“Our grandfathers talked to us in a low voice- they thought we were dreaming, but we never forgot.” Papago Indians
SunBee Circle was conceived through my experience as a preschool and kindergarten teacher. I grew up in an enchanted world of fairies, elves, wicked witches, brave deeds, youngest sons who never lost their humility and princesses who never lost their hearts of gold. As a teacher, I realized that many children do not get to enjoy the magical world of stories as I did and the average school curriculum doesn’t have time for these kinds of stories.
So I decided to offer them myself, and empower parents and children to tell and make up stories themselves.
SunBee Circle is a very special and unique class for children who love the magical world and their parents who do not want them to grow out of it so quickly. The class offers oral storytelling and then a variety of activities based on the story. Aims are inspiration, creativity and community.
(For more on SunBee’s origins: My Grandma and the Magic Drawer: or Why I tell Stories)
How it works
SunBee Circle takes place outdoors in a beautiful garden at South Blvd Yoga Studio. Children are enrolled by the month and can take as many or as few months as they wish.
A typical SunBee Circle for children aged 4.5-8 is an hour long. The first half consists of listening to an oral story, often a fairy tale or nature story. Afterwards come activities based on the story- drama, songs, creative movement, circle games, and nature-based collaborative art projects. All of the activities have one purpose: to inspire dramatic play. This unstructured but inspired free play works wonders for your child’s imagination, cognitive storytelling (after all, they are retelling the story in their own way or making up their own) and future literacy.
A circle for little children (ages 3 to 4.5) is similar, but the story is told with a little puppet show instead of orally. Stories are simpler and gentler; animal stories and non-scary fairy tales. For activities, children have a lot of freedom to explore and move at their own pace within creative movement, songs, art, acting out the story and using our five senses to discover the garden. Again, the intent is to inspire dramatic play and spark creativity.
*Currently I have combined the two age groups in our Thursday class… so the children get an oral story and a puppet show. This is mainly because there were so many siblings who wanted to be together!
Resources for Parents
SunBee Circle exists to spread storytelling for everyone! I provide many storytelling resources for parents to use at home if they wish. All of the stories are posted on the SunBee Circle blog every month so that you can retell them and remember them, and share them with other parents and teachers. And if you know any great stories or resources, I would love to hear from you!
The SunBee Circle newsletter provides enrolled parents with additional content such as videos of the songs, interesting articles, and craft ideas.
Because SunBee Circle takes place in a public space, parents are required to stay on the premises with their children (this goes for all the children, regardless of age). We want to be safe!
What kids learn (education)
SunBee Circle is not a time for alphabet songs and counting. Rather, it is dedicated to nourishing a child’s natural empathy, immersing them in the seasons and nature, and nurturing the wild and beautiful imaginations all children have at this age. From hearing oral stories, they learn to use their imaginations to make pictures, voices and scenes all in their mind, empathize with characters, and become inspired to handle difficulties in life by tales of magic and courage.
SunBee Circle is a magical space for children meet with their friends and share the connection and friendship of a class-like community, where they learn to be part of a group, to speak up within that group, to listen and to share, to find their own light.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Neil Gaiman
I have posted some wonderful articles on education through storytelling on the links page for those who would like to learn more about the benefits of this wonderful and almost-lost art.
Meet SunBee Circle
My name is Brooke Bailey. I studied Fine Arts and Art History at Hunter College. After graduation I lived in Naples, Italy and Berlin, Germany where I taught English for children, and when I moved back to Houston I couldn’t stop! I believe that early childhood is a time for wonder, magic and play. My greatest inspirations are Waldorf Education and the book Last Child in the Woods.
I have been a German-English prekindergarten teacher and studied storytelling and puppetry at the Sunbridge Institute summer program with Connie Manson. I have taught for Art League of Houston, Glassell Jr. School, and Air Alliance Houston Ozone Theater, and volunteered for Montrose Grace Place and Teach America.
SunBee Circle has taught at Beehive Co-op Preschool, Earth Day Houston (for Air Alliance Houston), Bayou Village School Winter Faire and of course, every Friday at the Te House of Tea garden!
I’m also an artist and illustrator- see my art at BrookeBaileyPaintings.com