Work Book


You Can Do It Too!

A Guide For Learning Through The Arts

by Kathleen Purdy

Creative ArtsYou Can Do It Too! Learning Through the Arts is being published here one chapter at a time. You can read it, hear music samples, and you will be able to download a printable PDF version if you need it.  Please subscribe  to be informed when new chapters are available.

The Alexander Society for Inclusive Arts is a charitable organization.  We are able to provide quality learning programs and resources for parents and teachers like this  because of generous grants from foundations, community organizations and individuals.  We are helping many people.  If you value this work, please make a tax-deductible donation  by clicking on the Canada Helps button or by sending a cheque to the Alexander Society’s address on our contact page.



Dedication and Acknowledgements


Who is the Workbook For?

What is Included?

Why the Arts?

How a Program Works

How the Workbook is Organized

Tips on Setting Up A Program

Notes for Parents

Basic Materials, Instruments, Art Supplies and Techniques

Chapter 1.  The Pasha, The Mice and the Cheese

Days1 through 8

Additional Music and Verses



Dedication and Acknowledgements

This workbook is dedicated to Hilary Thompson, our first Storyteller in the first Creative Arts Play Group.  A wonderful inspiration and support in the beginning stages of the development of these programs, Hilary was a founding member and on the first Board of Directors of the Alexander Society for Special Needs.

The first impetus for this workbook was fueled by a grant from the Clarica Life Insurance Company in 2003 as part of their Children at Risk venture. 

There are many people who have been very influential along the path of this ever-evolving work, and to whom I am indebted for their dedication and belief in this process: Melody McGrath, our first music teacher; Ina Snip, the first art teacher.  Lella Gmeiner took over as Storyteller from Hilary Thompson, and for many years helped shape the direction and form of the Creative Arts programs.  Music teacher Maggie Keppie has brought her many talents and insights to bear on our continuing evolution over the past eight years.  You Can Do It Too! Learning Through The Arts appreciates and reflects the contributions of all those who have participated, including the children who inspired the Creative Arts programs.

I would like to thank my husband Kimberly Smith who has been an initiator and supporter from before the beginning, and who has set up the web site, making it possible to have this workbook available to you as a free resource…

I am very grateful to the many volunteers who have supported the children over the years, helping them to fully participate in the program.  Without the volunteers, many children would not have been able to enjoy the benefits of this work.  It has also been a privilege to offer Practicums for Music Therapy students studying at Acadia University. 

None of this would have happened without the inspiration of my son, Brendon Alexander Purdy-Smith, who has been my inadvertent teacher, leading me along many paths of discovery.

With love and gratitude,
Kathleen Purdy
September 2, 2011

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If a child can’™t learn the way we teach, we had better teach them the way they learn. (Anonymous)

You Can Do It Too! Learning Through the Arts presents an interactive, inclusive approach to teaching through lively multi-sensory creative activities.  Drama, storytelling, dance, movement, music and the visual arts are woven together in a way that engages people of all abilities while positively impacting their physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. While these programs were inspired by children diagnosed with mild to severe learning challenges, the techniques that have been developed over more than twenty years can equally be adapted to a classroom or a resource room to teach a broad range of subjects. One of the stories is a multi-session program that focuses on the historical event of the deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia in the mid-1700’s.

Who Is the Workbook For?

This workbook is for classroom teachers, special education teachers, educational assistants, recreation leaders, community service workers, parents and any one who is looking for new creative methods of working inclusively with children, challenged youth, their peers and supporters, as well as with adults with intellectual challenges.  You can use this material in the format in which it is presented, or adapt it to suit the needs of the population you are working with.  Individual activities or songs may be taken out of context and used in a variety of ways; that may involve using some of the activities in one-on-one teaching situations to help a student develop a specific skill or understanding, or working with a small group to tell a story.   In the stories presented here you will find material suited to any age group from kindergarten to adult.  Some stories can be adapted for a variety of ages. 

Ultimately, we hope that you will be inspired to use this material as a springboard to designing your own Creative Learning programs.  

What is Included?

This workbook presents curricula for five integrated arts programs. Three of the stories contain all the details you will need to run a multi-week program. One story is presented in three versions for three age groups, and the fifth one, based on historical facts of  the Expulsion of the Acadians contains less detail, but with many suggestions for music, movement/dance and art.   A list of other stories that have been developed over the years is also included. There is a small section for parents who may be at home with a child with a developmental delay or a young child who enjoys playing with stories.

Why the Arts?

Much has been written over the last twenty years about the value of the arts in education. The literature agrees that the arts foster language skills, social skills, decision-making, risk-taking, critical thinking, development of motor skills as well as building confidence and helping students make connections. 

Here are a couple of references for those who wish to delve further into the topic: 

A good place to start is on the importance of play, which is where it all begins. has several publications on Play.   

For an article on the value of the arts in education, read  What is Arts Education Good For?  By Rena Upitis  at  This is an evaluation of “the effects of an elementary education model called Learning Through the Arts that was operating in six Canadian sites… (this evaluation) would provide us with an important opportunity to document the effects of the arts on students, teachers, parents, artists, and administrators….this work was the first study of its type and scope to be conducted in Canada.”

Another article focusing on the state of the arts in the U.S. can be found here:

Specifically on the value of arts for children with disabilities: 

Also check out this article about the Ahuri Theatre:

I would like to share with you some examples of “learnings” that I have witnessed and speak more specifically about how we integrate all the arts into our programs.        

Because the arts are multi-dimensional, there is something for everyone – everyone can be involved in a meaningful way.  In our programs you might see a child in a wheelchair adding to the drama through telling the story or keeping rhythm for a musical activity, another child helping decorate the (cardboard) boat on which Odysseus sails the oceans, a non-verbal adult playing the role of the king.  Everyone has a part to play.  I fondly remember a time when a guest teacher was leading an interactive story session with a group of 10 – 12 year olds with a variety of abilities.  She had brought in some twigs and small branches with which she outlined the walls of a castle, including a “door”.  A boy who was a wheelchair user, was happy to get out of his wheelchair and sit on the floor.  He could move his arms quite freely, so our teacher asked him if he would be the gate keeper.  His job was to open and close the door of the castle.  He happily sat by the opening, holding a twig and swinging it open and closed at the appropriate times.  At the end of the session, he asked if he could take the twig home with him.   Days later his assistant informed us that this child kept the twig and reenacted his part in the scene many times.  No doubt, to him, his was a key role in the drama! 

The multi-sensory nature of the arts allows us to discover and develop strengths.  You never know what might be an inspiration.   In the story of The Raven Princess, the Princess leaves a letter for the hero that includes instructions on what he must do to release her from the enchantment.  One participant, whose speaking and cognitive skills were quite challenging showed a definite interest in the letter which was read to the group during several sessions.  He indicated that he wanted to read the letter out-loud.   As he had heard it read before, he was somewhat familiar with the contents.  He carefully took the letter out of the envelope, unfolded it and began to read.  While many of his words we could not understand, he punctuated some of the key words he had heard and remembered.  When he was finished, he carefully folded up the letter and put it back in the envelope.  He had made a very important connection with the reading of that letter and the story.  From then on, each week he would bring something from home that he felt related to he story.   

The social benefits are many.  Through role playing there are many opportunities to cooperate, to make decisions and put us more in touch with our our own feelings and those of others.  The arts help us make connections, build confidence, and by stimulating our imagination improve our capacity for more flexible thinking.

The arts allow time for both active participation and for quiet thoughtful moments.  Much of our lives are inundated with environmental noise, scheduled activity, electronic devices, all  demanding our attention.  Very little time is available to rest with an idea. For some, it may take an hour, a day, a week or longer for an idea to be internalized, to settle in.  When we were doing the story of Anansi the Spider my intellectually challenged teen-aged son often backed away from a group activity or from playing a role. He remained engaged, but as a spectator.  However, when we got home, often he would assemble the instruments that we used in the story (each character was assigned an instrument), and while I told the story, he played the appropriate instrument.  He also demonstrated that he knew the story sequence by choosing the instrument for the next character  before I spoke it.   

There are other times when the group activity itself draws the individuals in.  You can see a  great example of this in the video on the website (      

Each of the art components has its own particular sensory offerings:


Hearing and telling stories are at the heart of socialization; it is through stories that we become part of a culture, of our community and of our families.  They provide a safe framework for exploring feelings and attitudes.  Becoming a character in a drama provides an opportunity to explore and understand the perspective of others; it helps develop empathy, social interaction, turn taking and problem solving skills.   Acting out roles from age old fairy tales and myths can provide a means for children, teens and adults to understand their own journey through life. Anyone can take on a role, regardless of whether they can speak or not. (Volunteers provide the support for individuals to fully engage in the activities.) 

Storytelling and drama foster the development of memory, listening skills, sequencing, cooperating with others and both expressive and receptive language.  


