Category Archives: Multiculturalism

The Storyteller’s Journey Includes Bringing in the Hay


hired boyLast week, school started in our part of the world and I was asked by a principal to help kick off the new school year with a storytelling assembly.

At the beginning of the presentation, I invited the gym full of students to join me on the Storyteller’s Journey, to discover their own voice and learn to tell their own story.  Throughout the hour, many eager children helped me dramatize ancient world myths and even on  the first day of school 200 children sat attentively engaged in the mysterious narratives of long ago and far away.

After the assembly, I suggested that they practice their new skills by re-telling one of the stories at home.   I asked which story they might like to tell and several children raised their hands and answered my question.

Ten minutes or so later, as I walked from the gym to the exit passing various lines of students snaking their way down the hallway in search of their classrooms, a willowy 6 year old boy spotted me, stepped out of line and said, as if continuing an interrupted conversation, “It is hard for me to decide which story to tell because I liked them all!  I might not actually get the chance to tell one because I’ve got to get the hay in before winter, but I’ll try.”   The principal had mentioned that the school was located in a strong farming community.  With that, the young farmer and newly christened storyteller, waved good-bye and set off in search of his long gone classmates.

Happy Storytelling!

Cheryl Thornton

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Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Children, Creativity, Drama, Education, Elementary schools, Fariytales, Folktales, Literacy, Multiculturalism, Myths, Performing, Stories, Storytelling

Kids Art Rules


SW-GrabYesterday, I performed at North Agincourt Jr. P.S in Toronto.  After the assembly, the grades 3 and 4 classes presented a slide show of two of our Storyvalues stories.  They had illustrated the stories using Pixie, a digital illustration tool, then linked their art to my audio files.  Their work was break taking!  The two stories featured in the slide show were also part of my live assembly, so the kids were able to observe and discuss similarities and differences.

Teacher librarian, Patrick McCartney was the mastermind behind this successful project.

Congratulations to Mr. McCartney and the grade 3 and 4 classes of North Agincourt Jr. P.S!

Happy Storytelling!

Cheryl Thornton

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Always a Storyteller


1001-nights-burton-v3-p010Yesterday, my group of grade 6 and 7 storyteller apprentices were joined by the grade 8 classes to listen to Greek myths, stories from the Arabian Nights and First Nation tales.  11 to 14 year olds are such a baffling age group!  They can swing wildly from being bored out of their gourds to electrifyingly engaged and enthusiastic!

During the first story I told from the 1001 Arabian Nights, I asked a seemingly comatose group of grade 8 students for volunteers to portray the genii and the fisherman.  To my great surprise, most of their hands shot up in the air!

I chose two amazing 14 year olds boys to help bring the story to life, both of whom had been storyteller apprentices the previous year.   When I first met these two guys 14 months ago, they’d been sceptical of the whole storytelling business and hesitant to perform in front of others. Their transformation over the six months working together was truly spectacular.  Yesterday, I was privileged to see that it hadn’t been temporary.  They performed with gusto and pride, helping to set the tone for the rest of the session.

Like in the 1001 Arabian Nights frame story of Shahrazad and the sultan, I honestly believe that stories have the power to transform and heal.

Once a storyteller apprentice, always a storyteller!

Happy Storytelling!

Cheryl Thornton

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The Hunter and the Polar Bear


Ursus_maritimus_par_Louis_Agassis_FuertesToday I’m going to tell an Inuit story, The Hunter and the Polar Bear for the first time, other than to my husband.  I love trying out ‘new’ stories (new to me, but usually hundreds of years old).  I’m always amazed at how many stunning stories there are to tell.  I can’t wait to hear what my little listeners have to say about this gem!  I’ll keep you posted!

Happy Storytelling!

Cheryl Thornton

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Low Five Highlight


ImageFebruary is always a busy month of telling great stories from Africa in celebration of Black History month.  There are so many fabulous African stories to tell and I always look forward to sharing my favourites with students all over southern Ontario.

This week, I visited seven different schools and as always, came home with many lovely stories to share with my husband after a day of storytelling.  Here are some of the highlights of my week.

After presenting an assembly in Pickering, a group of children were crowded around me asking questions and telling me which story they liked best, when I felt my hand being taken by someone small.  I looked over and saw a junior kindergarten boy positioning my hand to receive his “low five” slap of appreciation.  He didn’t say a word, but just smiled at me and continued walking in line with his kindergarten class back to their room.

In another school, I met two grade seven boys as they set up chairs for the teachers prior to the assembly.  I told them that if they wanted to be in one of the stories, that I’d choose them up if they volunteered.  One of them took me up on my offer and played the role of the lazy farmer in the story called Talk.  He had the whole school roaring with laughter and afterwards, one of the teachers told me that he was a shy student and was so pleased that he had had the chance to shine!

Yesterday, I told a little girl who wanted to play the elephant, that she had to sit properly when volunteering to participate.  She sat down so eagerly that it was clear she really wanted a turn.  I invited her up and she preformed her role beautifully.  Afterwards, her teacher told me she was autistic and normally didn’t participate in assemblies.

Next week, there will be more stories to tell and more children to touch my heart.  I’ll keep you informed.

Happy Storytelling!

Cheryl Thornton

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Passports to Multicultural Literacy


Last Friday at Trelawny PS in Mississauga, I launched our new storytelling campaign, Passports to Multicultural Literacy.   We are now connecting my live storytelling and drama school performances with our online storytelling program, Storyvalues Interactive.  This ‘blended learning’ approach will not only help students and teachers in the classroom, but can connect parents to school events as well.

After my storytelling assemblies at Trelawny on Friday, I told the students that I’d be giving them special Storyvalues Passports to take home and use with their parents.  The passport gives families the Storyvalues Interactive-Home web address so children and parents can listen to and read multicultural folktales together, then explore the cultures, art and music related to each story.  The Storyvalues Passports encourage children to Travel the World  through stories!

Janet Chilibeck, an amazing Peel District grade 3 teacher just sent an email telling me that,  “… her class was so thrilled with their Storyvalues Passports, that they tucked them carefully into their agendas in order to get them home safely!”  How exciting!

Happy Storytelling!

Cheryl Thornton

http://www.storyvalues.com

http://www.cherylthornton.com

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Three Stories to Tell Today


Finishing up the Halloween candy doesn’t necessarily  mean that Halloween is totally gone for another year.

You can keep the sweet thrill alive by telling more scary stories.

Here are three that I highly recommend for  4 – 7 year olds, which are scary, but not too scary.

Lon Po Po is a Chinese tale, similar to Little Red-Riding Hood.  Ed Young has a wonderful retelling of the story.

The Funny Little Woman is a Japanese folktale about the adventures of a rice dumpling maker who is pursued by wicked oni (scary monsters).  Arlene Mosel’s retelling is my favourite.

Sukey and the Mermaid is an exciting African-American mermaid story, retold by Robert D. San Souci and beautifully illustrated by Brian Pinkney.  It is not really scary, but it is definitely suspenseful and worth the read.

Happy Storytelling!

Cheryl Thornton

http://www.cherylthornton.com

http://www.storyvalues.com

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Filed under Art in Education, Character Education, Children, Creativity, Fariytales, Folktales, Ghost Stories, Literacy, Multiculturalism, Myths, Stories, Storytelling