A Story for Hurricane Harvey

A Story for Hurricane Harvey

A story and activity for children and parents.  I wanted a Hurricane story to tell my students, but couldn’t find one, so I loosely adapted this from the Chippewa tale Shingebiss.  Themes are endurance, focus on friendships and the positive, and that bad things do end.

My hopes are that the story will help children process their feelings and be comforted.  The activities and especially the inspired free play afterwards is where children can further work out how they feel and also make sense of the event in their own way.

My heart goes out to my city.

click here for the printable pdf:

Story for Hurricane Harvey and Activities: Printable version

(beautiful pictures swiped from this  article)

Once upon a time there lived a little squirrel in a cozy cozy squirrel nest at the top of a big pine tree.  She loved the mockingbird in the tree, the rat who lived in the wall on the house just next to the tree, and the raccoons who lived in the tree next door.  She loved to watch the sun shine through the green pine needles of her tree, and feel it swaying in the breeze to rock her to sleep at night.

But one day, the sun disappeared behind dark clouds.  Her tree began to sway, sway, sway.  The little squirrel was scared.  “It’s a hurricane,” said the mockingbird.

It was true.

Far out in the middle of the sea, there was a tiny raindrop who was very, very angry.  The tiny raindrop was so angry he began to spin and spin and spin.  He had long, long hair, and his hair whipped all around him.  With every spin he grew older and bigger, taller and stronger, stronger,  stronger.

He grew the size of a house. He spun faster.

He grew the size of a mountain.  He spun faster.

He grew to be almost the size of Texas.  He spun faster.  And then, he thought he’d go traveling.

And the whole time, he was spinning.

If you’ve ever spun and spun, you know that you can’t walk very well when you are doing that.  Well, neither could Hurricane Harvey.  Spinning, spinning, not looking where he was going.  He spun all over the land, bumping into things, knocking them down, flooding them.  Now, he couldn’t stop even if he wanted to.

Squirrel was hiding in her cozy nest in her tree.  The mockingbird’s nest blew away, so she huddled in with squirrel.  The tree blew and blew but didn’t fall down.

I don’t care I don’t care

windy hair, windy hair

Spin, spin, spin!

-screamed the Hurricane.

Squirrel sang out:

“You can’t spin forever, your spinning is done.

The sun will come, the sun will come!”

But Hurricane Harvey only laughed, because the sun was no where to be seen.

He blew the tree down.

Now squirrel and mockingbird didn’t have a home.  But the raccoons were passing by in a boat and they pulled their friends on board.  They were safe.

I don’t care I don’t care

windy hair, windy hair

Spin, spin, spin!

Hurricane was still spinning, trying to blow them off the boat.  He was so angry he was crying and his tears made so much rain.

But squirrel sang:

“You can’t spin forever, your spinning is done.

The sun will come, the sun will come!”

The raccoons took their friends to rat’s house.  It was in the wall of a house and the house was still okay.  All the animals huddled together, safe and warm.

I don’t care I don’t care

windy hair, windy hair

Spin, spin, spin!

But Harvey was spinning slower.  He was running out of water.

“I’m tired of spinning,” he sighed.  He was so tired.

The animals sang:

“You can’t spin forever, your spinning is done.

Here comes the Sun.  Here comes the SUN.

The sun will dry up every drop

Spinning, spinning, spinning- STOP.”


The sun was coming out.  So golden and strong and full of light.


Harvey became tiny.  He became a tiny raindrop again.  He fell down and went to sleep.  He was so tired of spinning.

The water dried up.  The animals helped squirrel find a new tree and they built her a new home.  She helped the raccoons and mockingbird build new nests.  The rat cooked them dinner.  They were safe and warm and so happy to be friends.

And the sun was making a rainbow again.

Snip, snap, snout

Our tale is all told out.

The End

(Here is a puppet show version I made from the story.)

Art Activity:

Draw Harvey

Materials: paper, bigger the better.  Crayons.  Water color.  Can also use glitter, bits of tin foil.

Adult narrator:

“Harvey was like a tiny dot you make with a crayon.

Make tiny scribbles, around and around.  Slowly, slowly.

Now go a little faster…

and a little faster….

Now really really fast!

And slower- the sun is coming.



and…. stop.”

Children can paint over the crayon drawings with watercolor, and decorate with bits of foil or glitter.


Movement Activity:


Need: small drum or empty wastebasket to be a makeshift drum.  Could also just clap.

Long streams of paper: crepe paper, toilet paper

Flashlight, if you have one.



-Narrator- adult or older child for the first few times.

