Friday, March 28, 2008

A wonderful Teller and telling!
You will enjoy every second of this video!
This is a traditional Cherokee tale.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This is the first of 3 blogs with a sun theme. Actually, its the last sun blog. The first 2 blogs were done on Monday the 24. So, you need to scroll down to see them.
Sun Blog 2 had a few crafts and a very short sun song. Sun Blog 3 has a fabulous sun science song called "Why does the sun shine?" with lots of links to other science songs in the blog above it.

This "first" sun blog gives you a story that you can use to tie the blogs together.
"Why the Sun and the Moon live in the Sky" is an African folktale from Nigeria.


Long, long ago, Sun, Moon and Water were the best of friends.
At that time, Sun and Moon, who were married, lived on the earth.
Sun went to visit Water, almost every day, but Water never returned the visits.

Finally, Sun asked, "Water, my friend, why is it that you never come to visit?"
Water replied, "Sun, I would very much like to come to visit. But you home is not big enough for me and all of my people. Were I to come visit, there would be no room left for you and your lovely wife, Moon."

Water then told Sun, "If you want me to visit you, you will have to build a very large house. But I warn you that it will have to be very, very large, as my people are numerous and take up a lot of room."

Sun was overjoyed that his good friend Water wanted to come visit.
"Do not worry, my friend," he said,"I will build a huge compound so that you and your people can come visit."

Sun soon returned home, where his wife Moon greeted him with a smile.
"My dearest Moon", he said "Our friend Water has promised to visit us but first we must build a larger house so that he and his people will fit."
"How wonderful!" said Moon.

The next day, they began building a very large house to entertain the water and all his people. When it was finished, it was the largest house in the area.

Sun then went to ask water to come and visit him.
Water said he would be there the next morning.

When Water arrived, one of his people called out "Sun, we are here. May we come in?"
"Yes," said Sun "Tell my friend,Waater, that he is welcome in my home."

With those words, Water began to flow in. With Water came fish, crabs, otters and other water animals.

Soon, the water was knee-deep in the house.
Water called out, " Sun do you want me and my people to continue to come in?" Together Sun and Moon answered, "Oh yes, please come in to our home."
And more of Water's people poured into the house octopi, stingray, eels, starfish and more.

When the water was at the level of a man's head, Water,who was becoming a little concerned called to Sun and said, "Are you sure you want more of my people to come in?"

Wanting to be good hosts, Sun and Moon both said, "Yes, please, you are all welcome in our home."
More and more of the water's people came in, seahorses, whales, eels, anemonie, sponges and more.
So many that soon, Sun and Moon had to sit on top of the roof.

Once again, Water asked, "Do you wish us to continue to come in?"
Sun and Moon answered "Yes,please, you are all welcome in our home."
So more of Water's people came in. Sea turtles, sharks,coral shrimps, urchins, lobsters......

By now Water overflowed the top of the roof, and the sun and the moon were forced to go up into the sky.

...and they have been there ever since.

Retold by LLL,Storysinger/Storyteller

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"On Top of Old Smoky" is a traditional folk song of the United States. The song has been recorded by numerous artist. When The Weavers recorded the song in 1951, using an arrangement by Pete Seeger, it reached #2 on the pop music charts.

The song is often parodied. One of the best known parody versions is Tom Glazer's "On Top of Spaghetti". Children love this song especially the sneezing part.
THis is a very simple song for the kids to act out or to "storymap".

I have also included at the end....a folk song called Smokey Mountain which is very much like On Top of Old Smokey. It is sung to the same tune and the verses have many similarities.

On Top of Old Smokey
Written By: Unknown
Copyright Unknown

On top of Old Smokey,
All covered with snow,
I lost my true lover,
For courting too slow.

For courting's a pleasure,
But parting is grief,
And a false-hearted lover,
Is worse than a thief.

A thief will just rob you,
And take what you have,
But a false-hearted lover,
Will lead you to your grave.

The grave will decay you,
And turn you to dust,
Not one boy in a hundred
A poor girl can trust.

They'll hug you and kiss you,
And tell you more lies,
Than crossties on a railroad,
Or stars in the sky.

So come ye young maidens,
And listen to me,
Never place your affection
In a green willow tree.

For the leaves they will wither,
The roots they will die,
And you'll be forsaken,
And never know why.
Hear the Tune

On Top of Spaghetti
written by Tom Glazer

On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.

