Category Archives: children’s stories

Creating Plays with 1st Graders

dragonmasktheatrePlanning ahead before initiating a puppet play with first graders is important. I work as a tutoring teacher at a reputable Chinese after school. The curriculum I have created is a Creative Writing curriculum for grades 1-5, drawing on my experience of teaching storytelling and writing for children grades K-7 and my experience as a writer and author.

It’s important to have a structure with varied activity. I started our class with a reading of the play, “There’s a Dragon in the Library” by Dianne De Las Casas and Marita Gentry. As an introduction to the play, I read while the children used stick puppets to act out the story. This particular story has a lot of repetition so it is a good one for first graders to easily memorize some of the key phrases and repeat them together. The children enjoyed this very much.

Afterwards we discussed the play briefly, reinforcing familiarity and understanding of the story. This was followed with making their own Chinese dragon puppets. I tied in the dragon story and celebrating Chinese New Year with this project. I printed up copies of a Chinese dragon head ahead of time. The children colored and cut out their Chinese dragons, then glued them onto brown lunch bags to make their dragon puppets, or onto paper plates to make dragon masks. They proudly named their dragons and wrote their names on the back.

The children were so excited about their unique puppets and masks with their very individualized colors, that they asked if they could write dragon stories and make dragon plays. Of course, I said yes. It is wonderful when the actual writing and performing of puppet plays comes as a request from the children.

Some of the children already started writing their dragon stories in their writing journals. They are very excited. It is very rewarding to see them having so much fun while learning.

Copyright © 2017, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Win a Grandmother Moon Book, CD or a Gift Certificate!

Umpquadisplay2It all started when I walked into Umpqua Bank last year. I saw a display of leather goods from a local artisan. A sign grabbed my attention. It said “Local Spotlight”. I asked AJ who works at the Novato Umpqua about it. She told me that it is one way that the Umpqua Bank participates in the community. She continued to say that the previous Local Spotlight was a Children’s Author. I mentioned that I was a Children’s Author, and that my partner Becky Parker Geist and I would like to be part of Local Spotlight.

Well here we are in month two of being in the Umpqua Local Spotlight and Becky and I have come up with a contest. Win a free Grandmother Moon Book, CD or a gift certificate for Five Little Monkeys Toy Store. They are also part of the local spotlight with toys that are depicting scenes from the Grandmother Moon Stories. Come have a look.

Stop by the Umpqua Bank on Grant Avenue in Novato. Say hi to the friendly folks there. They always have free coffee and tea. Have a sip while you visit our Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories book display. Fill out a ballot. You might be our next winner! Good luck!

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Grandmother Moon Gratitude Story For You!

SliverCrescentMoonMoth was flitting through the forest bumping into trees, “Ow, ow, ouch!” The moon is missing!” She cried frantically. Moth was in such a tizzy that she bumped right into bear.

“Ow, ow, ouch!” grumbled bear. You just smacked me in the eye!”

“I’m sorry,” said Moth, “But the moon is missing!”

“It is rather dark,” grumbled the bear. He wasn’t happy to be awakened.

“How will we ever find our way without the light of the moon?” worried Moth.

Bear scratched his huge head with his huge paw, “You are right! We must get help!” And off they went on their search for help, Moth flitting about, bumping from tree to tree and Bear lumbering along behind her.

It wasn’t long before they bumped into Coyote’s den.

“Maybe Coyote can help us!” suggested Moth as she flitted about in worry. Bear stuck his giant head in the giant hole and yelled, “Get up you lazy coyote!” Bear’s giant voice made the earth shake, which shook Coyote right out of his den.

Coyote bumped right into bear, yawned sleepily, and then scratched his behind. “What’s all the hullabaloo? Can’t a Coyote get some sleep?”

Moth flitted around Coyote’s head in circles till he was dizzy, “Moon is missing! How will we ever find our way without the light of the moon?”

Coyote burped, “Excuse my dinner.” He looked up in the sky, scratched his behind, and looked stumped. The moon wasn’t anywhere to be seen. “You’re right. Moon is missing. Well there’s nothing we can do about it in the dark. I’m going back to get my beauty sleep.” Coyote tried to sneak back into his den. Bear grabbed him by the scruff of his mangy neck, “Not so fast Coyote! We need your help!”

“But what can I do?” whined Coyote.

“You can sing to the moon.” said Bear

“That always makes her shine.” Moth flitted about frantically. “Hurry, it is getting darker! Let’s go!”

“Wait!” said a calm, low voice. Everyone looked up to the tree branch and saw Spotted Owl looking down at them. “Whoo new Moon would go missing? Maybe she went missing for a reason.”

Moth stood still, “Why?”

“Maybe she felt unseen,” suggested Bear.

