Sunday, June 28, 2015

Countless Candles and Gratitude's

Young Girl with a Candle
by
Godfried Schalcken (1670-1675)
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive that is you-er than you!”
 
Yesterday I entered a brand new decade in my life, and while I can’t help but think, “Where did the years go?” I am grateful to be here to celebrate! I am still eager to learn new things, healthy enough to travel, I am never bored, and my blessings are too numerous to count. Here are the ones at the top of my gratitude list:

A husband who puts up with my crazy Irish moods, celebrates my triumphs and supports my work, and most importantly, still makes me laugh!

My health, while not perfect, still allows me to run, to run, play and laugh with my two fabulous grandsons.
 
My son Christopher who is still the light of my life and makes me proud every day.
 
A daughter-in-law who is smart and caring, and can do anything she sets her mind too. (Plus, we share the same birthday!)
 
In-laws who are incredibly loving, and teach me every day how to live with generosity and kindness.
 
A sister who shares my history and memories, even if we don’t always agree on how things happened. (But just so we're clear, my memories are always right.)
 
Good friends who are right there to help when whenever trouble stops by to visit, and crazy friends who laugh with me, and sometimes at me, but always in good fun! And most of the time the good and the crazy are all rolled into one!
 
Work that I love.
 
Amazing colleagues from around the world!
 
Stories, always stories!
 
A husband who puts up with my crazy Irish moods, celebrates my triumphs and supports my work. And most importantly, still makes me laugh! (Yes, I listed this twice!)
 

Come on and celebrate with me and be HAPPY!
 


 

AND NOW FOR THE STORIES!
 
The Bearded Fool - India


Christmas Eve Light – Europe

Filling the Barn – United Kingdom

The Flame of a Candle – Turkey

Gaffer Death – Germany

The Hand of Glory - England

The Red Candles and the Mermaid - Japan   

The Rose Tree – England

The Three Laughs – Poland

The Three Princes and the Maiden – Portugal

The Triplets - Turkey

The Twist Mouth Family – United States

 
CRAFTS

ActivityVillage – Ten easy candle crafts for children.

Craftionary – And for the adults and easy, gel wax candle tutorial.

 
BOOKS

Today’s Parents - 10 Birthday Books We Love

Good Reads – Children’s Books About Birthdays


LIFE ON THE LIGHTER SIDE!


From the Huffington Post: 60 Perfect Reasons You Should be Psyched About Turning 60!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/19/turning-60_n_5295640.html  My close friends will laugh at number 19! It is so ‘me’!
 
Sixty Thoughts About Turning 60 – From across the pond, some lovely, true, funny, and irreverent thoughts from Ian Martin.
 

BUCKET LIST!

25 Trips of a Lifetime - Greece, Ireland, Napa Valley, Bali, Provence and Antarctica are definitely on my list. Oh who am I kidding, they are ALL on my list!

 

Karen Chace 2015 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at storybug@aol.com. Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A River of Stories



A River of Stories:
Stories Create A Link to the Past & A Brighter Future
By Brian “Fox” Ellis ©

 “Please, I invite you to contemplate an entangled stream bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, there are birds singing in the high branches, a multitude of insects flitting about, worms crawling through the damp earth, and this river cuts through layers of fossil plants and ancient sea beds… reflect with me on these elaborately constructed forms, all have been produced by the laws of nature acting around us…There is a grandeur in this view of life, Power breathed into a few forms or maybe just one, and while this planet has gone on cycling according to the fixed laws of gravity, From so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are still being evolved.”  Charles Darwin

 These are the last few sentences of Darwin’s most famous book, On the Origin of Species. Darwin is one of several historical scientists that I portray. This quote is a truly brilliant invitation to imagine your local river as a journey through the earth’s ancient story from the dawn of time, to the creation of life on this planet, continuing on through to this vary day and the life that inhabits your river this afternoon.

Let us continue this journey through time.

Who has lived along the shores of your river in the past several hundred or thousands of years? Stories allow us to travel through time and meet the folks of not so long ago, not so far away! What are the stories of your homeland? How can these stories help you feel a deeper sense of place? How can these stories of how things once were help us imagine how they might be yet again?

