Friday, 4 April 2014

Storytelling for a Greener World

Storytelling for a Greener World

Creeping Toad in print 2! 
I have been involved in this new book and rather than ramble on myself, I’ll use the Press Release to tell you about it!
And you can buy your own copy at: Hawthorn Press

Since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring brought environmental wellbeing to widespread attentionpollution, global warming and animal loss have risen. Despite rising environmental awareness, nature needs more care than ever.

Storytelling for a Greener World explores how storytelling and story-work enable meaningful change. Stories can help us re-connect with each other, with our environment, and ‘to see a world in a grain of sand’. Whether it is a friend describing a skein of geese in evening flight, the tale of the man protected by a tree, or children getting inspired by kittiwakes, such moving stories invite meaning and action.

The crystal clear Introduction explains the core principles and methods of story based learning, with helpful examples. Chapters by some of Britain’s finest storytellers provide a treasury of over 40 engaging stories to retell as well as:
-Clear descriptions of creative story work, activities, approaches and tips.
-Explanations of how storytelling engages people and aids learning about the environment; Analysis of successful story-based sessions.
-Advice on how to choose sustaining stories and develop innovative story work.

The 21 authors include well-known storytellers, academics, environmentalists and facilitators who have pioneered story-based learning in nature reserves, museums, botanic gardens, schools, companies, NGO’s, universities and communities. This authoritative book is an essential resource for anyone using storytelling in their work.

Editors: Alida Gersie, PhD, widely published author on story making for change, initiated and directed postgraduate arts therapies programmes worldwide, advises managers and thought-leaders on how to improve outcomes in health, environmental learning, sustainable development and the arts. Anthony Nanson, ecological storyteller and award-winning author with MA’s in science and creative writing, which he teaches at Bath Spa University. Edward Schieffelin, PhD, Emeritus Reader in Anthropology at UCL, has done research among indigenous people of Papua New Guinea for many years and worked intensely with WWF South Pacific on issues of rainforest destruction.Jon Cree, ecologist and environmental educator, chairs the Forest Schools National Network. Charlene Collinson consults on sustainability and futures thinking with government and business.

Authors: Malcolm Green, Nick Hennessy, Eric Maddern, Gordon MacLellan, Ashley Ramsden, Hugh Lupton, Chris Salisbury, Helen East, David Metcalfe, Chris Holland, Sara Hurley, Mary Medlicott, Martin Shaw, Kelvin Hall, Kevan Manwaring, Fiona Collins and the editors above.
I just loved these personal stories from the front line, teasing out what constitutes good practice both in the design and in the delivery of storytelling … In essence, it is an inspiring toolkit that will enrich the work of people who already use storytelling, and will encourage others to get stuck in. Jonathon Porritt, Foreword 

Telling Tales: Creeping Toad in print 1

Look out for Creeping Toad in print….I have an article, “Adventures are Everywhere”, in the Winter 2013 issue of Link, the magazine of the Wildlife Trusts’ younger rmembers and WATCH groups

magazine cover - you'll have to find your own
copy to delve inside!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Hatching 8: a long river pop-up

In our final Ribble Trout workshops, we were making long pop-up landscapes that fitted together to make long unfolding rivers that could run right across a classroom. These proved almost impossible to photograph effectively so i tried on my sample one without much more success!

Here are some images anyway to try to get an idea of what we were going for....

2 pop-ups locked together give us a rippling river
a third pop-up extends the flow
a close-up for the final panel

The Hatching 7 - released into the wild river

Thompson's Park: a river ready for trout?
And at last, our fingerlings swim free into the rivers of Burnley...emotional departures with songs, speeches and heartfelt moments....

fingerlings ready for release
food and friends from the riverbed?
singing our fish to freedom

the moment of freedom

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Hatching 6 - fingerlings

The fish that hatched 8 weeks ago are now ready for release

a trout river (St Peter's Primary)
In preparation for this momentous moment, our teams of bold Fishkeepers have been composing songs, making model rivers (to show their charges what to expect) and preparing farewell speeches of useful advice
trout were drawn (Springfield Primary)

A few examples follow - imageso f the fish themselves, copies of songs, and pictures of one of the releases will follow shortly!

At Ightenhill Primary School, Jenny Greenteeth herself emerged to deliver a Fare Well address

Springfield's little fish
Trout, I would like a quick word...
Look for a boytrout or girltrout friend
Avoid friends that are bigger than you
- you might end up their dinner
but remember two trout are better than one!

