Sunday, September 5, 2010

Androcles and the Aesop fable retold by Joseph Jacobs

Androcles and the Lion

It happened in the old days at Rome that a slave named Androcles escaped from his master and fled into the forest, and he wandered there for a long time until he was weary and well nigh spent with hunger and despair. Just then he heard a lion near him moaning and groaning and at times roaring terribly. Tired as he was Androcles rose up and rushed away, as he thought, from the lion; but as he made his way through the bushes he stumbled over the root of a tree and fell down lamed, and when he tried to get up there he saw the lion coming towards him, limping on three feet and holding his forepaw in front of him.
Poor Androcles was in despair; he had not strength to rise and run away, and there was the lion coming upon him. But when the great beast came up to him instead of attacking him it kept on moaning and groaning and looking at Androcles, who saw that the lion was holding out his right paw, which was covered with blood and much swollen. Looking more closely at it Androcles saw a great big thorn pressed into the paw, which was the cause of all the lion's trouble. Plucking up courage he seized hold of the thorn and drew it out of the lion's paw, who roared with pain when the thorn came out, but soon after found such relief from it that he fawned upon Androcles and showed, in every way that he knew, to whom he owed the relief. Instead of eating him up he brought him a young deer that he had slain, and Androcles managed to make a meal from it. For some time the lion continued to bring the game he had killed to Androcles, who became quite fond of the huge beast.
But one day a number of soldiers came marching through the forest and found Androcles, and as he could not explain what he was doing they took him prisoner and brought him back to the town from which he had fled. Here his master soon found him and brought him before the authorities, and he was condemned to death because he had fled from his master. Now it used to be the custom to throw murderers and other criminals to the lions in a huge circus, so that while the criminals were punished the public could enjoy the spectacle of a combat between them and the wild beasts.
So Androcles was condemned to be thrown to the lions, and on the appointed day he was led forth into the Arena and left there alone with only a spear to protect him from the lion. The Emperor was in the royal box that day and gave the signal for the lion to come out and attack Androcles. But when it came out of its cage and got near Androcles, what do you think it did? Instead of jumping upon him it fawned upon him and stroked him with its paw and made no attempt to do him any harm.
It was of course the lion which Androcles had met in the forest. The Emperor, surprised at seeing such a strange behavior in so cruel a beast, summoned Androcles to him and asked him how it happened that this particular lion had lost all its cruelty of disposition. So Androcles told the Emperor all that had happened to him and how the lion was showing its gratitude for his having relieved it of the thorn. Thereupon the Emperor pardoned Androcles and ordered his master to set him free, while the lion was taken back into the forest and let loose to enjoy liberty once more.

  story source - originally told by Aesop, this particular version was written by Joseph Jacobs in  Europa's Fairy Book published in  1916

 Make a Paper Mache Lion Mask
(directions found at )

What You'll Need:
  • Newspaper
  • Paper plate
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • 2 paper egg-carton sections
  • Masking Tape
  • White glue
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • Tempera paint
  • Paintbrush
  • ITEMS TO DECORATE THE MASK:  Beads, Sequins, Feathers, Ribbon scraps, Yarn, Fabric scraps, etc.
How to Make Lion Mask:
1.  Cover your work surface with newspaper.
2. Cut a slit in each side of the paper plate. Pull the edges of each slit together, and overlap them. Staple the edges together. This will bend the plate into a face shape.
3. Tape on the egg-carton sections for bulgy eyes.  If you want to wear the mask, then cut out eye holes instead of using the egg-carton sections.
4. Make a fist-size ball of newspaper, and tape it in place for the lion's snout.
5. Crumple up some newspaper, and put it under the mask so it will keep its form while you work.

Tape on egg-carton sections for eyes. Tape ball of newspaper for the snout.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Tape on newspaper for the snout.
6.  Tear 7 to 8 newspaper pages into strips.
7. Mix 1/2 cup white glue with 1/2 cup water in a large mixing bowl.
8. As you use them, put the newspaper strips in the glue/water mixture.
9. When you take the strips out of the mixture, run them between your fingers to remove the excess liquid.
10. Cover the mask front with a layer of newspaper strips.
11. Let the mask dry overnight.

Cover mask front with newspaper strips.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Cover mask front with newspaper strips.
12.  Add a second layer of strips; smooth the strips over the mask with your fingers.
13. Let the mask dry overnight.
14.  Paint the mask with two coats of tempera paint. Let dry.
15.  Paint on the lion's mouth;
16. Decorate the mask with whatever you have around. You can use yarn, ribbon, crepe paper streamers etc for the lion's mane.
17. Tape a loop of ribbon to the back of the mask to hang it on your wall. If you plan to wear the mask, punch a small hole on each side of the mask and tie ribbon or string

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet-as-a-Honeycomb....a folktale from England

 (After you finish this story, ask the children what popular fairy tale it reminds them of.)

Once upon a time there was a merchant who traveled about the world a great deal. On one of his journeys thieves attacked him, and they would have taken both his life and his money if a large dog had not come to his rescue and driven the thieves away.

When the dog had driven the thieves away he took the merchant to his house, which was a very handsome one, and dressed his wounds and nursed him till he was well.

As soon as he was able to travel the merchant began his journey home, but before starting he told the dog how grateful he was for his kindness, and asked him what reward he could offer in return, and he said he would not refuse to give the most precious thing he had.

And so the merchant said to the dog, "Will you accept a fish I have that can speak twelve languages?"

"No," said the dog, "I will not."

"Or a goose that lays golden eggs?"

"No," said the dog, "I will not."

"Or a mirror in which you can see what anybody is thinking about?"

"No," said the dog, "I will not."

"Then what will you have?" said the merchant.

"I will have none of such presents," said the dog; "but let me fetch your daughter, and bring her to my house."

When the merchant heard this he was grieved, but what he had promised had to be done, so he said to the dog, "You can come and fetch my daughter after I have been home for a week."

