The Tiptoes Lightly Stories

lost-lagoon-cover-book-page.jpgDo you know Tiptoes Lightly and her friends, who come alive through a series of delightful stories to share with your young children? Eurythmist Reg Down has created 8 children’s books about their adventures–check them out on his website!

Especially recommended for fall are the stories “The Most Beautiful Dragon in the Whole World” and “St. Martin’s Light” from his book The Festival of Stones. These and many other short stories are available as free downloads on his website, but the illustrations are so lovely that you’ll want to buy the complete books!

Reg has also recently edited and re-released a favorite for older children, The King of Ireland’s Son
by Padraic Colum. He has also republished Gilgamesh (5th grade) and The Children of Odin – The Book of Northern Myths by Padraic Colum (4th grade).

My children loved The King of Ireland’s Son when they were growing up, and I’m looking
forward to sharing the Tiptoes Lightly stories with grandchildren!

Sharing Longer Stories with Little Ones

Puppetry Snow Maiden closeup.jpgI’ve written a long segment in First Teacher on how to select stories to tell with younger children–they especially like simple stories with repetition, like “The Gingerbread Boy” or “The Three Little Pigs.” But what about sharing longer stories, especially if you have a mixed-age group?
Our group of 1- to 5-year-olds is a younger mix this year, so when I first told “The Snow Maiden” after Christmas break, I was losing them. Even using the adaptation by Bronja Zahligen in the WECAN book Plays for Puppets, this is still a fairly complex Russian tale.

When I found the first day that I wasn’t holding their attention, I stopped right away and said, “And tomorrow I’ll tell you what happened when….” The next day I condensed what I had told them up to then and continued in a different style, basically changing the “Waldorf ideal” of “relating what you are seeing in a very melodic voice” to being much more conversational. By being more conversational in tone–talking directly to them and being less dreamy and descriptive–I found they stayed with me. Now, having told the story every day for two weeks, I ‘m doing the puppet play and find I can be much more lyrical when they have the images in front of them and are already familiar with the songs and story.
With the mixed ages, we sit in a circle with 12 children and 3 adults, and the littlest ones (under two years of age) sit on our laps–they’re clearly not tracking, but they stay with us. I insist that the other children sit up because once one lies down everything is lost. But, in general stories are very successful: the older ones still like the simpler stories, and the younger ones are (usually!) carried by the group when I’m telling an story for older children.
Another example: I wanted to tell the Rapunzel story for the older children, so I decided to do it at the lunch table. This is a great time for stories because the younger ones are occupied with their food. But, even with the help of being at the table, I simplified the story to start with “Once upon a time there was a girl named Rapunzel” and then went back to her mother’s craving for rapunzel (a type of lettuce, rampion) and the promise the father had made to the witch, rather than being completely chronlogical in the story. The reason this was simpler was because I was “talking” to them rather than relating a dreamy tale that went on and on.
In addition to telling fairy tales and simple children’s stories, I also continue a tradition that y daughter Faith started two years ago: telling a story about “Pirate Jack” during snack (it always starts the same way, and then tells Jack’s adventures discovering distant lands, treasure and foods). Or a story about the adventures of Mauwie the Cat. They still love these ongoing stories and ask for them.
What do you find telling stories for children of mixed-ages. Be adventurous–the children will let you know what works and what doesn’t!
Puppetry, Snow Maiden.jpg

A St. Nicholas Story

A St. Nicholas Story
The Fiercest Little Animal In The Forest

Book by Terri Reinhart; illustrated by Patrick Reinhart

Terri Reinhart spent 18 years teaching kindergarten at the Denver Waldorf School. One of her favorite duties as a teacher was telling stories. She relates:
“The image of this pine marten came to me one morning after I had been struggling to find just the right St. Nicholas story to tell to my kindergarten children. I could almost see this little creature in my imagination carrying the gold coins in his teeth and dropping them into the stockings. When story time came, I just started speaking the story and I allowed the pine marten to lead me. The story in this book is what resulted. This is the first time it has been published in book form.”

