Monday, September 27, 2021


Time for Ghost Stories                

by Walt Belcher

Cold rushes of air. Faces peeking out of darkened windows. Objects falling, unexplained, to the floor.  Strange “orbs” of light, either seen with the naked eye or in photos.  And that mysterious, unexpected feeling that sends chills up the spine. You never know what might happen on a ghost tour.

Whether you are a believer in the supernatural or just love a good tale of hauntings, October is your month for things that go bump in the night.

And as Halloween approaches, ghost stories are a main attraction in Monticello, Fl., located about 20 miles east of Tallahassee.  The city is named after the Virginia estate home of Thomas Jefferson, and the Jefferson County Courthouse at the center of town is modeled after Jefferson’s Monticello.

The picturesque town also takes pride in being called “the most haunted small town in the South.”

This tiny historic village with its moss-draped trees, stately Victorian homes, creepy old jail, an 1890 opera house, and a meeting tree is home to once-a-month weekend walking tours, filled with ghostly tales. In October tours are held every weekend, culminating in a three-night Halloween event.    

The Historic Monticello Ghost Tours are a combination of history and stories about the places and people who lived and died in Monticello, says Linda Schuyler Ford, tour coordinator and nationally known storyteller.

"Schuyler" is well-know to members of the Florida Storytelling Association, having served on the board of directors and being active in the FSA annual festival. She was a featured tellers and workshop presenter at 2021 festival. Schuyler grew up in New York's Hudson Valley where folktales and stories like Washington Irving's “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” were early influences.  She says that as a child she loved Irving’s tale of a headless horseman that menaces the schoolmaster Ichabod Crane. 

Schuyler is familiar with the Old Dutch Church (the haunt of the headless horseman and final resting place of some who inspired characters such as Katrina Van Tassel and Brom Bones). Schuyler eventually became a tour guide for several years at the adjacent Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in New York.

She has been conducting tours and training volunteer tour guides in Monticello since 2018.

She says “I had no staff, no guides to work with that first year, so my storytelling friends bravely and generously stepped up to help, including Pat Nease, Robin Schulte, Paul Phelps, Rose van der Berg and Margaret Kaler.”

“As storytellers, they were quick studies, knew how to read a crowd, and offered the delicious benefit of offering traditional spooky storytelling performances.”

Now that the tours have gained traction, she hopes to add more storytelling in the future.

On a recent visit to Monticello, Schuyler was coaching a volunteer who called herself Agatha Christie.  Dressed in Victorian garb, Agatha guided the tour through several stops as a full moon peaked through the clouds. She told of spirits such as a “Woman in White” which has appeared in the window of a historical mansion.  

  During October hundreds of visitors traditionally take the tours, so         several guides are needed.  

  The Friday night tour is a two-hour jaunt through the town and the       Saturday night tour takes place in the city’s Roseland Cemetery,   established in 1847.

  The tours begin at 7:30 pm at the Monticello/Jefferson County   Chamber of Commerce, located in a small 104-year-old former   Catholic Church, which like every other building in town, might be       haunted. The tours are fund-raisers for the Chamber.

In addition to the regularly scheduled tours, the HMGT Halloweekend VIP package offers activities from 7p.m .Friday Oct 29 through 9 p.m. on Sunday Oct 31.

Guests can choose from at least four tour times. Included will be a tarot reading, a paranormal investigation workshop, and a “Macabre Magick” experience with spooky storytelling added. More surprises are planned, including the first annual HMGT town-wide Scavenger Hunt, with several prizes. The VIP Halloweekend tickets will be limited to just 25 guests (cost is $75 per ticket).

