The Living Arts: Creative

Mumbuto and the White Bird, a puppet play written by Kerry B. Brokaw

Kerry writes: The story of Mumbuto and the White Bird is a transformative tale written for young children.  The life-giving baobob tree holds the central position on the set.  The base of the tree is a needle-felted trunk with a jar of water within - which holds branches of fresh green leaves to denote the branches of the tree.  Dyed silks designate the different scenes: the baobob tree and village, the river, the grasslands, and the circle of bushes.  The boy marionette, Mumbuto, is stuffed with wool roving; his hair is crocheted boucle yarn, his skin a brown cotton fabric, and he has little stones in his hands to give weight. His silk clothing comes from a hand-dyed yellow and brown scarf found at a thrift shop.   His mother (and baby brother on her back) are stuffed with an old cotton t-shirt, as I was short on wool roving at the time.

Using Our Voices with the Young Child, Part 1 by Jennifer Sullivan

This piece, taken from Jennifer’s 2013 LifeWays paper on "Becoming Worthy of Imitation," is the first of three installments on “Using Our Voices.”

My World of Language

When I first discovered my daughter was hiding snug in my tummy, my life changed.  As the months progressed, I found myself humming quietly as I prepared for her arrival.  I did not seem to notice the drastic changes within myself until I had spent weeks, perhaps months, after the birth staring at her beautiful body and witnessing the life that was continuously transformed in front of me. 

The Christmas Slippers by Suzanne Down

Dear Lifeways friends,

This Christmas story inspired one mom/teacher to start knitting slippers for homeless shelters as Christmas presents. She attaches this story to the slippers with a red ribbon for Christmas. I wet felted little story-sized slippers to use as a prop when telling this tale. I hope you tell it and enjoy telling it!

With best wishes,  Suzanne Down

“The Christmas Slippers”

The December Story this month is my adaptation of an old Russian Christmas tale. The main character is an old woman, a grandmother, or in Russian, a Babushka. I will call her Grandma Valyusha.

Grandma Valyusha lived all alone in a tiny cottage along the main street of her village. She was known far and wide to be the best seamstress in the village. Now she was getting old, and her eyes were tired from so much sewing! Once, something very special happened to her, and here is that story...

Bringing Soul Into Children's Lives, by Ana Bravo

The following is a response by Ana Bravo to the question: How have you used the LifeWays training and how well did it prepare you for your work or help your family life?

Advent Nature Scene, by Mary O'Connell

For years, advent – the four weeks prior to Christmas - in the O’Connell household has been celebrated with the gradual building of an advent nature scene on our kitchen table. I love this tradition, because it blends the Christian tradition of the advent wreath with a deeper appreciation of the natural world.

Dyeing Golden Capes for Michaelmas: A Tutorial by Mary O'Connell

We recently spent a glorious morning at the farm with some of the children and parents from Tree School, a parent cooperative preschool based at Milwaukee’s Urban Ecology Center.

Autumn Story Poem (with Finger Puppets!)

Here is a little autumn story poem for autumn harvest days.  I make apple finger puppets to help make this visual.  Just draw a small fingertip size apple – cut 2 out with red felt, add a brown stem and green leaf…easy!  Sew around it, leaving room for your finger at the bottom.  This one is so easy you can make many!!  You will need 3 apple finger puppets for this puppet poem story.

          One little apple hanging on a tree,
          It fell down and bumped my knee!
          Another little apple as rosy as a rose,
          It fell down and bumped my nose!
          Another little apple, ripe and sweet,
          It fell down and bumped my feet!
          It rolled and rolled nearly to my house,
          Where it was spotted by a tiny little mouse.
          “This yummy apple will make a fine meal,”
          And he munch munch munched it, even the peel.

The Art of Apples in the Fall

Because young children love stories, and magic, and anticipation, it can be especially enriching for children if we add those three aspects to any project that we do with them. Let's take the idea of making Apple Crisp: it can be done in half a morning.  Simply chop up some apples, stir in some cinnamon and raisins, put in a buttered dish with granola on top, and bake for an hour at 350.  Voila.  But how can you expand that project, and make it into something that your child will remember for weeks or months or even years to come?  Do it by weaving in stories, and magic, and anticipation.  

Turning On the Heater--A Dragon Ceremony, by Esther Leisher

Here in Colorado, Autumn swept in with a snowy Bang this week!  I love this idea of making a fabulous ritual out of turning on the heater for the first time in the fall, with its imagery of the dragon warming us!        -Faith


Part I, The Dragon/Heater Celebration
from Esther Leisher
Family life, and life in general, is enormously enriched if we remember to create special moments. Those moments can be festivals or holidays that much of the world is celebrating, or they can be unique to your family. Some may be so simple that you hardly know what to call them. Here are some of the ideas I had for the celebration of everyday things--turning on the heater for winter, the first hike of spring, pulling the first carrot out of the garden, celebrating an abundance of sunflowers.

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