Watch out for the stamping hooves of horses and deer
Swim fast, flicker past, you have nothing to fear!
Watch out for the larger fish
And don't become their tea-time dish!
Hungry herons love to eat you
Hide in the gravel where they can't see you!
a river at Ightenhill Primary School

Wellies in the water are warnings of danger
So don't be tempted by the juicy maggots
Or the flies on silver hooks.
Watch out for the fishermen!

Don't swim up to the light
Even when the shadows hold pike,
They won't swallow you bit by bit,
They will swallow you in a lfick!

Stay in the weeds where you'll be safe,
Disappear in the gravel,
Do not worry,
I'll be there,
I'll protect you.
In my green hair
They won't find you
Don't be scared
I will kill them,
In the air…

In St Joseph's Primary School, the FishTeam made river hats for themselves

Monday, 24 March 2014

A summer full of stories

A Summer full of stories
Stories in school with Creeping Toad, Summer 2014

From the secret treasures of frogspawn to the first birds’ nests, bees in trees and flowers in fields, we’ll meet stories that encourage us to look with new eyes on the world around us and remember that there are stories inside the humblest of creatures and the most ordinary of plants, and that we can all have adventures too

I am releasing ideas and workshop spaces for the summer term - and through into autumn - if anyone out there would like a storytelling or workshop day in school -or as an event in a country park, nature reserve, or some other place that would enjoy a bit of extra excitement!

A day’s visit to your school might include the following: shorter sessions might include bits of one or two of these longer activities

storytelling performances: lasting up to 60 minutes for up to 90 children at a time

stories outside! using the school ground, we’ll take storymaking out of the classroom and use the immediate environment, the day’s weather and whatever we can find to inspire words, create poems and shape a set of stories never told before (allow 60 minutes for a class session)

New workshop!
puppets and headfulls of animals: like the illustration, we can make quick finger puppet animals or magnificent animal crowns. Allow an hour and a half for a class

New workshop! 
Heroes for stories: building characters - as quick puppets and as written pieces: capturing the qualities of our characters for stories: their ambitions, triumphs, disasters and secrets - skills for a richer tale

New workshop!
Limestone life: working with fossils and models of life in ancient seas, we can look at the worlds that gave us the limestones and sandstones of the British Isles adding finger puppets and rockpools from ancient seashores as we go! (allow 60 - 90 minutes)

story and book workshops: taking a bit longer (allow 90 minutes for a class) as well as discovering those stories no-one has ever heard before, now we will build those into the books that no-one has ever read before and leave the classroom with a library no-one has ever visited before!

pop-up storyscapes: allow an hour for a class: gathering ideas, images and words we’ll make quick 3-d landscapes holding the essence of a story in a setting, key characters and the words that set the adventure running

tales of old Scotland: a collection of stories of Highland folklore and Scottish histories, of heroes and sorrows, bravery and the magics of sea, mountain and moor

your own themes and ideas: or are you exploring a particular theme that you would like to involve some stories in? pirates….tropical islands….ancient cave people…..where in our school would bears live?…castle adventures,  have all featured in recent Creeping Toad projects

Charges: £250 a day: includes storyteller’s fee, travel and materials. Can be paid on the day or I can invoice you. 

To book: contact Gordon directly at
or by telephone: 
landline: 01298 77964
mobile: 07791 096857

Friday, 7 March 2014

Midnight in the Park

a lonely beast holding his packed lunch
wandered through the trees

Midnight in Victoria Park
it started with a map
troll-wallow hollow
This did begin as a sensible story-mapping and thens tory-making expedition, setting out to build a sense of a story as a physical journey by looking at the local Victoria Park in Nelson…..But then we recklessly asked "what happens here at midnight..."

The Beasts crept out of our woodwork and when the troll-bath was found and Shrek's toilet, imaginations started to escape…..

We were watched by Mr and Mrs Troll
a troll family hid in the woods

rabbit among the leaves

a troll in the mud

we beat on the enchanted door
but it would only open at midnight
we even met a collection of excited witches, princesses
and monsters on the Broomstick Bus ready to go to a party

the sinister shadows of monsters followed us
through the day-time woods
- how much more exciting would midnight be?

and when we left, the only traces of the magical world we had met
was the ring of crocus under the trees