It rolled in the garden,
And under a bush,
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be,
And then the next summer,
It grew into a tree.

The tree was all covered,
All covered with moss,
And on it grew meatballs,
And tomato sauce.

So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze.
Hear the Song


Smoky Mountain
Written By: Unknown
Copyright Unknown

Out on ol' Smoky,
Ol' Smoky so low,
I lost my true lover,
By courting too slow.

Oh, courtin's a pleasure,
And partin's a grief,
A false-hearted lover
Is wuss than a thief.

A thief he will rob yew,
And take all yew hev,
But a false-hearted lover
Will lead yew to the grave.

The grave it will take yew
And turn yew to dust;
There ain't one boy in a million
A poor girl kin trust.

They'll hug yew and kiss yew,
And tell yew more lies,
Than the spikes in a railroad,
Or the stars in the skies.

They'll tell yew they love yew,
To give you heart's ease,
And then when your back's turned
They'll court whom they please.

It's rainin', it's hailin',
It's a dark stormy night;
Your horses cain't travel,
'Cause the stars give no light.

Put up your horses,
And feed them some hay;
Come set hyar beside me,
Fer's long's yew kin stay.

My horses ain't hungry,
They won't eat your hay;
My wagon's all loaded,
I'll feed on my way.

Your folks, they don't like me,
They say I'm too poor,
They say I'm not worthy
To enter your door.

They say I drink whiskey;
My money is my own.
If the old folks don't like me,
They can leave me alone.

As sure as the dewdrops
Fall on the green corn.
Last night he war with me,
Tonight he is gorn.

I'll go back to ol' Smoky,
Ol' Smoky so high,
Where the wild birds and turtle doves
Kin hear my sad cry.

This site has many more parodies of the song:
More parodies

playtherecords: Ballads For The Age Of Science

Here is a link--to a link-- to the original Ballads For The Age of Science Records! (Believe me it was easier to do it this way!)

playtherecords: Ballads For The Age Of Science

And here is a link to another FABULOUS song, The Elements, on those records.
The Elements
This song was written by Tom Lehrer.

"Thomas Andrew "Tom" Lehrer (born April 9, 1928) is an American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician. He has lectured on mathematics and musical theater. Lehrer is best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and 60s. His work often parodied popular song forms, notably in "The Elements", where he sets the names of the chemical elements to the tune of the "Major-General's Song" from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance."

(information from Wikipedia)

I have not had a chance to use this song but I have no trouble envisioning the children singing this song and learning the chemical elements!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sun Crafts and a Sun Song---SUN Blog 2

Sun Paint Picture/Info from Dharma Trading

This Blog is the second in a series of Sun blogs.
In the first blog,which is actually the last blog and will be posted on Wednesday , I told a couple of sun stories. I often link stories with crafts and or songs. This blog gives some sun related activities you can use with children of varying ages. The third blog, posted below, introduced a great song about the sun. occurs to me that I have neglected a very basic sun song for the young child.
Here it is:

Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun,
Please shine down on me.
Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun,
Hiding behind a tree
These little children are asking you
To please come out so we can play with you.
Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun,
Please shine down on,
please shine down on,
Please shine down on me.

Well, that was fun! Now on to the sun activities.

I've made a very short list of some of the activities you can do and included links.
I will only give a little detail on one craft and that is Sun Painting/Printing.

Make a Sundial
Make Sun Tea
Make Sun Catcher
Make a Sun Pinata

Sun Printing/Painting

The very simplest way to sunprint is to use Dark coloured construction paper, Natural objects such as leaves, twigs and pinecones; and also household objects such as scissors, keys and old cutlery.
The Process:
Place the construction paper outside somewhere in the direct sunlight.
Give the child/ren the freedom to arrange the objects in any way on the paper.
Allow the objects sit for at least two hours in the sun (time depends on strength of sunlight)
Remove the objects to discover what the sun has painted.

You can also purchase Sun Printing Kit which come with photo-sensitive paper.