“I forgot to sing to her,” admitted Coyote.

“Maybe if we appreciate her, she will shine her light upon us again!” said Moth and she got so excited she bumped right into Coyote’s snout. He sneezed her right off!

“Let’s go appreciate Moon,” suggested Bear.

“But where do we go to find her?” wondered Moth

“A hilltop,” suggested Coyote. “That’s where I go to serenade her.” So Moth, Bear, Coyote and Owl rushed to the nearest hilltop and began their Moon Appreciations.

“I love the way you light my way!” Moth danced her appreciation in circles.

“I like the way you guide me from season to season. I always know what to do because of you Moon,” said Bear.

“Dear, lovely Moon,” began Owl, “Because of you I can easily find my food.”

Everyone turned to Coyote. It was his turn to appreciate Moon. Coyote paced back and forth then started to sing. He sang all night long, and the next day. All the animals of the forest came to hear Coyote’s Gratitude song, and they all joined in. The sound was so beautiful and filled with so much love and joy that Moon woke up and just had to see who was singing. As she peeked down on earth, she appeared in the sky as a crescent. All the animals of the forest cheered!

“Moon is back!” Moth flitted excitedly around Bear and Coyote and Owl, but this time she didn’t bump into anyone because she could see!

From that day on all the animals of the forest took time during her waning to appreciate Moon, and she always received their gratitude in her open crescent arms.

And that’s the end of the story.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Photograph, Copyright © 2014, Theodore Herzberg.

Thank you Grandmother Moon Supporters!

BeckyVlatkaGMOMBecky Parker Geist and I are celebrating! Our print book of Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One just arrived! It is our first book that we have published together and we are reveling in the joy of it.

Becky and I want to take a moment to thank everyone who helped us:

Professionals:

Ruth Stotter, Jay O’Callahan, Andy Parker, Natasha Tasiyana Kolida, BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Associations) and BAIPA Mastermind authors. Also, Ruth Schwartz, the Wonderlady, Linda Jay, and Mark Coker of Smashwords.

Friends and People who have bought the book:

Jeann Iris Brick, Rachel Marsh, Allison Cox, Letticia Quinn, Jessica Barrilleaux, Lyn Marsh, Ines Sinon, Glen Carlson, Marjorie Thorne, John Koch, Lazaris, you whose name is not mentioned and of course our wonderful families!

Thank you everyone for your support and contributions! It’s such a joy!

If we missed you off of our gratitude list, please let us know and we will add you to our list!

Grandmother Moon Blessings!

Vlatka and Becky

Grateful for Becky’s audiobook of Grandmother Moon!

I just finished listening to Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: GrandmotherMoon1Book One on my phone. It is the audiobook by Becky Parker Geist of Pro Audio Voices. Becky is not only a business partner but a friend. Listening to the Grandmother Moon audio book on my iPhone I was flooded with gratitude. Becky has done such a beautiful job with all the character voices, and music and sound effects. It really makes the stories fun to listen to, and I really like having them on my phone. There is an audio sample at Becky’s website. The stories are for children 4 and up.

http://proaudiovoices.com/product/grandmother-moon-mother-stories-book/

This whole project has been a labor of love with the focus on having fun creating stories that celebrate mothers and children. Becky and I hold a vision that these stories will contribute to that special bonding time that mothers and children share, full of warm hugs and giggles.

Here’s a little about the stories on Book One:

Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One offers traditional and new original folktales that explore the love, joy and challenges between mothers and children. Perfect for mothers and children to read aloud, or you can listen to the audiobook by Becky Parker.

“Epaminondas,” a traditional folktale told to Becky Parker Geist by her mother, is about a boy who tries so hard to please his mother, but can’t seem to get it right. “Grandmother Moon and the Homeless Child” is a touching story about searching for home. A little blue bird and a rock child play major roles in “Abuela and the Rock People.” And Louisa-May’s mischievous little sister Angel causes trouble in “Mama, Angel and the Tree Dragon.” In “Strawberry Moon,” Mother Moon helps her daughter express herself colorfully.

