Archives for March 2013

Create a "Tell me a story" Box

Just what is a Fireflies’ “Tell me a story” Box?

Today’s young children are living in a media-flooded environment.  For critical and creative thinking skills to develop, parents must provide opportunities for their children to process new ideas and connect the dots of language development.  That is why it is so important to read aloud to young children and engage them in language-rich communication experiences.

The Fireflies’ “Tell Me a Story” Box provides opportunities for unique family experiences that encourage language-rich communication adventures!  It’s a win-win…

Steps to creating a family “Tell Me a Story” Box:

  1. Choose a box.
    I love wooden boxes and found this gem at one of the many antique shops I have visited over the years.  As I walked through the house looking for the perfect storybox, I decided that the one, that once held teabags, would be a perfect Fireflies’ “Tell Me a Story” Box.

Select items. (imagination story prompts)
Each month we will suggest items to place in your box – items that will be used to
“Tell Me a Story”!

Because the target audience for the Fireflies’ Blog is young children [ages 3 – 7], I suggest you place only 3 – 5 items in the box.  Even though we will give suggestions based on a Fireflies’ theme and/or a specific book, please feel free to use your storytelling box anyway you want to with your family.

I chose the following items for my storybox:
-piece of blue cloth
-small box (because of our theme this month – boxes)
-bottle lid

The idea is to choose items that children will identify immediately, but can become something else, or have another imaginative use.

Once items are selected and placed in the special storybox, set the tone for engaging in this language experience.   “Oh Davis, I can’t wait to show you our new special box. It’s called a secret (surprise) storybox!  Oh I hope before bedtime we can...”  You get the idea – create anticipation.
Show your child the “Tell Me a Story” Box and open it to reveal its contents.  I revealed each one individually and ceremonially…

Hold up the blue cloth
Q.  What is this?
A.  All of the answers will very greatly depending on the age of your child.
Something blue, blue fabric, a piece of blue material, etc.

Q.  Yes, that is exactly what this is…but when we get it from the storybox, it can become anything we want it to be.   If we use our imagination, what else could this be?
A.  The goal is for your child to get use to suspending what they know to be the “right” answer and begin thinking creatively.
The sky, water, a glass of water, spilled paint, a rug or blanket…. (Oh the possibilities!)

For this first introduction to storytelling, simply go through each item in the box asking first what the item is, and then following up with what it could be.

Finally, using great enthusiasm and excitement, explain to your child that whenever they see the storybox [on the kitchen table, or coffee table, or in the child’s room], that means that they will create their very own stories using the special items they find in the storybox.

Keep the first session short by introducing your child to your family’s storybox & creating anticipation for the first family storytelling adventure.
Oh, and once you begin telling stories as a family, keep a recording device close by.  You are going to want to capture these family legacy moments on video…I promise!
During our next “Tell Me a Story” Box post I will share why I am so passionate about storytelling and the growth that comes from engaging in this activity as a family.   We will also provide ideas for story starters to place in your storybox.
HOMEWORK:  Go find a wonderful storybox for your family storytelling adventures and meet me back here next month! What items did you select for your storybox?  Send us a picture of your storybox!  Oh, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE to so you don’t miss a single post!

Deni Corbett


This is NOT a box

A Fireflies reader sent this image to us and we love it!   We hope that you have enjoyed this month’s theme – A Box!   One more activity to introduce on Wednesday, one more Fireflies CLIP book to share on Friday and then we begin our April adventure and introduce two new Fireflies’ contributors.  April is also when we will launch our first podcast series, Catching Fireflies.   Can’t wait for APRIL!


Henry’s Freedom Box

Author: Ellen Levine
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

All children have dreams and wishes. Every year we place the appropriate number of brightly lit candles on beautifully iced cakes and say, “Make a wish!”  But things were different for Henry…

Henry Brown wasn’t sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren’t allowed to know their birthdays.

But Henry still had dreams. He dreamed of a world where his life belonged to him.  Throughout Henry’s life, he experienced much joy and sorrow, but never lost sight of his dream. One morning he saw a little bird flying free in the open sky and an idea came to him. He realized what he must do in order to gain his freedom.  Henry found a large wooden box and said to his friends, “I will mail myself to place where there are no slaves!”

The adventure began! How would Henry make it stuffed in a box?  He was tossed on a railway car, then a steamboat, then another railway car – to travel all the way to Philadelphia with only a few biscuits and a small container of water.  Perhaps he will end up with a birthday “date” after all – hmm, it’s almost here!