Another method that can be done with older children or adults:

The easiest method of sun printing is actually sun painting, not dyeing. You saturate fabric with any transparent fabric paint, arrange objects on the damp fabric, then expose the assemblage to the sun or any hot lamp. It is actually the infrared light (radiant heat) which does the trick. It is not the ultraviolet in the light which does the work, as is sometimes claimed, but instead infrared, so a halogen lamp is more suitable than a fluorescent sun lamp. Exposed areas dry first, in the hot light; the exposed fabric, as it dries, sucks additional wet dye out from under whatever you have placed on top of the fabric. The result is lighter-colored 'shadows' wherever you placed the masking objects. The color is deeper where the light from the sun, or the hot lamp, was able to reach. This procedure has been widely popularized for use with Seta Color brand fabric paint. Other brands of thin, transparent fabric paint will work, as well; for example, PRO Chemical & Dye provides instructions for "Sun Printing using PROfab Textile Paints", and Jacquard includes instructions on their online "How To" page for Dye-Na-Flow fabric paint. Sun painting is a highly suitable project for children and beginners.
Quote from All about Hand Dyeing pburch

This extremely educational and catchy tune was written by Lou Singer and Hy Zaret in 1959.
Hy Zaret(who cowrote Unchained Melody)became interested in educational children's music in the late 1950s.
He collaborated with Lou Singer on a six-album series called "Ballads for the Age of Science".
The albums covered the subjects of space, energy and motion, experiments, weather, and nature.
The records were quite successful, and the song "Why Does the Sun Shine?" aka "The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas"(I love that title)was even covered by They Might Be Giants in 1994 on a cd of the same name.

I first heard this song at a summer camp and not only did the kids love the song but it was a favorite among the counselors as well!
It is fun to sing and can even be put on as a sort of mini musical
(costumes and all).
The spoken parts are wonderful when said by one child or a counselor in an "announcer" type voice.

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where Hydrogen is built into Helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees

The sun is hot, the sun is not
A place where we could live
But here on Earth there'd be no life
Without the light it gives

We need its light, we need its heat
The sun light that we seek
The sun light comes from our own sun's
Atomic energy

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where Hydrogen is built into Helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees

The sun is hot...

The sun is so hot that everything on it is a gas
Aluminum, Copper, Iron, and many others

The sun is large...

If the sun were hollow, a million Earth's would fit inside
And yet, it is only a middle size star

The sun is far away...

About 93,000,000 miles away
And that's why it looks so small

But even when it's out of sight
The sun shines night and day

We need its heat, we need its light
The sun light that we seek
The sun light comes from our own sun's
Atomic energy

Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom smashing machine
The heat and light of the sun are caused by nuclear reactions between
Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Helium

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where Hydrogen is built into Helium
At a temperature of millions of degrees

The tune on midi can be found at
Why does the sun shine?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Adventures of Isabel by Ogden Nash

One of my favorite poems. I have quite a few favorite poems.
Children enjoy this poem. They especially appreciate Isabel's courage.
It is just a tad bit gruesome. Just enough to entertain but not enough to frighten. I have had the children act this poem out and I have used it to teach rhyming and poetry writing. Children have written some truly entertaining additional adventures for Isabel.
Usually by the time I get to the third verse the children can join me in saying "Isabel, Isabel didn't worry. Isabel didn't scream or scurry."

Adventures Of Isabel

Isabel met an enormous bear,
Isabel, Isabel, didn't care;
The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
The bear's big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I'll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry.
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.

Once in a night as black as pitch
Isabel met a wicked old witch.
the witch's face was cross and wrinkled,
The witch's gums with teeth were sprinkled.
Ho, ho, Isabel! the old witch crowed,
I'll turn you into an ugly toad!
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
Isabel didn't scream or scurry,
She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
But she turned the witch into milk and drank her.

Isabel met a hideous giant,
Isabel continued self reliant.
The giant was hairy, the giant was horrid,
He had one eye in the middle of his forhead.
Good morning, Isabel, the giant said,
I'll grind your bones to make my bread.
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She nibbled the zwieback that she always fed off,
And when it was gone, she cut the giant's head off.

Isabel met a troublesome doctor,
He punched and he poked till he really shocked her.
The doctor's talk was of coughs and chills
And the doctor's satchel bulged with pills.
The doctor said unto Isabel,
Swallow this, it will make you well.
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She took those pills from the pill concocter,
And Isabel calmly cured the doctor.

Ogden Nash

I Am Slowly Going Crazy.....

I love this song!! It is a camp song and you can find it on CD sung by Sharon, Lois and Bram. It is great fun to sing with kids (and adults). You start singing slowly and each time you sing the verses you speed up just a little until you can barely understand the words or everyone is laughing!