-One child to be hurricane.  Hurricane holds long streamers in her hands. (Helpful: to mark out a square or circle with masking tape or designate a rug for Hurricane, so Hurricane knows where her boundaries are and will not hurt herself..)

-One or more child to be Sun. Sun holds the flashlight.

-Extra children can be baby animals, hiding under a table or in some sort of “shelter.”  Stuffed animals can be good props.


Hurricane child begins on the floor like a little tiny raindrop.


Narrator slowly chants, accompanied by drum or clapping:


I don’t care I don’t care

windy hair, windy hair

Spin, spin, spin!


Slowly.  “Now the raindrop gets bigger.  Stand up!”

Chant again. Faster.  “Now you are a hurricane!  Go faster!

Chant again, very fast.



Chanter stops drumming.  Sun child comes out and shines flashlight on Hurricane child.

Chanter says:


“You can’t spin forever, your spinning is done.

Here comes the Sun.  Here comes the SUN.


The sun will dry up every drop

Spinning, spinning, spinning- STOP.”


“Fall to the ground now Hurricane!  You are finished!”


The end.


Repeat until children lose interest, then let them loose with toilet paper, the shelter, and the flashlight and let them free play!

SunBee Classes for Elementary-aged children at Beehive!


Girl who became a Fox after hearing “The Magic Tea Kettle” story

SunBee friends, I hope you are having a wonderful summer!

I will be offering two after school programs for elementary-aged children this year.  Classes take place at Beehive preschool, right next to West University Elementary School.  Safety patrol will escort the children from West U to the Beehive playground.  The kids will have a snack and break, and class will begin around 3:15.

K-2 Program

Mondays after school until 4:30, beginning September 11 (SunBee recommends that kindergarten friends begin on Sept. 18, to give them time to adjust to the longer days and all the new things of Kindergarten!)

This program is based on fairy tales from around the world.  Children relax outdoors after school and hear Miss Bailey orally tell a story.  Following comes a creative activity- art, drama, storytelling or music- that inspires dramatic play.  The last half hour is pure joyous free playtime- the time when new stories are made!

SunBee Circle enlarges vocabulary and literacy skills, but most importantly, creativity.  Parents report that their children’s writing has become more inspired directly after SunBee classes.


3-5 Program

Tuesdays after school until 4:30, beginning September 5

By popular request, Miss Bailey has developed a new program for older children.  Kids will hear orally told myth cycles and then focus on telling stories through writing,  graphic novels and comics, and oral storytelling.  Students end by making a podcast telling their own personal mythology.

To register, or ask questions, or say hello!  info@sunbeecircle.com


More About the Faeries

Fairy Glen, Conway, Wales

Fairy Glen, Conway, Wales

I have written before about real faeries.  But you can never learn too much… and I have learned alot this month from the tales I will will be telling from The Welsh Fairy Book, by W. Jenkyn Thomas.  My roommate found this treasure once at Kaboom Books, and I happened to peruse it once on a rainy afternoon, and… well, let’s just say I learned alot.

Things you should know about Faeries and the Country of Faerie:

Those that have been to Faerie say it is always misty, gray weather there.

Those who have seen faeries usually discover them singing in a ring. Witnesses hear most beautiful music ever, and everyone is dancing.

Entryways to Faeirie are through the earth, through a door in the earth or underground tunnel.

Faerie people are not tiny like pixies, they are human sized… but small, with pale skin and dark hair.

Time is different in Faerie- you may be five minutes there, and five hundred years may have passed here.

Tea time with the Fair Folk

Tea time with the Fair Folk

Faeries are not “bad” or “good” but if you mess with them, you will be sorry.  They can steal your babies and substitute a faery child (changelings), they can take you to Faerie and you’ll never come back, and they can really mess with your cows, goats, butter, milk and basically anything to do with your cottage dairy industry.

Faeries turn into animals, and talk to them, and enchant them to do the faery’s will.

Faeries mostly eat milk flavored with spices, no meat.

Never call them Faeries- you might call one to you!  Just say “Fair Folk” or “Little People” to avoid ticking them off.  I really hope they don’t read blogs.

If they like you, they might shower your life with blessings such as a harp that always plays beautifully, a purse of gold, or a very prosperous cottage dairy industry indeed.

All you need to to make a Faery story are these facts, a mortal who gets into Faery and (hopefully) comes back again.  Enjoy!




Spooky Mexican Stories for October


Sugar Skull Season!!!!

