Friday, September 30, 2011

The Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle

"The Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle" is a good story for beginning storytellers because of the repetition and its "circular" plot.  There are several sources available for this story.  I recommend the one in The Storyteller's Start-Up Book by Margaret Read MacDonald. 

It can be told using a flannel/magnet board or simple picture props.  I made the props by selecting a series of pictures from clip art and pasting them onto card stock.  If desired, text could be added to the back of the pictures as well.  I made the pictures fairly large so they could be easily seen by a large group.

This week's Flannel Friday posts can be found at the Rain Makes Applesauce Blog.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Evening Family Story Time #1

Family Story Time - Monday, September 26, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m, Attendance: 9 (6 children, 3 adults)

We started a monthly series of evening storytimes with this program.  We've had requests so we thought we'd give it a try.  I would have gone with a 7:00 p.m. start but the parents we talked to preferred 6:30.  Several families signed up but most did not show up.  The few who did come enjoyed themselves.  Even though the group was small, the ages of the children went from around 3 to 10.  The humorous stories were enjoyed by children and adults.  The debut of "A Few Foolish Friends" went over very well.


Books:  The Wolf Who Cried Boy by Bob Hartman
             Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox

Board Stories:  "The Silly Wishes" from Teeny Tiny Folktales by Jean Warren
                        "A Few Foolish Friends" (see post for 9/22/11)

Paper Cutting Story:  "The Royal Paper Puzzle" from Handmade Tales by Diane de Las Casas
                                 (This one is a lot easier than it looks!)

Stick Puppets:  "How the Brazilian Beetle Won the Race" from Travel the Globe by Desiree Webber

Craft:  Paper bag puppets of the Woodcutter and his wife from "The Silly Wishes."  I made my own patterns.  I made an ice cream cone as well as a sausage just for the fun of it.  The children really enjoyed sticking them on the noses of the puppets (as well as their own and those of their siblings).  We simply used rolled up tape to attach them.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Way to Your Way

I received a comment asking if I told my board stories from memory, note cards or some other way.  Rather than a quick comment I thought I would write about telling longer tales using the flannel board because that is how I learned to tell stories.  Also, telling stories with the flannel board gave me the confidence to try other storytelling formats.

When I first started as a Children's Librarian, I knew that there would not be much singing in my storytimes since I can't carry a tune.  I also didn't want to just sit and read books so I looked for other ways to tell stories.  I found that paper cutting, draw and tell and board stories were perfect for me and I've been using them ever since.  For years I was the only Youth Services Librarian so I learned to make things as simple as possible.  Memorization went out the window pretty quickly.

One of the first sources for flannel board stories that I used was Teeny Tiny Folktales by Jean Warren.  The stories were short and did not require many figures to manipulate on the flannel board.  As I became more confident, I moved to other stories.  I also ended up making the simple stories not so simple over the years (see my post for 8/22/11).  I just recently started adapting stories myself.  I also started using other props to tell stories because I wanted to give my programs some variety.

It's important for me to pick a story that I really like.  If I enjoy telling the story, that will come across to the audience.  I tend to pick humorous or silly stories.  I also enjoy stories about animals.  I am not above changing or leaving out elements that I don't care for in a story.  I want to be completely comfortable with the story I tell.

I never memorize a story.  I read it over several times to get the general plot.  I may memorize a key phrase if it is important or repeated often.  I use each figure as a cue as to what comes next in the story.  I simply place them in the order they come in the story with the first figure on top and the last on the bottom.  Each figure then reminds me of the next part of the story as I place it on the board.  I tell the story in my own words.  Sometimes I leave things out and in most cases it doesn't matter or I am able to backtrack.  I do always keep a copy of the story nearby in case I need to refer to it.  (I always do this with rhymes so I get the rhyming words in the correct order.)  Telling the story in my own words takes the pressure off for getting it just right.  It also lets me change things if I want to.  I may tell a more elaborate version to an older audience or keep it short for a younger one. 

If you haven't told folktales using the flannel board before, start with a familiar tale such as "The Three Little Pigs."  This story allows you to "ham" it up as the wolf.  (I go all out trying to blow the brick house down.)  The story also naturally lends itself to audience participation. 

So, if you have only used the flannel board for rhymes, do give storytelling with it a try.  It takes me longer  to memorize a five line rhyme than it does to learn a five paragraph story.  The rhyme won't work if you don't get the words right.  The story can be told your way.

