The Mouse and The Winter Glove
Written by Kim Preston
Winter Story, Playgroup Story

Once upon a time, there lived a little brown mouse,
But the rain fell down and washed away his house.

He ran into the bush and found a snug wee glove;
Then down flew an owl from the gum-tree above”

“Please, is there room for me in your house?”
“Yes, do come in”, said the little brwn mouse.

They all squeezed together, it was getting rather tight
When along came a fox and gave them all a fright:

“Don’t worry, little animals, I’ll do you no harm,
I only need some shelter to keep me dry and warm.”

So they all squashed up, as close as close can be,
Then – oh – I’m sorry to say ... there came a little flea!

“No room! No room! No room!” the animals all cried,
But the flea took no notice and jumped right inside.

Alas, the little glove-house could bear the strain no more;
It burst and split right open, as its seams ripped and tore.

The animals cried out – but soon they cheered “Hooray!”
For the golden sun came shining – and they all went off to play.


A Gift of Light
Written by Anne Anderson
Winter Story

Long, long ago when the earth was still quite young, the human beings who roamed the land were very happy. The sun shone bright and hot each day. At night the warm winds encircled their near-naked bodies, while the golden flames of the fire leapt and danced to keep away any fierce beasts.

Among one tribe lived a wise man and woman. Their youngest son was named Minya, so called as he was much smaller than his brothers. Minya knew many bush sounds and his sharp eyes saw everything that moved, near and far, for he was a gatherer. But still his brothers would not let him hunt with them.

One night, as everyone sat around the crackling fire, out of the darkness swooped old crow. He screeched, “We need a new leader. Give your youngest son to us. He can see like an eagle. Do as we say, or darkness shall surround you forever more! But as crow moved towards Minya, the fire spirits leapt up singing:

“The sun shall journey far away,
Bringing crisp and cold to all who stay,
But when the darkest day is done,
The light will return for everyone!”

Crow snatched at the fire sticks and grasping them in his pointed beak, flew away into the night.

Early the next morning the brothers padded silently across the valley floor. Minya kept up at first, for he too wanted to find old crow and the fire spirits. Now Minya was alone, but suddenly he could hear all the bush sounds he knew so well. ‘ZZ-ZZ’, came to his ears. Stealthily he moved towards the soft, humming sound. There, within reach of his slender arms, was a beehive. Now everyone could have a sweet delight after their meal. But although the brothers hunted all day, nothing could they find, but an old emu’s egg and that they left behind.

As the first sunbeams danced into the cool valley, the following day, the brothers set out again, determined to hunt the crow. Minya was soon left behind, seeking darkened places where secrets could sleep. His keen eyes caught a flash of red and then another. However, all he found were succulent berries, juicy to eat. He gathered enough berries for a feast for everyone, but although the brothers hunted all day, nothing could they find, but an old crocodile and he they left behind.

The days became shorter, the chilly air nipped at fingers and toes. Food was not easily found. Many animals were hiding in darkened burrows. Still old crow and the fire spirits had not been found.

Early one morning, when the valley was clothed in mist, Minya crept away. Swiftly and surely his feet moved over boulders, making his way up the ragged mountainside to the mighty eagle’s lair. He heard the cawing of the old crow and became as still as the very rocks he was near.

Reaching the eagles nest Minya cried: “Eagle so great and true, can you tell me where to find the fire spirits to save our kind?” The wise eagle replied, “Crow like the darkness, here there is light. Seek the wombat brave and bold; he goes into the earth’s depths. He may know.”

Minya climbed upon the eagle’s back and together the soared high above the winding valley. Below, Minya could see his brothers, spears in hand, searching far and wide. The eagle descended to a small cave near the valley floor. Crawling along in the darkness, Minya could hear the echoing snores of the wombat. Softly Minya spoke to the wombat. “Wombat, so brave and bold, can you tell me where to find the spirits to save our kind?” Wombat stretched and mumbled, “Deep in the earth below, I hear sounds like no other. Within this darkness live earthly beings, they may know. Come let us go.”

Minya grasped wombat’s soft brown fur and let wombat guide him to the depths of the earth below. In the great cavern worked many earthly beings, cracking rocks and stones and making paths for the roots descending from above. Here, in the dark, light sparkled and shone like the stars in the heavens. Minya stepped forward and asked, “Dear sir, so old and wise, can you tell me where to find the fires spirits to save our kind?” The ancient being replied, “Take out light from the earth within. Guard it well and it will shine into your world, bringing your golden sun back to you.”