All the sugar skulls are starting to sparkle and glow around Houston!  I was inspired to mine Mexico and the Amercian Southwest for my story treasures this month.  Joe Hayes was a wonderful local storyteller here in Texas who left us a great legacy of Hispanic stories he collected and retold, mostly from New Mexico.  I am a huge fan of his books The Day it Snowed Tortillas, and also The Coyote Under the Table.

The kids had such fun hearing “If I Were an Eagle,” which is just a hands-down straight-up classically awesome fairy tale: a giant, kids on a quest, magic and changing into animals.  The kids had a lot of fun designing “costumes” for the animals they would like to turn into and then acting out the story in their own way.



I’ve also really wanted to tell La Llonora for a couple of years.  I have hesitated because the story is… very scary.  I asked Mexican and Latino friends if they heard the tale as kids, and if hearing it traumatized them.  All of them had grown up with the tale, but didn’t seem any more damaged than I was by “Hansel and Gretel.”  That is, it was rather deliciously scary, but nobody was in therapy because they heard it.

Much scarier seemed to be El Cuco, who is sort of like the Mexican boogeyman.  He doesn’t have a narrtive story, but seems to be sort of this mysterious essence of malevolence that will simply come and GET you if you are bad.  My friends said he is used as a scare tactic to make kids behave in some families.  He seemed really threatening, so I’m going to stay away from telling that one.

Woman Hollering Creek, possibly named for La Llorona, on I10 West towards San Antonio.

Woman Hollering Creek, possibly named for La Llorona, on I10 West towards San Antonio.

Why would I tell scary tales to children?  I believe fairy tales in their original scary forms have their uses.  Kids can encounter darkness and fear in stories in small doses that they can handle, in a safe and protected environment.  When fear comes in real life (and it always will), kids have already had an emotional dress rehearsal, so to speak.  Fear is not quite so scary.  They already know dragons can be overcome, and Lloronas can be escaped.

La Llonora

La Llonora

I’m including some YouTube links of Joe Hayes storytelling these spooky tales (I will tell them a bit differently, but he really is a master!)

NOTE: Mr. Hayes was performing to elementary school-aged children.  I would strongly advise these videos for kids of 5 or 6 years and older.   If your child is highly sensitive, I would preview first.





A new puppet show- Twiggy


Old Woman, gray goose, with Baby Twiggy in the bed, and the yarn-snake in the background.

For teachers of  young children like myself who are weary of apple crafts… to those of you trying to home school all Waldorf style… September in Houston can be frustrating.  Ain’t no apples.  Ain’t no crisp leaves.  Ain’t no harvest we can see.

But there are…. TWIGS!

I love dead sticks!

I love dead sticks!

A great story for autumn-not-autumn is “Twiggy”.  A Ukrainian tale, I first discovered this story about a twig that comes to life in the Acorn Hill book of Waldorf songs, circle games and stories, “Let us form a Ring“.  Basically, an old couple longs for a child.  The old woman finally just takes a stick and begins to love and care for it as if it were a baby.  One day the stick comes to life, and “Twiggy” the sweet little twig child learns who he can trust, and whom he shouldn’t.

I chose it to make a puppet show of because (as some of y’all may know) my deepest dreams are fulfilled when children play with sticks.  After the show, the children searched the playground for the perfect Twiggy, and made him boats and homes from little boxes.  They were so deeply in the moment and as happy playing with their Twiggys as they were with the plastic sand toys.

Of course, if you would like to tell this tale to young children, you don’t need to make a full on puppet show at all.  You can use just… a stick.  Anything can be a puppet.  As the wonderful Houston puppeteer David Caranza (of Caranza Puppets) says, a puppet is nothing but an inanimate object you seemingly make “come alive”.  So the old lady can be your finger, the goose your hand, the snake a bit of yarn (as my snake puppet is).  And the imagination of the tiny child will do the rest!


A Story for Harvest Time: The Moon Lady


The moon will be full this Friday- forget the man you’ve been taught to look for.  Can you find the shape of a rabbit and a lady?

In China, around the time of the September full moon is the Mid-Autumn Festival.  It’s a quiet gathering with lanterns, moon cakes, friends and loved ones, but my favorite part is the story of Chang’e.

Chang’e was the wife of the Sun.  He had something special: a pill of Immortality.  There are many different versions of the story, but in the one I know, Chang’e takes the pill to prevent it getting stolen by some thieves.  She grows, oh so round, so bright, and with her little rabbit, floats up to the moon!  There she lives forever in a jade castle with her rabbit, in lonely and luminous splendor.  A few times a year, she gets to visit her husband the Sun… but to us, it just looks like an eclipse.

This story is so easy to find online: here is just one version.

