All posts by Gordon

Books from Creeping Toad

my main website seems to be having issues with itself so I’m posting a  list of my books here for your entertainment (and possibly my benefit!!)

Old stones and  ancient bones, poems from the hollow hills

by Gordon MacLellan

Creeping Toad, 2013
ISBN 978-1-291-46593
Price £7.00 (includes P&P for UK, overseas, ask for details)

From ancient tombs on orkney to re-forested limestone quarries in Derbyshire, Old stones takes the reader on a poetic adventure into older, wilder or stranger worlds. Poems invite the reader to watch gannets, to pause and savour the beauty of a frozen pools, to sit singing in the dark of a Stone Age barrow or to be spirited away by the Faeries

 

 

 

The Wanton Green

contemporary pagan writings on place

editors: G MacLellan and S Cross

 Mandrake Books, Oxford, 2011

ISBN: 978 1  906958 29 9

Price £11.99. Order £14.00 (includes P&P – overseas contact Toad for details)

This collection of essays by 20 different authors, offers fresh perspectives on our relationsip with place. here are thoughts from people to whom the earth, our relationships with landscape and with our ancestors are vital, inspiring, often holy processes. With contributions from wrtiters as varied as Barry Patterson and Runic John, Susan greenwood, Emma Restall Orr, Jan Fries and Gordon MacLellan, The Wanton Green hopes to excite, inspire and possibly provoke!

Celebrating Nature

“We live in a world worthy of celebration”

Gordon MacLellan
Price: £16.00
ISBN: 1 -86163-168-5
UK Orders: £16.00 (includes P & P)
direct from Creeping Toad or from publisher Capall Bann
Celebrating Nature takes you on a journey through the process of creating a celebration about people, places and wildlife with school, youth or community groups – or simply with the friends on your street. Here, you can rally your inspiration and planning, go exploring under leaves and wallowing in mud, discover, brood, and make. This book will take you all the way through to the celebration itself and using the excitement it generates to look at what you might do together next.

 

River and Sea: two new tales of enchantment

Gordon MacLellan
A new booklet from Creeping Toad: 20 pages, postcard sized, wildly illustrated
Price: £3.50 (includes UK P&P) only available from Creeping Toad

…wait for the voice in the sound of wave on sand as you walk along a beach, and hear the tale of Angus who fell in love with a woman made of seafoam and spray.

And in the hills, tread carefully and remember ancient courtesies. The magical people may be seen less often than they were but do not ever make the mistake of thinking they are gone. The Kelpie still dreams in his deep pool, still watches, still waits for those who sleep on sunwarmed stones by the river.

 

Sacred Animals

Gordon MacLellan

Price: £9.95
Published by Capall Bann, 1997

ISBN 189830769-5

UK Orders: £10.50 (including p&p) direct from Creeping Toad

An invitation to embark on a journey into your personal relationship with the animal world.

“This book is a true wonder! … It is undoubtedly the best step by step guide to meeting a totemic animal that I have ever had the privilege to read.” – Time Between Times

 

Talking to the Earth

 Gordon MacLellan

 

Published by Capall Bann, 1995


ISBN 1-898307-43-1


UK Orders: £10.50 (including p&p) direct from Creeping Toad

Environmental art activities for use with groups of young people.

“Stuffed full of inspirational ideas.” – BBC Wildlife Magazine

OVERSEAS ORDERS: We recommend you contact your local book supplier – and encourage them to order several copies from the publisher!

Creeping Toad is listed along with many other useful groups in the Ashden Directory of Environmental Drama

Winter tales and Spring stories

 

 

Winter tales and Spring stories

Stories in school with Creeping Toad

December 2014 – April 2015

marking the changing edge of the year, here are old stories, new adventures and chances to create tales that no-one else has ever heard before!

With stories running from the frozen edges of the world right through to the first flowers of spring and the waking of the bumblebees, here are stories and activities to enchant and inspire.