“Henry, do you see those leaves blowing in the wind?
They are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families.”
Henry “Box” Brown was one of the Underground Railroad’s most famous runaway slaves.

Want more information about the true story that inspired this book?
CLICK HERE to view an intriguing interview with author, Ellen Levine.

Mary Byrne Kline


An Out-of-the-Box Masterpiece

Most artists think out of the box; Louise Nevelson, our featured artist, thinks out of the box within the box!    This intriguing maze of “boxes” is filled with layers of textures and forms that make you want to take a closer look!  Wouldn’t it be fun to be a little mouse and climb around inside and check out all the nooks and crannies in this piece?  It is called “Dawn’s Wedding Chapel II.”   

Discussion Questions:

  • What is a wedding chapel?
    (It’s a place where you get married.)
  • Looking at the name of this art piece, “Dawn’s Wedding Chapel II,” why do you think she chose one color, and, in particular, this color? 
    (The color is white/off-white which is the color most brides wear.  It is
    one color to show unity, like the unity in marriage where the two become one.)
  • When you look at how the “boxes” are balanced, does it feel good to you, like the you are confident the boxes are going to stay “put” and not topple over?  
    (Yes!  It has a feel of
    formality in its balance. Weddings are often very formal.)
  • Do you think if you divided this sculpture down the middle each side would be equal? (No, not exactly equal like a mirror image, but it IS equal around the outside shape.)

    A Fireflies’ Visual Response to
    Nevelson’s Dawn’s Wedding Chapel II
    Want make your own Louise Nevelson inspired sculpture?  Let’s give it a try!

    Here is what you will need:
    • One (1) recycle bin full of “stuff”  — including Two (2) egg cartons!
    • Some adhesive to glue the egg cartons and “stuff” together
    • Spray Paint – white, off-white, silver, grey, whatever you have on hand — you just need a single color
    • “Woodsies” popsicle sticks and various shapes
    • Tooth picks
    • Scissors
      I LOVE glue dots for this project! Please, please please let your kids use them! 
    Kids love that they can glue, like hot glue but cold, all by themselves!
    It took me a while to gather all the “stuff” and figure out how to put it all together. 
    Then, I cut…
    With the help of a little curious furry friend…  
    Next it’s time to glue dot or tape it all together …
    See how the base is the top of an 18-ct egg crate?  The rest is just parts of a regular styrofoam egg crate and a take-out tray,  all from the trash!  Gotta love to recycle!
     Checking it out with the computer image:
    Once you get the pieces cut, let children tape the sections where they want after looking at the picture of Louise Nevelson’s “Dawn’s Wedding Chapel II” and see what they come up with.  It doesn’t have to be perfect; they may come up with something entirely different!
    Have children peel the glue dots from the sheet and stick on the end of popsicle stick, “woodsies,” toothpicks and other recycled “stuff” to finish their sculpture.
    You can even cut the popsicle sticks.
    Snipping and glue-dotting, put recycled “stuff” and woodsies in layers in the boxes until you’re happy with the outcome.  Time to spray paint!

    Here’s the sample finished project:
    Isn’t this cool? Can you see the bird on the left, sitting on top of the toilet paper roll?
    Just had to put my own “signature” in there just for fun.  I cut him out of a box that was in the trash. What will you add to make it “yours?”
    “I always wanted to show the world that art is everywhere,
    except it has to pass through a creative mind.”—Louise Nevelson
    Have fun learning about Louise Nevelson, enjoy recycling, and letting your little ones glue-dot “stuff” everywhere till the cows come home!  You will teach them to think out of the box within the box!

    Who is Louise Nevelson?   
    Our artist was born on September 23, 1899, in Pereyaslav near Kiev, Russia.  When she was 6 years old, her family moved to the United States where her dad established a lumber business, building and selling houses.  She studied voice, drama, and art in college.  She worked as an extra in films in Berlin and Vienna.  She traveled in Europe and eventually became an assistant to Diego Rivera, helping with his famous mural for The New Workers’ School, New York.  She studied sculpture as well and much of her work is done in wood like the one above.  Being that her father worked with wood, isn’t it interesting that her sculptures were often in wood?
    For older students, see my post at:
    Love and blessings,
    Laura Bird Miller, Artist/Art Instructor