Introduction

I spent a lot of time reading to my children when they were young. My children learned at home. The books my husband and I read to them and that they read on their own formed a large part of their curriculum. I'll be posting some of our favourite read aloud books here. Some books that I mention will be out of print, but libraries often have some of the old standards and/or they can be found used in second hand brick and mortar or online bookstores such as Amazon.


Friday, September 2, 2011

A little red house with no doors or windows ...


Rather than tell you about a great read aloud book, I'm going to tell you a story that I first heard a friend of mine tell to my children.  I have told this story not only to my own children but to children at school, a number of parent education classes, and in performance.  It makes people smile.  I hope you’ll enjoy it and that you’ll tell it to someone, too.

Don't feel as though you must use my words exactly as written.  That’s one of the beauties of storytelling.  You take the essence of the story and add your own style and references to it depending on your audience.  You can listen to me here free MP3 download.  Enjoy!

Here are the words and a few follow up activities.
The Little Red House With A Star Inside

Once upon a time David and Suzy (insert the names of some children you know here) were bored and had nothing to do. Their mother said, “Why don’t you see if you can find a little red house, with no doors or windows, a chimney on top and a star inside?”

“What?” said the children.

“Yes, see if you can find a little red house, with no doors or windows, a chimney on top and a star inside.”

So the children went outside and sat on their doorstep and looked up and down the street. They knew they weren’t supposed to go across the street so they thought this house must be close by. They saw the postman walking along.

“Let’s ask him if he’s seen a little red house, with no doors or windows, a chimney on top and a star inside?”

They asked the postman.   “Have you seen a little red house, with no doors or windows, a chimney on top and a star inside?”

He scratched his head and looked very puzzled. “No, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a house.”

The children got up and walked down the path to their  next-door neighbor’s house. Mrs. Stevens (insert whatever name you like here) was very old and had lived in the neighborhood a long time. The children figured that she’d know just where to find such a house. They knocked on her door. She called for them to come in and they followed her voice into the kitchen where she was making jam.  “Mrs. Stevens?”

“Yes, dears?”

“Mrs. Stevens, do you know where we can find a little red house, with no doors or windows, a chimney on top and a star inside?”

“Hmmmm. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen such a house. I’d sure like to. If you find one, would you please let me know so that I can see it, too?”

“OK.,” said the children and they walked out the back door and went back to their own house.

“I don’t think we’ll ever find a house like that,” David said to Suzy. “Oh look, there’s Grandma. Maybe she’ll know.”

The children asked their grandmother where they could find a little red house, with no doors or windows, a chimney on top and a star inside. She laughed and said, “Follow me to the kitchen and I’ll show you.’’
The children were very puzzled, but they followed their grandma into the kitchen.

“How can a house fit inside our kitchen?” Suzy wondered.

Grandma went to the fruit bowl and picked up a red apple. She said  “Here is a little red house,” holding up the apple.  As she turned it around she said “See there are no doors or windows.”  Then she pointed to the top of the apple and the stem, “And this is the chimney on the top.”

She then took a knife out of the kitchen drawer and cut through the apple’s middle just like this (see below for more detailed instructions). “And see here is the star on the inside.”








Before you tell this story, get an apple and put it in your pocket or out of sight somewhere.  You’ll also need a knife of some sort that you can put in your pocket or out of sight to use to cut the apple.

At the appropriate moment, take the apple out of your pocket or hiding place and cut the apple in half cutting across the core or cutting on the equator of the apple leaving a top part with the stem and a bottom part. Every apple has a star inside where the seeds are held.  I love the magic of this. It makes me smile every time I tell the story, cut the apple, show that star, and watch the reaction of the listeners.  Invariably they smile after saying, “Ohhh.”

When you tell the story encourage your audience to say it with you every time the children describe what they are looking for “a little red house, with no doors or windows, a chimney on top and a star inside.”  You can add more people for them to ask depending on your audience and how involved they’ve become in saying it with you, drawing out the suspense.  Keep in mind you can change the colour of the little house – from red to green or yellow or speckled, etc. depending on the color of your apple.

When I tell this story to a group I often follow it up with a song.  If I am doing more about apples, I use either  the Johnny Appleseed song

Oh, the Lord's been good to me.
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun, the rain and the appleseed;
Oh, the Lord's been good to me.

And every seed I sow
Will grow into a tree.
And someday there'll be apples there
For everyone in the world to share.
Oh, the Lord is good to me.

Disney's American Legends: Paul Bunyan, John Henry, Johnny Appleseed, The Brave Engineer [VHS]  You can hear and see it here
(YouTube video of a clip from the Disney movie )

or sing a song to the tune of BINGO with the same clapping actions.

There is a fruit that grows on trees
An apple is its name-o
A-P-P-L-E,  A-P-P-L-E,  A-P-P-L-E
An apple is its name-o.

If I am following the story with something about stars, I use The Stars Are Hiding by Malvina Reynolds, available on my CD - Brighten the Day - songs to celebrate the seasons.

The stars are hiding all the day
The stars are hiding all the day
The stars are hiding all the day
The sun is shining them away…

Have fun!

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