“The more the body becomes rhythmically organized and paced the more the entire functionality of the system becomes organized and manageable, because the brain can at last relax and do its other work.” (From Music Therapy, Sensory Integration and the Autistic Child,  by Dorita S. Berger)  I have seen this transformation many times in my experience of working with children who are struggling academically.  Many children lack rhythm, are ‘out of sync’.   In my one-on-one Educational Support work, we often do bean bag passing activities accompanied by a verse, such as Jack and Jill.  The idea is to pass, catch and throw in rhythm with the verse. For some children it takes concerted time and practice to coordinate the rhythm of the verse with rhythmical passing of the bean bags.  When those two are synchronized, the child noticeably relaxes and can then proceed with the exercise with much more ease, which ultimately  influences capacity building for other learnings  

Music is one of the key elements in the Creative Arts programs.  All the music is live.  The musician(s) plays a major role in developing the daily activities of a program.  Music acts as a beginning and ending marker for each session: the session begins with a gathering song and ends with a good-bye song.  Songs and rhythms accompany the characters on their journeys, allowing us to explore a variety of rhythms, movement qualities and language development.  In the process it promotes auditory awareness, concentration and sequencing.   Playing a variety of rhythm instruments encourages interactions among participants and gives individuals an opportunity to shine. 


Movement and music are almost inseparable. All the movement activities are inspired by the story and usually accompanied by a song or an instrument. 

Movement plays a significant role in acquiring co-ordination, balance, orientation in space, memory, hand dominance, fine and gross motor skills, vestibular and proprioceptive feedback and motor planning. Many of these skills are the underpinnings for reading, writing, math, social and behavioural success.

A wide variety of movements inspired by the story provide the opportunity for participants to experience the story elements kinaesthetically and rhythmically.  The participants may be called upon to gallop through the forest, swim across a river, run from the Cyclops, dance for the King. We play lively games, explore creative movement and engage in group activities that foster co-operation, fine and gross motor activities and spatial awareness.  These activities may also prepare individuals for a visual art project; for instance, when Odysseus encounters the whirlpools, we might do a spiral dance, use ribbon sticks to see a moving spiral, and then paint spiral shapes with blue, purple and green watercolours on wet paper.  

Visual Arts (drawing, painting, clay, crafts):

Every visual art and craft helps develop fine motor skills, increases the ability to create conscious forms, while providing an opportunity for self-expression.  Each medium provides a somewhat different sensory and learning experience: 

Drawing helps focus the mind and heightens the awareness of spatial orientation and rhythmical movement. It is a precursor to printing and writing.  Drawing can help bring us into balance; for instance, drawing curved lines, circles and continuous fluid patterns will be beneficial if one is restricted or rigid in their movements.  If, on the other hand, a person seems scattered or unfocused, drawing forms with straight lines may help them to focus.   In the view of Rudolf  Steiner, the straight line is an expression of thinking, and the curved line an expression of the will.  You might be interested in researching “Form Drawing” as used in the Waldorf Schools.

Painting engages our feelings.  When the ocean figures prominently in our story, such as Odysseus, there are lots of opportunities to paint a calm sea, a stormy sea, a whirlpool, etc.

Most of the painting activities are inspired by the “wet-on-wet” technique described in the Materials page. 

Manipulating clay gives the experience of working in three dimensions.  Working with both hands to create a three dimensional form helps bring us down to earth. Clay is great for bringing attention to the hands and fingers, improving fine motor dexterity.  It encourages the individual to strengthen his/her will forces; the ability to take on and complete a task. Clay work is especially beneficial for children with autism as it can ground and focus them.

To read more about the Arts see the Bibliography.  

How A Program Works:

 Each story unfolds over five to ten sessions; each session lasts from forty-five to ninety minutes, depending on the age of the participants.  Typically the sessions take place once a week, but could be done on a daily basis.  In fact, we have done a number of week-long summer programs and found that the participants retain the sense of the story and the sequence much better than in a weekly program.

The stories often focus on the theme of transformation.  The enchanting world of fairy tales and myths provides archetypes for this transformation.   This approach was so beautifully illustrated to me by a Curative Education* teacher’s work with a group of eight variably challenged children. The teacher used the story of “The Donkey Prince” who was transformed into a real prince through his love of music and his love of a princess.  All the accompanying activities – the music, the movement, the drawing –  helped the children understand the story emotionally and cognitively.  By the end of the three sessions, most of the children (even those who did not know what a prince was) demonstrated this transformation as they walked around the room, carrying themselves quite regally.

The Storyteller/Drama Animateur needs to know the story so well that he/she can tell it in his/her own words, with expression, engaging the participants through keeping eye contact with them. You may want to change some of the archaic language, leave out some details and edit where necessary to make the story more accessible to the participants.

Setting up the space is a very important part of preparation.  Our aim is to transform the room from its ordinary existence into a place that takes the participants out of their everyday world, into a space where magic can happen.   Look at the video on the Alexander Society Home Page for more discussion and a demonstration.

In our Community programs, we rely on volunteers to provide one-on-one support for those participants who need the help.  In a school program the support is provided by staff.  Read more about volunteers under Tips on Setting Up a Program.

How the Workbook is Organized

Each chapter comprises one story.  For the three stories that are presented in their entirety we begin with an introduction to the story, followed by the full story or a summary, and/or where it may be found on the internet.  

A Materials List  describes everything you  need to carry out the multi-week program, and where necessary, gives instructions on how to make items/props. 

The words for all songs and verses are in the appropriate places in the story.  Extra songs or verses will be at the end of the chapter.  The songs are usually hand-printed on Bristol board or large paper and taped to the wall in the order in which they occur in the story. Only the songs for that day are displayed.  If you are reading this on the website, you will be able to hear the song.

Day 1 gives suggestions for setting up the space – the backdrop, the story board and the visual aids, props and costumes to help bring the story to life.  

Every day begins the same: a gathering song or verse calls the participants into a circle, a name game is played, then a transition song leads the group to the storytelling area. This “Opening” may be seen as a ritual.  Ritual sets the stage, gives the children boundaries, both temporal and spatial; it gives them consistency, and it provides them the comfort of knowing that they are in a safe place. Each session ends with a good-bye song, coming full circle to close the ritual.

Once everyone is settled into the storytelling area, a verse or song may introduce the story. The first episode of the story is told, introducing songs and sound accompaniment where appropriate. 

Following the story, we prepare for the Drama by asking participants to take on the roles of the characters. The one-on-one volunteers help out with the role playing.  The costume pieces and props are distributed, then the Storyteller/Drama animator re-tells the story, while directing the characters to the appropriate locations and interactions. Songs that move the story along are repeated.  If there is dialogue,  the characters may say it in their own words, or a volunteer may speak for them.  We don’t ask for a word-for-word repetition, except in cases of a verse such as “I am hungry, can’t you see?  Won’t you share your food with me?”  Then the whole group will be asked to say the verse.  

Following the drama, we usually have an art/craft activity that is inspired by the story.  This could be a painting, simple line drawings, art pieces to add to a mural, working with clay or making a craft.  During The Adventures of Odysseus, for example, the participants were given several different shades of blue and purple paint,  and using the “wet-on-wet” water colour technique, created beautiful paintings of the ocean.

Occasionally this sequence is changed if we need to make a prop for the drama,  for example, when the story requires a flock of ravens, we complete raven head-masks after the story is told, so that they can be worn during the drama. 

Following the art (or the drama), we gather back into a circle for music/movement activities.  This is the place where we can explore more fully  movements that were introduced in the drama, and revisit the musical themes from the story through rhythmical games, ensemble work and exploring the use of instruments.  It is also the place where we might teach a simple group dance that will be part of the final day’s celebrations. 

Each session ends with a good-bye song.

On each succeeding day, review the previous day’s events with the accompanying songs, then tell the next episode in the story.

On the very last day we usually have a “banquet”.  We attempt to keep the food somewhat appropriate to the story, usually just finger foods, but we certainly don’t object if someone brings chips or soft drinks. Parents readily contribute and local grocery stores are often willing to donate a tray of fruit or vegetables. We decorate with table cloths, colourful napkins, tea lights and often a tickle trunk of extra costumes to make it a festive occasion.  

After the banquet, we return to the circle for the farewell song or verse.

        One of the participants giving a blessing and thank-you speech at a banquet.


For The Golden Goose story, a lot of detail is given for the youngest age group, followed by suggestions of adaptations for the other two age groups.

For The Acadians, many activities and songs are suggested. 

Tips on Setting up a Program

Planning and carrying out a multi-session program takes time and commitment.  Besides gathering a team, you need to find or make costumes (keep them very simple), props, organize music (we often wrote the short songs to go with events of the story), instruments and have weekly planning meetings.   But, it is all worth it!