Minya cradled the glimmering spark in its hard stony bed. Night had descended over the land, as he made his way back to the camp. The spark began to glow, brighter and brighter. As Minya bent down to the pile of dry sticks in the middl of the camp, the fire spirits leapt up and danced once more. The elders stirred in their sleep knowing that the darkest day had passed and the light would now return.

Story notes:
‘Minya’ is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘small’


Wattle and Banksias Light up the Winter Garden
Written by Suzette Saint-Claire

There was once a beautiful garden, full of trees, flowers, sand, and a bush castle and many other special places. In the day time young children came to play games in the yard. They had many adventures climbing, hiding, digging great holes and finding all sorts of treasures.

Many other creatures lived in this beautiful garden too. There were the tiny creatures, the caterpillars, grasshoppers and snails, and some larger creatures too: the possums, birds and of course the fairies and elves who lived and worked and played in the garden.

Often when the children were in the garden all the other creatures would hide away. Some children who knew how to quietly creep through the garden could sometimes catch a glimpse of a grasshopper or a snail or even a possum or bird, and sometimes on very special days if they looked very closely they could see the fairies and elves.

But most of all these creatures loved to come out and play at the end of the day when the children had left to go home.

Now it happened that in the winter days Father Sun did not stay in the sky for very long at all and soon after all the children had left to go home the creatures did not have very long to run and play about before it was night time. So they huddled in their nests and burrows and homes in the trunks of the trees, missing their friends.

The fairies in the garden could see how sad the creatures were. One night when all the creatures were sleeping the fairies came out to dance and play in the soft light of the morning. They knew how sad the little creatures were without the bright light of the sun to light their garden. So the planned a special surprise. With their magic wands they lit all the wattle trees up with golden lights that the sunbeam dancers had given them, and they lit golden banksia lanterns to shine in the winter garden.

The next day when all the children came to play in the garden their faces beamed with joy to see the golden lights shining on the wattle and banksia tree. Some children took a branch of wattle home to show their mummies and daddies the gifts left behind from the fairies.

Later that day when all the children had gone home the garden creatures came out to play and now and then they could stay in the garden longer than before, for as the light of the sun dimmed in the afternoon winter sky, the lights of the wattle and banksia trees shone the way for all the creatures to see and play.

The Longest Night

The Longest Night
(renamed by Jennifer McCormack, originally found as "A Winter Story")
Author Unknown

The days had become shorter and shorter and colder and colder. The nights very long. At last the boy heard someone say “Tonight is the longest night of the year.”

“This must be quite special”, said the little boy, “I will go and find out why.” It was nearly dark. He put on his worn scarf, lit his little lantern and went outside. He sang:

The sunlight fast is dwindling
My little lamp need kindling
It’s beam shines far in darkest night
Dear lantern guard me with your light


Near a wattle tree he heard a scuffle. Something ran past him up into the tree. He saw two bright eyes shining. “Hello little ringtail possum,” he said. “Can you tell me what is so special about tonight?”

“I don’t know,” said the possum, “I’m just glad that the wattle trees are covered in golden flowers full of nectar,” and he scrambled further up the tree.

The little boy went on, singing (repeat song)

Then he heard “Boobook! Bookbook!”

“Who’s that?” said the boy. He looked into the tree. Two round eyes were looking at him.

“Boobook! Bookbook! What are you doing?” asked the owl.

“I have come out to find why this night is so special,” said the boy. “Can you help me?”

“Bookbook,” said the owl, “I cannot tell you, but if you are willing to search and search and keep your eyes wide open you may find out. Bookbook! Bookbook!” He flew away on silent wings.

As the boy walked on he sang (repeat song).
Then the boy stopped. Something was knocking. He listened. Indeed, some knocking was coming from behind some rocks. He listened again and he heard:

Crack, crack, the rocks we hack
Quake, quake, the mountains shake.
Bang, bang, our hammers clang.
In caverns old we seek the gold

“Goodness!” said the boy:
“Who is that kncking?
It must be the gnomes
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones
Finding the jewels
Shining them bright
Like the moon and the stars
And the golden sunlight.”

There was a movement in a crack in the rock and a little glimmer of light. He went over. “Hello!” he said, “Is anyone there?”

 A long, thin creature came out of the crack.

“What are you doing out here all alone on this longest night?”

“I am trying to find out about this special night,” said the boy.