For more information see (12) Historic Monticello Ghost Tours | Facebook or reserve at

Old Jail
Linda Schulyer Ford

Other Halloween storytelling events include:

Tale Tellers of St. Augustine offers Family Friendly Gory Stories: Halloween Tales to Thrill & Chill. 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 30 at Flagler Health Village Murabella, 70 Turin Terrace. Masks required. Bring chairs for seating. $5 single. $10 family. 904-504-0402 or 949-293-7634


The Storytellers of Old Tampa Bay will be doing a full Halloween show at the Historic Tampa Theatre, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.  Admission is $10 for an evening of scary stories around the campfire under the historic movie palace’s iconic star-lit sky. It’s a family-friendly program of PG tales appropriate for all ages (who don’t mind having a chill sent down their spine). Campfire Stories - Tampa Theatre


Friday, September 10, 2021

The Upside of Zoom

                                 How I Learned to Love Zoom during COVID


                                       By Walt Belcher


Nothing beats a live audience when you are telling a story. Personal group interaction has been missing during this pandemic.

We miss those live, in-person storytelling events that have been shut down for more than a year now. As we struggled to find venues this past year, many storytellers turned to Zoom.  On the Internet, some of us faced a new learning curve.

We had to remember to “unmute.”  We had to figure out where to look, or where not to look. Those of us who are technology-challenged also had to grapple with lighting: “The glare off your eyeglasses is distracting” “Say, what’s that glow behind your head?”

I remember one session where a framed picture behind the teller was slightly crooked and I kept wanting to straighten it

Some struggled with camera angles: “Sorry, but your chin is out of the frame.”

Some struggled with Internet connections that caused the frame to freeze or the sound to break-up.  Panic sets in when “your Internet connection is unstable” pops up in the middle of a story.

We had to get used to looking at a computer screen filled with little heads in boxes – like a giant-sized version of the old game show “Hollywood Squares.”

But there has been an upside to all this. For me, personally, this COVID year has brought new friends, new discoveries, and new experiences – all thanks to Zoom.

Locally, Zoom has allowed our guild, The Storytellers of Old Tampa Bay, to swap stories, share experiences, and critique each other’s work through twice weekly Zoom sessions, hosted by veteran storyteller Ross Tarr. 

I turned my dining room into a little Zoom studio. I recovered a large piece of plywood, free from a local mobile home factory. I coated it with “green screen” paint from Home Depot. And by using Zoom’s visual effects, I can change backgrounds.  For example, when telling the origins of “Spanish Moss,” I can appear to be under a moss-laden oak.

I also learned that by hosting my own self at a Zoom meeting at which I am the only attendee, I can record and practice my stories, over and over again.

But the greatest, most wonderful thing about Zoom has been the ability to meet storytellers from around the world.

On Sunday mornings, for example, I often join the World Ceilidh, a group of tellers, poets and musicians from throughout the world. They are brought together by Marin Millenaar, a jovial storyteller, musician and tram driver based in Amsterdam.

It’s been wonderful sharing experience with tellers like the charming Rona Barbour from Ireland, Barnali Roy from India, Alastair Daniel from London, and Cathy Crawley, a former schoolteacher from Texas who now lives in Sohar, Oman.

There are many more, including the delightful Scottish teller Ann Pitcher who sketches participants every week (but still refuses to draw me like Cary Grant).

Thanks to Zoom, I get to spend time with renown storyteller Tim Tingle and the merry band that joins The Doc Moore Storytelling Guild on the third Thursday of every month. 

Originating out of Austin, this swap session is one of the highlights of my storytelling experiences. It’s just pure fun to spin yarns with this group which honors the memory of the legendary Texas tale-teller Doc Moore.

But I also enjoy Thursday afternoon Zoom sessions with the Georgia Mountain Storytellers, hosted by two fine storytellers Alex Peers and Kanute Rarey.   They welcome ideas and stories from beginners and the experienced. 

Zoom has also allowed me to join the WRAPPS 2nd Wednesday story swaps out of Cincinnati, Ohio, featuring friends and members of the Western Reserve Association for the Preservation & Perpetuation of Storytelling.  And I’ve dropped in on the Montreal Story Tellers Thursday night sessions out of Canada.