– Find one or two other people to help plan and facilitate a program,  people who are somewhat knowledgeable and have experience with at least one of the following: drama, music, storytelling, movement and dance, and visual arts.
– Choose a story that has a lot of potential for developing music, movement and art themes.  The planning time is very important for the facilitators.  The better prepared you are, the more easily you will be able to respond to œglitches or to make changes on the spot.  I fondly recall a guest teacher, demonstrating Interactive Storytelling with The Frog Prince. When it came time for the prince to ask the princess to marry him, the princess, a lovely delicate girl in a wheelchair said, very emphatically, “No! I will not marry you.  I am going to become a lawyer and help people!”  The storyteller’™s advice, when faced with a seemingly difficult or impossible situation, advises,œ “Don’™t say ˜No! – Say ˜Oh!”
– Volunteers play a very important role in this work. They provide the one-on-one support that many students need to fully participate in the activities.  Often strong bonds between the participant and her œbuddy are fostered and  in most cases the volunteers are deeply affected by their experience in the program. For an after school program, look for volunteers in your high school, university, colleges and in the community.  Meet with the volunteers to let them know what their role is, who will be participating and give them an opportunity to experience some of the activities they will see in the program.  They need to be willing to engage with the participants, sometimes offering hand-over-hand assistance for the more challenged individuals.  Most of all, they need to be comfortable taking on roles and setting an example for others. 

Note for parents:

My child with a severe developmental delay was the inspiration for these programs.  It was through engaging with him in a playful creative way that the ideas flowed.  Most parents engage their young children in singing rhymes and all sorts of traditional and spontaneous games. It usually involves both partners leading and following.  I would often get ideas on how to develop a story based on my son’s response; I would try out something on him, then make variations until I saw that he was fully engaged.  

  My partner and I both have a background in the arts, so we naturally exposed our son to cultural events within our community.  We began to notice how he responded to different artistic events.   Once, we were attending a performance of a high school production of “My Fair Lady” and when it came to a close, as everyone else was clapping and giving a standing ovation, he began to cry.  We realized that he was sad because it had ended.  We also began to see the same response if he was watching a movie; as soon as the music began to swell to its happy ending, he began to cry and protest.  The music was the trigger.  There were other events around expressing emotions that made us realize that he had a fairly high emotional intelligence.  He was very young at the time and has since come to accept endings, or respond in a different way.

You can adapt some of these stories to use in your own living room.  A session might last five minutes or half an hour.  Children love repetition, so telling the story (or a part of the story) over and over will make you familiar with what you child responds to.  Or, you and your child might have a favourite story you could work with, adding a song or some actions, perhaps some props or puppets.  Through your collective play new ideas will emerge. 

One of my private students was an older child with whom I was working on fine and gross motor skills, and other developmental skills.   I used some of the songs from The Raven Princess to accompany the bean bag passing activities as well as other movement exercises.     

The story was also useful as an inspiration for some of the drawing and painting exercises.  On the Alexander Society website –  you can see some of the Developmental Exercises (under the menu Learning Modules) that can be matched with songs from these stories. 

I hope you find inspiration and joy in these stories and suggestions!

This workbook is a way of sharing our experience and helping others get started on this incredible path of learning.  Feel free to adapt it however you wish, to meet the needs of your children.  



*Curative Education is the term used within the Camphill Communities to describe the approach to working with people who are in need of special care. To find out more about Curative Education go to

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Basic Materials, Instruments, Art Supplies and Techniques

The following items are used in almost all our programs:

Fabric has become a mainstay of the programs; it can be used for many things, from draping around the room to create a specific ambience, to becoming a queen™s gown, a flowing river, a green meadow, a table cloth.  The pieces are anywhere from a few meters long to about 15 meters! We recommend using solid colours as it is the most versatile. Translucent fabric is great for crawling under or being wrapped in – the student can see through but still feel wrapped or enclosed. Keep an eye out for sales. See the opening scenes of the œLearning Through The Arts video on the Home Page of the web site for more information on the use of fabrics.

Rods or Wands  are used both for movement exercises as well as props.  They are great for fine motor and co-ordination work.  Make enough for everyone in your group.  They are made from 1.5 cm dowels cut into about 70 cm lengths, or up to 90 cm lengths for teens.  Sand the ends, then oil the rods with a light cooking oil to keep them smooth and to protect them from gathering fingerprints.  We also made copper rods that we sometimes use as they have a different weight and texture.  Copper is a conductor and helps bring attention to the fingertips.  1.5 cm copper piping was bought from the hardware store who were kind enough to cut it into the appropriate lengths.  We lightly sanded the pipe so that it would not leave dark traces on the hands.  Copper caps were then soldered onto the ends; though you may find rubber caps.  Some children, especially those with autism, may be put off by the feel of copper.  The copper rods make quite a noise if they are dropped, so we need to be very sensitive about how and when we use them.

Rocks:  Round and oval rocks that fit into the palm of your hand are passed around in rhythmical circle activities.  Gather a variety of sizes that will work for all children.  Smaller round and flat rocks are used as instruments and sound effect as in The Pasha, The Mice and the Cheese.  When tapped together in a particular way, they make a unique sound. Hold the flat rock (should be a bit smaller than your palm) in the palm of one hand, leaving an air space  between your palm and the rock.  Tap the flat rock with the round rock, changing the pitch of the sound by alternately opening (or flattening)  and cupping your hand as you tap. We used these to accompany the movements of the mice. Most of our rocks came from the shores of the Bay of Fundy where they have been smoothed by the power of the waves over millenia.

Song sheets: All the songs and verses are printed on half sheets of bristol board or drawing paper and put up on the wall in the order in which they are needed in the story.  This not only helps the facilitators remember the songs and where they fall in the story, it helps those students who are learning to read.  However, we also encourage memorization, so we try not to rely on the sheets for the entirety of the program. 

Costumes:  Start collecting clothes for a tickle trunk.  We discovered a second hand clothing store that was going out of business and persuaded them to donate about 15 evening dresses to our programs. The dresses were dismantled and the skirts were made into capes which have been used as robes for royalty, as butterfly wings, birds, etc.  Hats and scarves are always useful.  We do try to keep costumes at a minimum, usually just one piece per character to set him/her apart from the other participants. 

 Instruments:  We initially bought a set of rhythm instruments from Empire Music in Vancouver.  Included are various sets of bells, 2 triangles, small drums and tambourines, six sets of rhythm sticks, cymbals and finger symbols.  We have added more as the years go by, such as a rain stick and more hand drums.  We made more rhythm sticks out of 3/4 (or 1.75 cm) dowels which are a little thicker and easier to work with.  They are 35 cm long, with sanded ends and oiled with a light cooking oil. Shakers can be constructed from cardboard tubes, decorated and filled with seeds or pebbles.  

Basic Art Supplies and Techniques:
– Crayons. We encourage you to spend a little extra to get the best quality.  Stockmar makes very good quality crayons.  They come in both stick and rectangular blocks.  The block crayons are more versatile as they allow for different widths of lines, for easy blending of colours and they encourage more flexible wrist and arm movement.  These and other supplies are available at,  or at any Waldorf School supply store.  Prang and Crayola also work.
– Drawing Paper. Look for cartridge or kraft paper.  27.5 cm  X 42.5 cm is a good size.  Students can use both sides and it does not rip as easily as newsprint.  Use masking tape to lightly tape the corners of the paper to the art board or table to stabilize it.  The tape can easily be taken up so the paper can be turned over, reusing the tape.
– Art Boards: Usually pieces of masonite, these boards are about 45 cm X 60 cm about 1/2 cm thick, with at least one smooth side.  If the tables that you are working on are rough or uneven, the boards serve as a smooth surface for drawing, painting or clay work. You could also paint one smooth side with blackboard paint so they could double as a drawing surface for chalk.  This will save on paper, unless you want to keep a record of the students progress.
– Bristol Board: Could be used under the drawing paper in lieu of art boards.

Water colour painting supplies:
– Water colour paper of fairly good quality.  Wherever possible we buy sheets of 22″ X 30″ (56 cm X 76 cm) and cut it into quarters, giving each child a piece of 11″ X 15″.
– Brushes should be 3/4” or 1″ wide, with a long handle (23 – 29 cm). They cost about $4.00 each and will last for a long time if cleaned well after each use, and stored either lying down or upright with the handle end down.
– Paint also should be of good quality.  Cotman™s tube paints work well;  a 6 oz. tube will cost about $8. – $10.  I would suggest beginning with two yellows – lemon and cadmium, ultramarine blue and prussian blue,  a carmine red, then supplement with an orange, a violet and a green.

-Sponges: Should be large enough to cover the whole palm  about 7 – 10 cm square and about 2 cm thick. You can buy packages of soft sponges in the hardware or grocery store, which are about 5 cm thick.  Cut in two to make the desired thickness.  Natural sponges are available from a Waldorf supply store.
– Shallow plastic tote – a container large enough so that the paper can be totally immersed in water.
– Small jars for the paint, either 250 ml. mason jars or baby food jars
– Art Boards: (see above) Also used to store the paintings while they dry.
– Yogurt containers or large mason jars for rinsing out the brushes
– Rags for cleaning.
– Painting shirts.  These can be old shirts worn backwards or large t-shirts.  Check second hand stores or your friends™ closets.