“I will show you how special it is for us,” said the long thin creature and he led the boy inside the rock.

The boy gasped when he saw the cave shining inside the rock. His lantern lit up the jewels in the cave and the shone as bright as day and lit up the longest night.


Brave Rose Pink
Author Unknown
Winter Story

Autumn was passing, and Jack Frost was frightening all the flowers away. Even the seeds could not bear to stay above the ground, but crept underneath out of the cold. The gnomes gathered them and carried them away to Mother Earth’s warm seed beds. They tucked them in to wait for spring.

But a sweet-pea seed refused to come down. “No,” she said, “I do not wish to lie in bed all the winter. I wish to stay here and grow. I am already sprouting, and I intend to stay.” She would not be moved.

The gnomes went to Mother Earth. “There is a sweet-pea above the ground, Rose-Pink by name, who refuses to come below,” they said. “What shall we do with her?”

“Tell her that Jack Frost will nip her with his cruel fingers if she stays there,” said Mother Earth.

The gnomes took the message to Rose-Pink.

“I am strong and hardy, and will laugh at Jack Frost,” said Rose-Pink.

“Tell her the Storm King will beat her down with his great winds, and break her back,” said Mother Earth.

They went again to Rose-Pink.

“I will grow tendrils with which to hold tightly to the fence, so that the great winds cannot tear me down.”

“Tell her that the Snow Queen will bury her in her cold white snowflakes,” said Mother Earth.

“I will not die, but will push my head through the cold white snowflakes,” she said to the gnomes.

“Then leave her alone,” said Mother Earth, “She is brave, and perhaps her courage will carry her safely through the winter. If it does her reward will come in the spring.”

So Rose-Pink was left alone, and went on growing quietly by the fence, taking advantage of every little bit of sunshine that came her way.

Jack Frost nipped her with his cruel fingers but she only laughed at him.

The Storm King tried to beat her down with his great winds, but she clung to the fence with her little tendrils.

The Snow Queen came. She buried Rose-Pink in her cold white snow-flakes, but she pushed her head through and lived on.

At last the winter passed, and the soft spring air blew over the garden. The gnomes woke the seeds from their winter sleep.

“Let’s see what has happened to Rose-Pink,” they said.
“I am alive and well, very happy,” sang Rose-Pink from half-way up the fence.

She grew fast now and soon reached the top of the fence. Then came her reward, for while the other sweet-peas were only half-grown, her little buds came and her flowers opened out. Such glorious flowers they were, flushed like the sun-rise sky. Rose-Pink sang for joy, and breathed out scented happiness on every breeze.

“You have come long before your sisters,” said the Bees, “Nothing in the entire garden is as sweet and beautiful as you.”
Using Nature’s Toys as Puppets
By Sandra Busch

My story rhythm goes over a three week period. First week I tell the story, second week I use the children’s toys as puppets to tell the story; after the first day an older child will help me. The third week we dramatise the story. By this time the children have a deep connection to the story and will often speak the words themselves at the appropriate time.

Over the years I have used nature’s toys as puppets. The curly shells of different sizes make good Billy Goats and a gnarly piece of wood, the troll under the bridge. Flowers make beautiful butterflies.

This Autumn our Kindergarten garden had many different varieties of Autumn leaves and they were beautiful. I felt as if they were asking me to find a way of bringing them to the children. So on the second week of Briar Rose story, I decided to try using the leaves as puppets. Two big beautiful leaves for the King and Queen, a smaller one for the princess. The cook and kitchen boy were plainer leaves and the 13th wise woman was a dark green leaf. It worked very well and brought a wonder to the story. I realise it was my gesture that was important and the leaves became ensouled with the character. I felt it was also along the lines of the knot doll, where Rudolf Steiner recommends that simplicity leaves the child free to add what they need to add, thus encouraging the developing imagination.

After that the children played with the leaves in many varied ways. A few days later a little boy ran up to me with three lovely leaves and said “Here’s some fairies for you”.

So I wanted to share the idea of using Nature’s toys as puppets at the Vital Years Conference. The Little Wombat story is a nature story which I wrote a few years ago. It has been printed in Star Weavings before and I did tell it at an earlier Conference, but somehow it didn’t feel quite complete. I’ve refined the story in places and by using the Banksia pods, which work very well as puppets, it now feels more complete. I also felt it was a good winter stoy, the going down into the earth. In winter the life forces are drawn down into the earth.

