Friday, April 27, 2012

This baby girl has a bucket list, and her parents are making her life as special as they can while they have her please read more and pass it on!

I won't say anymore today her story is so powerful it doesn't need my words.    Carolyn

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Days 2 and 3 Middle School Student Storytelling

I began the Vacation Arts Experience 2012 offered by EastConn with the distribution of stories to the middle school age students. They had 3 minutes to  scan a story and move to the next, until they found one they wanted to read  through. By the end of their first class in storytelling they had read the story and created it in  Play-doh, felt or a cut and paste mural.  Here is the link to report on Day 1:
Repeating the story to partners as they finished a project reinforced the details in the student's minds, and had them telling right away. This felt board was made using a science fair tri-fold, a can of spray adhesive, and  a large piece of felt from Walmart!
Day 2 began with a cartooning session. We might call it storyboard, but these middle school kids are familiar with the term "cartoon". Tell your story in  8 squares. I had to remind them  frequently this isn't art, you are not being graded, it is a learning tool.
This felt image and the cartoon before it both depict the story of "The Harvest That Never Came". You can read it at  I appreciate Aaron Shepard's website it had the length and age recomendations along with genre, culture, theme. I found a couple of stories there that fit my needs with these kids.

Day 3

Using ideas I found through Karen Chace's website and blogs  and  I helped the students focus on finer details of their story.  I shared my resources with the students, a side lesson in cooperative work with others in the same profession.

We used this art gallery to highlight specifics of the story. They liked moving from place to place to add to the gallery. Keeping them up and moving kept the energy flowing and the excitement high.

Students drew in their main character to that gallery. I asked them to think about what the character looked like to them. Labeling parts of the story helped when referencing it and the descriptions and images helped them become better acquainted with their story character.

Another gallery was filled with scenery images.

This gallery introduced smell to their story. What  does a jail cell smell like, deep in a forest what do frogs smell? What did Black Beauty smell at the horse fair?

The final Gallery was to tell about the weather during the story. Each stop on the gallery tour made them take time to think about description and  create an inner vision of the places in the story.

3 Hours  with me in 3 days and we need to share our stories. It is not enough, but what we had. I did not want a stage experience in this fast paced Arts camp and was happy when an 11th hour idea hit.   We moved into our room to find this campfire ready and waiting. It had felt flames and was accompanied not by Smores but Oreos!  Everyone sat in a circle and shared their stories and  cookies.

From that campfire two students found the strength and  desire to share stories with families at the end of the 3 day Arts Experience. I was able to share with families a brief background of the story experience and invite all the families to listen to their students story at home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Teach Storytelling to Middle School Students- YES!

Saying yes to teaching a spring vacation storytelling class was a "no brainer", as the kids say. I love helping kids discover their voice and the power of story.....

Day One

 Four rotations will come to me over the course of the day. Each group will have a high school aged guide. They will stay with me for one hour, then move on to the next art offered in this Vacation Arts Experience sponsored by EastConn  an educational service.  I must introduce the stories and engage them in activities that bring them back wanting more. We need  to get a story framework in their head in under an hour.

A group arrives all the desks have stories on them in print, they all look alike from the door.  We introduce ourselves around and mention a favorite story we have seen, heard, or read.  They have  3 minutes to read the intro to the story." GET UP AND MOVE TO A NEW DESK AND STORY" We take several rotations and already a couple students are hugging a story not wanting to leave it. I allow them to keep what they have been attracted to. 4th  desk, if they haven't found one I make some suggestions and share some books that might entice a student.  Everyone has a story, now we can read through to the end.

Project Time - Getting our Hands on the Stories

This Play-Doh creation blew me away!
This is the story of the Christmas Truce during WWI near Ypres, France. Note the German's Christmas tree, wounded soldier in "no mans land" and soldiers in trenches. 30 minutes, start to finish and he understood the story! Try this link to read a version of event:

While some students worked in Play-Doh others were making cut and paste murals from magazine pictures. On the second day they will switch and make the other project.

            Here a student with a finished mural tells a friend his story, this one tells of El Coqui the little frogs of Puerto Rico  and the race where they earned their singing voice. Here is a link to the legend: 

Here a student laid out her version of events from Chris Allsburg's " The Widow's Broom".