The story is delightful, and the illustrations by Patrcik Reinhart bring out the charm of this story that will delight young and old alike. Through a simple tale of St. Nicholas bringing food and gifts for the poor, the book tells how the little pine marten stopped being so snarly and served the good saint.

The paperback book, in full color, costs $12.95 and is available from as well as other sources. Highly recommended!

About the Illustrator: Patrick Reinhart graduated from Beloit College with a degree in Studio Art. He has exhibited his artwork in the Wright Museum of Art in Wisconsin. Patrick has designed for the Authentic Travel magazine, drawn caricatures, created websites, and designed tattoos. His first love, however, is illustrating children’s books.

Storytelling from the Heart

Storytelling from the Heart
By Cynthia Wand

I believe that one of the greatest contributors to dis-connection from our children today is technology. I feel it is has somewhat replaced one of our most cherished threads of bonding in families, the art of storytelling.

The origins of storytelling are ancient and lost in the mist of time. I imagine one of the first stories told was perhaps around a flickering fire in the gloomy recess of a cave. Maybe a primitive hunter told his family of his successful hunt as they devoured the game that he brought home? Or, more likely, he told of how courageously he fought when a terrible animal tried to steal his kill, adding a little imaginative details to convince his hungry family that he had done all he could but was foiled by cruel fate?

The power of the story has been with us for eons and has definitely taken a back seat in the homes of many families today.

As Waldorf home schoolers for many years, and igniting our creative story telling fires from within, my husband Steven and I realized how much this lost art, brought back into our own home, established a deeper heart connection with our daughters Sophie and Sadie. They also still enjoy hearing stories about our own childhood, youth, and our adult single years.

One of my greatest joys as a mother has been centered around bedtime. Those first precious years of lighting the candle, singing the songs, telling our fairy tale and reciting our favorite bedtime verse are memories I will cherish forever.
As our first daughter Sophie reached about four years of age, my husband Steven and I began taking turns with an occasional alternative form of story telling at bedtime. Jammies were on, teeth were brushed and she anxiously waited on her bed for this weekly ritual.

We didn’t start entirely from scratch. Sophie helped us a little with her own creative expression. Each time we asked her to give us three magical objects and slip them into the pockets of our storytelling cloak, where we would then creatively weave them into the story. The more random they were the better. I don’t take credit for this style of storytelling. It was given to me from a fellow Waldorf home schooling mother, and is a great way to involve especially a young child in the creative process, as well as make for some very unusual, and inspiring stories.

When our second daughter, Sadie, was around three years of age we began also to include her in the process and asked her for three objects as well. Being over five years apart in age made for some diversity with the objects, and a total of six random objects was about my limit as far as memory was concerned. On some nights when the creativity was waning, or the fatigue waxing, I had to cheat and write them down! So I suggest if you have three or four fairly young children you may want them to contribute only one or two objects each.

Sometimes I really missed the mark. I would watch the girls as I grasped for a thread or struggled to find some humor, their faces blank, especially as Sophie grew older and more discerning. Other times, however, I felt like Hemingway, or Mark Twain, with the words just pouring from my mind and my daughters’ eyes riveted to mine. On several occasions I was so impressed by my stories that I could barely finish them because of my tears.

There were stories of death, courage, love, and stories of mystical, magical enchantment that had my girls hanging on the edge of every word. There were even stories of humor that would take them to a place of kicking their legs in hysteria. There were words like baby stroller, bunny, the sun, gnome, semi-truck and fairy all in the same story.

There were times when it took me nearly ten minutes to begin my story and times when I began with great authority in only 30 seconds.

Those fifteen to thirty minutes with my daughters were precious times. They fueled my creativity and allowed me to connect with them from the heart. Although reading to our children can be a wonderful time as well, telling a story, whether it be fictional or something from our past,bonds us together like an epoxy glue made from love. Story time honors our Spirit by allowing It to flow into the hearts of others.