Technique: This method of painting is called “wet-on-wet”. The children will experience the joy of watching the paint flow over the paper, combining to form new colours.  The emphasis is on exploring colours, the feelings that arise when the colours interact with each other, and the forms that emerge when the colours combine. Let the colours œplay with each other and see what happens.  Later, some of the children may want to try making representational paintings.  Initially, the process is more important.

The paper needs to be quite wet so that the paint will easily flow over it. There are two ways of accomplishing this:
 1.) Soak the paper in the container of water for an hour or more, then lift it out and place it in the middle of the art board.  With a damp sponge, begin at the centre of the paper, lightly brushing the excess water off in all directions, squeezing out the sponge as it soaks up the water.  Turn the paper over and lightly sponge the other side, until the paper is well adhered to the board and there are no bubbles. To brush out any bubbles, start in the centre and brush to the outside.  Brush around the edges to take up excess water.  Be careful not to rub too much or too hard as it will cause little knobs to appear.  After demonstrating, let the children prepare their paper.

If you do not have a suitable container in which to soak the paper, you may use the following method, although the paper will be more likely to buckle and dry as you are painting.
 2.) Wet the board with the sponge, lay the dry paper on it. Squeeze water onto the paper from the sponge until it is quite wet.  After gently brushing the water over the paper, turn the paper over and apply more water, always brushing from the centre outwards.  

When preparing the paint squeeze about 2 cm of paint into a jar and add several tablespoons of water.  Stir, then test it on a little piece of water-colour paper to make sure it is intense enough to give a good rich colour.  After the painting session, leave the paint in the jars uncovered to dry out.  The next time you use it, simply add a little water.  If you cover the jars, they will give off an unpleasant odour when opened.

Demonstrate how to hold the brush like a pencil.  Allow the children to feel the brush first on their hand and arm, then on their face. Have them practice the motion of making gentle strokes on the paper with the dry brush from left to right, then turn the hand over to brush from right to left, pulling, not pushing the brush.  Emphasize the importance of washing out the brush before dipping into a new colour.  Some of the children will be able to use the brush properly, while others will need hand over hand support. For the latter, you might spend several sessions on simply proper brushing technique and the blending of two colours.  Before presenting any of this to the children, please take some time and experiment with this wonderful way of painting.

Acrylic Painting:
– Tubes of Acrylic paint: carmine red, cobalt and ultramarine blue, lemon yellow, a forest green, orange and a violet.
– Brushes: Use the same brushes as for the water colour painting; add some smaller brushes for finer details.

– Paper: good quality drawing paper or a large piece of canvas if you are creating a mural.
– paint shirts
– water tubs (yogurt containers or mason jars)
– small glass jars for the paint
– art boards, bristol board or newspaper as backing for your

Squeeze about 4 cm. of paint into the jar.  Mix with  a little water.  This paint will have a thicker consistency than the water colour paint. Have several jars of each colour, with a brush in each.  Keep the brush with its paint container. This way, the brushes do not have to be washed out each time a student wants to change colour; also, the students will be encouraged to ask for the colour they want.  This method works especially well when everyone is working together on a mural.  However, this paint will not keep, unlike the watercolour paint.  It will start to have an unpleasant odour if left in the jars for any length of time.

Clay:  It is important to use real clay as it has a unique texture and smell. (You can get quick drying clay that has additives in it, but the texture and smell are not the same.)  Clay can be used over and over if it is wrapped in a damp cloth and stored in a securely fastened plastic bag.  Through working the clay, awareness is brought to the hands and fingers.  The clay can be kneaded, it can be thrown on the table with a hefty thwack, it can be smoothed with delicate finger movements. If you are fortunate to have a potter living nearby, objects can be fired, then painted with acrylic paints.  Provide enough clay so that everyone can have a ball that fits comfortably into their hands. 


Return to Contents



Chapter 1 The Pasha, the Mice and the Cheese


04 PMC Felt Board. Intro to story


This story is adapted from The King, The Mice and the Cheese  by Nancy and Eric Gurney.  After reading and playing with the story with my son, I was convinced that it would be a great one for children because of the opportunities for repetition, role playing, sequencing and many musical and movement activities. When my colleague and I started planning how to present the story, we were struck by the œ”Persian” feel of the illustrations. Based on that impression, we used the word œPasha rather than king and set the story in Persia.  A Pasha is a ruler of a province.  The word itself is fun to play with and inspired lots of alliteration.  So, this is the story of the Pasha, who sat on his Purple Pillow in his Palace in Persia. 

The Pasha seeks the advice of his wisemen to get rid of the mice who have overrun the palace.  The wisemen, however, only compound the situation.  The Pasha discovers that he can solve the problem himself, while the mice learn that by practising good manners, they will get to live in the palace and enjoy their favourite food.

The book, which was published by Random House, is now out of print.  You might find it in a library or at a yard sale, perhaps even through Amazon.  I was granted permission to use the text from only three pages of the book, so I will give you a summary of the story, which you may embellish and tell in your own way:

The Pasha lived in a beautiful palace where he had everything he wanted; his favourite thing was cheese – all kinds of cheese.  He employed the best cheesemakers in all the land. Everybody in the palace, everybody in the town and everybody in the surrounding countryside could smell the cheese.  One day, a mouse smelled the cheese and he told all his friends.  Soon they were running all through the palace, nibbling on the cheese.  They were everywhere –  in the kitchen, on the dining tables, in the furniture, even in the Pasha’s beard!  They were very happy living in the palace, but the Pasha was not happy.  He called his three wisemen and asked them how to get rid of the mice.  After some  thought, the wisemen came up with a brilliant idea – bring in some cats to chase away the mice.  The Pasha thought this was  a good idea, so many many cats were brought in – cats of all colours and sizes.  They chased away the mice and then settled in to enjoy the luxuries of living in a palace.  They were very happy living with the Pasha, eating his food, sleeping in his bed; but the Pasha was not happy.  Again, he called in his wisemen to ask advice on getting red of the cats.  Again the wisemen pondered for awhile, then suggested that they should bring in dogs to chase away the cats. 

And so the story goes on to reveal how the dogs became a nuisance and were chased away by lions who then destroyed the furniture and frightened everyone.  Elephants were brought in to chase away the lions, but they began to break the walls of the palace and generally were not welcome.  So the wisemen brought back the mice to chase away the elephants.  At this point, again being overrun with mice, the Pasha realized that the wisemen were not so wise after all, so he pondered the situation and came up with a brilliant idea.  He called the mice together and said, “œListen, boys, let’™s make a deal. I’™ll learn how to get along with you.  You’™ll learn how to get along with me.”

[From The King, The Mice and The Cheese by Nancy and Eric Gurney, copyright © 1965 by Nancy Gurney and Eric Gurney, copyright renewed 1993 by Charles Lance Gurney, Lassie Anne Gurney-Bauli and Catherine Lorna.  Used by permission of Random House Children’™s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.]

The Pasha tells the mice that if they learn to sit at tables and eat with good manners, they can have all the cheese they like.  The mice agreed, they learned good manners and the Pasha shared his cheese with them. 

With the repetitive nature of the story, by the second or third day, many children are able to not only imitate the actions and repeat the lines, but to anticipate what is coming next.  Examples of places where we inserted repetitive actions and words are: the Pasha, in his frustration, always says “Oh no! How can I get rid of these mice?” (or cats, dogs, etc.), while gesturing with his hands.  The wisemen always think with the same actions and sounds, as simple as œ”Hmm”, until one of them has an idea.  One of the wisemen always says, “Bring in the cats!” (or dogs, lions, etc.).  Each time a new animal takes over the palace, the storyteller says: œ”The lions (or dogs, etc.) were very happy living with the Pasha in the palace.  But was the Pasha happy?”  The children will readily respond, “No!”  Then, œ”What did the Pasha do?”  By the third day most of them will shout out: œ”He called for his wisemen!”  This repetitive approach fosters memory and confidence in the children as they quickly take part in the telling of the story.  During the drama, the Pasha can be supported by the chorus of children as he says his lines and performs the actions.

Our main storytelling aid was a felt board and beautiful felt characters.  A wonderful artist friend created the felt pieces – a castle, a pasha on his pillow, the three wise men, a round of cheese, three mice attached together, a cat, a dog, a lion, and an elephant.

 However, if you don’™t have an artist to call on, create your own felt pieces, or find other visuals to support the story.  In many of our programs we simply use draped fabric to create a  background setting so the children will have a feel for the location. For more information on the setting, look at the opening of the video œLearning Through Creative Play  Also see the Materials List

Each of the animals has the focus for one day and for each we created a song, dedicated an instrument and a special way of moving.  Everyone will get the chance to experience being the animals.