On the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, where I work each summer as the Riverlorian, or resident historian, on the Spirit of Peoria riverboat: 

  • We have 10,000 years of American Indian history. 
  • Three hundred years ago we saw the first French Explorers. 
  • The British chased out the French about 200 years ago.
  • And then the American Colonists flooded over the mountains to clear-cut the forests and plow up the prairies. 
  • Industry grew, as did some of the largest cities in America from Chicago to St. Louis, Minneapolis to New Orleans.
Through all of this, the river was an important source of raw materials, drinking water, food and transportation. The river was, and still is, the source of life.

Take a moment and make a quick sketch of your local river. Turn this map into a time line and make note of the various layers of history, note both geological and human landmarks still visible today.

Several years ago I was commissioned by a local environmental education organization, The Sun Foundation, to create a stage show, that later became a fake-documentary. We used stories to not only help folks connect to the history of the river, but more importantly, we looked at the history of environmental problems in a way that inspired the audience to be proactive, to make a difference within their ecological community.
Because of my work for the Spirit of Peoria riverboat, I had already interviewed dozens of people who depend on the river for their livelihood, from tug boat captains to commercial fishermen, duck hunters to bird watchers. I turned these oral histories into comedy and then hired three storytellers to portray several characters each, adding another element of humor. In a fast-paced, TV newscast format, geared towards teens, each character told their story of their relationship to the river. They ended with concrete suggestions of things anyone could do to make a difference. Because one of my life-goals is to give voice to the wild world, I also included a poem about a whooping crane and a song from the point of view of a catfish!

The video later won awards and a grant that allowed me to give a free copy, with lesson plans, to every school in the Illinois River Valley.

I share this short story as an example of the power of storytelling to not only help folks feel more connected to a deeper sense of place, but also as an invitation for you to use storytelling to imagine a healthier future.

I invite you to:

  • Interview the folks who work and live along your local river; 
  • Translate these stories into literature, performance material, poetry and song; 
  • Share these stories in print, on-line, in video, or live performances;
  • And within these stories create an invitation for listeners to make a difference.
As I ask each of the people I interviewed: What are the ecological issues in your community? What is the history of the problem? What are some concrete, simple steps we can take that will help make a difference?

Because of this work with The Sun Foundation, students are not only planting trees, restoring prairies, and picking up trash, but a handful of more ambitious students are now raising endangered alligator snapping turtles in the classroom to release them into the wild. They have initiated a recycling program, P2D2, that collects prescription medicines, then incinerates them to create electricity, keeping the drugs out of our waterways. And other students are testing hundreds of tributaries each spring for Atrazine, a very harmful pesticide. Many of these students have shared their stories in a way that has motivated student groups around the country and around the world to replicate their efforts.

It all begins with a story.

As folks are immersed in the stories of their local history and ecology, the powerful sense of connection is palpable. Stories make the abstract ideas of science and history personal and intimate. Stories, like a river, can invite listeners to travel through time and help them imagine a better future.
 
 
VIDEOS





Over view of the video Voices for the River
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDvLByUGJM8

River Stories

Sun Foundation
http://sunfoundation.org/wordpress/

Spirit of Peoria

Brian "Fox" Ellis is an internationally acclaimed author, storyteller, historian, and naturalist. He has worked with The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The Field Museum and dozens of other museums across the country. Fox has been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences including the International Wetlands Conservation Conference, National Science Teachers Association Conference and the North American Prairie Conservation Conference, et al.

Beyond the world of folklore, Fox also portrays more than a dozen historical characters ranging from Charles Darwin to Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe to John James Audubon. Fox is the Artistic Director for Prairie Folklore Theatre, a unique theatre company that celebrates ecology and history through original musical theatre productions. He presents hundreds of school and library programs each year, but he especially enjoys teacher training workshops and family literacy nights in his ongoing efforts to encourage the next generation of storytellers. He is the author of 16 books including the critically acclaimed Learning From the Land: Teaching Ecology Through Stories and Activities, (Libraries Unlimited, 2011), the award winning children’s picture book The Web at Dragonfly Pond, (DAWN Publications, 2006) and Content Area Reading, Writing and Storytelling (Teacher Ideas Press 2010). Many of his stories are also available on one of 12 CDs. He and his wife manage a bed and breakfast in Bishop Hill, Illinois, The Twinflower Inn. For more information visit http://www.foxtalesint.com
© For a free copy of his video “Voices for the River” send $8 for shipping and handling to Fox Tales, P.O. Box 209, Bishop Hill, IL 61417

All photos belong to Brian "Fox" Ellis.