What greater time than now to tell your children a story! Whether they’re two or eighteen, there is a story within you that they will connect with. There is a story about a special Christmas you experienced, a story about a time you really struggled, or there’s a story that you’ll create from three simple objects.

Whether story time is at bedtime, midday, or around the campfire, it matters not. Stories, face to face, heart to heart, are a powerful antidote to the disease of disconnection. In this day of texting, video games and computers, where children may be feeling more disconnected, stories deserve more than ever to find a place in the home, from your heart, and into theirs.

Share your stories TODAY. Your children will become more attentive, more connected, and more creative, as will you! You will begin a foundation of love and connection in the family that will be with you forever.The recent attraction and draw of technology will NEVER replace the connection established with a mother’s or father’s gift of the story.
Want your child to thrive? Give yourself to them, and find the time to spread your love, attention and your creativity through stories, and you’ll be amazed at the heart connections you will strengthen.

Steven and Cynthia Wand have been Waldorf homeschoolers and are the authors of Living The Heart Life… Letting Go of the Hard Life. They offer transformational mentoring/coaching in the area of relationships and parenting. Visit to sign up for their free Love Notes Newsletter.

Marionette Making Retreat

A marionette making retreat will be offered in Ashland, Oregon from August 4-8, 2008 with Analuisa Witt, a Waldorf kindergarten teacher who trained with Suzanne Down of Juniper Tree Puppets.
The retreat includes an early morig nature walk, euryhtmy, the theory of “Philosphy of the Gesture,” marioneete making with seil and needle felting sulptin, and practice with the marionettes. For more information contact Analuisa at or call 541-552-0231.

The Greening of Story

“The Greening of Story”
Keynote address with 2 puppet shows by Suzanne Down

When we trust the depths of goodness living in nature’s stories and share them with our children when they are young, we build skills and understanding for them to want to become the future earth healers in a challenging world. Suzanne shares practical suggestions and some of her puppetry.

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Selecting Fairy Tales

Selecting Stories from Grimm’s Fairy Tales
By David Darcy

[David Darcy is a keynote speaker at the Waldorf in the Home Conference in Fair Oaks in September, 2006 (Click on “Learn More” on the right). He has been a Waldorf class teacher, admissions director, high school teacher and sconsultant to home schoolers. He andh is family live in Austin, Texas.]

During the summer before I taught first grade at Austin Waldorf School, I read each of the stories in the Pantheon edition of The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I kept track of which I liked and which I disliked, and took notes on the plots since some of the stories are very similar to others. The simpler stories I used early in the year, saving more complex stories until the end of first grade.

The book that I used has fallen apart from use, and the notes on the stories are gone. I consult with many parents who will be using fairy tales as they homeschool their children, and the prospect of reading through the complete collection is daunting for many. The following list of my favorites is intended to guide you as you select the stories you will tell.

Although many of the images in these stories are “grim,” many experienced teachers believe that the inner pictures the children form are only as vivid or harsh as they can handle. The value of these stories is thought to be in their power to stimulate the child’s imagination by bringing archetypal images. It seems fitting that the range of these images should be as full as possible, since each strengthens the child for certain challenges he or she may face during life. I chose not to alter any of the stories when I told them. If I was not comfortable with a story in its entirety, I did not tell it at all.

Although telling a story from memory is much more difficult than reading it to children, I strongly encourage you to experience the power of telling the stories. When we read, our inner vision is divided between the printed words and the images of the story. When we tell the story, we live much more fully in the images. I firmly believe that this helps the children visualize the story in greater detail.

Telling the story also allows us to keep eye contact with the children. This enhances a dynamic that I have heard described as “the children dreaming into the storyteller.” The children are taking in the words of the storyteller, but also his or her “way of being in the world.” In a sense, our values, ideals and aspirations are conveyed to the children as they hear the stories we tell. By stepping up to the challenge to tell stories rather than read them, we become more fully ourselves, and the children absorb this along with the words that we speak.

