Friday, August 26, 2011

The Clever One

The Clever One" adapted from "The Girl Who Used Her Wits" in Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take by Diane de Las Casa and "The Clever Daughter-in-Law" in Celebrate the World: Twenty Tellable Folktales for Multicultural Festivals by Margaret Read MacDonald

Again, I combined elements from two different versions of a story into my "personal" version which can be found as a Google document here.  There is a variation that can be found in Joining In: an Anthology of Participation Stories & How to Tell Them compiled by Teresa Miller (1988) by Fran Stallings called "Paper Flowers."  I believe the main character in that version is a servant who gains her independence (it's been quite some time since I read this one).  I've always wanted to tell this story every since I saw it done over 20 years ago.  Diane de Las Casa's version is easier to tell.  In fact I added an element from McDonald's version to fill it out a bit more.  I did not attempt to actually make the props while telling the story though it can be done fairly easily.  I had a large group of varying ages so I did not want to interrupt the flow of the story.  I did ask the children to guess what was made from paper to carry wind, fire and water.  These items can also be made part of a follow-up craft though I used something different (see my post for 7/27/11).  My props were made from different colors of copy paper though I would have used brightly colored origami paper if I had some.

Patterns for the props can be found online or in origami books.  This one has the right size square to cut out to make the cup.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Own It

I find myself changing stories often.  Sometimes elements of a story seems silly to me or sometimes I look at a story and know that I would not be comfortable telling the story as written. 

I have even changed a story without realizing it.  Years ago I worked with a student getting her school media specialist degree.  She had to do a storytime and be observed by her professor.  She did a Saturday storytime program and I gave her all the material I had used for the weekday program including a copy of a flannel board story I had been telling for years.  She chose what she wanted to do.  She did include the flannel board story.  When she told the story at the program I was puzzled.  It didn't sound anything like the story I told.  After the program I read the original story that I had given her and realized that over the years I had changed the story tremendously and had made it my own.  (I liked my version better than the original.)

This experience brought home to me the concept that the oral tradition is a constantly changing one even with a simple flannel board story.  There are as many stories as there are storytellers.  From then on I have made stories my own by telling them the way I want to tell them.  I particularly like using the flannel board because the pieces provide the visual clues to help me tell the story but do not limit me in the way I tell it.  Some stories I never tell the same way twice.  (This is particularly true when I do my fractured version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."  I mostly wing it with this story.)  Props also provide visual clues for storytelling. 

I actually did tell a story without any props and it went over quite well and with practice I could probably turn into a traditional storyteller but I'm a visual person and I enjoy looking at interesting pictures and objects so I want them to be part of my storytelling.  I consider myself a children's librarian first and then a storyteller.  I still feel that a great picture book is an essential part of a storytime program.   However, as fewer children are exposed to live storytelling, that aspect is also becoming a more important part of a storytime program.  So I am always looking for different ways to tell stories and different stories to tell.  In order to engage children not only do I have to be comfortable with my material but I have to enjoy telling the stories. 

Lately I have been going through folktale and storytelling compilations to find new material.  I will probably end up changing some to make them my own but then I will have some new favorite stories to tell.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flannel Friday

On PUBYAC I came across a post about "Flannel Friday."  Started by Mel of "Mel's Desk," every Friday a group of children's librarians from across the country tweet about their flannel board ideas.  These ideas are posted on their blogs and a compilation is posted on a host blog at the end of the day.  A list of who is hosting each week can be found at the blog "So Tomorrow" under Flannel Friday.  I started checking the weekly compilations and found some really great storytime ideas.  Recently links to these posts were put on Pinterest.  Not only can everything be found in one place but the posts are put into categories. Ideas are not just limited to using the flannel board.  Although I am not on Twitter (yet), I was still able to contribute some of my ideas to Flannel Friday.  New participants are welcome so if you have something to share please do.  Information about participating in Flannel Friday can be found on Anne's "So Tomorrow" blog here.  Be sure to visit Flannel Friday's Pinterest page for some great storytime ideas. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Folktales from Europe - A Family Story Time

8/10/11 - 3 to 4 p.m. 
Attendance - 17 children, 10 adults

Drat That Fat Cat by Pat Thomsen

Board stories: 
"The Goat in the Turnip Patch" from The Flannel Board Storytelling Book (1997) by Judy Sierra
"The Old Woman and Her Pig" from The Flannel Board Storytelling Book (1987) by Judy Sierra
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" - fractured version

Stick puppets: 
"The Bremen Town Musicians"

Prop story: 
"Drakes-Tail" from Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children  by Judy Sierra


The group was smaller this week but I expected it to be.  There has been very little traffic lately driving in to work so I figured there must be a lot of people on vacation.  I live and work in central New Jersey and contrary to what the media portrays, the Jersey shore is a great place for families.  However, my regular families came today which was the last Family Story Time session.  I shall miss them because the kids will soon be in school all day and I won't be seeing them.  I've known several of them since I had them in Toddler Time for two and three-year-olds. 

I have already posted about how I was able to stack the stick puppets for the "Bremen Town Musicians" (6/10/11).  My big project was making Drakestail which I will describe in a later post.  The children enjoyed watching his friends go down his throat and then come back out when he needed help later in the story.  Another favorite with the children was "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" because when I tell it I get it all wrong and I need lots of help from the audience (which they enthusiastically give).  Circle stories are also great for a mixed-age group and this time I did "The Old Woman and Her Pig" which I haven't done for several years.

Craft - 8/10/11

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Variations on a Game

Summer programs are winding down and planning has started for fall.

One of the most popular flannel board activities for toddlers and preschoolers is "Little Mouse, Little Mouse."  Unfortunately I did not write the source on my copy but numerous variations can be found online.  (I tend to think I won't forget something and I always do.)  Years ago I did my own version called "A Daisy for Maisy" which I used for spring:

A daisy for Maisy,
Where can it be?
Behind the rock, the bush,
The house or the tree?

I drew a very simple house, rock, bush and tree.  Maisy can be found in coloring sheets online.  Draw a simple daisy but make sure it is smaller than the objects it will hide behind.  I drew on craft pellon but simple objects can be made from felt as well.  I made a laminated paper version for my current library since we use a magnet board for our storytelling.  Hide the daisy and have the children guess where it is.  Do this a few times to give them more chances to get it right.  Often once they get the hang of it, I will hide it in the same place twice.  They rarely catch on.  With the "Little Mouse" version of this game, I will hide the mouse under the houses of the least popular colors (usually brown or orange) and avoid the most picked colors (usually purple, red and blue.)  Every once in a while I have a child who figures it out.

Now that fall is coming I have made a version featuring a squirrel:

Squirrel Found a Pretty Leaf
(A Flannel Board Rhyme for Finding a Hidden Object)

Squirrel found a pretty leaf,
But the wind blew it away.
Let’s help Squirrel find it
And then we all can play.

This rhyme does not limit the number or kinds of objects so that anything can be used.  As long as there is a squirrel and a leaf, the other objects can be logical (rock, log, bush, flower) or silly (beach ball, dinosaur, snake, hot dog).  More objects can be added for older children.

Squirrel figures (logical):