One of the more unusual story swaps I’ve found is the 99-Second Challenge, a monthly competition on Zoom in which you try to tell a true, personal story in 99-seconds. Created by Sean Wellington, it tests your ability to boil a story down to the essentials. I’ve tried several of these over the past year and made it to Grand Finale Challenge.

 Based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Wellington is a motivational speaker who also founded GRIT: True Stories that Matter, centered on mental health. He also is a former Moth & NSN Story Grand Slam winner.

Another upside of Zoom is that I’ve been able to watch several state storytelling festivals as well as online performances by some of the best tellers in the county such as Shelia Arnold, Jeff Doyle, Andy Offutt Irwin, Tim Lowry, Antonio Rocha, Bil Lepp, Anne Rutherford, Norm Brecke, Ingrid Nixon and others.

 On Zoom, I watched the National Storytelling Festival last year as well as a few state festivals such as those in Alabama and Georgia. I would never have been able to travel to all these in person. And with Zoom or Facebook Live recording, you can attend every workshop and every performance.

And while I really long to tell stories in-person before an audience, I’m going to miss all the tellers I’ve met on Zoom if these online sessions go away.


Walt Belcher is a former feature writer for The Tampa Tribune who started storytelling in 2018.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

A Storyteller's Thoughts on Storytelling


What to do When the Well Runs Dry

By Pat Nease

I was a writer before I was a storyteller, and cannot remember ever hitting a blank wall, of having no spark, no festering ideas waiting to be developed, no urge to create.  I loved assembling the frame, linking the right words together, deliberating over a phrase – or a joke – or a pun, feeling the rush when the ending made itself known.  Ideas were always popping into my head and I needed no excuse to create a story.

One of my fondest memories was, while teaching, writing an End-of-the-Year story every year for our faculty that was shared at our final gathering.  It included all the good, the bad, and the crazy things that happened during the school year – with funny asides about folks and students.  We laughed our way through it.  I wrote songs to help my 5th graders remember American history.  When I was busy entering Liar’s Contests, or presenting workshops, or telling stories for various events, I had no qualms about coming up with a new take on an old tale or waking with an idea that was unique just to me.

Until the last few years. 

I haven’t had an original creative thought since 2018.  I can’t decide if I got lazy, that maybe it was easier to keep telling the old stories that I KNEW worked, or if I was so busy with other life matters that there was no time for contemplation, for dreaming, for saying, “What if…”

I stopped keeping up my web site and calendar.  I avoided my storytelling books and magazines.  I was not inclined to watch Zoomed Teller events – remorse?   Jealousy?  Shame?  I’d be on the brink of taking down my shingle when, out of the blue, someone would invite me to tell.

I’d get away with telling my old standbys – but to a new audience.  Well.  Mostly.  So I hung on.

Meanwhile, my colleagues were delivering lovely, inspiring, thoughtful, humorous, delicious tales.

When Walt Belcher asked me to write something for the Blog, I had no ideas.  He suggested maybe something on humor or developing a whopper or my mode of creating story.  Hah.  That was an empty bucket.  But I began to reflect on the passion I seemed to have lost and wonder if I could get it back.    

I hope so.

I’m hoping the muscle can be revitalized, sort of like an athlete who has to regain strength after an injury.  And maybe that’s what I have.  An injury.  Or so I hope.  Here’s the plan:

1.      TIME for reading and writing and thinking.  Every day.  (For a while, there were not enough hours in the day, especially after Hurricane Michael.  Things are more settled now.)

2.      New experiences.  I hadn’t put my kayak in the water for over 3 years, lived near beautiful beaches but didn’t go there, let opportunities to attend a variety of events pass me by, limited my circle of friends.  Gonna’ change this!

3.      Creating opportunities for telling.  When did I stop volunteering for our senior centers?  Contacting libraries for their summer programs?  Letting my local schools know that I was alive and well and available?   My primary mode of operation has always been deadline panic.  I’d procrastinate, then be putting the finishing touches on a story the day it was to be told.  I know, I know.  Not a smart way to work, but it DID work.  Maybe the panic opened up a door in my brain that was otherwise sticky.

