Winter Solstice Story by Connie Manson

Here is a story from my book "A Journey Through Winter" that can be told this season. Wonderful in the classroom or at home. Included below is a little dove finger puppet pattern. Blessings on your holiday season!
Once there was a little boy who lived with his Mother in a cozy cottage near a gurgling stream. It was summer time and many flowers were blooming near the stream‘s edge. There, the little boy would lie on his belly in the grass and watch the bees and the butterflies dance among the flowers, and the spiders swing on threads as they spun and wove their shining webs.

There was an old tree which lay fallen in the woods that he loved to climb on and pretend he was a sailor sailing out to sea! One morning, lying in the moss by the old tree he found a large piece of  bark. It was just the right size for a boat of his own! He found a branch that was straight and true, to use for a mast. There were a number of stones that lay by the brook, and he picked up a pointed, thin one, which he used to dig a hole in the bark. He fit the mast snugly into the hole. Now, for a sail! There was a leaf growing by the stream that was just large enough. Using tiny bits of twig, he attached the leaf to the mast. He spent many happy summer days watching his little boat bob up and down merrily in the water. 

It wasn’t long before the crickets began to sing of Prince Autumn’s arrival! The apples grew red and ripe, and fell to the ground. Prince Autumn came through the wood and painted the leaves golden, red and brown. The leaves waved in the breeze and began to dance to the ground, and some fell into the little stream. The boy helped his mother rake leaves into tall piles and then they would jump into the piles with a happy shout! Sometimes Squirrel Nutkin would come near and leap nimbly from branch to branch, chattering as he went, searching for nuts to store in his sturdy home which was tucked in a tree branch near its trunk.

As the nights grew longer and the days shorter, the winds blew in puffs of cold air. The little boy would put on his warm clothes and sit quietly on the fallen old log to watch the deer as they nibbled on soft twigs and buds nearby. 

One evening as he was walking in the woods he found a little opening behind some bushes. He thought he saw the fluffy tail of a fox, and crawled through the opening to see. But as he was searching for the fox, the sun slipped quickly down behind the trees the woods grew very dark. The little boy looked around and didn’t know how to find his way back home again. A frosty gust of wind blew and the boy shivered with cold. 

Then, in the dim light, the little boy saw something gleaming on the ground. It was a small sparkling stone. 

“Oh, little stone, dear little stone, will you help me find my way back home?” The little stone twinkled, and suddenly the boy didn’t feel quite so cold anymore. He picked up the stone, and he was just reaching to put it in his pocket when it seemed to leap right out of his hand! It rolled a ways, then stopped by the roots of a little fir tree whose branches were gently dancing in the frosty breeze. 

“Oh dear little fir tree, can you hear me? Will you help me find my way home speedily?”, asked the boy. 

One of the slender branches of the fir tree stirred, and it seemed to be pointing towards a clearing in the woods! The little boy walked until he reached the place where only a few trees were standing beneath the twinkling starlight. 

He heard a sound high up in a tree, in one of  its branches. “Tsu-croo, tsu-croo.” What was that? A small dove poked out its head and flew down to a lower branch, closer to the boy.

“Oh little dove, dear little dove, Can you guide me homeward with your song of love?” The dove sang softly, “Tsu-croo, tsu-croo, that I will do. First look up at the star that shines for you!”

The boy looked up, and there he saw a star that seemed to sparkle a bit more than the others. The little boy smiled. In a twinkle, the dove flew down into the clearing and rested by something growing near the ground, then flew upward into the tree once more. He wondered what the dove had landed beside, and ran over to see. There softly glowing  like a star in the grass, sat a beautiful white flower. The boy knelt down and gently picked the flower, and held it in his hand. 

Then the dove called once again, “Tsu-croo, tsu-croo.” It kept on calling until the boy walked towards it, then flew away into the woods. The little boy quickly followed. It wasn’t long before he found himself crawling back through the opening into the bushes, near the gurgling stream behind his cottage. 