This story presents a great opportunity to get the children involved in making masks of each of the animals. When we use this story in schools, with a week between sessions, the children are given the task of creating a mask for the animal they will encounter the following week. Of course many will need the help of an educational assistant, and not all children will make a mask due to time constraints or lack of interest or will. That is okay, because there are always enough masks and if a child makes at least one mask that he is really interested in, or helps make one of the masks that require several people to manipulate, that is great.  The masks are very simple, usually made from bristol board with ears and whiskers attached, and other decorations as the children choose. See Materials List for further discussion of masks.

The art section allows for clay work, drawing and painting.  For some students, this will be the first time they will have handled real clay. The first day we explore the texture, smell, weight and other properties of the clay; on the second day we make a coiled bowl.  The bowls will need to dry for about a week, then they can be fired. Hopefully there is a potter in your area who will fire the pots so that they will be ready for painting on the seventh  day. On the last day, individuals can use the bowls to hold their cheese and crackers at the banquet.

There are many songs offered, with additional choices at the end of the chapter.  Click on the lyric to hear the song.  You might find some of the songs too œyoung for your group, or too verbal.  Remember that these are all just suggestions, so feel free to invent variations, slow down, speed up, or to leave out or substitute other songs or activities. 

 Materials List for The Pasha, The Mice and the Cheese

– A felt board: you can buy one ready made, or make your own.  We could not find a commercial board large enough to suit our purposes, so we made one with three sheets of foam core.  Each panel is about 1m x 1m, attached together with duct tape, then the entire board was covered with felt –  black on one side and blue on the other so that either side could be used as the background. This design allows the board to be used in various ways – stretched out so that the three panels face front, or formed into a triangle.  It easily folds in three when being stored.  If you can get genuine wool felt or good flannel,  the felt characters will adhere better.  However, the synthetic felt that is readily available does work. 
– Felt pieces: a castle outline, a Pasha on his pillow, the three wisemen (people), a round of cheese, three mice attached together, a cat, a dog, a lion, and an elephant. 
– Fabric to drape behind the felt board to help create the feeling of the palace.
– Purple pillow.
– Special hat for the Pasha.
– Scarves for the three wisemen to be tied around their head somewhat like a turban.
– Conical mouse noses made from Bristol board or construction paper.  Attach elastic so they can be worn by the children.

– Masks: Have one sample mask for each of the other animals. Our cat and dog were simple flat bristol board masks, but the lion and elephant were in several parts which require co-operation to operate them.  Two to six children had to work together.  

  The lion mask was life-size, made of Bristol board, with pipe cleaner whiskers, a mane made from crepe or tissue paper.  Two large eye holes allowed children to see through while carrying it in front of their face. Separate paws were made of two pieces of felt glued or sewed together like a mitten with cardboard claws attached. Two people carried the head, each holding it with one hand while wearing a paw on the outside hand.

 The elephant was made of three sheets of bristol board, one for the head and two for the ears which were attached with masking tape.  The two tusks were also made of bristol board and attached to a short piece of dowel so that they could be easily carried. The trunk consisted of ripstop nylon tubes (originally meant as toys for cats to play in).  These masks are great for learning how to cooperate, as it takes several people to manipulate them. Engage the children in helping make the masks whenever possible.

– Hand drum that can be played with a mallet.
– Talking rocks: a flat rock that will fit into the palm of a child’™s hand and a round rock make a pair.
– Little bell, finger cymbal, singing bowl or other instrument that can be used by a wiseman to indicate the idea.
– Wands (rods) : See Basic Materials 
– Rhythm sticks
– Clay: enough for each person to have a ball that will fit nicely into their hand.  See  Art Supplies and Techniques for more information.
– Materials for mask making: bristol board, scissors, crayons, glue sticks, hole punch, string or ribbon for tying the mask on, various coloured pipe cleaners, coloured paper, tissue paper, sparkles, and any other decorative bits.

Art supplies:
– Water colour supplies: See Art Supplies and Techniques
– Drawing paper, 11 X 17
– Regular crayons, block crayons or chalk pastels.

So now, let’™s meet the Pasha!


Day 1

Prior to the session:
Assemble the felt board and characters: the palace, the pasha, and the cheese on the felt board to start with; add the mice and the wisemen during the story.  Drape fabric behind the felt board and around the room to create a special atmosphere.

You will need:
Song sheets on the wall:  (The lyrics appear in the appropriate place in the story.)
Come Into a Circle, Hello to You, Come With Us and Play, The Pasha’™s Song  (I Love Cheese), The Mice’s Song ( We Love Cheese), The P, P, P, P, Pasha,  Hickory Dickory Dock, I’™ll Have a Little Cheese, Now It™s Time to Part.

For the Story/Drama:
– A special hat for the Pasha, a purple pillow, scarves to be tied around the three wisemen’™s heads like turbans, an instrument to represent the œidea (could be a little bell, triangle, finger cymbals or singing bowl), mouse noses: enough for about half your children, orange fabric to cover a small chair or box  – this will be the cheese the mice nibble on.

For the Music/Movement:
– At least one pair of talking rocks and the wands (See Basic Materials, Instruments….)

-two rhythm sticks per person and several pairs of “talking rocks”.

For the art:
– Clay,  art boards (optional), clean-up rags and buckets of warm water to wash hands.

Opening: (Gathering, Welcome song, Name Game)

Gathering:  Begin forming a circle by taking someone’s hand as you sing.  You can hear the song by clicking on the note.
  Come Into a Circle, and help us make a ring.
  We’™re gathering together, so we can dance and sing.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like: 

For an alternative opening, see Additional Musical activities at the end of the chapter.

Welcome song:
 Hello to you, and how do you do
 Hello to you and to you and to you.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

Add arm gestures. For the first few sessions repeat the song several times.

Name game:
One person says his/her name and makes a gesture or performs an action. The whole group then says Hello ____ while copying the action.  Every one takes a turn.
If you are working with a very young  group, or with children who have difficulty standing still, remain sitting for this activity as it gives more stability and allows them to more easily focus.  Some children may come with a communication board which is pre-programed to speak their name.  Some may be able to emit only a sound.  In this case, the assistant will speak the child’™s name while the child makes a gesture. This is a great way to acknowledge everyone in the group.

Transition to story/drama:  (To the tune of Three Blind Mice )
 Come with us and play, we’ll go to the palace today.
 Come with us and play, we’™ll go to the palace today.
 Come with us and play, we’ll go to the palace today.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

During the song the Storyteller leads the group in a circuitous route to the story corner.  Repeat the first two lines until everyone has settled in an approximate horseshoe formation in front of the felt board, then sing the last line, slowing the song  down as the children settle.  On subsequent days, invite a student to lead the group to the story corner.


Tell the story up to “Bring in the cats!” embellishing as you see fit, asking for suggestions from the children about how the mice might move.  You might tell the story sitting on the Pasha’s pillow, demonstrating how he would sit.  Teach the appropriate songs and actions as follows:
When you introduce the Pasha, sing  his song, inviting the children to join you right away.
  I love cheese, I love cheese,
  Cheese please, I love cheese.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

The mice’s song has the same tune, but it could be sung with a higher squeaky voice.  The last line could be spoken in a demanding way rather than sung.
  We love cheese, we love cheese,
  Cheese, cheese we want some!
When the Pasha exclaims, œ”Oh no! How can I get rid of these mice?” Ask the children to help decide what the Pasha might do with his hands. Help them identify & then put the gestures into a rhythmic sequence.  This is especially useful for non-verbal children and for those who are œvisual learners.  Movement will help them remember the words.
Our Pasha put both hands to his head on, “Oh No!”,  in a gesture of frustration, then pressed both hands to his thighs three times: on “œHow do I get œrid of all these œmice?”  These gestures were repeated everyday when he asks the question of the wisemen. When it is time for the wisemen to think, find another gesture that can be repeated each time .  When one of them has an idea, he/she gets to ring the bell (or finger cymbal) and announce “œBring in the cats!” Solicit from the children suggestions as to what kinds of cats there were.  This elaboration will help in their cat mask constructions later on.


To act out the story you will need the following characters: a Pasha with his hat, who sits on his purple pillow, the three wisemen wearing their turbans, standing near the Pasha.  All the others will be the mice with their mouse noses. One of the wisemen will hold the ˜idea instrument.  Set a small chair or stool near the Pasha with a piece of orange fabric draped over it, to indicate a large piece of cheese which the mice will later nibble.
Gather the mice into a corner of the room, which will be the field where they live. Perhaps one of the assistants could be in character as the head mouse. Engage the children in getting into œcharacter, for example, how would they run, nibble, wait, etc.?  Spend a little time getting the Pasha into his character.
The Storyteller directs the drama by retelling the story, and/or by asking the children to recall what happened, pausing for the action to happen. Include the Pasha’s song and the Mice’s song.  Finish the drama with one of the wisemen saying, “Bring in the cats!”

