The Good Earth Tellers

A Unit on Environmental Storytelling


This is one of my favorite units to teach.  In the spring of 1995, I won an award for the Best Class Project in Grades 4-6 in Environmental Education for the State of Alabama for our storytelling project.


A story well told will take root like a seed in the heart of a child.  The Good Earth Tellers is a project using environmental awareness books such as Keepers of the Animals and The Great Kapok Tree to promote an understanding of the relationship between man and the environment.  Student storytellers called The Good Earth Tellers share Earth Tales throughout the school and community becoming role models for environmental change.

The Good Earth Tellers has two main goals.  The first is the students will study and discuss environmental stories to develop awareness and the knowledge necessary to become stewards of the earth and its fragile ecosystems.  The objectives of this goal are that the student will be able to:

1.  identify and describe at least 4 causes for vanishing habitats and extinction of animal species.

2.  distinguish between actions that are harmful and beneficial to the environment, and

3.  evaluate possible actions they might take to have an impact on wildlife and the environment.

A classroom library of environmental stories was used as the core curriculum.  Students read and discussed the stories and participated in follow-up activities such as dissection owl pellets and constructing food chains, participating in an animal behavior study, and activities from Project Wild.

The second goal of The Good Earth Tellers is that students will become role models for environmental change as "Eco storytellers." This goal has two main objectives:

1.  The student will learn basic storytelling techniques such as the use of sound effects, voice and expressions, gestures, and puppets.

2.  The student will share an Earth Tale with at least 6 audiences (2 must be off campus) including classrooms, youth groups, and clubs or organizations.

During this phase of the project, students listened to storytelling tapes, went to a Tale Telling Festival, wrote original EARTH TALES, and practiced storytelling techniques.  They sent flyers to schools and organizations to advertise their services as storytellers.  In total we visited 22 classrooms in our school, 6 schools off campus, and one school in Alexander City which is 1 1/2 hrs. away.  The students also appeared on the local television program  The Parent Express, a local bookstore, and appeared at Huntingdon College. as part of their Earth Day activities.  

This project would not have been possible without the support of our school, parents, and the community.  We received a grant from Alabama Power Co. for $1,600 for this project.  With the funds we were able to purchase puppets, storytelling tapes and videos, and environmental books such as Welcome to the Green House  and The Salamander Room.

Parents were indispensable in providing transportation.  A total of 21 parents signed up to drive for off-campus storytelling trips.  Without their support we would have been unable to tell our stories off campus and our outreach would have been severely limited.

The Good Earth Tellers was a wonderful vehicle to promote environmental education in our school and community.  The stories helped to make audiences aware of some of the environmental problems we face, and the importance of wildlife and preserving their habitats.  Many children read stories about the environment, but storytelling and puppetry has a way of bringing environmental education to life.  The children respond so well to the puppets, and grasp environmental concepts they might otherwise never learn.

The student storytellers felt a sense of responsibility in educating other children about the environment.  They truly became role models for environmental change.

To weave hope for the future, we must educate children about their responsibility for becoming stewards of our planet.  What better way to achieve this goal than through the power of a story!


Storytelling Links


The Kids' Storytelling Club

TrackStar: Children's literature, poetry, and storytelling for teachers and kids

Welcome To Telling Tales - The Home of Storytelling, Stories and Storytellers

Welcome to the Magic of Storytelling!

Sunnie BunnieZZ Storytellers A Kidsafe Activity Site Poetry, Puppetry, Clowning, Magic and Educational Activities.


Kids Rule ! - The Art of Storytelling & Storyteller's Pages
Creative Kids Activity: The Bardic Circle, a storytelling game for parties

National Storytelling Network  

Aaron Shepard's Storytelling Page
Storytellers on the Web

Storytelling Resources for the Classroom

There are many materials available for you to use when learning to do storytelling in the classroom.  Below are just a few of the ones that I have used.  They are available at either Acorn Naturalists or  You might also try your local bookstore.


talesastools.jpg (28706 bytes)Tales as Tools by Shiela Dailey. This is one of the first storytelling books I used when I was beginning to do storytelling in my classroom.  It has a lot of great hints and some stories.



The Art of Storytelling by Nancy Mellon.  This is a good book filled with lots of storytelling tips and techniques.  Great for the beginning storyteller.  I'm always looking for something new.




storiesforthecampfire.jpg (15662 bytes)Stories for the Campfire by Bob Hanson and Bill Roemmich.  I'm always looking for a new source for stories, and this is a good one!  I particularly like the tips on storytelling.  These stories particularly appeal to children.




storytellingtreasury.gif (63461 bytes)A Storytelling Treasury.  Audio Cassette.  Five hours worth of stories told at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.  Several good stories in here. By the way, if you can ever go to this festival it is wonderful!  A teacher friend of mine went this year (I was so envious) and came back raving about it.




Keepers of the Animals.  One of several in the "Keepers" series by Michael  J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac.  Lots of Native American stories and activities to go with them. I have every one of these books!




You may have noticed that I use puppets with much of my storytelling.  I find that they are wonderful for the children and that even the most introverted child will blossom when holding a puppet.  Most of the puppets I use are from a company called Folkmanis.  They are available in many stores including Acorn Naturalists.  Folkmanis will also sell wholesale to schools with a purchase order of $200.00 or more.  I bought most of my puppets directly from them because of the savings.


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