The boy ran inside to show his treasure to his mother, saying, “Mother, I am so sorry. I was lost in the woods. I asked a stone to help me, and it rolled to a fir tree, and I asked the fir tree to help me, and it pointed to a clearing in the woods. There I found a dove, and when I asked the dove to help me, it called to me to look up and there I saw a bright shining star. Then the dove showed me where this flower was growing, and I picked it. Next the dove flew into the woods and led me to our brook, and . . . well . . .  here I am!”

“My dear child, I am so happy to see you!” said the Mother. “When you didn’t answer me when I called, I asked a shining star to watch over you and guide you safely home again.” Then she smiled and gave the little boy a big hug. Together they found a small glass dish, filled it with water and laid the flower inside. 

“What a lovely Winter Star,“ said his Mother. And together they sat by the brightly burning fire and sipped some delicious warm soup for supper.

Picking up the Gauntlet . . .

Once I remember wonderful Suzanne Down challenging her newsletter readers to try writing a shelter story using a sea side theme. She suggested the sea shell becoming the common shelter--similar to the tale of "The Mitten", where a little mouse happens upon an abandoned mitten and calls it home, and along comes a little friend, and then another. Always each new friend is welcomed to join the others. What a great idea, I thought (thank you, Suzanne!) and sat down to give it a try. Those of you who have written your own stories know that the first moments are the trickiest . . . but it's always worth the effort! Somehow the tale begins to speak and guide the writer into what to say. For my story I ended up using the same rhyming format as a German shelter story another dear friend introduced me to called "The Pot" (thank you, Renate Hiller!) The version written here works nicely for those living in a beach community as I do, or during the summer time and early autumn. At the end of this story you'll see a little 'horse of the sea' puppet pattern, to help bring the tale to life!

And now, dear friends, I am throwing the gauntlet to you! Begin a story today . . . take a few minutes to drink in the wonders of nature in your backyard or a beloved park, then bathe in the quiet and listen . . . write what comes to you!! Scroll down this page for a link to tips on storytelling!

Shining Shell
by Connie Manson © 2012

In the ocean blue, near the shore, the waves rolled this-a way, and they rolled that a-way. A sea shell tumbled and tossed in the water. It rolled and rolled and then came to a stop on the sandy ocean bottom. The sun was shining brightly up above, and little rays of sunshine danced in the water. A tiny blue fish came darting by, swimming up and swimming down, and looking all around. It saw the sea shell lying there. It looked to be as big as a smooth, shining palace! It swam up to the sea shell and called “Shining shell, shining shell, who dwells here?” But no one answered, because no one was inside. “Then I shall live here,” it said, and it made a cozy home inside the shell.

Along came goldie the fish. It saw the sea shell and called out, “Shining shell, shining shell, who dwells here?”

“I do, tiny blue, oh-so-true, and who are you?”

“I am goldie the fish, who darts and dips.”

“Come inside, and make yourself a home here.”

And so the two of them began to live together. After a time, a little starfish came crawling by. It saw the sea shell and called out, “Shining shell, shining shell, who dwells here?”

“I do, goldie the fish, who darts and dips.”

“I do, tiny blue, oh-so-true, and who are you?”

“I am sandy the starfish who carries a wish.”

“Come inside, and make yourself a home here.”

And so the three of them began to live together.  Along came a sea turtle, paddling by. He saw the sea shell and called out, “Shining shell, shining shell, who dwells here?”

“I do, sandy the starfish who carries a wish.”

“I do, goldie the fish, who darts and dips.”

“I do, tiny blue, oh-so-true, and who are you?”

“I am snappy the turtle who paddles and flips.”

 “Come inside, and make yourself a home here.”
And so the four of them began to live together.

Suddenly before them darted a little sea horse. He was in a great hurry. He saw the sea shell and cried, “I am horse of the sea, please rescue me, for an octopus, he chases me!”

“Let’s bring him inside--a shelter we’ll be!”

Little horse of the sea was safely tucked inside. The octopus came gliding by. He looked this-a-way, he looked that-a-way. But nothing could he spy, save a shining shell that sat nearby.