Brian ‘Fox’ Ellis is a guest blogger for Karen Chace and Catch the Storybug blog. All rights to this article belong to Brian. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without his expressed, written permission. Of course, if you wish to link to the article via Facebook or Twitter, please feel free to do so.

BE PART OF THE RISING TIDE!

If you are interested in becoming a Guest Blogger email me at storybug@aol.com for details with “Guest Blogger Information” in the subject heading and be part of the rising tide!

PREVIOUS GUEST BLOGGERS


An Audience of One by Barry Stewart Mann
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/12/an-audience-of-one.html 

Bridging Difference through Storytelling by Noa Baum
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/10/bridging-differences-through.html

Everything Old is New Again…by Mike Speller
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/09/flying-high-with-fringe.html 

Fighting Demons with Compassion by Gaye Sutton
http://www.karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/08/fighting-demons-with-compassion.html 

Five Minute Creativity Boost by Monica Davis
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/08/send-your-senses-soaring.html 

The Folly of Callow Youth Age by Judith Black
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/12/listening-to-sirens-call.html 

Her Story, Your Story, Our Story: An Afternoon with Women Who Have Escaped the Troll by Regina Ress
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/07/escaping-troll.html

Jake’s Head by Gwen Bonilla
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/09/spinning-stories-into-gold.html 

Pinocchio's Nose Grows by Linda Gorham
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/07/does-your-story-ring-true.html

Stories from Cave Art to Computer by Jerry Haigh
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/11/stories-from-cave-art-to-computer.html

Superlative Speakers Tell Superlatives Stories by Bill Lampton, Ph.D.

http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/08/weaving-spell-with-stories.html

Sweeping the Air, Catching the Dust by Eileen De Lorenzo
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/08/sweeping-air-catching-dust.html

Friday, June 5, 2015

Stories Tame the Drama Class

Lion Tamer
1873 Lithograph by Gibson and Company

Stories Tame the Drama Class
by Mary Garrett ©

Storytelling helped tame my “drama class from hell,” a difficult group, talkative and disruptive, for whom I had played “bad cop” to support my student teacher.  When it was time for her to move on, they begged her to stay and not leave them with “that mean teacher,” but they didn’t get much sympathy from her.  I wished that they would let me be the nice teacher I prefer to be, and I dreaded spending the last month of school with this horrible class.  How could I discipline this group with no “bad cop” of my own to rely on?

I had been looking forward to doing the storytelling portion of this class, the one area in which I felt I had much to give them. The storytelling unit in my short stories class had been a high point; we had even invited a principal to join us.  I had also used positive short stories to help my juniors face the dreaded (NCLB) MAP tests, starting a week in advance of the tests with stories about persevering through tough times, finding many at Story-Lovers.  The stories helped create a better atmosphere with less tension, more confidence, and much less complaining.

The first aspect that made the drama class a bit happy was when I told them NOT to memorize the stories word-for-word. They had complained that memorizing drama scenes was too hard, and I knew they would be relieved.  

I began each day’s work with one of my stories, as a model of storytelling and to show them my “nice” side.  I started with very short tales, “The Smell of the Bread”  and “The Lost Purse,”  recruiting students to play the characters. Laughter and comments like “She faked you out” when the greedy person received his just due were refreshing light moments. Perhaps there was some hope for us.

They fussed a bit when I told them they would be reading silently and taking notes on at least five stories to choose the one to tell.  “You’ll be able to talk once you have selected something to talk about,” settled them down. 

As they read and took notes on the large selection of photocopied stories, all with a focus on positive character traits, I would pull out the occasional story that I thought might fit a particular student. “You have hidden talents like this beetle. You help others, as does ‘Tante Tina.’” I also suggested that they . . . silently . . . pass along any stories they thought would be good for a friend. 

 I knew that they needed a silent room to begin working and thinking.  As they read and chose, I could see them getting interested and motivated, and the quiet students who hadn’t been able to do their best in a chaotic atmosphere were relaxing and focusing in the calmer room.

