A good time to start a story learning project

Global teacher inspiration & cooperation
The World Storytelling Day project is simply great for all educators who wants to be part of an international story community and collaborate with teachers, storytellers and pupils all over the world. It’s scheduled for Tuesday March 20 next year. It could be a day or a week long event, or it could be used as a finale or a start of a more ambitious storytelling project. So you don’t have to wait until next year, you can start right now! Continue reading


Baobab trees of Madagascar

Vanessa Bower has a beautiful origin story of the Baobab trees here The very impressive Baobab trees comes in many shapes and the Madagascar species is one of many.

The Oldest Living Tree II – Old Tjikko

Meet the swedish contestant in this search for the oldest living tree in the world, still growing strong on Fulufjället in Dalarna. With the birth of Old Tjikko we are 9.550 years back in time, 7.550 BCE. So was this 5 metre tall Norwegian Spruce around just shortly after the last glacial period ended, when only a few of the 5 million humans who lived on earth had just barely discovered farming? No. But it’s roots were. So Wikipedia declares Old Tjikko the world’s oldest living individual clonal tree. The article is well worth reading, there are also some story seeds or roots which might grow into real stories. And of course the questions around the classification and whether Metuselah or Tjikko is “really” the oldest are pedagogically useful. These questions will be even more intriguing in the third part of this series …

Visit Metuselah from school or home

By pure chance I stumbled upon a cheap, safe and student-friendly way to visit the home of Metusaleh (introduced below), by many seen as the worlds oldest tree (S/he hasn’t met his/her swedish competetitor yet, but that is a story yet to hear). Use a special gallery tour function of Google Earth! It’s a bit like a 3D computer game and I haven’t yet quite figured out how to navigate through this virtual trip. But it really widens and deepens the experience, compared to what text and photos can tell your imagination. Once you have seen it, you can’t imagine how it would be not to have experienced the landscape where all these ancient trees live. So get Google Earth (we will have other uses for it later …) Open it and at “Layers” in the bottom left column, click “Galleries”. Look for “Researching the Ancient Bristlecone Pines”. I found it on the second page of interesting tours. Successes, problems and questions can be shared in a comment!

The Earth is a wonderful storyteller

Photo Kathy Hansen

If you want to be updated on what is happening in the world of applied storytelling, especially in organizations and the corporate world, Kathy Hansen’s blog “A Storied Career” is a must. And if your pupils wants to know how to use storytelling to get a job, Kathy is the guru to listen to. Today she has a post which is far from the demands of modern life: The Earth Is the Original Non-Linear Storyteller

The oldest living tree I – Metuselah

Click to see larger photo!If storytellers staged a competition between the generally rather peaceful trees, it would probably be about which one has the best story. In a classroom, questions about which is the tallest might be more popular.

Here is the first post in a series which will bring some pedagogically useful science issues, photos, stories and a journey around the world. It is a learning quest in search of the world’s oldest living tree.

(Credit: dcrjsr @ Wikimedia Commons. Click to see larger photo!)

Old trees can be very impressive, if you have met a really old oak you can almost feel that many generations of humans have passed during the lifetime of the tree. Of course they are nowhere near as old as bacteria, which scientists have revived after a quarter of a billion years. But I was astonished to learn that some of our tree neighbours have been around since before the architect Imhotep began building pyramids.

The first contender for the title as the oldest living tree is called Metuselah. S/he lives in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of the White Mountains in California. Its exact location is kept secret because an even older tree, called Prometheus, was cut down in 1964. Metuselah is 4,842 years old (as of 2011), as measured by annual ring count.

Click to see larger photo!So what happened around 2.831 BCE, when Metuselah began to grow? Wikipedia and Timeline says that this was the time when King Gilgamesh ruled Sumer, Stonehenge and Troy were built and the first alphabets could be used on clay tablets and papyrus. In China Fu Xi, the first of the Three Emperors, is said have invented writing. And not only that, he and his sister or wife Nüwa created mankind out of clay.

So an almost endless net of science, myths & stories can be woven around the birthday of Metuselah. Not only the biblical story

The biological science safari could start at Pinus longaeva. What I would like to know are some biological answers to why these trees can be so old? What questions would you like to share?

Pure joy of storytelling …

One of the fun, simple and meaningful pedagogical activities you could do is to inspire children and young people to tell stories. It will develop their language skills, give them self-confidence and add to the atmosphere in the group. By exploring a story through telling it, they might also learn more from it. Especially by discovering valuable questions when trying to make tellable sense of it. And they will remember both the story and the lessons learned connected with it better. No you don’t need more benefits 😉 Just do it, and share your experiences here. Perhaps even with a video …

Three apples fell from heaven …

… one for the teller, one for the listeners and one for the one who asked for the story!

Many storytellers know this traditional armenian ending of a folktale. The version above highlights also the role of people like Doniazade, Sheherazade’s largely unknown sister who is the one who tricks the sultan to listen to the tales. But you can also stress the pedagogical wisdom in a story like this:

Three apples fell from heaven, one for the teller, one for the listener and one for those who understood.

See also post #137 and #138 at Storylovers and the first page of an article in Folklore (1987) So what is your favorite version?