Gather Around: Stories to Share and Make

Writing Project colleagues and friends have put together storytelling/storymaking resources for use by your students or national park visitors. Share your response and stories on social media using #writeout or send a postcard back to the Storytellers; they can’t wait to hear from all of you!


Week 2

Star Stories with Phyllis Stone

Phyllis R. Stone is an Elder of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and works as speaker, activist as well as storyteller. Based in Lincoln, Nebraska, Phyllis shares with us stories of the stars as well as her language and tradition of storytelling. 

This video is 10’31” and is intended for middle aged students although probably of interest to a full range of ages.

Respond to Phyllis online using the hashtag #writeout or reach her via email, lakotawinyan1@gmail.com

If I Were a Park Ranger with Catherine Stier

Catherine Stier won a creative writing contest—in first grade. Since then she has authored fifteen children’s books and numerous magazine and newspaper articles. Catherine is a member of the NWP’s Writers Council and is committed to youth writing and sharing their own stories. 

This video is 5’44” and was created to capture and inspire the youngest writers, but also the young at heart. The recording includes a partial reading of her book and her sharing her own experiences as a kid visiting a National Park to prompt young writers to share or imagine their own. An If I Were A Park Ranger Activity page is also available for download and use.

Learn more about Catherine at http://www.catherinestier.com/. Respond to her with the hashtag #writeout or send her a postcard:
Catherine Stier, Author
℅ Albert Whitman & Company
250 S Northwest Hwy, Suite 320
Park Ridge, IL 60068

Ghost Stories around the Campfire with KC Storytellers

KC Storytellers is a project of the Greater Kansas City Writing Project which brings together students from diverse high schools from across Kansas City to help build a better, and less racist, community by sharing our stories with each other. These KC Storytellers share their creepy ghost stories (you’ve been warned :)!

This video is 21’21” and includes stories by four KC storytellers: Maya Sawan Wood, Tahraji Milsap, Kyler Gher, Chi-Chi Echendu. They are introduced by Katie Kline and Mary Beth Rich of the Greater Kansas City Writing Project and Jamie Mayo of the Kansas City Public Library. Intended for high school audiences and above; pdf resources included to support other writers to compose their own.

Learn more about KC Storytellers at https://kcstorytellers.org/. Respond to them with the hashtag #writeout and tag them on Twitter via Katie Kline at the Greater Kansas City Writing Project @gkcwpkline

Under ancient blue Challenge with the Redford Center

The oldest human tradition is to gather in circles and communities to tell stories and share experiences so that we might expand our point of view and better understand ourselves, our world and our relationship to all that exists in this environment as a whole.

How have people tried to explore, describe, map, calculate, and express their “environment”, and as we gather now, what new stories and visions can be shared? Who will tell them, and with what inspirations and experiences guiding them? Explore these questions with Robert Redford in this Summit Opening video (4”01’).

Warm Up – Some questions for reflection after watching the video:

  • Robert Redford begins, “It’s been said that if we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” What does this mean to you?
  • What strength, creativity, or greater sense for our life and world, might we gain for newly looking nature?
  • When people in the future look back at this time in history, what will they learn from us?

Writing prompt – Here is a first line to experiment with, and a few words (in parentheses) to include in your writing: Under ancient blue… (council, stories, circles)

An example:

Under ancient blue
council of dreams
flowers blossom
unseen mysteries
beat of my heart
sun is my soul
we gather
the stories of our future held now
hawk circles the sky
in the shape of the moon

Respond to the Redford Center with the hashtags #rcstories #writeout and tag them on Twitter @redfordcenter

The Legend of Hannah Cranna as told by Storyteller Susan Selk

Susan Selk is a school Library Media Specialist and storyteller. Here she tells the Legend of Hannah Cranna which is well known in Connecticut. Hannah may have been a witch who lived in Monroe and was known for casting spells and putting curses on people who treated her poorly or did not help her when she needed it. Susan challenges listeners to read about local legends, do some research into the story and the time period the legend takes place in, and retell the legends.

It is appropriate for upper elementary through high school. The recording is 31:39 and includes an introduction and an 18 minute story.