After they have removed the costume pieces and props, ask the children to recall the types of cats, and  explain that they will have an opportunity to make cat masks before the next session.  How you proceed with the mask-making depends on your situation. If time permits, the children could make the masks at the end of this session.  Or, if you are in a school, the mask making could be a good way to review the story and remind them of what is coming up if it is done a day or so before the next session.  

Transition to Movement: Sing œCome Into a Circle…  gather into a circle.

 There are three different activities described here. If this seems like a lot for the first day, save the wand(rod) passing for the next day, or do just the first passing activity.
This first activity focuses on the idea of straightness – the upright straight body, the walking in straight lines and the quality of the movement which is very œregal  This concept will be revisited with the œwands and in the drawing on the third day.  Later, with the cats, we will introduce the idea of curved lines.  It is all part of body awareness.

Using a drum to maintain a steady walking beat, ask everyone to walk across the circle as if they were the Pasha:  If you see someone walking like a œking, have him demonstrate to the others.  Note how he always walks in very straight lines. Everyday the Pasha walks from one end of the palace to the other inspecting and tasting the cheeses.  Continue for several minutes, crossing the circle three or more times.

Using a set of œtalking rocks to inspire mouse-like movements, tap the two rocks together using different tempos, pitch and volume as the children move across the circle like the mice.  Ask them to move quickly, when the  sound stops they are to stop, listen and look.  Repeat this pattern several times.  Some will go on all fours, some will run in a crouched over position.  Suggest that they nibble a œpretend cheese.  After they have had their fill of cheese, the mice fall asleep.  Let them rest briefly.

Call the children back into the circle singing Come Into a Circle…

Pass out the wands  Holding the wand vertically with one hand, stand directly in front of a child.  Ask him/her to prepare his hand to catch the wand, then toss it vertically to him.  Most will be able to catch it on the first attempt.  Instruct them to hold the wands upright until everyone has received one.  Some of the children may need hand over hand assistance; this usually works if the assistant stands behind the student.  On the first day it is a good idea to use the wooden dowels so the children get used to tossing and catching.  Later, introduce the copper rods if you have them, as they are a great help in developing fine motor skills.  The copper rods make a lot of noise when they are dropped which may be very disturbing to some students.

This next activity is accompanied by the verse:
Hickory dickory dock, the mice ran up the clock
The clock struck one, the mice ran down, hickory dickory dock.

First, we say the verse while holding the wand still, in a vertical position. Then, starting with the wand in your right hand, pass it back and forth from one hand to the other as you say the verse.  The goal is to have everyone pass in the same rhythm, while keeping the wand in the vertical position. 
Practice beforehand so that you are clear on the rhythm you want the children to emulate. Speak the verse as you demonstrate the passing.
Once most have the rhythm of the passing, demonstrate how to toss the wand back and forth with the same rhythm.  Make it a very small toss.  Remind them to keep the wand upright.

Next, hold the wand horizontally, palms facing up.  Practice tossing it gently up in the air and catching. Using the same verse, begin quite slowly so everyone is tossing in the same rhythm as you speak the verse.  Once most people are confident in tossing and catching, add the next exciting part:  toss the wand up and catch it by turning your hands over,  grabbing it as it comes down, palms facing the floor.  Again, practice this beforehand.  As an example, try this rhythm, 

Hickory        dickory         dock
toss, catch,  toss, catch,  toss, catch with reverse hands.   Then slide the hands to the ends of the wand, slide them under the wand to begin again. 

The  mice        ran up          the clock
toss, catch,     toss, catch,  toss, catch with reverse hands.  Slide hands.

The clock  struck one  the mice  ran down. (Do not reverse hands on this line.)

 Hickory      dickory        dock
toss, catch  toss, catch  toss, catch with reverse hands.

At first it looks very difficult, but after just a few attempts, most children achieve this feat, and they are so pleased with themselves.  What an accomplishment!  In a school program, a young student said, as soon as he saw me toss and catch the wand this way, “œI can’™t do that.” I responded, “œIt is hard, but I am sure you can do it if you try a few times.”  He did catch it on the first try and the look on his face was one of elation!  If you tell people that an activity is easy and they aren’™t able to do it, they might feel badly; but if you tell them that it is hard, if they fail at first, they won’™t feel so badly and they are more likely to try again. Then, if and when they accomplish it, they will feel great!

Collect the wands by going around the circle having  each person toss the wand to you.  Choose another child to be your assistant, to carry the bag for the wands.

Transition to art: Singœ Come Into a Circle…to go to the art tables.

– Give a ball of clay to each person, about the size of a tennis ball or smaller. Encourage them to roll it in their hands, to smell it.  Explain that it comes from the earth, and how cups, plates and other items are made from clay. Today we will simply play with the clay, experimenting with different ways of working it.  Have them roll it into a ball, then squash it.  Throw it down on the table with some force and hear how it sounds. Make snakes. Roll it on the table, pat it, push it, make it into another shape.  At the end of the session have them roll their clay back into a ball.

Wrap the balls in a damp cloth and store in an air tight container for the next session.

Transition to Music: Come Into a Circle…

This next activity can be done sitting on the floor in a circle. Teach the following song:

  The P,P,P,P, Pasha, sat on his purple pillow.
  The P,P,P,P, Pasha, sat on his purple pillow.
  And he ate some cheese,
  Whenever he pleased.
  And then he ate some more.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

Give two rhythm sticks to each person.

Tap sticks together on each of the four P’™s and Pasha (five taps), then hold the sticks quietly as you sing the next phrase.  Repeat for the second line. Tap the sticks on the floor for the next two phrases, then four taps for the last line and finish by holding the sticks up after 
As a variation, introduce other rhythm instruments for the œP P P P™s.

This next song is to the tune of Skip to my Lou:
I’ll have a little cheese, it tastes so fine  (3 times)
I could eat this cheese all day.  Yum yum!

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

Keep a steady beat with the rhythm sticks throughout.  Ask for suggestions about how you could use the sticks to keep the rhythm, such as tapping the floor, tapping their neighbours stick, rubbing the sticks together.

– The Mice’s Song: Give pairs of “talking rocks” to several children. Demonstrate how to tap them to change the pitch. Give  bells or shakers to the rest of the students. Sing the song while playing the instruments. At the end of the song, let them play the instruments very quickly as the mice are running for the cheese. Trade instruments so that all the students get to play with the rocks.

– See the end of the chapter for more musical activities with a mouse theme.

Transition to ending:  Sing Come Into a Circle... as you bring the group back into a standing circle for the good-bye song:
  Now its time to part, I’™ll hold you in my heart.
  Now its time to part, I’™ll hold you in my heart.
  Now its time to part, I’™ll hold you in my heart.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

Add arm gestures.

If this is a weekly in-school program, remind the children and assistants that the cat masks need to be made before the next session.  In an after school program, the masks could be made following the telling of the story on the day the cats appear.  In this case, have all the materials prepared.  Some children may refuse to wear a mask, in which case, their masks can be attached to a paint stir stick and carried in front of their face. Or, they can play other characters.  On the second day, the cats will chase away the mice, so there may be more masks than required for the drama. Extra masks can be displayed on the wall or placed close to the œpalace.

 Day 2

You will need: 

– The set, costumes, instruments, props, costumes and art materials from previous day. 

– The Cat’s Song  and the verse œNaughty Pussy Cat.

 For the Story/Drama:

– The cat masks, unless they are going to be made after the story, in which case you will need all the materials on hand.  The felt dog for the end of the day’s story.

Opening : Gathering , Welcome Song, Name Game

Transition to story/drama  œCome with us and play…

Review last day’s story, singing the songs.

Tell the new part of the story up to œ”Bring in the dogs!” repeating all the gestures of the Pasha and the wisemen. Teach the Cat Song: 

I love to climb up everywhere, meow, meow

Let my tail dangle there, meow-oo.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

If the children have not had the opportunity between sessions to make the masks, do so at this point  There will be more masks than needed for the drama, so place the remaining ones on and around the felt board and the set.


You will need the Pasha, the wisemen, mice and cats.  Organize the cats to wait for their cue in a designated place in the room.  Direct the  cats in chasing away the mice, who then may become part of the palace personnel, participating with the Pasha and the wisemen in their dialogue and  gestures.  Give the cats time to lounge all over the palace, eating, sleeping, scratching, etc. Then bring attention back to the Pasha on his purple pillow as he calls in the wise men to get their advice.   Place the felt dog on the felt board.

Transition to movement:  Come Into a Circle... gather into a circle.
– Repeat the Pashas walk and the mice scurrying. The mice fall asleep.
– Transform the mice into cats:  After the mice have been œasleep for a minute, you might say, œI hear cats! Let™s all be cats coming to chase away the mice.  After the cats have chased the mice away, they lie down to rest.  Explore the many different ways cats can move.  Sing the Cats’ Song while they are moving, directing them to  gradually stretch up to a standing position.

– Review the wand activities.

