Friday, January 20, 2012

Amazon Theater #2 - The Bird and the Trees

Winter is the topic this month.  I will be a substitute librarian for Toddler Time next week and telling winter stories at Family Story Time the following week.  I'll be using ideas from Flannel Friday posts for Toddler Time so thank you fellow participants.  For Family Story Time I will be telling some winter folktales.  As I have mentioned before, I like to use various methods of storytelling so I adapted a story to tell using props.  I call it "Amazon Theater" because my stage is an box.  I simply put my props on the overturned box as I tell the story.  (See my post for 9/1/11 for another example.)

The following story is adapted from one by Rick Walton, a pourquoi tale called "Why the Evergreen Trees Keep Their Leaves in Winter."  His site is an excellent source for finding stories to tell. 

My version is called the "The Bird and the Trees" and can be told using props as I have or using felt or magnet board pieces.  I based most of the figures on clip art from Microsoft Publisher.  I made the North Wind and the Frost King into stick puppets to hold over the "stage" at the end of the story but they can be board pieces as well. 

The story:
The Bird and the Trees

Once there was a bird who could not fly south for the winter with the other birds. He had injured his wing and could not fly. As the cold winds started to blow, the bird knew he would have to seek shelter. The forest was full of trees with sheltering branches. So he went into the forest to find a place to stay for the winter.

First the bird came to a willow tree at the edge of the forest and asked, “May I please spend the winter in one of your branches? My wing is injured and I cannot fly south this year.” The willow replied, “Goodness no! My branches are much too delicate to have a bird living in them!”

The bird went a little further into the forest until he came to a birch tree and asked, “May I please stay in one of your branches until the spring comes?” “I’m sorry,” the birch tree answered, “but I have to look after myself this winter and it would be too much to look after you as well.”

So the bird hopped even deeper into the forest looking for a tree to shelter him. He came to a tall oak tree. “Please,” asked the bird, “may I stay in your branches for the winter?” “Harrumph!” said the oak, “If I let you stay in my branches, you will eat my acorns all winter long and I can’t have that!”

The bird hopped even deeper into the forest not knowing what to do for none of the trees wanted to help him. “What are you doing so deep in the forest little bird?” asked a spruce tree who saw him hopping along. “I’m looking for a place to spend the winter,” answered the little bird. “My wing is injured and I cannot fly south with the other birds.” “You are welcome to spend the winter with me,” replied the spruce. “Come, hop onto this branch,” said the spruce as she lowered one of her large, wide branches down to the ground. The pine tree saw what had happened and said to the bird, “Although my branches aren’t as warm, I will help shelter you when the wind blows for I am big and strong.” Then the juniper tree said, “I may not be big but I have delicious berries that you are welcome to eat all winter long.” The bird thanked each of the trees for their kindness and stayed safely with them throughout the winter months.

But that is not the end of the story. The North Wind was playing in the forest and wanted to blow everything off the trees. The Frost King would not let him touch the trees who had helped the bird. The Frost King declared, “These trees showed great kindness by taking care of the injured bird. Their branches will remain green throughout the year. However, you may blow the leaves off the trees who thought only of themselves. Their branches shall stay bare until the springtime comes.” The North Wind had fun blowing the leaves off of the selfish trees.

So it is today. The spruce, pine and juniper trees are green all year long while the leaves of the willow, birch and oak trees fall to the ground when the cold wind blows.

The figures:

 The Selfish Trees

 Bird with the Kind Trees

North Wind and King Frost Stick Puppets

How the props are supported

This week's Flannel Friday is hosted by Melissa of Mel's Desk, the one who started it all.  Please be sure to look at her post about starting Flannel Friday just one year ago.  Many thanks to Melissa and the others who have worked so hard this past year to make Flannel Friday the wonderful resource it is today.


  1. I love this story but haven't felt confident enough to tell it.
    I like your props so am inspired to try it again.

  2. Maureen - I hope you do give it a try. If you love a story you will have no problem telling it. I use props and board pieces as my "outline" of the story. I put them in order beforehand so I have the sequence of the story. I don't memorize but use the pieces as cue's to what the next plot element is. I saw your video of "Big Pumpkin" which was great so you should have no problem with this.

  3. I finally did it.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. I'm so glad you told the story. It's perfect for this time of year. I hope it went well.