So at the end of the week, the dog came to the merchant's house to fetch his daughter, but when he got there he stayed outside the door, and would not go in.
But the merchant's daughter did as her father told her, and came out of the house dressed for a journey and ready to go with the dog.
When the dog saw her he looked pleased, and said, "Jump on my back, and I will take you away to my house."
So she mounted on the dog's back, and away they went at a great pace, until they reached the dog's house, which was many miles off.

But after she had been a month at the dog's house she began to mope and cry.
"What are you crying for?" said the dog.

"Because I want to go back to my father," she said.

The dog said, "If you will promise me that you will not stay there more than three days I will take you there. But first of all," said he, "what do you call me?"

"A great, foul, small-tooth dog," said she.

"Then," said he, "I will not let you go."

But she cried so pitifully that he promised again to take her home.
"But before we start," he said, "tell me what you call me."

"Oh," she said, "your name is Sweet-as-a-Honeycomb."

"Jump on my back," said he, "and I'll take you home."

So he trotted away with her on his back for forty miles, when they came to a stile.
"And what do you call me?" said he, before they got over the stile.
Thinking she was safe on her way, the girl said, "A great, foul, small-tooth dog."

But when she said this, he did not jump over the stile, but turned right round again at once, and galloped back to his own house with the girl on his back.
Another week went by, and again the girl wept so bitterly that the dog promised to take her to her father's house.

So the girl got on the dog's back again, and they reached the first stile, as before, and the dog stopped and said, "And what do you call me?"

"Sweet-as-a-Honeycomb," she replied.

So the dog leaped over the stile, and they went on for twenty miles until they came to another stile.
"And what do you call me?" said the dog with a wag of his tail.

She was thinking more of her father and her own house than of the dog, so she answered, "A great, foul, small-tooth dog."

Then the dog was in a great rage, and he turned right round about, and galloped back to his own house as before.
After she had cried for another week, the dog promised again to take her back to her father's house. So she mounted upon his back once more, and when they got to the first stile, the dog said, "And what do you call me?"

"Sweet-as-a-Honeycomb," she said.

So the dog jumped over the stile, and away they went -- for now the girl made up her mind to say the most loving things she could think of -- until they reached her father's house.

When they got to the door of the merchant's house, the dog said, "And what do you call me?"

Just at that moment the girl forgot the loving things she meant to say and began, "A great --," but the dog began to turn, and she got fast hold of the door latch, and was going to say "foul," when she saw how grieved the dog looked and remembered how good and patient he had been with her, so she said, "Sweeter-than-a-Honeycomb."

When she had said this she thought the dog would have been content and have galloped away, but instead of that he suddenly stood upon his hind legs, and with his forelegs he pulled off his dog's head and tossed it high in the air. His hairy coat dropped off, and there stood the handsomest young man in the world, with the finest and smallest teeth you ever saw.

Of course they were married, and lived together happily.

(Story collected by Sidney Oldall Addy for Household Tales and Other Traditional Remains: Collected in the Counties of York, Lincoln, Derby and Nottingham published in 1895)

Did you recognize the story? Yep, it's very similar to the classic Beauty and the Beast.

I've found 2 and a half fun dog crafts for you. I say two and a half because the last craft is just a variation of the first craft. The first two crafts are very simple and suitable for children of all ages. The last craft requires more skill and patience.

 Directions on how to make a very simple Origami Dog

Great directions on how to make a poodle, a chihuahua and a dachshund from chenille stems and pompoms 

The dog made here is the same Origami Dog made in the first directions link.

For the older child and the more experienced Origamist (is that a word?), try making an Origami Dog out of a Dollar Bill.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Last Darning Oregon Folktale (retold by S.E. Schlosser) for Thread the Needle Day

Folks traveling the Oregon Trail looking for a new life left almost everything behind them when they made the 2000 mile journey in their covered wagons.  As the trail grew harder, the valleys steeper, the mountains more treacherous, they started abandoning furniture and luxuries of all sorts by the wayside to make it easier to move the wagons.  Many of their horses and cattle died on the trail.  And many lost family members to sickness or accident.

By the time the settlers reached Oregon, the few goods they had were precious indeed.  And so it was for the people who made their new home in Pass Creek Canyon.  The tiny settlement was so isolated that the villagers had no access to manufactured goods of any sort and had to make do with what they brought with them.  And so, it turned out, they were soon down to their very last darning needle.

Now darning needles, in those days, were used to sew clothing and darn socks and mend buttons that were torn off.  For a whole community to have only one darning needle was a major concern.  The settlers were very careful to keep the needle safe.  They passed it from family to family, and for two or three days at a time, the women in each family would sew and darn as quickly as they could before passing the needle on to the next household.

Then one day, little Jimmy Chitwood was assigned the task of carrying the needle to Grandmother Drain's cottage over the hillside.  To keep the darning needle safe, his mother threaded it with bright red wool knotted firmly through the eye of the needle.  Then she stuck it into a potato and gave the precious needle to her small son.

As the little boy walked along the trail, he heard a rustling in the bushes.  Ahead of him, a Mama bear and her two cubs ambled into view.  Alarmed, Jimmy ducked behind a serviceberry bush, hoping the Mama bear wouldn't notice him and attack.  He sat very still, trembling from head to toe, until all sounds of the bears had ceased.  Then he crept back out onto the trail, checked carefully in both directions, and continued toward Grandmother Drain's cabin.  And that's when he realized his hand was empty!  He'd lost the potato with the precious darning needle stuck into it.

Little Jimmy looked everywhere, but there were many serviceberry bushes, and he couldn't find the exact place where he'd left the trail.  Soon the whole village turned out to look for the potato with the darning needle stuck into it.  They combed the hillside for hours, and it was the despairing little Jimmy who finally caught a glimpse of red wool in the bracken and swooped inside to rescue the darning needle.