I am slowly going crazy (left hand cupping right elbow, right hand on chin)
One, two, three, four five six, switch
(switch: R hand on left elbow, L hand on chin)

Crazy going slowly am I

Six, five, four, three, two, one, switch (switch back)

As you can see it is a very short song but a lot of fun!

I was very surprised, okay I was shocked, recently when during a workshop with elementary school children I asked them to sing Home on the Range as a warm up. The surprise came when the majority of the children said they did not know the song. Many had not even heard of it!
I have no idea when or how I learned "Home on the Range" I suspect I learned it in elementary school during a music class.
But I am sure I sang it at some point in school.

I find there are many "folk songs" that I think are main stream that even adults do not know. I find this very sad given that they are a part of the U.S. culture and history.

Home on the Range is the state song of Kansas. According to my research Dr. Brewster M. Higley originally wrote the words in a poem called "My Western Home." He wrote it in the early 1870s in Smith County, Kansas. "The song was picked up by settlers, cowboys, and others and spread across the nation in various forms. In the early 20th century, it was arranged by Texas composer David Guion (1892-1981) who is often credited as the composer. It was officially adopted as the state song of Kansas on June 30, 1947."
(source Wikipedia)

Home on the Range

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

How often at night when the heavens are bright
With the lights from the glittering stars
Have I stood there amazed and asked as I gazed
If their glory exceeds that of ours.


Oh, give me a land where the bright diamond sand
Flows leisurely down the stream;
There the graceful, white swan goes gliding along
Like a maid in a heavenly dream.


Where the air is so pure, the zephyrs so free,
The breezes so balmy and light,
That I would not exchange my home on the range
For all of the cities so bright.


Oh, I love those wild flowers in this dear land of ours,
The curlew I love to hear scream,
And I love the white rocks and the antelope flocks
That graze on the mountain tops green.


There are other verses.
Click here to hear the tune and find many other verses

And like most folk songs the verses vary from source to source.
I rarely use the entire song, usually the first 2 verses and the chorus.

Advice From A Three Year Old or WWBD?

Advice from a Three Year Old or WWBD?
(What Would Buddha Do?)

Late last night as I was looking through a book of stories, this story caught my attention.
I thought it would make a good addition this blog.
Apparently my subconscious loved the story because even in my sleep and in my first waking moments the story was still with me.
So I have decided to "exorcise" it quickly.

There was once a famous artist who decided that he wanted to study the works of Buddha and attain enlightenment. He thought that the best way to do this was to seek the most famous and wisest teacher and ask him, "What was the most important thing that Buddha taught?"

The artist traveled to the other side of the world to find the teacher he sought. When at last he found the teacher, he asked him, "What was the most important thing that Buddha taught?"

"Do not harm anyone and only do good," was the teacher's immediate response.

"What?" shouted the indignant artist. "You are the most famous of teachers! You are supposed to be wise beyond your years! And this is all you can tell me? A three year old could have told me the same thing!"

The teacher, who had sat quietly through the entire speech, looked at the artist and said, "A three year old could have said the same thing but it is a very difficult thing to practice, even for one as old as myself."

(A Zen tale retold by LLL, Storyteller)

Yes, this teeny little story has been stuck in my head all night and half the day. Why? Aside from the fact that I like stories, I think that it's because it's so simple a truth…….but not so simple to practice.
Makes you think.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"The Rattlin' Bog" is a cumulative song (think "The Twelve Days of Christmas") and is an example of the use of song to develop good memory.
Rattlin' Bog is Irish/Celtic in origin.
There are other similar tunes.
I grew up singing "And the Green Grass Grew All Around" which sounds a lot like Rattlin' Bog.
There is also a traditional Welsh song "Y Pren ar y Bryn" (The Tree on the Hill) that is similar to "Rattlin' Bog". It starts with....

What a grand old tree, Oh fine tree.
The tree on the hill, the hill in the valley,
The valley by the sea.
Fine and fair was the hill where the old tree grew.
(second verse)
From the tree came a bough, Oh fine bough ! etc..

Rattlin' Bog is a fun upbeat tune and like any folk song, its lyrics can vary from singer to singer; country to country; etc.

The Rattlin' Bog

Hi-ho the rattlin' bog and the bog down in the valley-o
Hi-ho the rattlin' bog and the bog down in the valley-o!