The style of storytelling that I prefer is when the storyteller does very little with voice or movement to dramatize the story. The goal is to let the images of the story speak within the child’s imagination. Clarity of speech is emphasized so that the child will understand as much as possible. Since these stories include many images that are no longer part of daily life (such as a well, a gallows, perhaps even a cart) I encourage you to make notes as you read a story so that you can explain before you tell it what certain words mean. Better to explain before telling the story than to have questions interrupt the telling, or to have the children not understand.

Students will gain the most benefit from the inner picturing activity that accompanies listening to a story if you to make story time a “sacred space.” This may be harder in a classroom with thirty students, or it may be harder for homeschoolers because of the more casual environment. In either case, (although this may sound too authoritarian), I strongly encourage you to have the children get really quiet before you (the storyteller) say a verse (such as “Quiet your tongues, be crossed every thumb/ and fix on me deep your eyes/ then out of my mind a story will come/ ancient and lovely and wise”). Light a candle to begin story time, permit no interruptions during the story, and let the story “hover in the air” for a few moments after you finish before slowly extinguishing the candle, which signals the end of story time.

Children learn to abide by any expectations that we consistently hold, and you will find that by really protecting this time, you will give the children a great gift. Obviously for homeschoolers this means that the phones (or at least the ringers) will need to be turned off!

Ideally children should be given time immediately after the story to “ruminate” on it, so you may want to have snack and recess after the story. Just as our food must go through a process before it is useful as energy, the images in a story are most powerful when they are given time to sink in. Ideally, children should be able to sleep on a story before they are asked to remember it at all.

Because the fairy tales are so rich in imagery, children benefit greatly from hearing the same story told for three consecutive days. During the first listening, they are usually most focused on the plot. During the second listening, they know what will happen, so they can live more fully into the images. On the third day, it is common for children to inwardly tell themselves the story as they are hearing it. Each of these phases has its value, and even though in our over-stimulated society, many children become impatient or rude if they are told the same story on consecutive days, if we are clear and firm that this is how we will do it, the children will accept and benefit from the repetition.

Many people have heard that it is essential to tell these stories word-for-word as they are written. These stories use exquisite vocabulary and rich syntax, but most of us simply cannot learn stories word-for-word. I believe that this expectation has kept many people from developing their storytelling talents and kept many children from hearing these stories. I believe that the sequence of images is the most important aspect of these stories, and that you will find a few choice phrases that you will want to include. (For example, in The Donkey the king says that the donkey looks “as sour as a jug of vinegar.”) Build on these as you are able. Better to achieve something modest than to have so a lofty goal that you never venture into the role of storyteller.

On a final note, I have found that students in sixth grade benefit from a return to these stories. As their own writing matures, it is good for them to read a favorite story, focus on the vocabulary and sentence structure of one paragraph, and work to replicate the level of artistry that they find there.

I hope that these stories will be a great source of pleasure for you and your children!

Although your taste in stories may differ from mine, I encourage you to read these stories to see how you like them. They are listed in the order they appear in the Pantheon edition.

The Frog-King, or Iron Henry
The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids
The Three Little Men in the Wood
The Three Spinsters
The Three Snake-Leaves
The White Snake
The Valiant Little Tailor
Mother Holle
The Seven Ravens
Little Red-Cap
The Bremen-Town Musicians
The Singing Bone
The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs
The Wishing-Table, the Gold Ass, and the Cudgel in the Sack
King Thrushbeard
Little Snow-White
The Knapsack, the Hat, and the Horn
The Golden Bird
The Queen Bee
The Three Feathers
The Golden Goose
Jorinda and Joringel
The Pink
The Gold Children
The Poor Man and the Rich Man
The Singing Soaring Lark
The Goose-Girl
The Gnome
The King of the Golden Mountain
The Old Woman in the Wood
The Three Brothers
The Iron Stove
One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes
Iron Hans
The Donkey
The Star Money
Snow-White and Rose-Red
The Griffin
The Nixie of the Mill-Pond
The Little Folks Presents
The Spindle, the Shuttle, and the Needle
The Peasant and the Devil
The Sea-Hare
The Drummer
The Grave-Mound
The Boots of Buffalo Leather

Spring Stories and Craft Kits

Caterpillars and Butterflies!!!
from Suzanne Down

Suzanne has sent out directions for a simple spring craft project and mini puppet play with your children. Information on some of her wonderful kits follow, and you can subscribe to her newsletter at –Rahima

An easy project with little ones is creating caterpillars with a pipe cleaner and wool.

