oral stories · slice of life

Tall Tales of Cletus and Roscoe

We found Oregon Dairy not long before we moved to Lancaster. And not long after we found Oregon Dairy, Ari became acquainted with Cletus and Roscoe.

Who are Cletus and Roscoe? Allow me to show you.

I have no idea which goat is Cletus and which one is Roscoe.

That’s right. Cletus and Roscoe are goats. But not just any goats. They’re two male kids who live outside of the Milkhouse Ice Cream Shop at Oregon Dairy. Ari refers to them affectionately as “my goats.”

About two months after Ari met Cletus and Roscoe, he began making up stories about them. At first, the stories were simple tales of two goats driving a shuttle bus to and from Wegmans, our favorite local grocery store. As the days passed, the stories became more complex. Ari recounted tales of Cletus and Roscoe taking all of the farm animals to Hersheypark to ride on the roller coasters while KidzBop played in the background. Just this evening, Ari began a new oral story about Cletus taking a shower with body wash while being careful not to get soap in his eyes during the hair-rinse portion of the shower.


I cannot make this stuff up.

Poor kid isn’t going to know what to do with himself once these guys go inside for the winter, right?

OBSERVATIONS · oral stories · slice of life

Storytelling Supports

20140330-150449.jpgI learned a valuable lesson about telling a story with a toddler today. Just because you rehearse a story (about something that just happened) orally doesn’t mean the child will be able to retell it in sequence.

Earlier this month, I used pictures and words to help Isabelle retell the big things that happened to her during the day. I thought the pictures were necessary since we were retelling a series of events. If you listen to the audio recording of her retell, you’ll see how well the visuals helped her retell the big events.

This morning, we were leaving the supermarket in the pouring rain. The wind blew her hood off, the umbrella inside out, and the shopping cart into the car. All the while, Isabelle, who doesn’t like the wind and the rain combined, didn’t fret. Perhaps because I was laughing, so was she. Then, her rain boot fell off as I was about to lift her up from the shopping cart to put her into the car seat. More laughter ensued.

When we got home and took off our gear, I had her retell, with about 75% success, what had happened five minutes earlier. I was so proud of her retell that I wanted her to tell the story of our walk to the car to my husband. I figured the oral retell would prepare her to do it. Take a listen and you’ll hear why retelling it once was not enough:

All she focused on was the boot! Now granted, I was a little over-animated when I retold the story, but I was trying to get her excited about the sequence of events. It didn’t work.

While I can’t draw out pictures for every retelling we do together, I can certainly provide her with more visual supports to help her storytelling going-forward.

Lesson learned.

Check out the other slice of life stories at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.
Check out the other slice of life stories at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.

OBSERVATIONS · oral stories · writing

Oral Storytelling

Last week, there were a couple of posts on Two Writing Teachers that inspired me as a parent.  Betsy wrote about writing in pre-K and Beth crafted an open letter to parents about fostering a love of writing at home. Both posts made me realize I haven’t spent a lot of time developing Isabelle’s pre-writing skills.  Sure she has a magna doodle and an easel. Sure she likes to scribble with crayons. Sure she likes to grab for a pen and make wild circles whenever possible.  But I expend most of my literacy-related energy with her fostering a love of books and working on her oral language.

Therefore, yesterday afternoon I was brainstorming ways I can help her develop some pre-writing skills and two things came to mind:

  1. Tell more oral stories.
  2. Sit down and talk about our day. Perhaps we can retell the big points of the day.  She can scribble and I can label her scibbles with one or two words.  (Not sure on that front yet.)

Last night was a strange night since we were out later than normal at Hershey Gardens for Pumpkin Glow.  While we had a great time, we didn’t get Isabelle into bed until 9:30 p.m., which is 90 minutes later than usual! As a result, she was pretty crabby. In order to calm her down I asked her if she wanted to hear a story about a time when she was a baby. She did so I told her how the two of us used to rock for hours, in the middle of the night, when she was a baby in the very same glider I was sitting with her in last night.  The story soothed her instantly and within minutes I had her in her crib without a bit of protest.

* * * * *

That thing about kids’ waking up earlier when they go to bed later is true! We heard Isabelle around 5:30 a.m. My husband went into her room and soothed her back to sleep, but that was short-lived. Therefore, I was in her room way before her usual 7:00 a.m. rising time.

I picked her up and sat her down in the chair next to me.

“Baby,” she said.

“Baby what?” I asked.

“Baby,” she said.

What could she mean? Then it hit me! “Do you want me to tell you stories of when you were a baby?” I asked.

“Yes!” she said, happy I understood.

“Okay, let’s see…” And so it began. I told her about her first summer going to the swimming pool, going in the ocean for the first time, playing in the sand for the first time (and how I didn’t think I’d ever get her clean again!), and more.  After awhile she got tired of the stories, grabbed a picture book, and said, “Mama, here!”

I moved over so she could sit beside me.  Eventually, my husband came in after 7 a.m., confused about where I was, where the baby monitor was, and why the lights were on.  I told him what we had been doing (telling stories) and soon after that he took over so I could go back to bed for an hour.

* * * * *

I came downstairs around 8:30 a.m. and found Marc and Isabelle snuggled on the couch with their legs under a blanket paging through some photo books.  I was quiet as I approached. I overheard him telling her stories of when she was younger. She was listening intently.  It was absolutely precious.



oral stories · slice of life · Waldorf Education

“Sitting” for an Oral Story/Puppet Show

There is a routine every time we follow every time my daughter and I attend parent/child class.  It goes like this:

free play

circle time





story time

closing song

outdoor play time

Free play begins at 9:00 a.m.  Snack time is usually around 10:45 a.m.  Therefore, story time happens around 11:15 a.m.  It’s a long morning for a two year-old by the time story time arrives.  Therefore, my daughter is tired.

For the past two days we’ve been at school she has laid down on her lily pad (aka: Boppy pillow) during the story.  Her pals (also two years-old) haven’t loved that.  Last Wednesday one little girl repeatedly implored her to share her lily pad.  She said, “Isabelle, share,” multiple times.  Isabelle wasn’t into it.  She continued to lay on her belly, eyes on the story.

Today, one of the little boys was displeased she had chosen to lay on the ground during the story time (which is an oral story and puppet show rolled into one).  He commanded her to “sit up and sit on my lap.”

His mom and I stifled giggles.  “Did you hear him?” she mouthed to me.

“Yes!” I mouthed back.

But Isabelle wasn’t into it.  She didn’t comply.  Instead she kept laying on the floor, head on the Boppy pillow, eyes on her teacher from her flat vantage point.  (BTW: Her teacher was telling a story that included the most exquisite felted animals.  I was captivated.  But in Isabelle’s defense, the story was about 8 – 10 minutes long.)

Eventually, Isabelle tired of the little boy asking her to sit up.  So, she did the unexpected.  She stood up and tried to run away.  One of the other moms got to her and brought her back before I did.  She laid down and then popped up again.  This time I caught up with her and said, “this is what we’re doing right now.”  I led her back to the story time by the hand.  But then she wanted to get up close and personal with her teachers puppet play board.  She went right up to it and grabbed a large pine cone (that symbolized a tree in the forest).  I promptly grabbed it from her  hand, put it back on the board, lifted her up, and held her ’til the end of the story.

Snip, snap, snout. This tale is told out.

With those words, I released Isabelle from my arms so we could sing the good-bye song.

I wonder what will happen during Wednesday’s story time…