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For cultures around the world, trees symbolize a creative source of magical stories. Under their branches, stories unfold and are told to young and old.
The stories associated with trees often are told not only for entertainment but also as part of an oral education, passing down to future generations what is valuable and important to a culture. The native people of the Pacific Northwest call their totem poles storytelling trees. These trees primarily tell the stories of the families who carved them. The Baobab tree, found on the savannas across the continent of Africa, offers shade and many byproducts. For generations, it has long served as a gathering place to tell stories. Grown in tropical Asia, the Banyan tree is considered to be sacred. Its canopy can span up to 1000 feet (304 m) in diameter. Here is one way to create a dramatic storytelling tree while working in small groups.
Suggest to student groups that they begin their artwork by creating the trunk. Decorate several Crayola Neon Color Explosion® Papers with stripes and shapes using Neon Color Explosion Markers to give texture to your tree’s trunk. Use different marker tips for various effects. Embed faces and other storytelling elements in the bark. Interweave traditional design elements through your work.
Turn over the pages and slightly overlap them. Tape pages together. Roll taped together pages into cylinder and tape. Cut snips along bottom edge and fold up tabs to create a sturdy base for the tree.
Represent a story. Festoon the tree with tales as well as cutouts representing characters and action in the story. Cut out vivid branches, flowers, and leaves from Neon Color Explosion Paper. Cut very thin strips and curl them around a cylinder for a cascading design. Fold a leaf and snip a short cut through the fold. Unfold and bend the cut shape through the hole so that color from the other side of the paper shows. Crease shapes to lend dimension. Make fringe, flaps, and other detailed 3-D elements. The storytelling trees can be as intricate as one's imagination!
Student groups determine a process for memorizing and sharing stories from other cultures using their trees as props to communicate to other students.
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