I like to use green pipe cleaners – bend them in half and turn the sharp ends under. Curl the ends to make antennae, and to hold the wool on! Wrap small tufts of colored wool snugly around the length of the pipecleaner. Good wool will stay put when wrapped snugly. Keep the tufts tiny, or you will have big globs of wool trying to be wrapped around and it will not stay on. I just set out small wisps of colors for the children to choose from…they can put many layers on, but small ones. That is it! Easy and lovely.

Butterflies are equally simple. Cut a pipe cleaner in half – I also use a green pipe cleaner for this – fold it in half again and as before, bend in the sharp ends, and curl them a bit for antennae. Have fluffs of colored wool out around 4” long or so. Let the children gather some wisps of colors, insert them in between the folded pipe cleaner and wrap the pipe cleaner around the wool…ending up with the antennae ends at the top, and the colorful wooly wings spread open wide. Some children like to use the same colors for their caterpillar and butterfly…

Now use these caterpillar and butterfly puppets with the children to tell a spring story poem.

A Caterpillar crawled to the top of a tree.
‘I think I’ll take a nap’, said he.
So under a leaf he began to creep
To spin his cocoon and he fell asleep.

All winter long he slept in his bed,
Til spring came along one day and said,
‘Wake up, wake up little sleepyhead,
Wake up, it’s time to get out of bed’.

So he opened his eyes that sunshiny day.
Oh! He was a butterfly and flew away!

(Note – I think this is traditional; I have heard it and variations of it, and used it many times over the years…if you have a source for it please let me know.)

Tips for presenting – I use a large spring green silk over my shoulder, tucked in at the back of my neck. The butterfly can be tucked in under the folds of the silk. When the caterpillar climbs up the green tree, and spins his cocoon, he can be hidden in another fold of the silk, right next to the butterfly…this way the transformation is smooth and comes out of the same space. The pipe cleaner can be bent in a curve for the caterpillar to crawl along…The butterfly will of course fly with a light touch.

Spring Resources for Classroom and Home

Spring Tales, a collection of spring poems and stories that are visually alive which make them great for puppetry, and also for telling to young children. One of my favorite stories in this book is Fairy Cradles…an adaptation of an old English legend about a dear old woman who loved her garden and helped the fairies who left their babies there while they went off to dance in the fairy ring. $10.95 plus s&h

Our Finger Puppet Book has a number of farm animal patterns and poems which come in handy for bringing fun and magic to spring farm trips to see the baby animals. $22.95 plus s&h

My personal favorite of my spring finger puppet kits made of strong wool felt is Mama Bird and her three babies in a wooly nest…This comes with a poem story. One of our best sellers, this kit is now only $12.95 plus s&h

NEW story kit: Little Brown Bulb – comes with an early spring story and needle felting kit from Felting Needle Magic © for lap puppets of little brown bulb, first crocus flower, and little ladybug, will still be appropriate in some of our northern communities…$14.95 plus s&h

NEW Blossom Baby kit by Felting Needle Magic © – a sweet flower child with softest spring wool colors for her dress and petals. Comes with felting needle and sponge workbase $9.95 plus s&h

Nature dyed Spring Hues wool bags – My favorite wool, border leceister, the very best for needle felting and wonderful for wet felting…available in luscious spring colors – great for caterpillar and butterfly activity below. This is the wool used in the kits. Large bag for many projects – $20. also available in White roving $15. bags.