Transition to art: Come Into a Circle... to go to the art tables.
– Clay: spend a few minutes again playing with the clay, squeezing, rolling, throwing it down onto the table. Then, demonstrate how to make a snake so that it is of even thickness;  show how to coil it into a bowl, and smooth the coils so there are no gaps in the bowl.  Let them dry for about a week before having them fired. They should be ready to paint on Day 7.

Transition to Music: Come Into a Circle …
–  Review previous day™s songs.
– Sing The Cat™s’ Song, finding different arm gestures to go with the œmeows. Ask for suggestions about how the cats might move. 
– The following verse may be used as another rhythmical exercise. Use hand clapping or tapping with rhythm sticks.

Naughty pussy cat, you are very fat.
You have butter on your whiskers, naughty pussy cat.

Transition to ending:œ  Come Into a Circle... 

Good bye song.

Remind the students that they are to make dog masks before the next session if this is a school program.


 Day 3 

You will need: 

As for Day 2, adding The Dog’s Song.

Prior to the session:
Add the dog to the felt board, and have the lion ready to add during the story.   Have the dog masks in place.  If you plan to use a three part lion mask in the next session, have it ready to show the students.  

For the Music: 

– Collect a variety of instruments to represent the sounds and movements of the dog, such as a small drum, a jingle bell, claves, a rasp.   See the music section for activity description.

For art:

– Drawing paper, masking tape, crayons, art boards or Bristol board used as a backing to the drawing paper.  If there is space enough to set up the art tables before the program starts, do so, and prepare the paper before the session. Tape the paper to the boards just at the corners so that the tape can easily be removed and the paper turned over.

Opening:  Gathering, Welcome, Name Game

Transition to Story/Drama
Tell the story up to œ”Bring in the lions!”  reviewing the story through the songs and actions.  At the end of the story, put the felt Lion on the felt board.

Teach the Dog™’s Song:

 I am a dog and I love to bark,
 Woof woof woof woof woof woof woof.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

Drama:  You will need the Pasha, wisemen, cats and dogs.  Begin with the cats lounging around the palace.  Organize the dogs in one corner of the room, ready to enter on their cue. After they chase the cats away, the dogs lounge around in the palace. Sing the Dog™s’ Song again, soliciting new suggestions for dog activities. Vary the song, such as: I am a dog and I like to scratch. or growl, dig, etc.  Interrupt the dogs at play by bringing attention back to the Pasha, who calls in his wisemen.

Finish the Drama session by demonstrating how the lion mask works and determine if there are some children who would like to work together to make a three-piece mask for next week.  Some people may want to make just a face mask for themselves.  


– Repeat but shorten the Pasha’s walk, the mice scurrying, the cats lounging.  Experiment with  more  dog activity such as  running, catching a ball, etc.
– Review the wand exercises.


– Drawing:  Every person will choose two colours.  Begin with straight lines.  Recall the Pasha walking from one side of the palace to the other, inspecting his cheese, always walking in a straight line. Have the children first make a horizontal straight line in the air with their hand.  Then make parallel horizontal lines on the paper.  This will require a fair amount of concentration and some children will need hand-over-hand to achieve a semblence of a straight line.  With a different colour, make vertical lines, creating a grid on the paper, again relating the line to the Pasha who  also walks from the the front of the palace to the back, always in straight lines.


Next, if there is time, create a continuous form using straight lines.  First have the children draw the form in the air while you demonstrate, adding descriptive words “up, over, down, over”.  Relate this form to the song of the dog.  Work with this idea before the session to find the rhythm of the song and movement of the crayon.

Some of the children may need to stay with the grid lines, or even the horizontal lines.  That is ok as we want the children to work at their own pace. (I recall the first time I became aware of the importance of the consciousness of a straight line.  An art therapist was working with my son, when she noticed that his lines had a beginning but no end, that is, they would fade out.  She put two dots on the chalk board about 30 cm apart and told him to join the dots.  He accomplished that in a round-about way, and liked the exercise so much that he wanted to do it again and again.  Each time the line became straighter.  Days later, he began making a line, then putting a dot at the beginning and at the end!)

In the next session, the children will be introduced to curved lines.  Display some of the straight line drawings on the walls to remind them of  the Pasha and the dogs.


– Review previous days’ songs with instruments.
– Sing the Dog™s’ Song.  Pass out  instruments to represent  each of the activities; for example, a drum could be the barking, a rasp might be the digging, a jingle bell could be the whining, etc.  I am sure the children will have lots of suggestions. Then, sing the first line, and play the instrument for the sound or activity.  Do this for every instrument and suggestion.

  Bring  the children back into a circle for The Goodbye Song.

Day 4

Prior to the session:
 – Add the lion to the felt board and the Lion™s Song to the song sheets, collect the lion masks if students have already made them.

– Movement and art materials remain the same.

– Prepare the art paper as per the previous session.  Have the felt elephant ready to add to the board.  You may want to show the elephant mask to the children, or wait and make it a surprise for them on Day 5. 

– Add a few small drums to accompany the lion’s movements.

Opening:  Gathering, Welcome, Name Game


Tell the story up to  Bring in the elephants!  Place the felt elephant on the board at the end of the story.
Teach the Lion’s Song:
  I am a lion with a big big roar, big big roar, big big roar.
  I am a lion with a big big roar and I shall roar some more.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:



You will need the Pasha, the Wise Men, the dogs and the lions. Begin with the dogs lolling about in the palace; have the lions ready with their masks. If they have made a multi-part mask, allow time for the children to practice manipulating it.  Once the lions have settled into the palace, bring the focus back to the Pasha and the wisemen.


– Repeat the Pasha’™s walk and briefly review the movements of the different animals. Hear some great roars from the lions.
– Review the wand exercises.
– Use the Lion’s Song with the following wand activity: With two hands hold the wand horizontally at chest level, hands facing the floor. As you begin the song, sweep the wand down and away from you making a full circle as you bring it up and toward yourself. The first downward thrust is on the word “I”. Subsequent downward thrusts will be on the words in bold:

  I am a lion with a big big roar, big big roar, big big roar.
  I am a lion with a big big roar and I shall roar some more.

Sustain the wand up over your head on the last “big”, then on the word  bring it down behind your head, resting on your shoulders. Release your hands and hold it in the crux of your elbow. Give one last big roar, opening your hands like claws.

Art: Acknowledge the straight line drawings from last day as a contrast to this lesson’™s curved lines. Begin by making wavy lines in the air, going from left to right, then from right to left. Fill an entire page with these lines.  Accompany the drawing with the Cat Song. – note the cat’™s curved back. On another page, draw the wavy lines, adding a spiral to the end – the cat’™s tail curling up.

Use the Lion’s Song  to draw loops. Each small loop can be accompanied by œBig, big roar. and the final large loop by œand I will roar some more.


– Review previous songs with instruments.
– Sing The Lion’™s Song with instruments. Use various small hand drums for the Lion’s roaring.

Bring  the children back into a circle for The Goodbye Song.

 Day 5

Prior to the session:
– Add the elephant to the felt board, and the Elephant’s Song to the song sheets.  Display the elephant masks made by the children and facilitators. Movement and music materials remain the same.
– Art supplies: water colour painting supplies.  See: Basic Supplies, Instruments, Art Materials and Procedures.  Have the colours already mixed in the small jars. You will need only ultramarine blue and lemon yellow  today.  Have enough jars of each so that two people can share a set of jars. Put the water colour paper to soak before the session begins.  Have the art boards, sponges, water containers and brushes in place on the tables if possible.  If this is your introduction to this. painting technique, please take some time to experience it yourself prior to the session. 

Opening:  Gathering, Welcome, Name Game


Tell the story up to “Bring back the mice!”
Teach The Elephant’s Song:
An elephant is what I am, thump thump thump thump
Try to lift me if you can, thump thump thump

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

– Give the students an opportunity to walk like an elephant.  Discuss the kind of damage elephants might do inside a house or palace.


You will need  the Pasha, the wisemen, the lions and the elephants. Begin with the lions lying around in the palace; have the elephants ready with their masks. Allow time for the children to practice manipulating the elephant masks before being called in by the wisemen.

Once the elephants have chased the lions away and settled into the palace, and perhaps sang their song, focus again on the Pasha and the wisemen.


– Briefly review some of the Hickory Dickory Dock activity with the wands.
– Review the lion/wand musical exercise.
– Use the elephant song for a new wand activity:
Create the elephant’s trunk by leaning over, and with arms reaching straight down toward the floor, clasp both hands together.  Hold the wand along one arm, and put it up your sleeve if you have one, so that the wand is an extension of your arm.  This will be the elephant’s trunk.  Walk in this position with the trunk swaying side to side as you sing the first line.  On “Try to lift me if you can.” raise the trunk up into the air and stomp your feet.