When they had selected the stories they wanted to tell, they storyboarded and summarized on a 3x5 card to get them away from word-for-word repetition of the story and focus on the essentials.  Students enjoyed an opportunity to work with crayons and markers again. They were smiling and showing off their pictures by this time. Students laughed as they recognized themselves, or others, in "The Talking Skull" -- "Woe is me! Misery! What I said was true. It was my mouth that brought me here, my friend. Your mouth has brought you too!"

They then told their stories to a partner, chosen by me to keep the cliques from regrouping. They were told to begin with compliments, because we all need them, and then offer suggestions gently. This was low-stress enough that even the shy students were able to tell to just one person, and they were enjoying the stories. We then put together pairs to have groups of four.  They had been doing so well with the project that they were allowed the privilege of choosing which pairs to combine.

I circulated in the room, encouraging, offering suggestions and making sure they were actually working.  Several of those whose ©stories were coming along especially well had been the most disruptive earlier -- that talent and desire to perform does come bursting out.  I invited them to share their in-progress stories with the class. The suggestions for improving already good stories were instructive to all, and the applause and compliments kept them from becoming “bored” and disruptive.

Several students declared that they were ready to perform, but the rest were not. The “ready” students became the team leaders or coaches of a larger group of eight, with the assignment to get all students ready to tell. We established rules for positive listening and talked about the importance of a good audience. "You are fighting because you only looked at my coat from your own point of view" (from "The Red and Blue Coat" -- Heather Forest). As we worked together on stories, we saw a bit more clearly from each other’s point of view.

When all were ready, they volunteered for their turns to tell. My most obstreperous young man told first, with pride and enthusiasm.  He had the talent, and his telling of “The Black Prince” was wonderful. The real surprise was his behavior after his telling. He was an attentive and generous listener, encouraging and complimenting not only the students he had coached, but every student in the class. When the final teller, an extremely shy young woman, told her story, the whole class listened as avid fans of her effort, and though her nerves did show, she told the story clearly, and their applause was sincere. 

This storytelling experience was so positive that we moved smoothly through the final days of school, and on the last day of finals I was able to tell them (with misty eyes) that I was proud of them and would miss them.



Mary Garrett is a guest blogger for Karen Chace. All rights to this article belong to Mary. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without her  written permission. Of course, if you wish to link to the article via Facebook or Twitter, please feel free to do so. If you would like to be a Guest Blogger contact Karen at Storybug@aol.com for details.
  
Mary  Garrett   St. Peters, Missouri
http://www.storytellermary.com/
http://storytellermary.wordpress.com mgarrett@mail.win.org http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwd-z4Q4XwM
Frog & Friends and Courage and Wisdom CDs
http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mary-garrett/id344525632
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/MaryGarrett

BE PART OF THE RISING TIDE!

If you are interested in becoming a Guest Blogger email me at storybug@aol.com for details with “Guest Blogger Information” in the subject heading and be part of the rising tide!

PREVIOUS GUEST BLOGGERS
An Audience of One by Barry Stewart Mann
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/12/an-audience-of-one.html 

Bridging Difference through Storytelling by Noa Baum
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/10/bridging-differences-through.html

Everything Old is New Again…by Mike Speller
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/09/flying-high-with-fringe.html 

Fighting Demons with Compassion by Gaye Sutton
http://www.karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/08/fighting-demons-with-compassion.html 

Five Minute Creativity Boost by Monica Davis
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/08/send-your-senses-soaring.html 

The Folly of Callow Youth Age by Judith Black
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/12/listening-to-sirens-call.html

Her Story, Your Story, Our Story: An Afternoon with Women Who Have Escaped the Troll by Regina Ress
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/07/escaping-troll.html

Jake’s Head by Gwen Bonilla
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/09/spinning-stories-into-gold.html 

Pinocchio's Nose Grows by Linda Gorham
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/07/does-your-story-ring-true.html

Stories from Cave Art to Computer by Jerry Haigh
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/11/stories-from-cave-art-to-computer.html

Superlative Speakers Tell Superlatives Stories by Bill Lampton, Ph.D.

http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/08/weaving-spell-with-stories.html

Sweeping the Air, Catching the Dust by Eileen De Lorenzo
http://karenchace.blogspot.com/2012/08/sweeping-air-catching-dust.html