Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Springful of toads

A springful of toads

Still pool mirrors sunlight,
Catches clouds, conceals passions,
Toads in mud and hearts.

In June Last year, Creeping Toad started a new project called Toadwords. It has hibernated with its namesakes over the last few months so as we all wake up into spring (I do hope, however, you’re not all sitting in ponds, spawning), I thought I would give it a shake and see if we can’t find a few more poems. There have already been soem wodnerful pieces of writing. If you "search" this blog for "Telling Toads" that should call up thee alrier entries - or that link might have worked as well

So, a challenge: we have just passed National Haiku Day (UK, yesterday). So why not get out there and enjoy some sunshine and write an amphibian Haiku? If you can’t see any of our damp friends, look at the places they love: your overgrown garden, your compost heap, or the places of peril and dread, places that are dessicating deserts for a delicate skin….

Conventionally, Haiku have 3 lines of counted syllables: 5, 7, 5. (traditional Japanese) or 10 - 14 syllables overall (English). But I was advised (by a Zen Buddhist monk) not to be trapped by structure and think of 3 lines that contain 2 observations, a pause and a reflection….take what you will and have a go!

Email them through, please!

 Or just feel amphibian and be inspired!

Walking a long road
Toad Whisperer.
Frayed boots on a hard road,
Fingerless gloves and a long coat,
Black hat shades darker eyes.
A measured step, 
An ageless amphibian patience,
And a bag of toadbones in his pocket,
The Toadman will tell
The secrets you hid,
The treasure you lost,
The love you hunger for.
He’ll tell, he’ll always tell,
Your tale to the toads.
But bribe him well,
Pay him with coin,
With food,
With favours,
Never to let the frogs know.

The original project outline is here, but below is part of it…

In this, the Froglife Year of the Toad, here at Creeping Toad, I am inviting people to add their own creative ideas to a collection of Toad (and frog and tree frog,) stories and poems.  Initially, we will aim to encourage people to share these beyond the blog where they will appear, to read them aloud, to tell stories, declaim poems by ponds and generally celebrate Toads and their cousins.

Amphibians are in danger. Of all the vertebrate groups, amphibians seem to be in the most perilous of situations as populations across the world dwindle before pollution and habitat loss and the ravages of infections they have no defence against. Froglife is a UK based charity that sets out to promote amphibian conservation through active habitat management and wider education. While, Froglife is UK-based, the issues facing amphibians are global and I hope that by sharing our stories and poems we might add a little more momentum to a wider awareness of the wonders of the amphibian worlds. The decision to launch a Year of the Toad campaign grew out of the research presented in a Froglife paper: while the wonderful (and not always sad) book In Search of Lost Frogs by Robin Moore is a great way of connecting to the issues confronting individual species across the Earth. Robin’s book is reviewed on this blog, here

Monday, 16 April 2018

Stories everywhere and other adventures

optimistic toad

Stories, masks, monsters and puppets

Creeping Toad training courses this summer

This blog has been quiet for a while but now with spring on the horizon and toads in the ponds, it’s is time to start posting events for y’all to join in with - maybe

There are two training courses are growing on the Toad horizon just now
Courses like this are aimed at teachers, rangers, environmental education specialists, playworkers and, really, anyone who is looking for activities to deliver to a group of children (or families) along creative environmental themes
Workshops aim to offer participants the chance to experiment, to experience activities for themselves and to talk about resources, workshop patterns and the tricks that make for effective delivery
If you want to find out more about the content of a workshop, you are welcome to contact me, ( if you want to book or make a booking enquiry, please contact the organisers.

If you are interested in hosting something similar in your own area, 
contact me at the creepingtoad address

collecting a knight's tale

Stories Everywhere
4th July 2018, Dartington Estate, Totnes
Organiser: Wildwise:
This workshop will include activities that can be used to help groups of all ages use language to explore, enjoy and celebrate their environment.   We will play with words: creating stories, poems, instant adventures and terrible tales.
found objects and treasures map an adventure

A day to enjoy words, this workshop encourages participants to find “adventures everywhere”…anywhere. It will offer activities designed to draw inspiration from simple observation, fostering confidence in participants own skills and encouraging innovation within supportive activity structures. The activities used will also allow ideas to merge as a number of short activities flow together to give longer more intricate adventures
The activities used here have been tried and tested with family groups, on adult events and with school children – often in situations where Literacy is an issue and activities are needed that remove worry and fear and encourage simple enjoyment of words
£80 | £95 | £120 *
* rates for individuals / voluntary-charitable organisations / businesses

finger creatures and head animals

Puppets, masks and monsters
5th July 2018, Dartington Estate, Totnes
Organiser: Wildwise:
a day finding characters, making characters, turning ourselves into wild and wonderful things: a mixture of working with found and natural materials with alternatives using more traditional materials.

boggarts will keep an eye on our making
Our activities today will start with some first principles in puppetry, those little tricks that can turn just about anything into a character to send off adventuring, before moving on to improvising with piles of twigs, leaves and mud. As the workshop progresses we will add more intricate ideas, looking at shadow puppet landscapes and movements, at mask forms that lend themselves to a whole ecology of characters and  wonderfully strange creatures who can wake up a wall of rocks laughing
The programme will include
  • first puppets: ideas for instant animation
  • improvising with natural materials: add string and a lump of clay and we’re off!
  • straightforward activities to incorporate into other sessions needing few materials
  • essential shapes and techniques to apply in other situations
  • more intricate forms of masks, puppets and shadow puppets for more determined workshops or public events
  • building giants: processes for making both big puppets and mosntrous masks
£80 | £95 | £120 *
* rates for individuals / voluntary-charitable organisations / businesses

toads adrift in a village pond