Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review- Tom Callinan ; Commemorations and I'll Take New England Any Day

Tom Callinan Introduces us to two new CD's of his  legendary music!

Commemorations    and   I'll Take New England Any Day

Commemorations is a collection of local legends and National treasures put to music. The characters of a time past and gone are given the breath of life in their story told. The music is warm, engaging and memorable as the tunes wind you into a tale centuries old or as fresh as yesterdays commute across the Baldwin Bridge.

This is CD is perfect compliment to  a classroom, would work well in a pub, the music is for museums and families alike.  This  2011 release is sure to be a favorite among the history lovers and the classic sounds of guitar and voice meld into the troubadours message.

On this CD I fell in love with a couple of the songs right away. One is the tale of Sebal Luddington, a previously unsung heroine. She made a valiant ride similar to Paul Revere and with that ride earned her right to be honored in lore and song.

Another fave of this album is Bushnell's Turtle. I love the rythym and the descriptive nature of the Turtle's work.  This is certainly a song of bravery.  17 songs on this packed CD, a sure thing for the next long car trip or as a gift to student of history.

3:12 the time it takes to sum up the great body of work completed by Connecticut great Noah Webster. His mastery of word and language truly unsurpassed. Whenever I pick up a dictionary from this time on  my toe will tap out a beat to a song  of the wonder of all those words.

Land of Hills and Mills is a wonderful tale of the Quiet Corner of Connecticut. The 5:46 second journey is a timeline of what once was and now is Killingly, CT.

Bells of Norwich, service of the Yantic Fire Dept. and  a heroic stand against odds at Fort Griswold help to fill out a collection of historical power in music.

The Second CD is : "I'll Take  New England Any Day"
    This is a collection of songs to perfectly describe all the variables that New England can be, sometimes all within a day! A second purpose is recognizing holidays in song. The Patriotism of a Memorial Day or Fourth of July down to the  "Christmas in Connecticut" track.

Does an Apple have the power to haunt, well maybe those of Micah Rood do, listen and find out. Other tracks feature the music of simple pipe flutes, in haunting tone or lilting like an Irish jig. The longing tones of the flute bring out the power in the words of the  creation story of the Abenaki Peoples in the story of  Mount Monadnock. 

The CD is  versatile and easy to listen to with  styles well matched to the traditional tale they interpret. I highly recommend both of Tom Callinan's CD's.  www.crackerbarrel-ents.com
Tom Callinan
The First CT. State Troubadour will be launching these CD's simultaneously from the Customs House ( home to  New London Maritime Society) in New London CT. The debut is part of a festival of Celebration sponsored by the Maritime Museum in New London, CT. Dec 3 at 6:30 p.m. Children 10 and up will enjoy the performance and adults will  listen anew to tales once heard now brought back in song.

(Please call for a reservation space is limited 860-447-2501. $5.00 to guests over age 14. Members of the society enter free)

other blog with a nautical interest:

CD Debut  Celebration Announcement in Blog

Saturday, November 26, 2011

World's Best Writing Prompt

Even the student who never wore out a pencil is encouraged to write a full page for this writing prompt!

  Have a story about a letter you wrote or read? Leave it in the comments.

another blog with a prompt:


Friday, November 25, 2011

Fairy Think-ets Game Review

                   Fairy Think-ets by Think-a-lot Toys Review

Once Upon A Time.... It can begin that way but where the tale turns to from there is any ones guess. With the Think-a-lot Fairy set of trinkets imagination is the key to a classic or not so classic fairy tale. With cues from the  selection of  a tiny item the hero or heroine may be looking to the magical powers of a mirror and then swept away on a skateboard. To children they are a key to imaginative play and release of the inner child for adults.

Fairy Tales as Spoken Word are not the only delight. This set makes a fun game of concentration. What piece is missing and acquiring the skills of quick memory recall are a great learning asset.
Other blog reviews of games for storytelling fun:



Want to try to finish this tale from the picture above make your ending using the items not mentioned and put it in the comment box.

      Once upon a time a magical Blue Butterfly was released in Cambridge, Ma. it flitted about the country side. Wherever it landed stories unfolded of the ancients and the new, in small gatherings and large venues.  Sometimes the Blue Butterfly was seen near cool waters, in green gardens and where rare Books stand side to side. Words flowed like fine wine from a Goblet and were sweet to the lips and ears alike. 
      A cold north wind blew around the corner. It always comes, and has for time eternal, its presence a sign of........