And in that bog there was a tree
A rare tree, and a rattlin' tree
And the tree in the bog and the bog down in the valley-o

(repeat after every verse)

And on that tree there was a limb
A rare limb, and a rattlin' limb
And the limb on the tree
And the tree in the bog
And the bog down in the valley-o!


(additional verses)
And on that bough there was a branch...
And on that branch there was a twig...
And on that twig there was a nest...
And in that nest there was an egg...
And in that egg there was a bird...
And on that bird there was a wing...
And on that wing there was a flea...

When I do this song with the kids, I usually use movements to represent each part of the tree, the bog, the nest, etc. I also have the children "swing their partner" during the chorus. They Love it!

I have attached a youtube player with 9, yes 9, different singers/versions of the song. Notice that this song is not just for kids! In a few of them you will see either the singer or the audience doing various movements. THose too vary from person to person. The last video is of the song "The Green Grass Grew All Around".

Pete Seeger's Foolish Frog

This is my favorite Pete Seeger story/song. You will find it in his book Pete Seeger's Storytelling Book.

One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying flat on its back on the ground.
The bird's tiny feet were raised up into the air.

"What on earth are you doing, Hummingbird?" asked the elephant.

The hummingbird replied, "I have heard that the sky might fall today. If that should happen,
I am ready to do my bit in holding it up."

The elephant laughed and mocked the tiny bird.

"Do you think those little feet could hold up the sky?"

"Not alone," admitted the hummingbird.
"But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do."

From Three Minute Tales by Margaret Read MacDonald pg 145

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Storytelling Library

I was looking through my storytelling book collection today. And I thought about how long it had taken me to collect all of the books (to say there are quite a few is an understatement). When I first started telling stories, somewhere around 1995, there were many books available about storytelling but I did not know which books would help me the most. So I have ended up with lots of books.

In an attempt to assist anyone who is interested in storytelling , I decided to list some of the books that I have found most helpful.

I have put the books in different categories: Storytelling References, Being A Storyteller and Story Collections.

Storytelling Reference

  • The World of Storytelling by Anne Pellowski.....very interesting look at the history of storytelling in many cultures
  • The Storyteller's Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children, 1983-1999 by Margaret Read MacDonald and Brian W.Sturm .....a wonderful resource

Being A Storyteller

  • The Way of the Storyteller by Ruth Sawyer.....a classic, includes history, stories, how-to information and more
  • Storytelling Art & Technique by Ellin excellent how-to book
  • The Storyteller's Start-up Book by Margaret Read MacDonald.....great book for beginners, full of tips and stories
  • Storytelling Professionally by Harlynne Geisler.....a fabulous resource for professional storytellers or anyone that wishes to become a storyteller
  • The Storyteller's Guide by Bill Mooney and David Holt.......a WOW! book..full of advice from professional storytellers
  • New Handbook for Storyteller's by Caroline Feller of the first books I acquired...great resource for teachers, librarians, storytellers or anyone working with children
  • Improving Your Storytelling by Doug Lipman.....full of good advice for taking your telling to the next level by Doug Lipman a wonderful storyteller and storytelling coach

Story Collections

  • Favorite Folktales from Around the World by Jane Yolen
  • Apples From Heaven by Naomi Baltuck
  • Ready-To-Tell Tales by David Holt and Bill Mooney
  • More Ready-To-Tell Tales by David Holt and Bill Mooney
  • The Complete "Fairy Book" Series by Andrew Lang
  • Fair is Fair by Sharon Creeden
  • Three Minute Tales by Margaret Read MacDonald
  • Peace Tales by Margaret Read MacDonald
  • Just Enough To Make A Story by Nancy Schimmel
  • Spinning Tales, Weaving Hope by Ed Brody, Jay Goldspinner, Katie Green, Rona Leventhal and John Porcino
  • Jackie Tales by Jackie Torrence
  • Grandfather Tales by Richard Chase
  • Stories to Play With by Hiroko Fujita and Fran Stallings
  • Stories to Solve by George Shannon
  • More Stories to Solve by George Shannon
  • Still More Stories to Solve by George Shannon
  • Best-Loved Folktales of the World by Joanna Cole
  • The Story Vine by Anne Pellowski

If You Want Your Children to be Smart......

"If you want your children to be smart, tell them stories. If you want your children to be really smart, tell them more stories. I you want your children to be brilliant, tell them even more stories."
Albert Einstein

Tuesday, March 11, 2008