 

in performance, photo c/o Laurence Crossman-Emms and the Woodland Trust

Gordon MacLellan – Creeping Toad – is one of Britain’s foremost environmental art and education workers…and he tells stories as well! Take a look at the Toadblog: Creeping Toad

 Here are some suggestions for activities that you might like to invite into your school,

park, library or thrilling crypt (I’m very broad-minded). Booking details are at the foot of the page

A day’s visit to your school might include

 

storytelling performances: lasting up to 60 minutes for up to 90 children at a time

stories out of anything! usually we might do this outside but given wintry weather, we’ll use leaves and pine cones, twigs and stones and shells indoors to inspire words, create poems and shape a set of stories never told before (allow 60 minutes for a class session)

 

story and book workshops: taking a bit longer (allow 90 minutes for a class) as well as discovering those stories no-one has ever heard before, now we will build those into the books that no-one has ever read before and leave the classroom with a library no-one has ever visited before!

pop-up storyscapes: allow an hour for a class: gathering ideas, images and words we’ll make quick 3-d landscapes holding the essence of a story or maybe the thrills of a lifecycle in a setting, key characters and the words that set the adventure running

Winter lights: finding words and images to hold the essence of winter or the hopes of spring in quick poems, we’ll slide words  and pictures into lanterns and make a swarm of small glowing lanterns to glow through the darkest nights or gloomiest days

shadow stories: out of my stories might come new stories: drawing on whatever theme we are working with to create quick performances of shadow puppets. Incorporating silhouettes, translucence and transparency, we’ll mix science with story to create an (almost) instant set of story performances to show or perhaps to film

 

Ancient Lives: add a voice from the distant past to your history topics with stories that our Stone, Bronze or Iron Age ancestors might have listened to. Stories. models, artefacts and drawings can feed into art inspired by cave paintings, carvings and jewellery

your own themes and ideas: or are you exploring a particular theme that you would like to involve some stories in? pirates….tropical islands….ancient Greeks…fairies, frogs and trolls…..where in our school would bears live?…the Great Fire of London  have all featured in recent Creeping Toad projects

 

Charges: £250 a day: includes storyteller’s fee, travel and materials. Can be paid on the day or I can invoice you. Activities can be adapted to suit groups from KS 1, 2 or 3

 

For further information: visit the Creeping Toad website at http://creepingtoad.blogspot.co.uk/

To book: contact Gordon directly at

creepingtoad@btinternet.com

or by telephone:

landline: 01298 77964

mobile: 07791 096857

 

you never know who, or what, will end up in a Creeping Toad story!

 

 

 

 

a summerfull of stories

A summerfull of stories

a simple cardboard, cut-out castle can help set stories in motion, Tiny! 2014

 

These last few weeks have seen a whirlwind of activity as the Summer Reading Challenge workshops start running through their Mythical Mazes and Derbyshire Legends

 

But there have been other livelinesses as well…

Buxton Art Trail, 2014

Buxton Art Trail – telling stories surrounded by wonderful artwork in the woods of Grin Low. I was just there to tell stories: so many other people had added so many wonderful creations to the woods: a fleeting moment: 48 hours and they were all gone again. Congratulations to Ruby Moon for holding it all (holding us all!) together

Tiny! our Tiny! adventurers were back for another day of delightful craziness in the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton

 

Just telling stories: Brownies at Thornbridge Outside near Bakewell (audience over the day of c 150), in the Magic Storytelling Yurt for High peak Community Arts  in the Buxton Festival (total audience: c 280)…and today in New Mills

 

and it is hardly surprising that in the middle of all this, after an exciting day preparing for Hen Harrier Day (10th August – get out there and soar like a Harrier), I subsided into a heap and slept for 24 hours and decided that i would have to forego the pleasures of Druid Camp. Apologies to anyone there who was dreading a Toad workshop. Another time?

 

telling stories at the Brownie gathering

 

I don't sit still for very long when telling stories!

Next August livelinesses:

Tuesday 5th Long Eaton library: Derbyshire Myths and Legends workshop

Wednesday 6th Worksop Library: Summer Reading Challenge workshop

Thursday 7th, Ogden Water Country Park: storywalks inspired by butterflies, bumblebees, bimbly-bees and the wild creatures of the woods (they have booked me, and i will be there even if I’m not on the programme!)

Saturday 9th: Derbyshire Myths project: Killamarsh (10am – 12 noon) and Dronfield (1.30 – 3.30) libraries

 

Buxton Art Trail, 2014
a Tiny! bird

 

a bumblebee summer?