“The stories are clear, dramatic, inviting and delicious. I love them. This is marvelous work! Bravo!” — Jay O’Callahan, Storyteller. National Endowment of the Arts recipient. Lifetime Achievement Award National Storytelling Network, Commissioned by NASA to create and perform a story in honor of NASA’s fiftieth anniversary

“A delightful collection of lovingly told and affirming stories filled with timeless magical transformations and a traditional humorous folktale — all addressing the mother-child relationship.” — Ruth Stotter, Past Chairman, American Folklore Society Aesop Committee; Former Director, Dominican University (California) Certificate-in-Storytelling Program

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Becky Parker Geist: http://proaudiovoices.com/

Illustration by Natasha Tasiyana Kolida: http://www.tasiyana.com/

Design by Andy Parker: http://andyparkerdesign.com/

Long Night’s Moon Story

LongNightsMoon2Tonight I took our Corgi, Magik for a walk. It was getting dark and I was enjoying the mist covering the hills. I didn’t see the moon. Magik was busy sniffing every blade of grass when I heard someone coming towards us. Magik is especially protective of me at night so I decided to cross the street. Magik quickened his pace and I followed his lead. We were about to cross the street again to turn home when I saw that the mysterious stranger that had been walking towards us was the man with the aggressive Rottweiler that Magik doesn’t like, so I decided to take a detour home, or more like a long-tour home.

This route passes by an open space area under power lines, I just happened to glance over my shoulder at it when I noticed the moon. It was starting to peek over the horizon. I took out my camera, Magik following my cue and sat on the sidewalk and waited. He can be so patient!

I started taking pictures and to my amazement the moon rose very quickly. I stopped talking photos and savored the moment. When I could see the moon in her fullness, I noticed that it actually looked like it had a face, and of course to me it looked like a very feminine face. I said, “Grandmother Moon, it’s so nice to see you!” She smiled softly. A warm feeling washed over me. “Is there anything you would like to say, or would like me to know tonight?” I asked. Grandmother Moon replied quickly, “Remember me!”

Becky Parker Geist and I are very happy to announce that in celebration of the Long Nights Moon, Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One is now available for sale! Thank you for your support!!!!

It is available for sale at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple and most  bookstores.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Photo art © 2014, Theodore & Vlatka Herzberg

and Natasha Tasiyana Kolida

Moon Hide n’ Seek, Grandmother Moon Extra Story, and an Amazon Special!

GrandmotherMoonRockChild2Abuela and Rock Child were in Abuela’s house far away from the Rock Child’s home and village. The Rock Child was quiet and sad. Abuela was concerned, “What’s the matter little rock?”

“I miss Mother Stone and Father Stone! On nights like this the Rock People gather to tell stories under the moonlight.” The Rock Child’s lip quivered. Abuela’s heart saddened, then she thought of an idea, “How about we go outside under the moonlight and tell stories? Maybe you could tell me a story about your people?” The Rock Child was so excited it rolled around and around until Abuela burst out laughing.

“Follow me,” said Abuela and the Rock Child followed her all the way into the garden. They found just the right spot amongst the rocks. The rock garden was aglow in the moonlight. Abuela sang, “Madre Casa. Madre Casa. Mother Home. Mother Home.” She stopped singing and the Rock Child knew that was a cue to start telling a story. It went something like this:

Once upon a time there was a village of Rock People, some were small stones and others were gigantic boulders. The Rock People loved the moon because she illuminated their faces and made them all appear beautiful.

“We look like angels!” cried Rock Brother.

“Stone angels!” giggled Rock Sister.

“Let’s play Moon Hide n’ Seek!” shouted Rock Brother.

“Can’t catch me!” yelled Rock Sister as she rolled into the shadows and hid. Rock Brother began to hum a low-pitched song, the sort that the Rock People are known for. His song caught Grandmother Moon’s attention and she turned to face him. Everywhere he walked looking for Rock Sister he sang. Everywhere he walked and sang, Grandmother Moon followed him, shining her brilliant light like a lantern. Grandmother Moon shone so bright that she illuminated Rock Sister and revealed her hiding place in the bushes!

“There you are!” shouted Rock Brother. “You’re it!”

“That’s not fair!” grumbled Rock Sister.

“Fair or not, it’s my turn!” said Rock Brother then he rolled away to find an even better hiding spot. Rock Sister counted, 10-9-8… 3-2-1! Ready or not, here I come!” But before she rolled away to look for her brother, Rock Sister gazed up at Grandmother  Moon. She smiled so bright, the moonlight lit up Rock Sister’s face. Rock Sister’s face was glowing so bright that indeed she did look like an angel! Her face glowed so brightly that Rock Brother couldn’t help it. He just had to see it! He rolled out of hiding!

“I see you!” shouted Rock Sister. “You’re it!”

“That’s not fair!” grumbled Rock Brother. Rock Mother and Rock Father heard all the grumbling and decided to play.

“You two hide and we’ll seek,” said Rock Mother.

Rock Sister and Rock Brother rolled away. Rock Brother whispered to Grandmother Moon, “Please hide with us, so Mother and Father can’t find us right away.” Grandmother Moon smiled her radiant smile then hid behind the clouds. Mother Stone and Father Stone chuckled, “There’s nothing like Hide n’ Seek by the light and shadow of the Moon.”