4.      Support from Storytellers.  If you’ve been where I am, or have an idea, or just want to offer encouragement, let me know.     I never feel more alive than when I’m sharing a story and know my listeners and I are all on the bus, barreling down the same highway.  I want to feel that way again.


Pat Nease: Storyteller,  Workshop Leader, NSN Liaison,

Florida Storytelling Association 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award

National Storytelling Association 2012 Oracle Award for Service and Leadership
Florida Storytelling's 2017 Ambassador of Storytelling Award 
4 Time Florida's Champion Liar! 
4435 Pratt Avenue 
Panama City, FL 32404-6553 

To contribute to the blog: contact Walt Belcher at



Thursday, July 8, 2021


The Tale Tellers of St. Augustine

 Surviving and Thriving in the Year of COVID

 by Debra Weller, President

     Can a storytelling guild exist for twenty-eight years? Yes, it can! 

      The Tale Tellers of St. Augustine is a performing guild of talented storytellers, poets and actors who devote themselves to storytelling as both an art form and entertainment medium. We are comprised of thirty members, some love to perform and some are story enthusiasts and supporters. TTSA is an example of what a small, local non-profit organization can accomplish. We have had a local, state and national presence in St. Augustine and beyond since 1993.

     In collaboration with local groups and service clubs, we have been able to have benefit performances on behalf of many local charities. This past year Chris Kastle and Debra Weller were able to return to some schools in the spring semester to continue our Art in Stories performances for the Crisp-Ellert Grant. 

    The storytellers told a story in classroom in the St. Augustine Schools and the children created complementary art projects which were displayed at our May Family Story Fest. In the past we have partnered with The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and the St. Johns County Public Library.  Many of our tellers have participated in the Romanza Festivale and the Celtic Festival. We are hoping to revive our Theater of the Mind: Storytelling presentations at the Limelight Theater in the winter of 2022. Tellabration and Gory Stories are on the fall line- up.

     How did we survive Pandemic restrictions? At first, we were in the stunned state trying to pivot into new safe, virtual formats like Zoom. We lost out on using the St. John’s Public Library, the Limelight Theater and using a local church for meeting and performance space. Our Board of Directors met outside when the weather permitted as we enjoyed seeing one another with social distancing precautions.  Then we began holding our second Monday of the month meetings on Zoom. It took a few meetings to get everyone familiar with the Zoom set up. It was a saving grace allowing us to conduct business meetings, hold discussions and of course tell stories!

     In January of 2021 we were able to secure a space on an outdoor stage in Vilano Beach. We scheduled four performances, Eddie and Robin Mahonen, in February, XX Marks the Spot, Celebrating Women’s History Month in March, Pirates, Crackers and Spanish Dons in April and a Family Story Festival in May. Mother Nature caused us to postpone and reschedule two of the events but we prevailed and had nice sized audiences.  There are some perils in outdoor events.

                         Audiences turned out for The Tale Tellers new location in Vilano Beach

     Our members are quite active on the state, national, and international stages. Debra Weller and Margaret Kaler serve on Board of Directors for the Florida Storytelling Festival. Many of our members have served FSA in the past and have received awards for service. We participate in the annual Florida Folk Festival. In this Pandemic year Debra Weller and Chris Kastle have participated in storytelling festivals on Zoom with audiences in India. Many members have been telling on virtual stages for NSN and other national and international programs. Storytelling has stood the test of time and has weathered the storm!

     The guild was formed in 1990 when a small group of story enthusiasts worked with the renowned Florida storyteller, Gamble Rogers to produce the first St. Augustine Storytelling Festival. After his death in 1993, the people of the town requested more stories. This tiny group joined with energy, mind and spirit to form the Tale Tellers of St. Augustine to honor one man’s simple dream of having storytelling in his hometown. We continue to honor that legacy.