But I’m always a bookworm, so of course I can recommend a book for you: Moonbeams, Dumplings and Dragon Boats.  It’s warmer, gets more into the characters and is more in-depth.

I absolutely love this book- it has stories and activities for all of the lunar Chinese festivals.  The activities are lovely.  I will be using it again for the New Year.




Sometimes a Girl Needs a Sword

Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman

Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman

“I cried when Rey picked up the light saber too. And it wasn’t because it was the greatest movie ever. It was because I’d been waiting thirty years and more for a girl to pick up a light saber, and I never even realized it before.”

My sister posted this on facebook last winter (here is the article she was responding to; it’s quite a good read).  It stuck in my mind this year as I was telling Saint George and the Dragon and one little student, a first grade girl, asked if George’s sword was like Rey’s.


I haven’t seen Rey’s movie, but I remembered the words of my sister.  And I knew that little girl needed a dragon to slay!

I want to share with you The Serpent Slayer, a fantastic book all about warrior girls, pirate girls, clever women who trick the bandits out of treasure, sassy old women who outsmart the devil, and a gentle sun girl who saves and heals a dragon prince.  I would have loved this book when I was little.  I had a wonderful cozy rainy morning spending some time with it and my inner child.

It wasn’t like she didn’t know she was a hero.  She just never had the stories to match her own.  Well, now she does.



PS. I’ve found little boys love stories with a girl hero just fine.  As long as there are pirates, dragons and monsters, the gender of the protagonist doesn’t seem to matter.



SunBee Circle at your Child’s School!

SunBee Circle is super psyched and honored to be on the roster of Young Audiences Houston! If you would like SunBee Circle to come to your child’s school for a residency, this is now possible. SunBee is a great program for early childhood literacy… and for imagination!

To schedule a residency or find out more information, contact yahou@yahouston.org.


The Crystal and the Whale: Hear the Stories!

         $8.00 for over an hour of stories!
illustration by Brooke Bailey

illustration by Brooke Bailey

Hear the first tale free!  Part One: “To Be a Warrior”


About The Crystal and the Whale

Sister and Brother Keiki and Ley have always lived on the tropical island paradise of Lemuria.  There are volcanoes to climb, wild waves to surf, and and whales to ride.  But when Keiki’s initiation ceremony to become a warrior goes terribly wrong, the children find themselves washed by a violent tsunami to the shores of a space-age city: Atlantis.  This glittering metropolis is full of wonders: an Intergalactic Council where aliens discuss laws with humans, a University where you can learn to shapeshift, and a Hospital where all the healing is done with crystal power.  Can Keiki and Ley ever survive in this strange new world?

And… how will they ever get home again?

(suggested ages 6-11)

*These stories were recorded live at Whole Kids Summer Camp, August, 2016.  Many thanks goes out to the children for their responses and inspiration.













When the Storyteller meets the Dancer

How shall a Storyteller collaborate with a Dancer?

Well, first the Storyteller spins a story to a group of very imaginative kids, ages 7-11 years old.

The story is about two lands: one is the tropical paradise island of Lemuria, and the other is the crystal urban labyrinth of space-aged Atlantis.

After the story, she gives them paper and crayons to draw scenes from the story.  That’s an okay idea, but the kids explain to her that what they what they really need is to build.  Out come the magnet blocks.  The children begin to build the crystal structures, how they imagine the buildings of Atlantis to be.  It was the architecture that interested them most.




Now the Storyteller’s work is done.  The kids transition into the dance studio with Amanda Barrett Hayes (who runs a lovely movement program for children, Moving-Body).  The Dancer.




Amanda asks the kids: “If you were in the streets of Atlantis, how would you move?  How would you move through this techno city?  Like a robot?  Fast? Slow?  Are there tunnels to crawl through? Are there crowds to get through?”

The kids begin to unroll yoga mats and lay them out like streets.  Techno music plays, and they begin to fly through space, and crawl, and roll, drop to the ground, spring up again, pivot, freeze, and turn.



The song ends.

Now it is time for Lemuria.

The Dancer asks:

“How would you move if you were in Lemuria?  Through the sea, how do you dive, are there animals?”

She opens a magic box filled with color, and passes out silk veils to all the children.

Music.  A drumbeat, with a sprinkling of piano falling like petals.

The children begin to fly around the space with the silk and color, like butterflies.

And as for me,  the Storyteller, I have been watching this entranced.  And I know that tomorrow my story will have tunnels, and bridges, and animals, and children who move like butterflies.


This post is part of a series about my experiences collaborating with educators, artists and children at Whole Kids Summer Camp, Houston.