Said the octopus, “How could that creature disappear so fast?”  Oh-so-quietly the little friends sat, until at last, the octopus went gliding away.

And from that day on, the little friends lived ever safe and sound, in their shining home on the sandy ground.

Directions for a finger puppet: Cut out two pieces from felt. The horse of the sea I modeled on was a beautiful lavender color! If eyes or desired you can use a french knot from embroidery floss or tiny black seed beads. 

Sew around the edges with a blanket stitch or overcast stitch, leaving the bottom of the belly section open if you'd like to use it as a finger puppet.

Marionette option: Add a small stone and lightly stuff with wool and sew up the opening.  Add a string at the head and fin to create a simple marionette!
'A Journey Through Spring' Resource Book
 is now available!

It is so exciting to announce the completion of the third volume of the Seasonal Journey Series! Click on this link for details on how to order: STARLITE PUPPETS BOOKS AND RESOURCES PAGE

And work has begun on creating 'A Journey Through Summer' as well!! Plans are also in motion to begin recording 'A Journey Through Winter' companion cd. We'll keep you posted on the progress. 

In honor of warmer weather, enjoy an excerpt from 'A Journey Through Spring' to use as a verse or mini-puppet story. In the picture a needle felted root baby was the base, and to make a jaunty hat felt pieces were cut into dandelion petals and tied tightly together at one end. I had a very large acorn cap I used as the base, hot glued the petals to the acorn cap, and then wrapped the cap with green felt its base. The second hat is a loosely woven small hat I picked up at a craft store. I used a stiff translucent white fabric, cut it into small squares, folded it over once, then folded it once more to become a smaller square. Silver thread was tied on at the fold. The white puffs were tied to a stick, the folded part tucked into the hat, and pulled out when the breezes blow! Wheeee! Off they go! 

The Dandelion  by Connie Manson

"In a meadow soft and green, 
A little flower can be seen,
She gaily wears a yellow hat,
Then changes to a white one just like that!

Springtime* breezes gently blow,
And away the puffy blossoms go.

Bobbing to the east,
Swaying to the west;
Rising up so high into the air,
Dancing and bowing and floating there!

The golden meadow once more she sees,
Who calls, “Won’t you please come back to me?”
Then white blossoms without a sound,
Softly fall upon the ground.

To rest and slumber, there to stay 
And wear a golden hat another day!" 
by Connie Manson

*Note: Summertime breezes can be substituted here!
Explore the Wonders of Table Puppet Storytelling in this Online eCourse!

You're invited to join me as I team up with Lisa Boisvert Mackensie of 'Celebrate the Rhythm of Life' for an online immersion into the magic of table puppet storytelling! A number of you signed up for the amazing mini-course we have just completed, and now you have the opportunity to learn how to tell stories using table puppets! I hope you'll join us! Illustrated tutorials, vocal and video instruction, personal responses to your questions from instructors and course participants, and the opportunity for instructor feedback on your personal puppetry explorations throughout the course is included in the tuition fee.

Click on the link for more info and to sign up:  TABLE PUPPET STORYTELLING

Puppetry creates an opening for magic in both the watcher and the puppet storyteller. It nourishes the senses, creates connection, and requires unique participation on the part of the audience; the more we believe the more real it becomes! Puppetry can be as uncomplicated as tucking a simple handkerchief over the hand or as elaborate as manipulating a many-tiered harness tied with multiple stings. But one look into the eyes of a delighted audience filled with children and the 'young at heart', and the certainty exists that puppetry speaks to everyone.
Create a Magical Connection with the Children in Your Care with These Storytelling Tips for Parents, Teachers and Homeschooling Families!!

Many thanks to Jada A for hosting me on her homeschooling youtube series! Are you looking for more ways to support your child or students in their journey to literacy? Please join me here at this link:
The Art of Storytelling


New Beginnings!


This article includes our upcoming puppet performance schedule, a delightful seasonal song, and a magical moving picture craft to accompany the music!

Work on the parent & educator resource "A Journey Through Winter" has begun!!