   You can join the Tale Tellers of St. Augustine or support our mission by visiting our web site,

Debra Weller

Professional Storyteller
Early Childhood Consultant
@debstoryteller, Instagram
I teach people how to overcome the fear of public speaking  and  to gain confidence by engaging the audience through storytelling. 
I tell stories to delight audiences!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

How to Get Others Involved in Storytelling


Community Storytelling Is My Passion

By Caren S. Neile, Ph.D.


My father, my stepbrother and I were involved in community theater down in Fort Lauderdale. The lead actress had so many lines that she was always forgetting them. So you would be in the dressing room, which was upstairs and down the hall from the stage, and suddenly you would hear your cue half an hour before you were supposed to go on! She would forget a different part every night, so castmembers ran back and forth trying to make the performances work.

                                                                                                     -Community storyteller


There’s one thing I like even better than telling stories: giving others the opportunity to tell theirs. For two decades, I have worked with dozens of organizations and thousands of people to provide engaging ways to give voice to their stories. After all, don’t we, as storytellers, know that everyone has a story? Don’t we know the value of listening, and being listened to? Here is a gift we can give others that definitely keeps on giving.

What follows are stories from some of my experiences that may inspire you to engage in community storytelling.


Storytelling slams: One of the hottest tickets in community storytelling is the storytelling slam, a friendly competition that invites people to tell their true stories in a performance setting. I have held slams in coffee shops, a bar, and most recently online. My current sponsor is the local library.

One Sunday evening I was tired and frankly not in the mood to host the event, but it was advertised, and of course I went. One of the tellers who signed up turned out to be a ninety-year-old man, who was helped to the stage by his younger cousin. Was his story going to be relevant to the college students in the audience, I wondered? He proceeded to tell a story from his days in a Nazi concentration camp. I thought the man was nervous because his eyes were shut; it turned out that he was nearly blind.  Yet despite his age and infirmity, he kept the crowd, some of whom were seventy years younger, absolutely spellbound. I was in awe.

Professional storytelling series: What could be better than bringing great storytellers to perform in your hometown? Courtesy of local theaters, schools and libraries, I have invited dozens of nationally acclaimed storytellers. I generally take care of airport transport, and they stay at the homes of generous storytellers, friends, or at hotels.

Early on, I was able to invite one of the foremost storytellers in the country to my town. Not only was she one of my favorites, but I also had a special feeling about her from her performances. Other than briefly introducing myself at the National Storytelling Festival, however, we had never met. From the moment I picked her up at the airport, we clicked. Since then we have worked together on several projects, I have been her guest in another state a number of times, and we have maintained a rewarding personal and professional relationship. More importantly, she has shared her talents in my area through workshops and performances with storytellers, story listeners and others several times. What an unexpected gift!

Local public radio:  Public radio stations are often seeking local content. Since 2009, I have co-hosted and produced a segment that invites people in the listening area to tell brief, first-person local stories. These are edited by my co-host, who is an employee of the station. My co-host and I then discuss the story on air. The excerpt with which I began this piece is from that segment.    

Storytelling workshops for non-profits: As more non-profit administrators learn the benefits of storytelling, we have an increasing number of opportunities to help them assist their clients by offering workshops. I once led a workshop for a homeless organization. I entered into the project with some trepidation, having no idea what to expect. One man emerged as a leader in the group, paving the way for others by speaking up often and eagerly, thereby demonstrating that I was not going to judge or criticize. It was not the first time, and certainly not the last, when my “students” taught me how to be more open, honest and humble. We followed the workshop with a slam. While the stories of hardship and endurance that emerged were amazing, the looks of pride on the faces of the storytellers, listeners and administrators were priceless.

Senior communities:  They may not always hear so well, but seniors sure know how to listen. In fact, the longer people have lived, the better acquainted with storytelling they often are. I started leading a story-sharing group at a senior center in 2001; as the group changed, I found myself telling stories and doing the TimeSlips technique ( more often than listening. Nevertheless, I always gave the seniors time to tell. Assisted and independent living facilities, as well as women’s and cultural groups, are other great venues that need programming.

