From the earliest Indian collection of Buddhist sutras, from the reign of Ahyu, comes this description of the beginning of the world:

“Between the mountains there were many rivers, flowing in all directions along 100 different routes, moving slowly downhill, without waves. The rivers were shallow and their banks weren't steep, making them easy to ford. The water in them was clean and pure, and flowers floated on the surface in abundance. The currents were full of them…”

According to this passage, the lotus was the first flower appearing in a world of water.

by Andrew Lang - The Blue Fairy Tale Book

Once upon a time, in a large forest, there lived an old woman and three maidens. They were all three beautiful, but the youngest was the fairest. Their hut was quite hidden by trees, and none saw their beauty but the sun by day, and the moon by night, and the eyes of the stars. The old woman kept the girls hard at work, from morning till night, spinning gold flax into yarn, and when one distaff was empty another was given them, so they had no rest. The thread had to be fine and even, and when done was locked up in a secret chamber by the old woman, who twice or thrice every summer went a journey. Before she went she gave out work for each day of her absence, and always returned in the night, so that the girls never saw what she brought back with her, neither would she tell them whence the gold flax came, nor what it was to be used for.

Now, when the time came round for the old woman to set out on one of these journeys, she gave each maiden work for six days, with the usual warning: "Children, don't let your eyes wander, and on no account speak to a man, for, if you do, your thread will lose its brightness, and misfortunes of all kinds will follow." They laughed at this oft-repeated caution, saying to each other: "How can our gold thread lose its brightness, and have we any chance of speaking to a man?"

On the third day after the old woman's departure a young prince, hunting in the forest, got separated from his companions, and completely lost. Weary of seeking his way, he flung himself down under a tree, leaving his horse to browse at will, and fell asleep. Click here for the rest of the story:

I love how legends and folklore travel. Here are three legends, all with the same title, from distinct and different cultures. A bit of trivia before you begin: Some Maya believed that the earth was actually the back of a huge crocodile, resting in a pool of water lilies.

The Legend of the Water Lily - Folklore from Central Java

The Legend of the Water Lily
 - Brazil

The Legend of the Water Lily - Native American - Ojibwa Nation


An Education Resource from the North Carolina Museum of Art - Grades 6 - 8
Information about Water Lilies by Monet


Karen's Whimsy - Beautiful images of waterlilies for your use.

Water Lily Coloring Page

Image: Claude Monet - Waterlilies

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Let Me Tell You 'Bout the Birds and the Bees...

The warmth of the sun is with us once more; flowers are blooming, birds are singing and crickets are chirping. I offer you some folktales to help us welcome summer!

Akanidi the Bright Sunbeam – A Siberian Tale

Clytie, the Heliotrope -An adaptation of the Greek myth

The Cricket’s Song - Guatemalan Folktale

Daffodeelia – A Sri Lankan Fairytale

The Flower Queen’s Daughter - By Andrew Lang

How the King of Birds Was Chosen: and other Mayan folk tales

The Language of the Birds

Why Cats Sit on the Doorstep in the Sun

I know school is out in many parts of the USA for the season but these sites may be useful in your storytelling and library programs this summer.

Flower Facts and Trivia – Add some interesting trivia about flowers to your storytelling or classroom lessson plans.

Flowers in the Classroom - Grades 5 to 8 Language Arts: Legendary Flowers lesson plan including myths, folktales and legends of flowers.

Honey Bees and Cultural Attitudes - Grades: 4-6 Essential Skills: Literature, Language Arts, Social Studies Students explore how honey bees are portrayed in art and literature. It also offers a comprehensive and age appropriate bibliography at the end.

The Teacher’s Guide: Plants and Flowers - Lots of lesson plans and ideas to keep the ideas blooming!

CRAFTS - Summer brings a bounty of fresh fruit so why not have some fruity fun! - Lots of fun Fourth of July crafts to make your holiday sparkle!
Kinderart - Summer is time to take the children to the zoo. Download some cute animal printables to keep your students and children roaring with delight long after the field trip!


Loowit Campfire Songs - Summer is just around the corner. Get ready for those scouting camp gigs with songs that will have them merrily singing long.

Bus Songs - We all know that sometimes our audiences need to “get the wiggles out” and what better way than to have them sing along! Your toes will be tapping and your fingers snapping as you explore this fun site full of songs that just add some extra Zip A De Doo Dah to your storytelling programs.

Karen Chace  2010 ©

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 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.