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Storytelling with Rhoda Merkel

Rhoda Merkel • Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful way to convey abstract concepts indirectly while awakening the imagination. It engages the whole body, is fun and was the first peoples’ way to teach. The "First Peoples Stories" storytelling program is designed to introduce, progressively starting in Kindergarten up to Grade 9, the power of stories and how they shape our lives. The stories told are native to the Yukon and Canada. All the Stories: • Create memorable art project students will treasure for life. • Develop fine art skills, creative thinking competencies, and self awareness. • Can be illustrated into a book or a storytelling blanket or art projects listed • Are designed to be used cross-curricular. • Are ready to be dramatized to produce a storytelling festival (script, costumes, props, backdrop) K4 and Kindergarten - How Butterflies Came to Be Students will follow Elder Brother and/or Sister as they walk on the newly formed earth and are discovering the magic emerging around them. Saddened by the thought of it passing away with the seasons, they decide to create a being, the butterfly, that embodies joy and that will serve as a reminder to live with a ‘young at heart’ attitude. Art Project: Paper stained glass picture in the shape of a butterfly, stenciling and painting a butterfly image on paper or fabric. Grade One – How Raven Brough Light Ravens are the tricksters. Students will help Raven solve the problem of constant darkness covering the earth. Art Activity: Raven puppet or watercolor on canvas or drawing using basic shapes Grade Two – How Summer Came to the Yukon The Yukon was covered with snow and ice continuously until First Nation hunters meet a Bear who has the power in his backpack to bring summer to the Yukon. Art Activity: Fabric Collage and/or directive drawing of wild flowers Grade Three – Salmon Boy/Girl Disrespect is a life lesson most often learned the hard way. Eating salmon everyday can grow tiring. In the story of the Salmon Boy/Girl the lesson of respect is learned by transformation into a salmon then becoming the teacher of the value of why to respect salmon specifically. Art Project: Clay salmon sculpture or watercolour on salmon or carving salmon using soap or learning how to make a fish net. Grade Four – Turtle Island Creation stories were a prominent theme in first people stories, without the sciences the imagination ruled. In the story of Turtle Island, we learn how the land was formed on the earth and how human and animal life came to be. Art Activity: students will paint a pillowcase illustrating their idea of what a perfect world would be if they were its creator. (and…they DO learn they have the power to create their perfect world) Grade Five – Four Directions The world is in an upheaval – wind blowing, rain, and fear – because the animals cannot decide on which animal clan is best suited to be their leader. The Eagle, the Coyote, the Bear and the White Buffalo explain to the Animal Council why they would make the best leader. It isn’t until a mediator arrives on the scene that a decision is made. Art Activity: Mini Button Blankets or each student paints a t-shirt of the clan animal they belong to (based on the season they were born) Grade Six – Totem Story “The animals were our 1st teachers – we want them to teach us still” – Elder Quote Students will discover the significance each animal has and relate that to themselves. They will choose which animal tells their life story best and describe why. Art Activity: Students will trace or illustrate their animals onto a 2’X8” canvas and use watercolour or acrylic paint to bring it to life. Write a short essay describing their project. Grade Seven – Paint Like Ted Learn the story of the Yukon through the eyes of Ted Harrison. Use his art style to understand the way he interpreted Yukon’s beauty through colours. Art Activity: Illustrate and paint a 5” X 7” canvas of a scene from one of Ted’s many books. Grade Eight – The Story of Beads Students will learn the history of beading and practice beading techniques. Grade Nine – Robert Service – the Bard of the Yukon In groups, students will choose how to present one of Robert Service poems.
Grade SuitabilityK-9
Maximum Class SizeClass size
Time RequiredEach session follows the same 4-hour format: Hour 1: Telling the story interactively – designing the art project Hour 2 and 3: Creating the art project Hour 4: Completing the art project and retelling the story using fun methods Preparation time: 3 Hours
Material RequiredTo be determined by project.
Material CostThe supply cost varies based on the project.
Language of InstructionEnglish

Rhoda Merkel

Rhoda was born and raised in the Yukon, is a member of the Tahltan Nation and is a passionate First Nation culture promoter, educator and artist. She has a studio in Atlin, B.C., where you can find her sewing, beading, painting, and moose tufting, writing, or preparing for school teaching sessions. Rhoda has been working in Yukon schools for over 10 years and has been teaching for over 30 years. She is available to do small or big projects, in all communities, has worked in every grade level and is Available for Sky is the Limit projects.

Contact the artist

  • 250-651-7668 or 867-335-1761
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