But all good things come to an end.  With so much heavy use and so much time spent stuck into the juice of the potato, the needle grew weak and it broke in Grandmother Drain's hand the day after it was found in the woods.  The whole village was upset by the loss, but no one blamed Grandmother Drain for breaking it.  It could have happened to any of them.  But all sewing and mending in the village ceased from that day, and clothing grew tattered, socks and stockings had gaping holes in them, and folks shook their heads, wondering what to do.

Little Jimmy Chitwood blamed himself bitterly for the loss of the darning needle.  If only he hadn't lost it.  If it hadn't been stuck so long in the potato, it might not have broken in Grandmother Drain's hand.  He fretted and fretted about the lost darning needle, and nothing his parents said could comfort him.

At that time, a young man in California decided he wanted a life of adventure.  He came north to Portland Oregon, set himself up with a mule and wagon full of goods, and started roaming the mountains and valleys, visiting villages and mining camps and farming communities.  It so happened that a month to the day after the breaking of the last darning needle, he wandered into Pass Creek Canyon with his peddler's wagon.

News of the peddler spread like wildfire through the community, and soon the young man was surrounded by families fingering his wares and talking excitedly.  The young man soon learned about the last darning needle from Mrs. Chitwood, and he watched little Jimmy stroking the horse's mane and pretending not to listen as he mother talked of losing the needle when the bear appeared, and finding it again, and then losing it again when it broke.

"Well, son," the young peddler said to Jimmy.  "Do you intend to give your family and friends Christmas gifts this year?"

Jimmy looked up from patting the mule, startled by the question.  He hadn't thought about Christmas until that moment.  He nodded uncertainly.

"Well, son.  How about you and I give everyone their Christmas presents a little early."  He knelt down beside the lad and took a small packet out of the pocket of his coat.  "Why don't you give one of these to each of the ladies in your town as an early Christmas gift?"  And he handed the child the packet full of darning needles.  "I think there are enough here for every family to have one."

And so there were.  Little Jimmy passed the needles out to each family, his face beaming with pride.  And the peddler refused to accept a penny for the needles, insisting that they were a Christmas gift from Jimmy to the town.

After that, Pass Creek Canyon became a regular stop on the peddler's route, and the farmers and settlers in the community began to prosper and do well in their new home.  Never again did they run out of darning needles, which was a blessing to all!

 July 25th is Thread the Needle Day. A day to celebrate sewing crafts of every kind. Naturally, I plan to give you a sewing craft to go with the story and the holiday but there is also an old children's game called  Thread the Needle.

According to
In Thread the Needle Games, the players stand in two rows across from each other. They hold hands in an arch with the person across from them. Players go under the arch and join the end of the line once they’re through the arch. Sometimes they’re played while singing a song.
 It sounds a lot like playing London Bridge, doesn't it?
Like most folk songs and folk games, there are variations on how the game is played and on the words and tune of the song.

midi version of the tune
Thread my grandmother’s needle,
Thread my grandmother’s needle;
It is too dark we cannot see
To thread my grandmother’s needle.

Come thread a long needle, come thread,
The eye is too little, the needle’s too big.
Thread the needle thro’ the skin,
Sometimes out and sometimes in.

This is an interesting video of adults playing the game.

And now for a very easy sewing project.

T Shirt Drawstring Bag
you'll need:
a t-shirt
needle and thread
ribbon or cord for a drawstring
safety pin

Turn the t-shirt inside out.
Cut t-shirt starting next to the collar and cut straight down both sides.
Sew down both sides and across the bottom.
Turn right sides out.
To close you bag, will use the natural neck casing as your drawstring casing. Cut small slit in this collar casing.
 Pin safety pin to one end of your ribbon or cord.
Insert drawstring or ribbon through the neck casing. 
Remove pin, tie the ends of your ribbon together.
Check out these step-by-step pics.

Craft Blog has a similar bag from a t-shirt. The directions have good pictures.

How to Hand Sew

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fairy Gifts...a tale from Andrew Lang's Green Fairy Book

Fairy Gifts
(this story is a little longer than most of the tales I've put up but it is well worth telling. It might be a good story to tell in parts.)

It generally happens that people's surroundings reflect more or less accurately their minds and dispositions, so perhaps that is why the Flower Fairy lived in a lovely palace, with the most delightful garden you can imagine, full of flowers, and trees, and fountains, and fish-ponds, and everything nice. For the Fairy herself was so kind and charming that everybody loved her, and all the young princes and princesses who formed her court, were as happy as the day was long, simply because they were near her. They came to her when they were quite tiny, and never left her until they were grown up and had to go away into the great world; and when that time came she gave to each whatever gift he asked of her. But it is chiefly of the Princess Sylvia that you are going to hear now.

The Fairy loved her with all her heart, for she was at once original and gentle, and she had nearly reached the age at which the gifts were generally bestowed. However, the Fairy had a great wish to know how the other princesses who had grown up and left her, were prospering, and before the time came for Sylvia to go herself, she resolved to send her to some of them. So one day her chariot, drawn by butterflies, was made ready, and the Fairy said:
'Sylvia, I am going to send you to the court of Iris; she will receive you with pleasure for my sake as well as for your own. In two months you may come back to me again, and I shall expect you to tell me what you think of her.'

Sylvia was very unwilling to go away, but as the Fairy wished it she said nothing--only when the two months were over she stepped joyfully into the butterfly chariot, and could not get back quickly enough to the Flower-Fairy, who, for her part, was equally delighted to see her again.

'Now, child,' said she, 'tell me what impression you have received.'

