little bug

A Story Emerging…

May 7, 2017
Written by Johanna

Spring is coming. Plants, birds, animals are all emerging from the cold of the winter. It feels like we are emerging too. And with the emergence of spring comes new stories. Stories to enliven and inspire us.

“The Singing Tree” is the story that the kids and I are exploring at the moment, and it fits perfectly into this theme of spring, growth and fresh possibility.

The story takes place in Persia, and begins with a Shah who marries a sweet and kind woman from the village. This woman has two sisters, and they are not at all pleased that their sister was chosen as the Shah’s wife. They seek revenge by sneakily replacing her first-born baby with a puppy, her second-born with a cat, and her third-born with a lamb. The real babies they place in baskets and put into the river.

Luckily, the Shah’s gardener and his wife rescue all three babies and raise them as their own. They grow up well and happy as Fareed, Fouad and Feyrouz. Feyrouz, the sister, loves her adopted father very much and is determined to make the garden around their house the most beautiful garden anyone has ever seen.

A wise old woman informs her that her garden will never be complete without three things: a speaking bird, a singing tree and golden water. And here is where the real adventure begins…

While this story is quite complex, there are many elements that make it appealing and exciting for preschoolers, like the babies being swapped for animals, and the adventure Feyrouz must embark upon to find the speaking bird, singing tree and golden water. It is this adventure that is inspiring our own explorations.

We’ve been thinking already about what kinds of things we find in gardens and what makes a garden beautiful, and last week we ventured out for a real world experience and to get some first-hand data. We went on a bus ride downtown to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Gardens to see what we could find in the way of inspiration. Much like in the story, however, we encountered an obstacle in our path. The Sun Yat Sen gardens were closed due to pond maintenance! Well, in the story, Feyrouz and her brothers must try three times before they are successful in finding the speaking bird, singing tree and golden water, so perhaps we will need to do the same…

As is so often the case with children, anything can be turned into an adventure, so we did get some inspiration after all, finding roosters, statues, trees, rocks, symbols, artwork, bicycles that were turned into gardens, and much more (though to Mattis’s dismay, we didn’t find any walruses…).

We will be taking inspiration from what we have found and using the story as a jumping off point to begin planting and creating our very own mini-garden. Over the course of this season’s Big Kids Club, I hope to find the speaking bird, singing tree and golden water for our garden as well. Or perhaps we will take the kids ideas and make our own version, in which case our garden will likely include walruses…

Stay tuned and join us on our adventures of gardening and magic!

May 8 – Planting our Garden
May 15 – Painting Stones on the Path
May 22 – Closed for the Long Weekend
May 29 – Field Trip! The Singing tree in Queen E. Park 
June 5 – Creatures for the Garden 
June 12 – Making Golden Water
June 19 – The Shah returns: A Garden Party
June 26 – Field Trip! Cottonwood Garden


A Garden of Stories

April 5, 2017
Written by Johanna

Good stories are timeless. And yet some stories are more suited to certain times. In order to more deeply understand and feel a story, sometimes the right context is necessary.

Often, in the busy-ness of life, we can forget to give time to stories. To our own stories, and to the stories that may not come from us, but that add richness and meaning to our lives.

Kids, if we encourage them, love giving time to stories. They will listen to the same story over and over and over again. Last Big Kids Club season, we told the story of Aladdin every Monday for three months, and the kids never tired of it! In fact, it worked so well to stay with one story, that I never got to dive into the second Arabian Nights tale that I had planned.

Luckily, there’s a new season beginning, and it comes at the perfect time for our next story…

Welcome (again) to the Arabian Nights! Our new story, “The Singing Tree”, comes from the Barefoot Books version of The Arabian Nights tales.

And this season, the season of spring, is the perfect time to tell it. Much like the story of Aladdin, there are many magical elements to this story. It also follows the archetypal hero’s (or heroine’s) journey. In this case there is a special quest that the Princess must undertake, involving a speaking bird, a singing tree and golden water.

I love this story for two main reasons. One, is that it features a female protagonist, the princess who completes the quest in the end, even when her brothers cannot. And two, because it weaves together magic and nature.

To me, nature is inherently magical, and although this story depicts the magic of nature in a more fantastical way, it brings it to life and reminds us of nature’s wisdom. And what better season to celebrate nature’s wonders than the season that brings nature back to life?

This Monday’s BKC season will be all about the magic of nature, and using this magic to help our story’s heroine complete her quest!

This week we’ll be starting off our adventures on a neighbourhood walk, using our own superpower listening skills with the help of Paul Showers’ book, “The Listening Walk” (click the title to hear the story).

If your child loves stories, magic and nature, book them in on Monday afternoons from 1-4pm, as our garden of stories continues! Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come…

April 3 – A Neighbourhood Listening Walk

April 10 – “The Singing Tree” begins…

April 17 – Our Own Magic Speaking Birds

April 24 – The Quest Begins: Turning to Stone

May 1 – The Quest Continues: Our First Task


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