Go ahead finish it in the comment box there is no limit to the number of ways this story can be told.
Left to use: stone, purple rose, butterfly ring, pink bottle, heart, seed, leaf, mushroom, cute, sun medallion, mirror.
To order see www.think-a-lot.com who will you gift with the magic of story?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Think-Ets Game Review

Review of Think-ets by Think-a-lot Toys

Not going out to face the bustle of Black Friday Shopping?

You won't find me out there either!

I want to stay home and play a family game, I might even do some online shopping. I will be looking at my list of naughty and nice and deciding who will be getting a good lump of coal and who a shiny wrapped parcel. Well, I have a sleigh but no reindeer so maybe the Santa routine is not for me.

I have been playing with Think-ets with various age groups and want to share with you that we have had a lot of fun! With multiple game choices and the easy convenience of a small bag to carry with me this Deluxe Set is  a big hit from grade school to senior citizens. Mixed ages is stimulating because everyone brings their imagination and the stories take some fun turns.  Embedded in the game are teachable moments, a famous quote, a reference to another place and time. Twice without prompt student groups came up with Romeo and Juliet story versions.

Playing concentration by laying the pieces out and removing one was a favorite. I could see how sharp the kids were as they studied the array of items and tried different techniques to keep the mental list.

Think-ets will be on my list of things to order so that the fun and stories continue. I am appreciative of the students who happily volunteered to play games and  let me watch the play proceed. This was the perfect way to spend the last few minutes of class today. Now I will be looking forward to the next time I'm in a groups setting and we can play Think-ets from Think-a-lot Toys in Boulder, Colorado.

                                                                Go Ahead, it's your turn!

other blogs that reviewed gift ideas:

StoryPlay Cards

Mike Lockett the Normal Storyteller CD from www.cdbaby.com

Rory's Story Cubes

Subscribe or Follow today if you want to receive the upcoming reviews of more games and CD's, Thank -You!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving A List of Giving Thanks!

My family - as always I am thankful for my family and this year in particular for my Brother, Steve Marshall. We took a long journey through our parents illness and passing together and I am so grateful to have had him at my side! Thank- You Steve!
Here Steve is at work on the restoration of the Nathan Hale School House Museum at New London, CT.  www.historichouseguy.com

I am thankful for Grandchildren: There is nothing like the smiles and hugs and kisses of Grandchildren and to hear them call "Grandma!"

                                                  Zoom Zoom Zoom in your homemade car!

I am thankful for family milestones:

                                                   My son Tim graduated from High School    


                                                      William's Baptism was a special day!

I am Thankful for all my children and all those children I spend time with!

I am Thankful for life's simple pleasures,

Good Food
Sunset and Rain
My Work
The Ladies at the Dairy


past blogs of family and home:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

5 Tips to Make Your Presentation a Story to Remember

Dedicated to the students at the E.O.Smith High School  Depot Campus a Big Picture School.
 Good Luck on your exhibitions!

1. Dress For Success

2. Speak to be heard and understood, don't just talk- tell the story

3. When using photos - make them high quality ( they are speaking for you)
Above a nice quality nature photo

Below a poor quality photo

4. Eliminate Distractions
            hair in eyes, gum, phone going off, swaying, looking at floor - ceiling etc.

5. Practice what you will say so  you don't need Ummmmm....

Big Picture School :  www.bigpicture.org/schools

E.O.Smith high School Storrs, CT.   www.eosmith.org

Another blog about story in education:

this blog has educational game review:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Story Play Cards; Game Review

Five Stars for the StoryPlay Cards  by Think-a-lot Toys!!   

www.think-a-lot.com   (while you are visiting their site sign up for the  free newsletter you might win a Think-ets game.

I opened the box with such anticipation for the fun it held inside. I was not to be disappointed. I took out the double deck of cards and began to flip through the images with associated word at the bottom. I could envision the story games we would have.