'You sent me, madam,' answered Sylvia, 'to the Court of Iris, on whom you had bestowed the gift of beauty. She never tells anyone, however, that it was your gift, though she often speaks of your kindness in general. It seemed to me that her loveliness, which fairly dazzled me at first, had absolutely deprived her of the use of any of her other gifts or graces. In allowing herself to be seen, she appeared to think that she was doing all that could possibly be required of her.
But, unfortunately, while I was still with her she became seriously ill, and though she presently recovered, her beauty is entirely gone, so that she hates the very sight of herself, and is in despair. She entreated me to tell you what had happened, and to beg you, in pity, to give her beauty back to her. And, indeed, she does need it terribly, for all the things in her that were tolerable, and even agreeable, when she was so pretty, seem quite different now she is ugly, and it is so long since she thought of using her mind or her natural cleverness, that I really don't think she has any left now. She is quite aware of all this herself, so you may imagine how unhappy she is, and how earnestly she begs for your aid.'

'You have told me what I wanted to know,' cried the Fairy, 'but alas! I cannot help her; my gifts can be given but once.'

Some time passed in all the usual delights of the Flower-Fairy's palace, and then she sent for Sylvia again, and told her she was to stay for a little while with the Princess Daphne, and accordingly the butterflies whisked her off, and set her down in quite a strange kingdom. But she had only been there a very little time before a wandering butterfly brought a message from her to the Fairy, begging that she might be sent for as soon as possible, and before very long she was allowed to return.

'Ah! madam,' cried she, 'what a place you sent me to that time!'

'Why, what was the matter?' asked the Fairy. 'Daphne was one of the princesses who asked for the gift of eloquence, if I remember rightly.'

'And very ill the gift of eloquence becomes a woman,' replied Sylvia, with an air of conviction. 'It is true that she speaks well, and her expressions are well chosen; but then she never leaves off talking, and though at first one may be amused, one ends by being wearied to death. Above all things she loves any assembly for settling the affairs of her kingdom, for on those occasions she can talk and talk without fear of interruption; but, even then, the moment it is over she is ready to begin again about anything or nothing, as the case may be. Oh! how glad I was to come away I cannot tell you.'

The Fairy smiled at Sylvia's unfeigned disgust at her late experience; but after allowing her a little time to recover she sent her to the Court of the Princess Cynthia, where she left her for three months. At the end of that time Sylvia came back to her with all the joy and contentment that one feels at being once more beside a dear friend. The Fairy, as usual, was anxious to hear what she thought of Cynthia, who had always been amiable, and to whom she had given the gift of pleasing.

'I thought at first,' said Sylvia, 'that she must be the happiest Princess in the world; she had a thousand lovers who vied with one another in their efforts to please and gratify her. Indeed, I had nearly decided that I would ask a similar gift.'

'Have you altered your mind, then?' interrupted the Fairy.

'Yes, indeed, madam,' replied Sylvia; 'and I will tell you why. The longer I stayed the more I saw that Cynthia was not really happy. In her desire to please everyone she ceased to be sincere, and degenerated into a mere coquette; and even her lovers felt that the charms and fascinations which were exercised upon all who approached her without distinction were valueless, so that in the end they ceased to care for them, and went away disdainfully.'

'I am pleased with you, child,' said the Fairy; 'enjoy yourself here for awhile and presently you shall go to Phyllida.'

Sylvia was glad to have leisure to think, for she could not make up her mind at all what she should ask for herself, and the time was drawing very near. However, before very long the Fairy sent her to Phyllida, and waited for her report with unabated interest.

'I reached her court safely,' said Sylvia, 'and she received me with much kindness, and immediately began to exercise upon me that brilliant wit which you had bestowed upon her. I confess that I was fascinated by it, and for a week thought that nothing could be more desirable; the time passed like magic, so great was the charm of her society. But I ended by ceasing to covet that gift more than any of the others I have seen, for, like the gift of pleasing, it cannot really give satisfaction. By degrees I wearied of what had so delighted me at first, especially as I perceived more and more plainly that it is impossible to be constantly smart and amusing without being frequently ill-natured, and too apt to turn all things, even the most serious, into mere occasions for a brilliant jest.'

The Fairy in her heart agreed with Sylvia's conclusions, and felt pleased with herself for having brought her up so well.

But now the time was come for Sylvia to receive her gift, and all her companions were assembled; the Fairy stood in the midst and in the usual manner asked what she would take with her into the great world.

Sylvia paused for a moment, and then answered: 'A quiet spirit.' And the Fairy granted her request.

This lovely gift makes life a constant happiness to its possessor, and to all who are brought into contact with her. She has all the beauty of gentleness and contentment in her sweet face; and if at times it seems less lovely through some chance grief or disquietude, the hardest thing that one ever hears said is:

'Sylvia's dear face is pale to-day. It grieves one to see her so.'

And when, on the contrary, she is gay and joyful, the sunshine of her presence rejoices all who have the happiness of being near her.

 There are soooooo many ideas available for fairy crafts that I had a hard time limiting my self. I finally managed to narrow it down to five activities. Enjoy!

This is a cute idea....I went to a Fairy Name generator. Here's my fairy info. The link to find your fairy is below:

Your fairy is called Bramble Goblintree
She is a bringer of riches and wealth.
She lives in leafy dells and bluebell glades.
She is only seen when the first leaves fall from the trees.
She wears bluebell-blue dresses. She has gentle green wings like a butterfly.

How to Make Fairy Wings

Here are lovely directions with good pictures on how to make a Fairy Garden.

Use lots of ribbons to make a very simple Ribbon Fairy.