A bumblebee summer

 

 

– well, we can always hope! Good sunshine, glowing flowers, increasingly friendly gardeners – let’s hope it’s enough

And it is a summer for creeping toads! I’m involved in events through July and August and am going to start posting them in some sort of order now


weekend of Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th and  Sunday 27th July



Saturday 12th

 

we might not meet the skull under the leaves but we'll still tell a few tales...

“Come and discover works of art along a waymarked trail in Grinlow woods, July 12th and 13th, with storytelling at the end of the trail. A bunch of local creators, dreamers, makers and arty folk have had much fun and frolics dreaming up woodland installations…………”

Grinlow Woods at Poole’s Cavern car park (Fringe Venue 94: on Green Lane in Buxton): 11 Jul 6pm to 10pm, 12 Jul 10am to 10pm, 13 Jul 10am to 6pm. Free 

Further information: 07970 868 018

I am there telling stories on the Saturday: tales of tall trees and stone people, stories from the green shadows and the still pools and the dripping caves. 

Times: I am due “on” in the story tent at 12, 2 and 4pm but this will be approximate!

last year's encampment

Tiny! Wildness: the return of our annual, ever-so-slightly potty Tiny! adventures. Come and find us in Pavilion Gardens: we’ll be the ones sitting under a tree with flags, bunting and lots of bits. This year we’re going for a new set of Tiny! friends: aiming for nothing bigger than our hands. There might be heroic children, dragons, kings, queens and elephants. Who knows? We are sure some Tiny!PIrates will put in an appearanceSunday 13th

Free (and frivolous)

Pavilion Gardens (Fringe venue 33). “Search” for: “Pavilion Gardens, Buxton” and you’ll find us: 13 Jul 10:30am to 12:30pm, 2pm to 4pm Free, Ages 4+
Further information: 07825 177 355

Sunday 27th July

And on this day, I’m telling stories in the High Peak Community Arts Yurt in Pavilion Gardens but at the moment, I don’t know just where or when! Watch for details!

 

you can always rely on a Tiny! PIrate - for something


Nottinghamshire Libraries with the SRC

Hen Harrier Day! Flex your feathers, m’hearties! We will need all our pirates out there supporting some of our most elegant birds!


 

Storytelling for a Greener World

I have been involved in this new book and rather than ramble on myself, I’ll use the Press Release to tell you about it!

And you can buy your own copy at: Hawthorn Press

 

Since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring brought environmental wellbeing to widespread attention, pollution, global warming and animal loss have risen. Despite rising environmental awareness, nature needs more care than ever.

Storytelling for a Greener World explores how storytelling and story-work enable meaningful change. Stories can help us re-connect with each other, with our environment, and ‘to see a world in a grain of sand’. Whether it is a friend describing a skein of geese in evening flight, the tale of the man protected by a tree, or children getting inspired by kittiwakes, such moving stories invite meaning and action.

The crystal clear Introduction explains the core principles and methods of story based learning, with helpful examples. Chapters by some of Britain’s finest storytellers provide a treasury of over 40 engaging stories to retell as well as:

-Clear descriptions of creative story work, activities, approaches and tips.

-Explanations of how storytelling engages people and aids learning about the environment; Analysis of successful story-based sessions.

-Advice on how to choose sustaining stories and develop innovative story work.

The 21 authors include well-known storytellers, academics, environmentalists and facilitators who have pioneered story-based learning in nature reserves, museums, botanic gardens, schools, companies, NGO’s, universities and communities. This authoritative book is an essential resource for anyone using storytelling in their work.

Editors: Alida Gersie, PhD, widely published author on story making for change, initiated and directed postgraduate arts therapies programmes worldwide, advises managers and thought-leaders on how to improve outcomes in health, environmental learning, sustainable development and the arts. Anthony Nanson, ecological storyteller and award-winning author with MA’s in science and creative writing, which he teaches at Bath Spa University. Edward Schieffelin, PhD, Emeritus Reader in Anthropology at UCL, has done research among indigenous people of Papua New Guinea for many years and worked intensely with WWF South Pacific on issues of rainforest destruction. Jon Cree, ecologist and environmental educator, chairs the Forest Schools National Network. Charlene Collinson consults on sustainability and futures thinking with government and business.