So I hope these thoughts might be helpful for you. Enjoy your story telling.
Sandra Busch


Storytelling for Young Children: Simple Short Stories for the ‘Moment’

Written by Jennifer McCormack, ã2007.

Revised October 2009.

In this series of articles I wish to present to you some practical strategies to enhance storytelling experiences with your children at home. We will discuss some techniques, and also the potential of stories to heal. Before I introduce you to the strategies, I wish to give some background information about why telling stories (which is different, but not opposed, to reading stories) is so essential for the developing mind.

Why Oral Storytelling?
When you hear a story being told your mind creates its own pictures. These mind pictures are based on your own life experiences and the concepts you have developed up until this point in your life experiences. As you listen, you see things with your own colours, and you can add your own sounds and background noises in your mind. Someone else might tell the story, but it is your story in your head. When you ask children to retell stories the essential parts they give you will generally be correct, but the way they see things happen, and the way they understand things in the story differ from child to child. They have made that story live for themselves.

Making a story live in this way is something that can’t quite be achieved by reading a book with a child. Now at this point I want to say that book reading IS very important. It is an essential part of literacy learning. When you snuggle up with your child and enjoy a book experience together, you are doing a great deal of groundwork for their literacy development. Mem Fox insists that reading to your child for at least 10 minutes a day is the best way to kick start not only good literacy skills, but also a love of books and stories. I agree with her, however reading from books should not be the only experience of stories that children have. Picture books do not develop the ‘inner mind pictures’, and this is an essential skill for a creative thinker and successful learner.

What is the “Inner Picture”?
Young children live in the moment. While they do have an amazing capacity to remember very interesting experiences after seeing or hearing it only once, their understanding of this learning comes from living and practising and playing out a concept again and again and again. When you watch young children play, the themes of their games will not vary much until they reach about 6 years of age. Until then, children still use toys to physically represent the pictures they have in their minds. At around age five/six, children begin to draw upon their long-term memories in play and drawings. It is now that children start bringing to life those ‘inner pictures’ they have stored from listening, watching, imitating and doing. Children at this age are less reliant upon using props for their play, because much of the play is based upon “lets pretend”, or “just say”. They are now able to hold long play sessions with very little toys at all, and will often re-enact moments from their favourite stories in their games. Stories provide fuel for play. Children who have not yet developed the capacity to hold inner pictures are not ready to join in this kind of play yet.

“Children want an image, and want to think of themselves as an image, too. It is just in these things that we see how the teacher will meet the children with a truly “living” quality of soul. And this living quality works upon the children in an imponderable way – imponderable in the best sense.” Dr Rudolf Steiner, The Kingdom of Childhood.

Another word for the inner picture is Imagination. Children who are able to hold an inner picture can become creative thinkers. They are able to grasp a concept, shape it in their minds, relate it to their life experiences, and then use it in creative ways. What a truly remarkable ability – and one so necessary for overcoming abstract concepts such as reading and mathematics. While reading aloud to children will help familiarise them with text, their inner picture will help shape it in meaningful and relevant ways in their understanding.

Children who experience stories and play through mediums that often leave very little detail to the imagination (such as an excess of electronic entertainment/commercial toys/merchandise) may struggle with developing their inner pictures and creative thought life. It becomes a part of the brain that is not well used. In terms of brain development: if a part of the brain is not exercised frequently it gets taken over by other areas of brain function that require more space to store information! These children will not have had the need to exercise their thoughts and imagination, and they are out of practice. It becomes too hard. These children may find it initially difficult to sit through an oral story, especially when it is the same story told day after day, however very soon (in my experience) they become captivated. It is as if the story is a light that is trying to awaken a very sluggish and sleepy imagination. This can be hard work! And it is best achieved by setting aside time in each day when the television is turned off, putting away the toys that think for themselves (including ipods, electronic games and mobile phones for older children), lighting a candle and beginning with “Once upon a time…”

How do we tell stories without books?
Ah! What a daunting prospect! Putting the book away and telling a story from memory! Well, I will get into the nitty gritty of storytelling in later articles. We will explore the use of props, dynamics, tone, and ways to set the mood of a story. We will talk about what sort of stories are suitable for different age groups. But let us start simple. Let us start with the story of our day.