Make a Fairy House
you'll need:
  • a hula hoop
  • strong strings
  • pieces of material- fabric can be cut/torn into strips or you can use scarves and tie them on...soft silky fabrics that flow work best
  1. Mark three sections of an equal distance from each other on the hula hoop
  2. Cut the string into 3 equal pieces the length of which is up to you but probably at least 2ft each.
  3. After tying the strings to each point, tie the other ends together. The house will hang from here.
  4. Now you're ready to add fabric and make your house.
  5. You can tear your fabric into long strips which can then be tied onto the hoop to hang down. The strips can be as thing or thick as you wish.
  6. Cutting will give you a cleaner edge and you can also cut the bottoms of your strips in to a curved shape to look like flower petals.
  7. Once you have added your fabric, decide where you want the "house" to hang.
  8. You can add special touches like artificial flowers and other touches. The flowers can be glued on or the stems wrapped on the hoop.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Two Frogs....a story from Japan for Frog Month (April)

The Two Frogs
Once upon a time in the country of Japan there lived two frogs, one of whom made his home in a ditch near the town of Osaka, on the sea coast, while the other dwelt in a clear little stream which ran through the city of Kyoto. At such a great distance apart, they had never even heard of each other; but, funnily enough, the idea came into both their heads at once that they should like to see a little of the world, and the frog who lived at Kyoto wanted to visit Osaka, and the frog who lived at Osaka wished to go to Kyoto, where the great Mikado had his palace.

So one fine morning in the spring they both set out along the road that led from Kyoto to Osaka, one from one end and the other from the other. The journey was more tiring than they expected, for they did not know much about traveling, and halfway between the two towns there arose a mountain which had to be climbed. It took them a long time and a great many hops to reach the top, but there they were at last, and what was the surprise of each to see another frog before him!

They looked at each other for a moment without speaking, and then fell into conversation, explaining the cause of their meeting so far from their homes. It was delightful to find that they both felt the same wish--to learn a little more of their native country--and as there was no sort of hurry they stretched themselves out in a cool, damp place, and agreed that they would have a good rest before they parted to go their ways.

"What a pity we are not bigger," said the Osaka frog; "for then we could see both towns from here, and tell if it is worth our while going on."

"Oh, that is easily managed," returned the Kyoto frog. "We have only got to stand up on our hind legs, and hold onto each other, and then we can each look at the town he is traveling to."

This idea pleased the Osaka frog so much that he at once jumped up and put his front paws on the shoulder of his friend, who had risen also. There they both stood, stretching themselves as high as they could, and holding each other tightly, so that they might not fall down. The Kyoto frog turned his nose towards Osaka, and the Osaka frog turned his nose towards Kyoto; but the foolish things forgot that when they stood up their great eyes lay in the backs of their heads, and that though their noses might point to the places to which they wanted to go, their eyes beheld the places from which they had come.

"Dear me!" cried the Osaka frog, "Kyoto is exactly like Osaka. It is certainly not worth such a long journey. I shall go home!"

"If I had had any idea that Osaka was only a copy of Kyoto I should never have traveled all this way," exclaimed the frog from Kyoto, and as he spoke he took his hands from his friend's shoulders, and they both fell down on the grass. Then they took a polite farewell of each other, and set off for home again, and to the end of their lives they believed that Osaka and Kyoto, which are as different to look at as two towns can be, were as alike as two peas.

* Source: Andrew Lang, The Violet Fairy Book (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1901), pp. 125-126.

How to Make an Origami Jumping Frog

Origami (折り紙?, from ori meaning "folding", and kami meaning "paper") is the traditional Japanese folk art of paper folding, which started in the 17th century AD and was popularized in the mid-1900s. It has since then evolved into a modern art form. The goal of this art is to transform a flat sheet of material into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, and as such the use of cuts or glue are not considered to be origami.

this info found at wikipedia

I love these little frogs. I find the best way to learn origami is visually. So I have given you the chart below, a link and a wonderful video.

pic from

Very good step by step pictures on How to make an Origami Jumping Frog

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rumpelstiltskin......a German tale retold by the Brothers Grimm

Once upon a time there was a miller who was poor, but who had a beautiful daughter. Now it happened that he got into a conversation with the king, and to make an impression on him he said, "I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold."

The king said to the miller, "That is an art that I really like. If your daughter is as skillful as you say, then bring her to my castle tomorrow, and I will put her to the test."

When the girl was brought to him he led her into a room that was entirely filled with straw. Giving her a spinning wheel and a reel, he said, "Get to work now. Spin all night, and if by morning you have not spun this straw into gold, then you will have to die." Then he himself locked the room, and she was there all alone.

The poor miller's daughter sat there, and for her life she did not know what to do. She had no idea how to spin straw into gold. She became more and more afraid, and finally began to cry.

Then suddenly the door opened. A little man stepped inside and said, "Good evening, Mistress Miller, why are you crying so?"

"Oh," answered the girl, "I am supposed to spin straw into gold, and I do not know how to do it."

The little man said, "What will you give me if I spin it for you?"

"My necklace," said the girl.

The little man took the necklace, sat down before the spinning wheel, and whir, whir, whir, three times pulled, and the spool was full. Then he put another one on, and whir, whir, whir, three times pulled, and the second one was full as well. So it went until morning, and then all the straw was spun, and all the spools were filled with gold.

At sunrise the king came, and when he saw the gold he was surprised and happy, but his heart became even more greedy for gold. He had the miller's daughter taken to another room filled with straw. It was even larger, and he ordered her to spin it in one night, if she valued her life.

The girl did not know what to do, and she cried. Once again the door opened, and the little man appeared. He said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold for you?"

"The ring from my finger," answered the girl.

The little man took the ring, and began once again to whir with the spinning wheel. By morning he had spun all the straw into glistening gold. The king was happy beyond measure when he saw it, but he still did not have his fill of gold. He had the miller's daughter taken to a still larger room filled with straw, and said, "Tonight you must spin this too. If you succeed you shall become my wife." He thought, "Even if she is only a miller's daughter, I will not find a richer wife in all the world."

When the girl was alone the little man returned for a third time. He said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw this time?"

"I have nothing more that I could give you," answered the girl.

"Then promise me, after you are queen, your first child."

"Who knows what will happen," thought the miller's daughter, and not knowing what else to do, she promised the little man what he demanded. In return the little man once again spun the straw into gold.

When in the morning the king came and found everything just as he desired, he married her, and the beautiful miller's daughter became queen.