Felt boards were used for other students who again tried a different hands on the story project on day 2.

Come back soon or follow to find out about day 2 and day 3 of the Vacation Arts Experience/ Storytelling with Carolyn Stearns Storyteller.

another post about story and education:


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Musical Bones

We continue  in nautical mode for at least this post. I have been on a  four week adventure to learn sea chantey music through a class at Mystic Seaport  It has been so much fun!!!
Any day that starts out looking this nice, well you just know it will be a good one!!  Today, our final class we were prepared to show off what we have learned. Each of us had a lead in  at least one chantey. I added playing Shenandoah on my harmonica to mix. Most of us joined Don Sineti on banjo playing bones.
              This image shows the bones in hand ready to play. This pair came with the class and are made of Rosewood. The are slightly convex and look like over sized tongue depressors. The bone nearest the thumb is anchored ( held still in place) by the middle finger an the second bone taps out the rhythm through motion of your hand and snap of the wrist. Think of using a fly swatter and you will get the motion.    
         Here is a video clip ( under a minute) of our first attempts at the bones, the banjo background music really helped.
 Wikipedia has info on bones and some pictures:

There is a Festival for bones players:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Nautical Storytelling and Sea Chantey Music

Sea Chantey Demonstration at Mystic Seaport

    I have immersed myself in nautical research for a forth coming nautical epic storytelling. I willingly signed on to Mystic Seaport's Sea Chantey class.  Four weeks of singing sea chanteys and learning about the music of the sea and the work it was created to support. It is not enough, the seven of us in the class are having such a good time! There are so many sea chanteys which are a combination of tales, legends and ship terminology all colored by the  wide variety of languages and nationalities of the sailors and set to rhythms of work on sailing vessels.

Here is some video of the Mystic Seaport Demonstration Crew at work April 7, 2012 on board the L. A.Dunton. A cold spring wind whipped across the Mystic River that day to remind us of how tough work would be out in the elements. The last portion shows an example of chantey music used to work the windlass.

                               Click follow to read the next post on using "bones"* in Sea Chantey music.

Bones: a rhythm instrument made of bone or wood

Similar posts:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chasing a Story Up Hill and Out to Sea

     I never have quite enough time between work hours to chase all the stories that tempt me. It may be a photo, a headline or a book that entices me and tells me, read more there is a story here to tell. In chasing a story you become the investigator, looking for clues to other versions and  finding data, photos, articles or first person accounts of  the story to weave into your own creation.
     My book shelves are not categorized in  library order but in storytelling order. Not all can be in the right category for they can serve more than one.  The hall shelf is fairy tales. The big shelf in the family room, all  six feet plus is Civil War but on that shelf alone I could pull out a great horse story or one of a child, maybe a music or medicine story. The living room hosts Colonial America shelf and across from that the shelves filled with Native American.  The pictures on my walls are not categorized but many have stories of value and when will I get to read enough to full fill these stories needs and when and where will I tell them?
Sometimes I pull the car over because the story at the side of the road beckons, I haven't worked on this one at all but soaked up the scenery and saved some great photos from the day in Norwich, CT. when a long known of story made me climb Meetinghouse Hill.

I thought I would pursue this story only part way up, the steep path was waiting but my bad feet said "go far enough for a good picture." Apparently far enough was the top, I just took my time, it was so worth the climb.

             Now I'm dedicating time to a story that I've  been after for several years. No really this one has been with me since childhood. I was  first hooked by a stone monument on the beach at Spencer's Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. The monument says something to the effect; in memory of the Captain and Crew of the Ship Mary Celeste built there on the beach and found adrift, not a soul on board 1872. It is a classic ghost ship story one retold a million times already....but not my version, not from my perspective. It is coming and requires  a trip back to that shore to those rocky beaches this summer.

In order to fully grasp this nautical tale I'm immersing myself in the world of ocean going travel.  Presently I'm taking a class in Sea Chantey Music at Mystic Seaport in Mystic CT.  Singing sailors work songs and learning the daily activity on a sailing ship all part of the tale that waits to be told.

Pardon me, no time for gardens and lawn mowing this summer.
 I'm chasing a story and the sky is the limit!