With all my traveling please email is best, or call in an order 1 888-688-7333 and give me your mailing address and phone number. I will email or call you back! Payment is with check or m.o. made payable to me – Suzanne Down…mailed to PO Box 1688, Port Angeles WA 98362

The Bunny and the Snowman

The Bunny and the Snowman
by Suzanne Down

The following craft project, poem, staging information, and puppet making kit are all available from master puppeteer Suzanne Down at

The Bunny and the Snowman

I know a little snowman
Who had a carrot nose.
Along came a bunny,
And what do you suppose.
That hungry little bunny
Was looking for his lunch.
He ate that snowman’s carrot nose,
Nibble, nibble, crunch.

Theater Ideas:
Create a lap stage, floor stage, or small table top stage. Put winter hued silks down over soft forms to create a small 3-dimensional landscape of silk snow. Snowman could already be there, perhaps covered with a bit of the silk.. Gently take that silk off to reveal the snowman in the landscape as you begin.

Bunny can come from far off, in bunny movement, hop, hop … hop, hop … looking for food. When he sees the snowman’s carrot he can hop faster to the snowman and nibble the carrot. If you like, pre form the little carrot and attach it lightly with the felting needle to the snowman. Bunny can then remove it to eat it!!

Repeat the last 2 lines for more time, and even have the bunny run off with it a bit to nibble again. Singing or humming will help to introduce this sweet poem, and also to bring it to a close. You can use the silk to gently cover the bunny and snow man, indicating ‘The End’.

Winter Resources –

‘Felting Needle Magic’ – Jolly Snowman Kit – a good sized needle felted snowman table puppet … made with the finest snow white border leceister roving (my favorite wool for needle felting) with soft layers of pale blue and lilac for winter sunrise mood … topped with a top hat, a scarf, a carrot nose, and coal button eyes and buttons. Comes with easy instructions with step by step drawings, a felting needle and sponge work base. $12.95 plus s&h

Walking Snowman – a 2 finger ‘dancing’ finger puppet kit – made with the best 100% wool felt. This charming happy snowman is manipulated with 2 fingers in his legs for walking, dancing, skipping, ice skating, and has a felt cap, scarf, eyes, buttons, and a wooly carrot nose. This kit comes with a story poem to act out! $9.95 plus s&h

These and other resources are available from Suzanne Down at [Note: Suzanne is travelling in December, 2005, so orders won’t be filled until after Christmas.]

Autumn Story and Felting

What a pleasure to make felted wool puppets to illustrate an autumn story for your child! Suzanne Down of Juniper Tree School of Story and Puppetry Arts makes it easy with her wonderful new “Feltng Needle Magic” Story Kit. Suzanne writes:

“Of all the terrific autumn stories for young children, one of my favorites is a version of a little mouse looking for a winter home … there are several versions out there. He finds his home in a pumpkin patch just as the colds winds start to blow. You probably know this theme from the Mousekin series, where the little mouse finds his house in a discarded Jack-o-lantern after Halloween. Juniper Tree’s version is more of an early childhood ‘protection’ story for our times, focusing on the layers upon layers that create mouse’s safe house that serve as extra ‘skins’ for a sensitive child.

“A NEW ‘felting needle magic’ story kit is now available to create mouse, a good sized hollow needle felted pumpkin house, pumpkin leaves and vines, a walnut shell, and all the soft, warm, ‘nesting’ leaves, feathers, and such that make mouse’s house so safe and warm for winter. Therapeutic thoughts on why this story is of such healing value for young children, and presentation ideas are included with the story. Mouse Finds His Winter House Story Kit – $19.95 plus s&h includes all materials you will need for this wonderful autumn puppet story.

“You may also enjoy expanding this story to house lots of animals a la ‘the Mitten’ story … You can fit lots of animals in this hollow pumpkin! A pumpkin house can also be a centerpiece for many autumn stories, songs, and verse.”

For information, contact or see Their toll-free number is 888-688-7333 (PO Box 1688, Port Angelse, WA 98362). –Rahima