Storytelling performances for non-profits: Not all community storytelling is exclusive from performance, of course. I have also interviewed stakeholders and created corporate stories for non-profits. I once told a story for Goodwill Industries from the perspective of a client. Afterward my aunt, who was in the audience, told me she became so involved that she thought I was talking about myself!  


While I haven’t gotten wealthy from these endeavors, helping people get their voices heard fills me with joy. And hey, I’ll never run out of stories!

Caren S. Neile
Caren S. Neile, Ph.D., is the former chair of the National Storytelling Network and a former board member of FSA. She has taught storytelling studies at Florida Atlantic University since 2001.









Sunday, January 17, 2021


Isolation, Incubation©
by Susan O'Hara

Isolation? Incubation?

Whatever Covid-19 has done to restrict us, we must not, as artists, let it stop us, control us or limit our creative natures. For all of time, human beings have created even- during war, famine, or when imprisoned. Adversity has been a great generator of creativity. Our minds keep creating and producing story through whatever medium we have at hand.

This pandemic is a new way in which we can stop and consider the gifts of talent we have been given. We need to create out of those gifts meaningful substance that will heal others. It is a well-known fact that stories heal. By healing others through our art, we also heal ourselves. Individuals and whole communities heal and thrive through their stories.

Our young children need stories. They grow by learning to speak out in story. Our Youthful Voices participants learn to appreciate their own ideas and talents as they begin to speak out and develop a sense of community. They raise their voices and remind adults to cherish where we came from. We were, after all, children too.

Beautiful butterflies lay their tiny eggs on the underside of leaves. They become hungry caterpillars who eat and eat, sometimes destroying lovely plants. They spin unsightly cocoons that eventually become beautiful butterflies. It’s a process.

We too are like a butterfly in the making. We make mistakes, stumble and fall. Our chrysalis isn't always pretty. We pick ourselves up and learn from our mistakes, failures and successes to build really great stories for others to hear. We might always look (or feel or think) our best, but we are works in process!

I wonder what great stories Covid-19 will inspire? Stories that will explain what we learned about ourselves? Were we frightened, or brave during this time? Did our time behind the mask strengthen us or turn us into a softer version of ourselves? Did we become afraid to stretch out and learn something new? Do we become bolder? Did we learn a bit of humility? Did we learn something life changing?

 At Storyhub, we have seen how service to others helps people get through these difficult times. We have continued to help others with their stories and projects. We have grown and have made new friends. Those who truly have the passion to create and develop, continue doing so. It takes time and a team to build an artistic endeavor. Gather about you a team of dreamers with the talents to make things happen, put in your own best self, and create!  Our circumstances will change, and you will have a new body of work to share.

So don't give up or give in. Have integrity and be your best self. Reach out to like-minded creatives, support your peers, and produce. In coming together as a community, we continue to create, and grow. Turn your isolation in to incubation!

Keep on the path and journey on! Your story is counting on you!

Susan O'Hara resides on the east coast of Florida. She has been practicing the art of storytelling for 23 years. Susan also loves to coach the youth in stories and loves Youthful Voices! Susan loves incorporating puppets in her storytelling. See them on YouTube Storyhub channel. You can contact her at 

Monday, January 4, 2021


                      Storytelling in the Schools: How to Make Study Guides                        

©Katie Adams

When I was a child, I loved to act out scenes and stories and I always had big emotional reactions to events in my life. Now I realize I was… a drama queen. As I grew up I gravitated to theatrical jobs, and found myself working in a puppet theater company and doing side work as a storyteller. I discovered my favorite audiences were elementary aged children and families, and I especially liked performing in the schools.

I have a lot of inspiration, creativity, and enjoyment developing folktales and fairytales for young audiences. Schools, however, need to be able to justify art experiences in terms of their core curriculum and the required learning benchmarks the teachers have to meet. Over the years as schools have become more pressured with testing, they have had trouble supporting arts experiences for the students. If storytellers want to present their art form in schools, the challenge is how to reach across this divide.