What a joyful exploration: the discovery of the basic foundational elements of the Winter season! I love the process of creating and developing materials that are engaging and fun for children and adults. This collection will include both original work and new adaptations of old favorites. It will still be some time before the project is complete, but enjoy a musical except from "A Journey Through Winter" this season. Learn a song about the brave Merganser ducks who stay and sing in the Winter time! Following each 'quack, quack' in the song, an instrument or the children may echo back.

This verse was inspired by a walk that my kindergarten children and I take to the park that adjoins our school. We delight in feeding the ducks every week on 'walk day'! 
"Little duck, little duck his beak he takes,
To dip in the waters of the clear blue lake.
Little tail up, and little beak down,
Then up pops his head and he splashes around!"--by Connie Manson

Create a finger puppet and/or a magical moving picture to accompany the song and poem. This is a craft that is engaging for both adults and children.

Children love pictures that move; watching an adult using them in a poem, song or story, and then making their own. (Note: For young children cut the duck pattern and the slit in the paper in advance.) Trace the duck pattern provided below onto a piece of card stock or water color paper. Color the duck with crayons or paint, cut out with scissors, and glue to a flat wooden craft stick. Use a piece of water color paper or card stock, laid out lengthwise (landscape style) and cut a wavy slit with a matte knife 1/3 of the way up from the bottom about 2 inches from each end. Color or paint a 'winter pond' landscape, and then operate the little duck from behind the paper to make some winter magic! If you choose to include snow in the setting, try lightly brushing craft glue over parts of the 'snow' with a brush, then sprinkle on a pinch of clear glitter or fairy dust for a little sparkle!

Pattern for Little Duck:

Cut one for Moving Picture Pattern
Cut two for Finger Puppet Pattern   

:Upcoming Puppet Performances in Southern Florida
Click here for Upcoming Performances!

The Magic of Transformation or . . .

How to Create Something from 'Nothing'
"Little Bunny has ears so tall,
Little Bunny has a tail so small.
He sits up straight and he wriggles his nose.
What does he smell, do you suppose?

He hops on his toes to a curly green top. 
He digs and he digs, and suddenly stops.
Tender carrot, not one, but two!
Little Bunny knows just what to do.

He nibbles and nibbles 'til tummy is full.
And then he hip-pity hops away. . .
Until another day!"
by Connie Manson

"When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero."--Fred Rogers

How special it is to witness the wonder on a child's face, as they watch an ordinary handkerchief transform into a bunny, or perhaps a mousie! This activity can be shared in so many environments. I've created a little handkerchief friend for babies and toddlers, pre-schoolers and grade school children in classrooms, in the home, at street fairs and more! Handkerchief puppetry works beautifully as a way to open a puppet play with audiences of all ages. This activity invites those watching to inwardly participate in the story.

You can make a doll for a child by folding up an old napkin, making two corners into legs, the other two corners into arms, a knot for the head, and painting eyes, nose, and mouth with blots of ink. Or you can buy the child what is called a “pretty” doll, with real hair and painted cheeks . . . If the children have the folded napkin before them, they have to fill in from their own imagination what is necessary to make it real and human. This work of the imagination shapes and builds the forms of the brain. The brain unfolds as the muscles of the hand unfold when they do the work they are suited for." (Rudolf Steiner-Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect and founder of Waldorf education.) The art of make-believe is enlivening for children of all ages--both the young and young at heart!

So grab a handkerchief, bandanna or table napkin and follow along to create a rabbit using an excerpt from my book "Hankey Magic".

"Hankey Magic" is a delightful hand bound collection that includes original and traditional songs and poems and stories, with generous illustrations to easily guide you into creating a variety of handkerchief friends. With simple rolls, tucks and knots create: a rabbit, the golden sun, little puppet, donkey, mousie, simple marionette, bird and a delightful silk scarf marionette like the one pictured below, left.

The package includes a hankerchief, of course! Your choice of a plain white hankey, a hand dyed hankey (brown or golden), or a batik-ed bandanna. 

More details on how to order here:
Starlite Puppets Shop