  My first play was a set of cards dealt to a group of  students in a high school. We created  the decks inaugural story as a group. The tale wound through mystical and imaginative places with an athlete as the main character. The group was reserved about the  possibilities at the outset but begged for a second round on  closing the first story out. We had a good time, our second play with an assigned curriculum based topic from World Civilisations class. The story was creative with references to the ages being studied in different classes. It was a great way to make the material more lively and give them a chance for recall practice.

I moved on to another group of students and  here we tried a game similar to Go Fish using the color borders and the full deck.  There was a great deal of cheerful banter when a prized color was discarded.  The next group we played a memory concentration game with a part of the deck that were 14 pairs by association. For example one card was a tree its pair was roots. The star card was paired to Cosmic explosion. There was word association along with the memory component. The same game was enjoyed by grade school aged children.
My third adventure with the Storyplay cards was a  Storytelling Course in the English Dept. at Eastern CT. State University. My visit to the college class as a guest speaker was a prime time to take 20 minutes mid class and see how story games were received by the college set. I had five different games going in the room and they were well received. I was listening in on the team playing StoryPlay Cards and found they were creating a dynamic  tale with laughs and a very creative process.

There are so many possibilities with the StoryPlay cards in the classroom setting , but I can see wonderful opportunities with family games and in senior settings. 

Another game review:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weather Vane Series; Story Resources Part 2

Another Weather Vane Depicting a Morgan Horse
Ethan Allen famed son of Black Hawk

(Weather Vanes Pt.1 Highlighted the Black Hawk weather vane)

another blog highlights that bloodline of these horses today:

See them in action the direct descendants of Ethan Allen and Black Hawk

The Canada Goose

Migration, Nesting and Everything to know about the Canada Goose:


A Major Resource for all birders is Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

A Wonderful Movie depicts much of the story from hatching to migration:

Fly Away Home    available  from   www.amazon.com

Snoopy and The Red Baron was the first thing to come to my mind as I saw this flying over a barn roof.

Amelia Earhart a great story for telling in this material:

more info on her life and historic flights at : www.ameliaearhartmuseum.org
Plane Spotters:
         When fear of invasion rocked the country during WWII  blackout curtains and security measures were instituted. One was a league of plane spotters set up all along our coast lines, sitting long hours alone in towers and glass cupolas watching the skies with charts of aircraft type around them.
     Bob Grigg writes articles for the Colebrook Historical Society. There are 450+ articles on their site, a researchers goldmine! Here is the link to his article highlighting plane spotting in their town:


      Mansfield (CT) had plane spotters as well, they kept look out from the glass cupola on the town hall which is now home to the Mansfield Historical Society.
       Everyone could be part of the National Civil Defense as playing cards were decorated with plane types so they would be common and the general public could inform what type plane was flying over.
This image of playing cards with Japanese Aircraft is from    www.ameshistoricalsociety.org  please visit their site to see more info and pictures on Plane Spotters.

Weather Vane Series #1 is available at:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weather Vanes Series; Point to Stories Part 1

       I love weather vanes. They show you a little about the place or people that live and work below their direction. They  are steady and withstand storms and always helping show the way of the wind. They are whimsical and historical and creative and simple all in one.
My favorite weather vane adorns the top of Whitney Hall .at the University of Connecticut. On this day the wise owls are pointing to the College of Agriculture and the Second Congregational Church whose weather vane is equally beautiful.
Let this weather vane point you in the direction of some great stories, here are owl story links to go with it:
Incredible Story from Simon and Schuster books watch the video on the site:


more: www.owlpages.com/articles.php?section=Owl+Stories

No Owl Section would be complete without a spot dedicated to Jane Yolen's, Owl Moon!


Here is the Second Congregational Church and although you can't quite make out the weather vane I love how the steeple is lighted. The vane is  gilded  and  has been a landmark in town and on the campus of the University of Connecticut since its construction.

The Historic Congregational Church at Lebanon, CT sports this artistic gilded weather vane.

Some links to stories of and about church:
 First Church of Christ Mansfield Center UCC, will soon host a special storytelling event "The Gospel of Mark Alive" presented by Storyteller Rev. Bert Marshall  November 27 at 2 p.m. You can see a blog post about the event at:

Need a laugh here are some humorous stories with a church theme I recommend the
 Story of the Two Little Boys!