Respond to Susan with the hashtag #writeout or send her a postcard: 
Susan Selk
Fairfield Warde High School
755 Melville Ave
Fairfield, CT 06825

Why Some Plants Stay Green with Paula Comeau

Paula Comeau is a native of South Dakota. She teaches at North Dakota State College of Science, works as a Naturalist for the Department of Natural Resources in Minnesota, is a storyteller, and a dancer. 

Here Paula reads from the book Native Plant Stories by Joseph Bruchac. This video is 3’04” and is intended for all ages.

Respond to Paula online using the hashtag #writeout or send her a postcard:
Paula Comeau
c/o Red River Valley Writing Project
Dept 2320 PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050


Week 1

Abiyoyo with Lisa Browne of Colorful Stories

Lisa Browne is an Early Childhood educator, trainer and consultant who lives in Philadelphia. She uses books as tools with an unapologetic emphasis on Black books. Growing up in South Africa she remembers telling stories with friends and family outside and around the campfire and shares her version of Abiyoyo to encourage young people to do the same.

This video is 12’47” and was created to capture and inspire the youngest writers, but also the young at heart. The recording includes a full story followed by a prompt for young people to write and share their own.

Learn more about Lisa and Colorful Stories and follow her on Instagram. Respond to her with the hashtag #writeout or send her a postcard: Lisa Browne
3916 Locust Walk Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104

How to Tell Stories Around the Campfire with Storyteller Kevin D. Cordi

Writing Project teacher-leader and storyteller Kevin Cordi invites us to sit down around a campfire to share the gift of story. In this video he shares tips and tricks for story composing and telling so that you can tell a story that has the listener/reader “leaning in” for more!

Created for upper elementary and middle grades; although probably useful at all levels. Note that this recording is 18’06” and includes pauses for writing.

Learn more about Kevin at https://www.kevincordi.com/, on Facebook, or Twitter. Respond to him with the hashtag #writeout or send him a postcard:
Kevin Cordi
2570 Glenmawr Ave
Columbus, Ohio 43202

Hip Hop Forestry: Stories Happen in Forests by Dr. Easley and The Dogwood Alliance

Dr. Thomas Easley is the Assistant Dean of Community and Inclusion in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. He is also  a “Southern Black Gentleman, diversity leader, professor, speaker, hip hop artist, author, and lover of fitness” who can be found on Instagram at rashadeas.

This video is 2’29” and was created by the Dogwood Alliance, an activist and organizing group mobilizing to protect forests. The questions for writers below are geared towards middle and high school students but might spark excitement at any age.

For Write Out, Dr. Easley asks youth to write in response to the video and/or do their own freestyling. 

Write in response to the video:

  • The trees have stories to tell—what have the trees near you actually witnessed?
  • What is a forest? 
  • What would it be like to be out there? What do you imagine your experience would be like and why?
  • Why is access to forested areas available for some people and harder to reach for others?

Do your own freestyling:

  • Go outside and compose/write near a tree
  • Come back inside; note how your body feels coming from the outside to the inside
  • Add that to your composition/writing

Share on social media with the hashtag #writeout and tag Dr. Easley on Instagram (rashadeas).

Hope and Wonder Challenge with the Redford Center

The Redford Stories Project is an environmental justice storytelling initiative for young people (5th-8th grade). This year, the Stories Project invites young people ages 10-14 to join a journey and articulate their wisdom as authors of humanity’s collective narrative.

Stories Project starts with a prompt about hope and imagination:

Warm Up – 5 things in nature that give you hope.

This could be done as an illustration with words, short poem, class word cloud, or short reflection.

Writing prompt – Here is the first line and some words to use in what you write: In the light of morning, sky-dreamer… (echo, blue)

An example:

In the light of morning, sky-dreamer
awakens in the echoes of imagination
stretching out beneath day-bright stars
breathing soft plumes of blue 

Inspiration – Image the Future with Xiye Bastida

Respond to the Redford Center with the hashtags #rcstories #writeout and tag them on Twitter @redfordcenter

The Secret Lives of Animals with Heather Hummel of the Little Rock Writing Project

Poet, NWP Writers Council member, and Little Rock Writing Project Director Heather Hummel prompts young writers to create nature poems that imagine the secret life of an animal.

This video is 3’22” and was created to capture and inspire the youngest writers, and the young at heart. A related PDF is also available.

Respond to Heather with the hashtag #writeout or send a postcard:
Heather Hummel
Little Rock Writing Project
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
2801 S. University Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72204