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Storytelling Conference - The Theater of Childhood

KEENE, N.H. 3/10/05 - Nationally acclaimed educator and author Vivian Gussin Paley, who draws on her 37 years experience teaching kindergarten to write and teaches about the world of young children, will be one of six professionals to offer workshops at “The Theater of Childhood,” the 14th annual New England Conference on Storytelling for Children, to be held at Keene State College on Saturday, April 16.

The workshops are for teachers, parents, and anyone else who enjoys sharing stories with children, said Mary Mayshark-Stavely, interim director of the Child Development Center at KSC and the event’s organizer. A public storytelling session by conference presenters will begin at 3 p.m. All activities will be held in the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond.

The conference will begin at 9 a.m. with a keynote address by Gussin Paley titled “The Theater of Childhood.” In her talk Gussin Paley will describe the role of storytelling in a child’s life. “Play and its core of storytelling are the primary realities for young children and the true beginnings of theater,” she says. Gussin Paley, the recipient of the 1987 Erikson Institute Award for Service to Children and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989, is the author many of books including You Can’t Say You Can’t Play, The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter and, most recently, A Child’s Work. During her afternoon workshop, “The Nitty-Gritty of Storytelling and Story Acting,” Gussin Paley will show participants how to work within children’s fantasy play. Just as she does with children, Gussin Paley will elicit stories from her audience and provide an opportunity to act them out.

Other workshop leaders and topics include George Capaccio (“Teaching About the Middle East Through Storytelling”); Kathy Fitzgerald (“Musical Storytime for Kindergarten Through Second Grade”); Scott Kepnes (“Stories, Chants, Rhymes, and Finger Plays for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers”); Angela Klingler (“Curriculum Through Storytelling”); and Robert Smyth (“Storytelling Resources” - morning session only).

Cappacio, a storyteller, actor and writer, offers teachers, librarians, and others an introduction to the rich folklore traditions of the Middle East and a set of useful classroom strategies for connecting these traditions with social studies and language arts curriculums and standards (K-5). Fitzgerald, a music educator and musician, will introduce simple musical games along with finger plays, songs, and stories. Participants will explore songs and movements that emphasize positional concepts, body awareness, cooperation, and language and cultural differences.

Kepnes, a preschool teacher at The Lemberg Children’s Center on the campus of Brandeis University, will present a workshop in which participants gain ideas for circle time, storytelling, transitions, and conflict resolution that promote language, sensory awareness, social and motor development, cooperation, and positive self-esteem. Klingler, a storyteller, will use world folktales, fable, myth, and legend to help participants discover their “storytelling style.” Participants will leave with resources that provide curriculum applications (K-12) for literature, history, social science, and science.

Smyth, who runs Yellow Moon Press, a storytelling publishing company and bookstore that produces storytelling books, tapes, and CDs, will answer questions about storytelling resources and producing books, tapes, and CDs.

The conference fee of $70 includes all workshop materials and admission to the public storytelling presentation. College students may attend for $35. Students in grades six and above are invited to register for the day-long event. Small groups of these students accompanied by chaperones will be admitted at a reduced price.

Advanced registration is appreciated and registration is available from 8 a.m. the morning of the conference. Continuing education credit is available.

For additional information or registration materials, contact Mary Mayshark- Stavely, interim director of the Child Development Center at Keene State, at 603-358-2232, or by e-mail at A registration form is available at the web address:

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