Enter the study guide. Study guides are a bridge between creative content and required educational benchmarks.

Study guides can be made for teachers or students. I’ve always made teacher’s study guides, which means I’m talking to the teacher and giving them ideas and activities they share with their class.  Basically the Study Guide has six components.

The study guide introduces the art form, the specific art experience and the artist.  You can do a general introduction to storytelling, explaining what it is.  Then write about the actual stories you will be presenting – maybe include a synopsis. Finally include a biography about yourself and information so that students can write to you or follow you on social media. (I usually put my artist’s bio at the end of the whole study guide.)

The Study Guide makes Curriculum Connections.  Ask yourself, ”Does my story relate to Language Arts?” Most likely it does. How about science? Math? History? Music? If you can clearly see that your storytelling program deals with one or more of these study areas, you need to promote that to the teachers and schools you are working with.  Many storytellers will put “Curriculum Connections” up near the title of the study guide and list them out, i.e. Reading, Language Arts, Theater, etc.

The study guide lists Florida Standards that are covered by the arts experience and study guide activities. What are Florida Standards, you ask? According to the Florida Education Foundation, “Florida School Standards are simple statements about what students are expected to know or do as a result of what they learn in class. Standards ensure that all schools and all classrooms have the same expectations for students.“

All the teachers in the public schools in Florida have to make sure these standards are met for their class(s) in each subject. By putting applicable standards in your study guide, you help teachers connect the art of storytelling to the standards they are trying to meet. 

Where can you find these standards?

Quoting from the CPALMS website, “CPALMS is an online toolbox of information, vetted resources, and interactive tools that helps educators effectively implement teaching standards. It is the State of Florida's official source for standards information and course descriptions.”

This is a website with a ton of information – it can be overwhelming. What I usually do is click on the standards tab at the top of the home page. Then select the type of studies you want to connect your storytelling to – English Language Arts is a good one. Then select grade level and the standards will pop up with descriptions. You can read through the descriptions to see which relate to your performance and the activities in the study guide.  When you find descriptions that relate, you can copy and paste the title of the standard into your study guide. I try to have standards for each grade level, and subject, my performance is appropriate for.  I might have 10 to 20 titles of standards in my study guide.

The Study Guide presents pre-show activities the teacher can do with students to prepare them for the art experience.  Think of questions your audience may have or information they need to understand the context and setting of the story.

This includes history, geography, cultural studies, theater or audience etiquette, character education and story comparisons. You can pick discussion topics, explanations, graphics, learning games and more for your activities. Be sure they are grade appropriate and don’t forget to add corresponding standards.  

The Study Guide provides post-show activities that further engage the students in the art form and make connections to classroom studies. Sometimes making these study guides can seem tedious and uncreative, however, these pre- and post show activities can be fun to explore, develop and include in your study guide. With the post show activities, you can give instructions to encourage the students to try storytelling games, tell stories to their families, or learn to tell a folktale. You can also include activities that emphasis the connection between your storytelling and subjects such as Language arts, science, math, history, music or theater. (Don’t forget to add the corresponding standards.)

The Study Guide gives a bibliography of further reading and online resources. This is pretty self-explanatory, just make sure that your books and online resources are child friendly and grade appropriate.

So I hope if you are not already doing so, you will add study guides to your school offerings.

Here are three helpful resources.

1. - for locating Florida Standards.

2.      The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, - I always find their website and educational materials to be very inspiring.  You can go to: The Kennedy Center > Education > Resources for Educators > Digital Resources > Lessons and Activities.

3.      Talk to teachers in grade levels you work with. Teachers will brainstorm with you about how your storytelling can relate to subjects they are teaching their students.




Katie Adams is an innovative, multimedia storyteller, actress  & puppeteer. She is the founder of Make Believe Theater. You can learn more about her here:  or here

and reach her at (813) 282-4993.