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!

the story bag: how to remember an oral story

When I first started telling stories to children (as opposed to reading them from a story book) I worked way too hard.  I would try to memorize the story with the effort of a Shakespearean actor learning lines for Hamlet.  But storytelling isn’t the same as learning a script.  It’s looser, it changes, improvisations and deviations are okay.

Pre-literary people had a lot of little tricks to cheat and help them remember the story.  For instance, all those repititions of “rosy-fingered dawn” in the Odyssey?  They were actually pauses to help the storyteller get his bearings to remember what was coming next.  While the audience enjoyed a few lines of lovely singing, the storyteller was taking a mental coffee break.

I have a mystery in my hand...

I have a mystery in my hand…

Fairy tales also use repitition, and it’s not just because children love it.  In the fairytale Donkey Skin, the princess buys time to wriggle out of a marriage with her incestuous father by asking first for a dress the color of weather, then a dress the color of the moon, then a dress the color of the sun.  The repitions give structure to the storyteller and help her remember what is coming next.

My own trick that I like the best is not only repitition, but something tangible- using a Native American story bag.

“The Iroquis storyteller or Hage’ota carried a bag full of items that acted as mnemoic devices- each item represented a story.  The Hage’ota, or perhaps a chid in the audience, would pull an item out the bag, the item would be shown to the people and the story would begin. ” -Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac, Keepers of the Animals.

Three Characters

Three Characters

I adapted this idea a little because I need more help remembering!  Sometimes I will fill a little bag with something simple, like three little objects.  If I were telling “Frog Creates Rain” I might put in my bag:

A pebble, for First Woman

A bit of sponge, for Frog

A feather, for Crane

Holding these objects as I tell the story helps me remember.  When I hold the pebble, I remember First Woman, and so on.  When I know the story very well, I can involve the children by letting them choose and hold objects from the story bag.

Anything to help remember!