A year later she brought a beautiful child to the world. She thought no more about the little man, but suddenly he appeared in her room and said, "Now give me that which you promised."

The queen took fright and offered the little man all the wealth of the kingdom if he would let her keep the child, but the little man said, "No. Something living is dearer to me than all the treasures of the world."

Then the queen began lamenting and crying so much that the little man took pity on her and said, "I will give you three days' time. If by then you know my name, then you shall keep your child."

The queen spent the entire night thinking of all the names she had ever heard. Then she sent a messenger into the country to inquire far and wide what other names there were. When the little man returned the next day she began with Kaspar, Melchior, Balzer, and said in order all the names she knew. After each one the little man said, "That is not my name."

The second day she sent inquiries into the neighborhood as to what names people had. She recited the most unusual and most curious names to the little man: "Is your name perhaps Beastrib? Or Muttoncalf? Or Legstring?"

But he always answered, "That is not my name."

On the third day the messenger returned and said, "I have not been able to find a single new name, but when I was approaching a high mountain in the corner of the woods, there where the fox and the hare say good-night, I saw a little house. A fire was burning in front of the house, and an altogether comical little man was jumping around the fire, hopping on one leg and calling out:

Today I'll bake; tomorrow I'll brew,
Then I'll fetch the queen's new child,
It is good that no one knows,
Rumpelstiltskin is my name.

You can imagine how happy the queen was when she heard that name. Soon afterward the little man came in and asked, "Now, Madame Queen, what is my name?"

She first asked, "Is your name Kunz?"


"Is your name Heinz?"


"Is your name perhaps Rumpelstiltskin?"

"The devil told you that! The devil told you that!" shouted the little man, and with anger he stomped his right foot so hard into the ground that he fell in up to his waist. Then with both hands he took hold of his left foot and ripped himself up the middle in two.

* Story Source: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Rumpelstilzchen, Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales -- Grimms' Fairy Tales), final edition (Berlin, 1857), no. 55.

March 7th through 13th, 2010 is Celebrate Your Name Week, the perfect time to read a story or books about names and to do name related crafts.
Check out my list of Picture Books about Names

Mirror Name Art
here's a good example
You'll need:

How to:
1. Fold a sheet of paper in half the long way and turn the paper so that the fold runs from left to right.
2. Write your name across the top half of the paper. Press down hard with the crayon as you color in your name.
3. Fold the paper in half again along the same fold but in the other direction so the name is covered.
4. Rub along the folded side with the side of a pencil, marker or ruler.
5. Open the paper to see your name written backwards on the other side of the fold.
6. Turn the paper so the fold runs top to bottom.
7. Using markers or crayons, make a picture out the design your name created!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Three Goslings......a tale from Italy

Once upon a time there were three goslings who were greatly afraid of the wolf, for if he found them he would eat them. One day the largest said to the other two, "Do you know what I think? I think we had better build a little house, so that the wolf shall not eat us, and meanwhile let us go and look for something to build the house with."

Then the other two said, "Yes, yes, yes! Good! Let us go!"

So they went and found a man who had a load of straw and said to him, "Good man, do us the favor to give us a little of that straw to make a house of, so that the wolf shall not eat us."

The man said, "Take it, take it!" And he gave them as much as they wanted.

The goslings thanked the man and took the straw and went away to a meadow, and there they built a lovely little house, with a door, and balconies, and kitchen, with everything, in short.

When it was finished, the largest gosling said, "Now I want to see whether one is comfortable in this house." So she went in and said, "Oh! How comfortable it is in the house! Just wait!" She went and locked the door with a padlock, and went out on the balcony and said to the other two goslings, "I am very comfortable alone here. Go away, for I want nothing to do with you."

The two poor little goslings began to cry and beg their sister to open the door and let them in. If she did not, the wolf would eat them. But she would not listen to them. Then the two goslings went away and found a man who had a load of hay. They said to him, "Good man, do us the kindness to give us a little of that hay to build a house with, so that the wolf shall not eat us!"

"Yes, yes, yes! Take some, take some!" And he gave them as much as they wanted.

The goslings, well pleased, thanked the man and carried the hay to a meadow and built a very pretty little house, prettier than the other. The middle-sized gosling said the smallest, "Listen. I am going now to see whether one is comfortable in this house. But I will not act like our sister, you know!"

She entered the house and said to herself, "Oh! How comfortable it is here! I don't want my sister! I am very comfortable here alone." So she went and fastened the door with a padlock, and went out on the balcony and said to her sister, "Oh! How comfortable it is in this house! I don't want you here! Go away, go away!"

The gosling began to weep and beg her sister to open to her, for she was alone, and did not know where to go, and if the wolf found her he would eat her. But it did no good. She shut the balcony and stayed in the house.

Then the gosling, full of fear, went away and found a man who had a load of iron and stones and said to him, "Good man, do me the favor to give me a few of those stones and a little of that iron to build me a house with, so that the wolf shall not eat me!"

The man pitied the gosling so much that he said, "Yes, yes, good gosling, or rather I will build your house for you."

Then they went away to a meadow, and the man built a very pretty house, with a garden and everything necessary, and very strong, for it was lined with iron, and the balcony and door of iron also. The gosling, well pleased, thanked the man and went into the house and remained there.

Now let us go to the wolf.

The wolf looked everywhere for these goslings, but could not find them. After a time he learned that they had built three houses. "Good, good! he said. "Wait until I find you!" Then he started out and journeyed and journeyed until he came to the meadow where the first house was. He knocked at the door, and the gosling said, "Who is knocking at the door?"

"Come, come," said the wolf. "Open up, for it is I."

"The gosling said, "I will not open for you, because you will eat me."

"Open, open! I will not eat you. Be not afraid. Very well, " said the wolf, "if you will not open the door, I will blow down your house." And indeed, he did blow down the house and ate up the gosling.

"Now that I have eaten one," he said, "I will eat the others too." Then he went away and came at last to the house of the second gosling, and everything happened as to the first. The wolf blew down the house and ate the gosling.