The Rock Child finished the story. Abuela cradled the Rock Child and sang, “Madre Casa. Madre Casa. Mother Home. Mother Home.”

Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One, available for sale TOMORROW!

And that’s the end of the story.

http://www.amazon.com/Grandmother-Moon-Other-Mother-Stories-ebook/dp/B00Q44R6SU

If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $0.99 (Save 67%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Photo art © 2014, Theodore & Vlatka Herzberg

and Natasha Tasiyana Kolida

Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: A Little Preorder Story

GrandmotherMoonHalo1Vlatka Herzberg and Becky Parker Geist were trying to decide when to introduce Grandmother Moon to you. People asked us, “Why did Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One not come out sooner? We were hoping she would make her debut as a Harvest Moon.”

And here’s what happened. It all started when Vlatka and Becky were trying to decide on a launch date for their book. They spoke with Grandmother Moon:

“Grandmother Moon, how about we release your stories in September?” suggested Vlatka.

“That’s a great idea,” said Becky, “You could debut as a Harvest Moon!”

“A Harvest Moon is known for introducing a procession of moonlit nights. I love introductions and I so love a procession, but after many nights I might be too sleepy to greet people. A Harvest Moon for my debut? That will never do!” exclaimed Grandmother Moon.

“How about a Winter Moon?” asked Vlatka.

“A Winter Moon?” wondered Grandmother Moon.

“A Winter Moon will crown you with a halo, a halo for an angel of a moon,” said Becky.

“A Winter Moon complete with a halo? It might inspire others to remember their light. Yes, a Winter Moon! That will do nicely!” exclaimed Grandmother Moon.

And so it is that Vlatka and Becky, with Grandmother Moon’s help, decided to launch Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One on December 6th, 2014.

This story reminded Grandmother Moon of a story about how her mother helped her express more of her true colors. Read all about it in Strawberry Moon, one of the new folk stories in Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One now available for preorder at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q44R6SU

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Photo art © 2014, Theodore Herzberg and Natasha Tasiyana Kolida

What’s a Grandmother Moon? And… Announcing Preorders of Grandmother Moon eBook!

FullMoonEclipseVlatkaBlogMany Native American Indians call the moon Grandmother Moon. To me personally, it is a sign of respect, a reverence for nature and the wisdom of nature. It is an expression of living an enchanted life and knowing that everyone and everything is connected, including animals and plants.

Calling the moon Grandmother is a way of showing respect and honoring the oneness with nature. I think of Grandmother Moon as representing the feminine, intuition, wisdom, dreaming and perceiving. When I call the moon Grandmother I treat her like I would an elder or wise Old One. I believe whenever we show reverence to nature we come into deeper harmony and balance with ourselves.

I have enjoyed reading many fairy tales, folktales and myths over the years and have especially loved making up my own stories, influenced by my personal relationship with nature. I have always resonated with Native American Folk Tales because of the kinship between nature and people. I think these kinds of stories help us to remember more of who we are and more of who we can be.

There are two Grandmother Moon stories written by me in Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories: Book One. Becky Parker Geist and I are thrilled to announce that this first eBook in the Grandmother Moon Series is now available for preorder at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q44R6SU

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Photo © 2014, Theodore Herzberg

Abuela and the Rock Child Audio Sample

mother_and_rockchildThe story of Abuela and the Rock Child was actually inspired by a song and true story about a father and his two young daughters who did a remake of a popular song to raise awareness about the plight of not being able to bring their Mexican Mother/Grandmother into the U.S. I was struck by the love of the son and his daughters for their Mother and Grandmother and by the pain of separation. The song the children sang for their Grandmother was very touching. I couldn’t get their story out of my mind while I was working on writing the series of stories for Grandmother Moon and Other Mother Stories, so I decided to just write and see what story found me.

It was also a beautiful sunny day and my writing studio looks out onto a hillside with a garden and trees. Broccoli and collards had flowered and attracted bees and butterflies. Bluejay chattered, and the hummingbird whirred its wings as it peered at me through the window. The potpourri of colors, sounds, and images stirred my imagination and out of it all I wrote Abuela and the Rock Child.

The illustration is by my daughter, Natasha Tasiyana. Three of the four illustrations for book one and the cover illustration are by Natasha. I’m thrilled to have her participate. I have been making up stories for my daughter since she was a little girl, so to have her create drawings for my stories now is especially delightful.

I love the sounds of the wind and the birds that Becky added to the audio story. It immediately transported me into Abuela’s garden. I hope you will be transported their too. Have a listen.

Copyright © 2014, Vlatka Herzberg, all rights reserved. You may not reproduce materials without permission from Vlatka Herzberg.

Becky Parker Geist: http://proaudiovoices.com/

Illustration by Natasha Tasiyana Kolida: http://www.tasiyana.com/