Art:  This painting focuses on the brightness and warmth of the sun against the blue sky. We also note what happens when the blue and the yellow meet each other, or play with each other.   Talk about how in the kingdom of Persia where the Pasha lived, the sun was nearly always bright and hot. We are going to start with a bright sunny sky.
If this is the first time they have painted, demonstrate how to sponge the paper, and to hold and use the brush.  These demonstrations are also for the assistants as they may need to provide hand-over-hand for some of the children.   Demonstrate how to apply the paint: begin with yellow,  starting at the top of the page, paint from left to right, one line at a time, partially overlapping each line until you have filled half the paper.  Wash the brush out well. Let the  students begin.  When most have completed this part, demonstrate how to apply  the blue paint, starting at the bottom of the page, painting from left to right, gradually bringing the blue up to meet the yellow, but not touching.

You might ask what they think will happen when the blue of the sky  greets the sun.  Now, let the two colours meet. Note how the colours play together.  It is quite magical!

Everyone’s painting will be different.  Don’t forget to have the children sign their names or initials in the bottom right hand corner of their paintings.

The paintings will dry overnight. When you take them off the boards, clean the boards well in preparation for next time to prevent old paint from getting onto clean paper.  Display the paintings  on the wall the next day.


Review previous days’ favourite songs.
– Sing the Elephant Song with instruments and foot stomping.
– If you have time, begin the game of “Little  mice, little mice where have you been”.  See  Additional Musical Activities at the end of this chapter.

Goodbye Song.

 Day 6

Prior to the session:

– Bring back the mice noses.

– For art, prepare the water colour paint – blue, yellow and red.  Put the water colour paper to soak before the session begins.

Opening: Gathering, Welcome, Name Game


Tell the story up to “The Pasha had an idea! I will learn to get along with you if you will learn to get along with me.”
Ask for the children’™s help in describing the palace after it has been destroyed by the animals.


You will need the Pasha, the wisemen, the elephants and the mice. Begin with the elephants lying around in the palace; the mice will be off to one side.  The Pasha calls for his wisemen, the wisemen call in the mice. Now it is time for the Pasha to think. Ask the children for suggestions of how the Pasha might think.  You might discuss how the Pasha feels when the palace has been taken over by the mice, and how he feels after he has the great idea.


Review the children’s favourite animal movements.


Painting: Begin with blue in the top half, stopping at about the half-way point. Wash the brush out well, then let yellow radiate from the bottom up. Try not to let the blue and yellow overlap, but if it does, that’s OK.  Then, ask if they would like a drop of red on their painting.  Control the amount of red paint by adding one or two drops to the child’s painting – after asking where the child would like to have the red.  Suggest that they may want  to create a beautiful flower that grows in the kingdom, or a bird, or another object that the student suggests.  I usually try to place the red near the middle of the paper.  


Review rock tapping and instruments for mice.
Play the œLittle Mice game from the previous session.

Goodbye song.

 Day 7

Prior to the session:
– Add the new version of the We Love Cheese  song.

– Movement and music items remain the same.

– For art, the students will be painting the bowls they made on the second day. Prepare the acrylic paint: have several jars each of red, blue, yellow, green, orange and violet, with a brush in each jar, a few containers of water, paint shirts, clean up rags, art boards or newspaper to protect the tables. 

Opening: Gathering, Welcome, Name Game


Tell the remainder of the story.


You will need the Pasha, the wisemen and the mice. Begin with the Pasha calling the mice to him and telling them his plan. Engage the mice in discussing what is meant by good manners. Teach everyone the new version of the “We Love Cheese” song:
  We love cheese, we love cheese
  Cheese please, we love cheese.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

This is also a new song for the Pasha, as he previously sang I love cheese.  Now they can all sing together, including the wisemen.  And so, the Pasha learns to share his wealth and the mice learn good manners so they may partake of the abundance.
The Pasha announces that there will be a banquet ( during the next session) in honour of the agreement they have reached. Let the students help with the planning as much as possible. We usually focus on cheese, crackers, some fruit and healthy drinks.  Teachers/parents will pitch in; don’t hesitate to solicit a local grocery store for a food donation.

Movement:  Review favourite activities.


They are free to paint the bowls however they wish; remind them not to paint the bottom of the bowl! The bowls will be dry and ready to use in the last session for the banquet



Sing all the animal songs with instrumental accompaniment, including the œtalking rocks. Ask for favourites.

Goodbye Song.

  Day 8

Prior to the session:
Get ready for the banquet: Either modify the space in front of the felt board with more pillows or blankets to sit on, or set up tables, using some of the fabric as tablecloths. You will need napkins and glasses for juice.  Have the cheese and fruit cut up and covered with cloths.  The children can use their bowls to hold their food. Put all the art work up on the walls.  Make it a festive occasion. In one school program, friends who make yurts offered to set one up in the gym for our last session.  Needless to say the children were thrilled!


Opening: Gathering, Welcome, Name Game

Story/drama: Choose a Pasha to sit on the pillow. Invite the children to tell the story.  Sing all the songs with their gestures. Review the events of the last two sessions. Have the Pasha call all the mice to the tables for the banquet.  When everyone is seated, sing the new song of the Pasha and the mice: œWe Love Cheese
When everyone has finished eating, if there is time, go to the music circle and let them choose  some of their favourite songs and movement activities.

Sing the Good-bye song. Pass out all the art activities and masks for the children to take home.

The End.

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Additional music & verses for The Pasha, The Mice and the Cheese

Gathering or transition song:
Let us form a ring, dancing as we sing
(repeat as many times as it takes to get everyone into a circle.)
Ring -a-ring – a rayah, now we stand together.
Let us form a ring, sitting as we sing. (If indeed this is what you want the students to so!)
Ring -a-ring – a rayah, now we sit together.

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

[audio:|titles=Let Us Form a Ring]

(This song is used with permission from Nancy Foster, Dancing As We Sing: Seasonal Circle Plays & Traditional Singing Games

Here is a call and response game that works well with very young children. It is styled after œPussy cat, Pussy cat where have you been?  It could be played after all the animals have been introduced, on the sixth or seventh day.

Little mouse, little mouse, where have you been?
I’™ve been to the palace to visit the King.
Little mouse, little mouse, what did you there?
I ate the cheese next to his chair.

Sitting in a circle, divide into two groups.Place the œcheese in the centre of  the circle. Everyone will have two rhythm sticks. Tap them together on œLittle mouse,  (three taps) little mouse. (three taps)  Hold them still while group one asks Where have you been?  Repeat œLittle Mouse with the tapping.  Hold them still while group two responds: I’™ve been to the palace to visit the King Repeat the process with the next two lines.
This could also be developed into a game in which all the animals in the story reappear. A new verse would be added each day to parallel the introduction of the new animal. For instance:
Verse 1  Little mouse, little mouse, where have you been?
Verse 2  Pussy cat Pussy cat where have you been?
Verse 3 Little dog little dog where have you been?
Verse 4 Strong lion strong lion, where have you been?
Verse 5  Big elephant big elephant where have you been?

The last lines would then be:
I frightened the mice away from his chair.
I frightened the cats away from his chair.
and so on with the dog, the lion and the elephant, finishing with the mice. To make it more lively, choose several children to play the animals.Start the game with a few mice in the centre who will get chased out by the cats, and so on.

Another song for the mice:
I’™m dreaming of cheese, wonderful cheese
I smell it! I want it! Oh, give me some please!

Click this play button to hear what it sounds like:

[audio:|titles=Dreaming of Cheese]


There were many many mice who met that morning
Munching on a morsel of cheese.  Yum yum.
There were many many mice who met that morning
And many many more to come.

Here is a little story that is a great ending to sessions with young children:

The Hungry Mice
Sit with legs outstretched; toes are the basement, fingers are the mice.
Many little mice lived in the basement.  One morning when they woke up one little mouse  said I’™m hungry  So  they all ran up to the first floor. (Run your fingers from your toes up to your knees.)  They looked around, but there was no food.  So they all ran back down to the basement.  ( Run your fingers back down to your toes.)  Another little mouse said: I’™m hungry  So they all ran up to the first floor, and they all ran up to the second floor. (run fingers up to your knees, then up to your waist).  They looked around, but there was no food.  So they all ran back down to the first floor, then they all ran back down to the  basement.  Another little mouse said: I’™m hungry.  So they all ran up to the first floor, then they all ran up to the second floor and then they all ran up to the third floor. (shoulders).  But there was no food. So they all ran back down to the second floor, and they all ran back down to the first floor and they all ran back down to the basement.  Then, they all said: We’™re hungry!  And they all ran up to the first floor, (repeat the refrain – as they go to the first, second, third then top floor – top of head)  There they found a big piece of cheese and nuts!  So they nibbled it all up. (tap fingers on top of head) and then they were so full, they walked back down to the third floor, they walked back down to the second floor, they walked back down to the first floor and they walked back down to the basement.  They were so tired, they fell asleep.


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The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Introduction by Padraic Colum, Commentary by Joseph Campbell, Random House Inc. ,1972.


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