Then he went in search of the third, and when he found her he knocked at the door, but she would not let him in. Then he tried to blow the house down, but could not. Then he climbed on the roof and tried to trample the house down, but in vain. "Very well," he said to himself. "In one way or another I will eat you." Then he came down from the roof and said to the gosling, "Listen, gosling. Do you wish us to make peace? I don't want to quarrel with you who are so good, and I have thought that tomorrow we will cook some macaroni, and I will bring the butter and cheese, and you will furnish the flour."

"Very good," said the gosling. "Bring them then."

The wolf, well satisfied, saluted the gosling and went away. The next day the gosling got up early and went and bought the meal and then returned home and shut the house. A little later the wolf came and knocked at the door and said, "Come, gosling, open the door, for I have brought you the butter and cheese!"

"Very well, give it to me here by the balcony."

"No indeed, open the door!"

"I will open when all is ready."

Then the wolf gave her the things by the balcony and went away. While he was gone the gosling prepared the macaroni, and put it on the fire to cook in a kettle full of water. When it was two o'clock the wolf came and said, "Come, gosling, open the door."

"No, I will not open, for when I am busy I don't want anyone in the way. When it is cooked, I will open, and you may come in and eat it."

A little while after, the gosling said to the wolf, "Would you like to try a bit of macaroni to see whether it is well cooked?"

"Open the door! That is the better way."

"No, no. Don't think you are coming in. Put your mouth to the hole in the shelf, and I will pour the macaroni down."

The wolf, all greedy as he was, put his mouth to the hole, and then the gosling took the kettle of boiling water and poured the boiling water instead of the macaroni through the hole into the wolf's mouth. And the wolf was scalded and killed.

Then the gosling took a knife and cut open the wolf's stomach, and out jumped the other goslings, who were still alive, for the wolf was so greedy that he had swallowed them whole. Then there goslings begged their sister's pardon for the mean way in which they had treated her, and she, because she was kindhearted, forgave them and took them into her house, and there they ate their macaroni and lived together happy and contented.

Source: Thomas Frederick Crane, Italian Popular Tales (London: Macmillan and Company, 1885)

This story, which you'll have noticed is very similar to the 3 Little Pigs story, is lots of fun to do with puppets.
It's easy to make stick puppets for the characters and houses out of milk cartons.
You can use the pictures above for your puppets or draw your own.

You'll need :
Construction or scrap paper for the puppets and to decorate the houses
Popsicle sticks or tongue depressors for the puppets
Markers or crayons
Paint for the houses if you wish to use it

sticks, straw, very small rocks can be used with the houses

A really cute video on how to make a stick gives you the basics.
The little girl makes a man puppet but for the story you can make three goslings and a wolf.

How to make a Milk carton house...this vid uses paint to decorate the boxes but for the above story you can use straw, sticks, little rocks or anything that would simulate the materials used in the story.

This blog did a really cute job using stick puppets etc with the 3 Little Pigs story

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Cap that Mother Made

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Anders, who had a new cap. And a prettier cap you never have seen, for mother herself had knit it; and nobody could make anything quite so nice as mother did. It was altogether red, except a small part in the middle which was green, for the red yarn had given out; and the tassel was blue.

His brothers and sisters walked about squinting at him, and their faces grew long with envy. But Anders cared nothing for that. He put his hands in his pockets and went out for a walk, for he wished everybody to see how fine he looked in his new cap.

The first person he met was a farmer walking along side a wagon load of wood. The farmer made a bow so deep that his back came near breaking. He was dumbfounded, I can tell you, when he saw it was nobody but Anders.

"Dear me," said he, "if I did not think it was the little count himself!" And then he invited Anders to ride in his wagon.

But when one has a handsome, red cap with a blue tassel, one does not ride in a wagon, and Anders said, "No thank you," and walked by.

At the turn of the road he met the tanner's son, Lars. He was such a big boy that he wore high boots, and carried a jack-knife. Lars gaped and gazed at the cap, and could not keep form fingering the blue tassel.

"Let's trade caps," he said. "I will give you my jack-knife to boot."

Now this knife was a very good one, though the handle was a little cracked. Anders knew that one is almost a man as soon as he has a jack-knife. But still it was not as good as the new cap which mother had made.

"Oh, no, I'm not so foolish as all that. No I'm not!" Anders said.

And then he said good-bye to Lars with a nod. But Lars only made faces at him, for he was very much put out that he could not get Anders cap.

Anders went along, and he met a very old woman who curtsied till her skirts looked like a balloon. She called him a little gentleman, and said he was fine enough to go to the royal court ball.

"Yes, why not?" thought Anders. "Seeing that my cap is so fine, I may as well go and visit the King."

And so he did. In the palace yard stood two soldiers with shining helmets, and with muskets over their shoulders; and when Anders came to the gate, both the muskets were leveled at him.

"Where are you going?" asked one of the soldiers.

"I'm going to the court ball," answered Anders.

"No, you are not," said the other soldier stepping forward. "Nobody is allowed there without a uniform."

But just at this instant the princess came tripping across the yard. She was dressed in white silk with bows of gold ribbon. When she saw Anders and the soldiers, she walked over to them.

"Oh," she said,"he has such a very fine cap on his head, and that will do just as well as a uniform."

And she took Anders' hand and walked with him up the broad marble stairs where soldiers were posted at every third step, and through the beautiful halls where courtiers in silk and velvet stood bowing wherever he went. For no doubt they thought him a prince when they saw his fine cap.

At the farther end of the largest hall a table was set with golden cups and golden plates in long rows. On huge silver dishes were piles of tarts and cakes, and red wine sparkled in shining glasses.
The princess sat down at the head of this long table and she let Anders sit in a golden chair by her side.

"But you must not eat with your cap on your head," she said, putting out her hand to take it off.