Hear Jonah's Tale on You-Tube:

Another Lebanon, CT. weather vane from the top of the Town Hall of an early sulky racer. These weather vanes were pattered after the images of Blackhawk a famous Morgan Horse Stallion. 

Lore of Blackhawk:


This was really a form of early advertising  of his racing record and his record as a breeding stallion. Certainly putting this atop your barn in that day was a proclamation to high quality stock below!

The weathervanes of the era are  highly sought after early American Folk Art check out this sale of a Blackhawk vane at the famous Christie's in  2002, can you believe $14,100.00! See it here:


This is part 1 of the Weather Vane Series, I will post more vanes which will point you to more fun and enlightening resources. Look for those posts in coming days and weeks. Subscribe or follow to be sure not to miss a single weather vanes post.

Blacksmiths and Artisans made the weather vanes of yesteryear here is a post with links to the Blacksmith trade and stories;

Hope you have had fun wandering my resource collection if you liked something share it with a friend please.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Gospel of Mark Alive: Storyteller Rev. Bert Marshall

Stop right now and check November 27, 2011 on your calendar!

Sure hope you are free at 2:00 p.m. for this very impressive performance of:

 "The Gospel of Mark Alive"

 a storytelling performance by Reverend Bert Marshall at First Church of Christ
Mansfield Center, CT.
Suggested Donation $5.00 per person $15.00 per family. We are easy to find at the intersection of routes 195 and 89 in Mansfield Center, just south of the Uconn campus.

Hear Mark's whole incredible mysterious story from beginning to end, as it may have been told in the early years of the Jesus Movement, before the rise of Christianity. www.gospelofmarkalive.com  (see the powerful teaser clip there!!)

This will be a very special day at First Church of Christ in Mansfield Center ( UCC)

Fair Trade Gift Fair 11-2

Community Tree Lighting with music by Take Note 6:30 pm followed by refreshments

other blogs I've posted about Mansfield:


Monday, November 7, 2011

Mike Lockett :Tales and Fables East Meets West


Another incredible collection of stories from Mike Lockett. Plenty  of time to down load this from CD Baby ( www.cdbaby.com ) for a gift for the holidays or for the long car ride over the river and through the woods.

Dr. Mike Lockett of Normal, Illinois is the Normal Storyteller
Find info on where to see him perform on his website www.mikelockett.com  

I used the download from CDBaby to bring all sorts of animals and wonderful stories into the living room. This collection is sure to be a hit with the kids and excellent as a classroom addition. A few moments of music ease us from one story to another and we hop around the world  hearing tales from a wide variety of cultures. The ox and frog, the hare are accompanied by all their friends on this journey. 
 Log in to CD Baby today to download your Mike Lockett adventure in storytelling.

A search of "storytelling" on CD Baby will lead you to a whole world of stories from many different tellers. Be sure to look around while shopping in there!

Other reviews of Mike Lockett's work on my blog:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Apple Apple Who's Got Apples

It is apple season the crunchiest, crisp, red, green and yellow celebration of fall.

Today we are making pie, Apple Pie first was a trip to the store for supplies

We have apples all washed and  ready to peel

Making the pie crust comes next
Pies baking in the oven smell great

Company coming and the pies are ready

Apple Stories, teaching tools, activities and fun along with the Johnny Appleseed Story



A couple Connecticut Orchards:

Bishop's Orchard: www.bishopsorchards.com

Horse Listeners Orchard: www.horselistenersorchard.com

Chaplin Farms:  www.chaplinfarms.com

another blog about Connecticut Grown:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You Write Story Needs an Ending

So it appears that no one wants to commit to finish the spooky story, are you so scared of the flea eater or the talking gargoyle door knocker? Maybe you ate to much candy and needed a day off from things.
I told what we have last night at VoiceMail but as I had a lot on my mind left out one of the best parts so rather than air the err, I am asking for some input to finish the  spooky tale so we can do it up right and then I will tape it with some practice.

As a suggestion you can use the photos in this blog as ideas for the storyline. You can read the whole thing in the post from Oct 29  ( blogger having an issue with the link sorry, just go to October listings in the right sidebar and click on October it is the post on 10/29)

This is such a fun project and I never could have predicted the  way the story has grown. Hope you have some more fun with  it.