As to the second question about being videoed - I'm wary about doing a video of a story because of copyright issues, though now that I am doing more original material, it's something to consider. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Few Foolish Friends

Again I find myself changing a story to suit my Family Story Time program.  This time it is the book Six Foolish Fishermen by Robert D. San Souci.  Like many folktale picture books it is a bit too long to read for storytime.  However, this story would be great to tell using the flannel/magnet board so I wrote my own version making several changes.  At the end of his book San Souci mentions in his "Author's Note" that his version is made up using various noodlehead stories from around the world.  He set his story in Cajun country because of his interest in Cajun culture.  I recognized elements in the book from other stories, particularly the counting episode.

I made the sensible person in the story a little girl because children know they are really smarter than the grown-ups. What I like about my version is that I can leave out elements of the story if needed to suit the attention span of the group. (This is the first of a series of evening programs I will be doing so I don't know what age range will be attending.)  My version, "A Few Foolish Friends," can be found as a Google document here.

I drew the six friends and the little girl for the story.  Their basic shape is the same (stick figures with clothes) though I varied their sizes and made an effort to give each face a personality.  It took some time but I now have a variety of figures to use in other stories.  I used clip art for the fishing poles and sandwiches and drew the coffee and bait.


Ready for the magnet  board:

This week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Mary at Miss Mary Liberry.  Previous and future postings can be found at Anne's So Tomorrow blog.   Go to the Flannel Friday Pinterest page for everything in one place.


Friday, September 9, 2011


When I read "Drakes-Tail" in Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children by Judy Sierra and Robert Kaminski, I immediately knew how I wanted to tell it.  The challenge would be creating the storytelling prop I wanted to use.  I did a quick sketch and then refined it into the figure I wanted to make.  (I did it on scrap paper so I apologize for the image from the other side showing.)  I'm posting a photo to show that you don't have to be an artist to create props. 

I then drew the body on a large sheet of drawing paper.  I drew feet and a bill on separate paper.  Then I outlined everything with black marker.  I used yellow and orange poster paint to paint him.  He was too big to color with markers.  I then glued the drawing paper to poster board, cut out (don't forget to cut a hole for the bill) and glued together the pieces.  I added a handle and a bag to the back.  The duck ended up being about 26 inches from the top of his head to the tip of his webbed feet.



I used clip art for the other characters.
(I did draw the river freehand.)

As I told the story, I slipped these pieces through the bill and into the bag:

Going into the mouth ...

and into the bag.
When help was needed, I removed a figure from the bag and pushed it out his mouth.

Versions of this folktale can be found online.  The Wikipedia article about Drakestail states that in the original version he carried his four friends in his bottom end.  I'm sure that would appeal to kids but probably not so much to parents.  Aaron Shepard has a version called Quackling in which his friends are put into a sack.  A bag and a puppet can be used to tell this version of the story.  Drakestail by Jan Wahl is version written for beginning readers. 

A similar story is "The Rooster and the Turkish Sultan."  A version called "The Little Rooster and the Turkish Sultan" can be found in Margaret Read MacDonald's Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller.  Eric Kimmel's The Valiant Red Rooster: A Story from Hungary and The Little Rooster and the Diamond Button by Celia Barker Lottridge are picture book versions of this story.

"Drakes-tail" is an easy story to tell because of the repetitive format and use of rhyme which also appeals to younger children.  It has enough silliness to appeal to older children as well, making it a good choice for Family Story Time.

This week's Flannel Friday round-up can be found at Mel's Desk.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Must See

Take a look at these sculptures with altered books by artist Daniel Lai.  Incredible.  Be sure to watch the video.

Daniel Lai


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Amazon Theater - "Don't Let the Tiger Get You!"

One of the stories that I told for my "Family Story Time - Folktales from Asia" (see post for 7/27/11) was a story from Korea called "Don't Let the Tiger Get You!" which can be found in Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children by Judy Sierra and Robert Kaminski.  Three of my all-time favorite flannel board stories ("The Elegant Rooster," "The Goat in the Chili Patch," and "The Knee-High Man") are in this book but I never looked beyond the flannel board section until recently when I started telling more stories using props.  This story comes from the second section of the book and I picked it because of the absurdity of the "characters."   The heroes are a talking banana peel, egg, mat, and rope who save an old woman from being eaten by a talking tiger.  The talking tiger was completely accepted but the others elicited several giggles especially the talking banana peel. 

I made the old woman and banana peel out of clip art.  I braided yarn for the rope and wove strips of construction paper for the mat.  Since I didn't have a plastic egg, I used a cat toy.  Although, my philosophy about making props is to use what you have and not to get too elaborate, I did make a three-dimensional tiger.  I found a one piece pattern here.  It was surprisingly easy to put together.  The "stage" where I placed the figures while telling the story was an box which I also use to store props.  This story can also be told with puppets.

Amazon Theater - "Don't Let the Tiger Get You!"

This weeks Flannel Friday round-up can be found at Anne's So Tomorrow blog here.