"Oh, yes, I can eat just as well with my cap as without it," said Anders, holding on to his cap. For if they should take it away from him, nobody would any longer believe that he was a prince. And besides, he did not feel sure that he would get it back again.

"Well, give it to me," said the princess, "and I will give you a kiss."

The princess was certainly beautiful, and Anders would have dearly liked to be kissed by her, but the cap which mother had made, he would not give up on any condition. He only shook his head.

"Well, but see," said the princess; and she filled his pockets with cakes, and put her own gold chain around his neck, and bent down and kissed him.

But he only moved farther back in his chair and did not take his hands away from his head.

Then the doors were thrown open, and the King entered with a large number of gentlemen in glittering uniforms and plumed hats. The King himself wore a purple mantle which trailed behind him, and he had a large gold crown on his white curly hair.
He smiled when he saw Anders in the gilt chair.

"That is a very fine cap you have," he said.

"So it is," replied Anders. "Mother knit it of her very best yarn, and everybody wishes to get it away from me."

"But surely you would like to change caps with me," said the King, raising his large, heavy crown from his head.

Anders did not answer. He sat as before, and held on to his red cap which everybody was so eager to get. But when the King came nearer to him, with is gold crown between his hands, then Anders grew frightened as never before. If he did not take good care, the King might take his cap from him; for a King can do whatever he likes.

With one jump Anders was out of his chair. He darted like an arrow through all the beautiful halls, down all the marble stairs, and across the yard.

He twisted himself like an eel between the outstretched arms of the courtiers, and over the soldiers' muskets he jumped like a rabbit.

He ran so fast that the princess's necklace fell off of his neck, and all the cakes jumped out of his pockets. But he still had his cap. He was holding on to it with both hands as he rushed into his mother's cottage.

His mother took him up in her lap, and he told her all of his adventures, and how everybody wanted his cap. All of his brothers and sisters stood around and listened with their mouths open.

But when his big brother heard that he had refused to trade his cap for the King's golden crown, he said that Anders was foolish. Just think how much money one might get for the King's crown; and Anders could have gotten an even finer cap.

That was something that Anders had not thought of, and his face grew red.
He put his arms around his mother's neck and asked:
"Mother, was I foolish?"

His mother hugged him close and kissed him.
"No, my little son," said she. "If you were dressed in silver and gold from top to toe, you could not look any nicer than you do in your little red cap."

Then Anders felt brave again. He knew that mother's cap was the best cap in all the world.

Anders' Cap is retold by LLL,Storysinger; the original source is Swedish Fairy Tales by Anna Wahlenberg, published in 1901

above illustrations are from "The Cap that Mother Made Me", Rand McNally Start-Right Elf Book, 1967, Illustrations by Esther Friend

I have found that in some crafts it is easier to learn when you can see what needs to be done.
Knitting definitely seems to be one of those "watch what I do" crafts.
For this reason, I have chosen to put up videos on how to knit.

I have three videos for you. The first two vids demonstrate how to you make a very basic scarf.

The third vid is for the more advanced knitter or the adventurous beginner.
It gives directions for making a simple hat using circular needles.

For the scarf (the first 2 videos) you will need:
a pair of knitting needles, the size is up to you
a skein/ball of yarn (I suggest avoiding very fine/thin yarns in the beginning)
a pair of scissors

How to Cast on stitches to begin your knitting.
There are other ways to do this but I like the way that this video explains the process.

How to do your basic knit also called the Garter Stitch and how to Bind off/end your knitting.

For this third video, hat making, you'll need...yarn, circular needles, stitch markers and scissors. has a few pics on How to Knit here

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Legend of La Befana

A Christmas tale from Italian Folklore retold by La

La Befana was an old woman who lived in a small village in Italy. She was known throughout the village for her wonderful baking and the cleanliness of her kitchen. She was often seen sweeping the area in front of her home. And many had heard her say that she was so busy baking and cleaning that she rarely had time to do anything else.

One winter day, while La Befana was sweeping in front of her home, three travelers stopped to ask her for a drink of water. They told La Befana that they were astrologers (they were often called the three wise men) who were following a star to the birth place of the Christ child. She kindly gave them water and then invited them to dinner.

After dinner the astrologers prepared to continue their journey and asked her if she would like to come with them to see the Christ child. La Befana shook her head saying that she could not possibly take the time needed for such a journey. She was secretly itching to get back to her cleaning and cooking. She stood at her door and watched them leave.

La Befana went back to her sweeping. But hours later she began to feel that she had made a mistake. Maybe she should have gone with the 3 astrologers to see the Christ child. La Befana decided to follow them.

She quickly grabbed a basket and filled it with baked goods of all kinds. She then put on her shawl and with her basket and broom hurried off into the night practically running to catch up with the wise men.

La Befana traveled through the night but never caught up with the wise men. It is said that she ran and ran until she and her broom were lifted up into the air!

Ever since that night, La Befana is believed to fly through the night or run over the roofs in Italy on Epiphany eve. She stops at the home of every child, leaving them treats in their stockings if they are good and a lump of coal if they are bad.

She hopes that one of the children she visits will be the christ child.

Copyright LLL, Storyteller/Storysinger

The name Befana is said to be a mispronunciation of the Italian word epifania which stands for epiphany. La Befana still visits the children of Italy on the eve of January 6, Epiphany. She fills their stockings with candy or a lump of coal. It is also believed that she sweeps the floor before she leaves. Many households leave her a small glass of wine and a small plate of goodies.

Epiphany Star
Craft or Popsicle sticks
colored markers
a variety of small beads, confetti or other decorative items
thread or ribbon

1. Paint or color sticks using markers
2. Glue into sticks into a star shape
3. Decorate your star with glue and glitter and/or any of the other items you have
4. Tie or glue a loop of thread or ribbon for the hanger

For a different look, use twigs or small pieces of wood instead of craft sticks. The twigs can be painted and then sprinkled with glitter.