Stories are unfolding around us all the time, and young children love nothing better than to hear stories they can relate to in their daily life, especially if there is a child who has the same name as them in the story! Day-to day activities are not considered boring to young children (unless referred to, in a resigned tone, as “work”). To little children, the story of their day, or even a moment in their day is quite satisfying. These stories do not have to take long, they do not require any props, and they do not require any preparation. They are the simplest, and easiest stories to make up on the spot! You can be sweeping the floor and telling a story. You can be in the car. All you need is a short beginning and ending that remain the same for every story. You make this up, it doesn’t have to be tricky or fantastic, in fact the simpler the better. A word of warning: once you get going your child will never let you change this! What ever you do in the middle is up to you.

I have a favourite story that I tell to all age groups, from babies to adults: the story of Mr Wiggle and Mr Waggle. I learned this story when I was at university and it has stood by me for all these years since! Mr Wiggle and Mr Waggle have helped me out of many an awkward moment with big groups of children, they have helped make sad children giggle, and they have helped over-excited children settle down. All you need are your hands, and a little inspiration. The basic story goes like this:

Once upon a time there were two friends. Their names were Mr Wiggle and Mr Waggle.

Mr Wiggle lived on this hill over here, POP! (present right fist with thumb tucked in) and Mr Waggle lived on this hill over here, POP! (present left fist with thumb tucked in)..

One day Mr Wiggle decided to visit Mr Waggle. He opened his door, POP! (open fingers in right fist), came outside, POP! (pop you right thumb) and closed the door, POP! (close right fist with thumb poking out). Then he went:

Down the hill and up the hill, down the hill and up the hill, down the hill and up the hill, down the hill and up the hill… until he came to Mr Waggle’s house (Move right fist up and down across your body until it reaches the left fist)

He knocked on Mr Waggle’s door. Knock! Knock! Knock! “Hello! Mr Waggle! Are you home? Its Mr Wiggle!”

Mr Waggle opened his door (pop!), came outside (pop!) and closed his door (pop!). (same actions as per right fist)
“Oh! Hello Mr Wiggle! Do come in, you must be tired after your walk. Lets have a cup of tea.”

So Mr Waggle opened his door, POP! , they went inside, POP! (enclose both thumbs within left palm) and closed the door, POP! (close left fist).

*Mr Wiggle and Mr Waggle shared a pot of tea and ate some scones together.

When they were finished it was time for Mr Wiggle to go home. Mr Waggle opened his door, POP!, they came outside, POP! and he closed his door, POP!. 
“Goodbye Mr Wiggle, thankyou for visiting me! Do come again soon!”

“Good bye Mr Waggle,, thankyou for the cup of tea and scones.”.

Mr Wiggle went down the hill and up the hill, down the hill and up the hill, down the hill and up the hill, down the hill and up the hill…until he came to his home (Left fist stays where it is, right fist moves in an up and down motion across body back the right side)

They opened their doors, POP!, waved goodbye to each other (wiggle thumbs), went inside, POP! (fold thumbs into palms) and closed their doors (enclose thumbs in fist).

And the sun went down (right arm moves down across body), and the moon came up (left arm moves up across body), and that was the end of another day!

I love this story because in it so much happens. First of all there is the beginning and the ending: they are always the same. As are the ‘pops’. Believe me when I tell you that the children will notice if you forget a pop, or if you pop in the wrong place! These are the fun elements that attract children to the story. You say whatever you like in between, so long as the beginning, the end and the pops are always there. When I have told this story, depending upon the age of the audience and the situation, Mr Wiggle and Mr Waggle have gone swimming, fishing, boating (lost at sea and washed up on a deserted island), jungle exploring, skateboarding, driving, bicycle riding (down those hills!), cooking and picnicking. They have hung out the washing, washed dishes, tidied their rooms (because they kept losing things in them) and have ended up in hospital with broken bones many times from their adventures!

With this story you can:
-          Catch the attention of any child of any age,
-          Explore ranges of voice, using sound effects, high and low pitch, exaggerated tones. Be free!
-          Throw in little songs they might know (‘row, row, row your boat’ came in when they were on the sea)
-          Run freely with your imagination, your child’s suggestions, or even just tell the story of your child’s day,
-          Use Mr Wiggle and Mr Waggle to work through worries or fears in a humorous way,
-          Give your child a settling strategy: if they are old enough, ask them to tell you a Mr Wiggle and Mr Waggle story while you are driving the car, making dinner, waiting for playgroup to begin…

And the best thing about it is at the end of the day, it all comes good again. They always make it home for dinner and bed, the sun always goes down and the moon always comes up again. The world is good. After all, that is the message we want to pass on to our children.