Authors: Malcolm Green, Nick Hennessy, Eric Maddern, Gordon MacLellan, Ashley Ramsden, Hugh Lupton, Chris Salisbury, Helen East, David Metcalfe, Chris Holland, Sara Hurley, Mary Medlicott, Martin Shaw, Kelvin Hall, Kevan Manwaring, Fiona Collins and the editors above.

I just loved these personal stories from the front line, teasing out what constitutes good practice both in the design and in the delivery of storytelling … In essence, it is an inspiring toolkit that will enrich the work of people who already use storytelling, and will encourage others to get stuck in. Jonathon Porritt, Foreword 

 

 

Storytelling for a Greener World: Environment, Community and Story-Based Learning will be released on 1 May 2014, with a launch at Kings Cross, London. A pre-publication celebration will be held in Stroud, Glouc. on 11 April: talks by Alida Gersie and Jonathon Porritt, who wrote the Foreword

 

 

 

 


The Hatching

...nimbly swerving, dodging rocks, waves crushing boulders...

Over the last 3 months, I’ve been dipping into a longer project organised by the Ribble Rivers Trust. Specially cooled aquaria were installed in 6 schools in Burnley who went on to hatch 100 trout eggs each so that the school communities can watch these first few weeks of trout-life before releasing the fish into the rapidly improving River Ribble

My friend, musician Steve Brown and I visited those 6 schools to write poems and stories and make music inspired by this process. The resulting artwork reinforced the experience and has been helping us share the excitements and anticipations of The Hatching with a wider public

 

 

Ribble Rivers Trust

 

“In the past, industrial and agricultural pollution as well as water abstraction and inadequate sewage treatment have caused severe habitat damage to the Ribble and its tributaries, to such an extent that the wildlife supported by the river has been put under threat. The Trust was established in order to enhance the water environments of the catchment, by restoring and protecting the river to make certain that future generations can enjoy the beauty of its wildlife and fauna.” – introduction from the Trust’s website

Activities began back in January with a day with the Canalside Community Association

 

hatfulls of rivers....

Then, first sessions in schools, explored the early days of trout-life as the eggs hatched, golden pearls releasing tiny fry into the world and we wrote about rivers and made pop-up landscapes of riverbeds and redds (gravel bed nests where trout spawn)

 

 

 

 

 

life for young trout begins in the gravel of a cold, clean river bed

 

This is a silver stream, so cool and fresh as can be

Fish eggs like little beads

Eels as big as santa’s bag of treats

The robins sing in such harmony

 

Freezing through the splashing, popping,

Water rushing stones

Water bubbles

Huge strong rocks blocking the icy flow

 

Water smashing over rocks

Splashing people,

Water thrashing,

Water crashing,

Soaking the grass,

Running on into the pool.

 

Slowing down, running wider, 

The river slips into a pool, 

Dark ice-cold water

Deep water, calm water, ripples meandering, 

Slow carp in deep pools,

Grasping weeds to pull you down, 

Down to the stones where the eels live,

Small fish, silver fish, white fish darting, 

Fast as arrows, lightning flickers

 

Kingfishers dive, chasing fish 

Graceful swans glide across the pool, 

Carp sneak like ghosts through weeds and water

 

Trout blend in brown as sand, as stone as shadows

Moss everywhere, under water, on the bank, over the stones, up the trees, 

On the stepping stones where you wobble across the pool

 

Otters waiting

Big trout hunting

Deep dark, cold as ice

 

Yellow lightning flashes,

Thunder crashes!

Rain comes splashing down!

Every raindrop feeds the flood.

 

The river overloaded, bursting, flowing to the sea

A soggy disaster, dirty, nasty mess

Huge, wet, destroying, damaging
We are left disgusted, exhausted, vulnerable

But now the river escapes to the sea.

 

 

danger waits

 

 

 


Festival of Outdoor Learning

FESTIVAL OF

OUTDOOR LEARNING

Hollowford Centre, Castleton,

Hope Valley, Derbyshire

 22nd and 23rd February 2014

 

stories from found, scavenged and rather unexpected objects

I’ve been doing workshops at these gatherings for a few years now and they are always lively, cheerful events. Excellent opportuntieis for meeting people, catching up on old friends, making new ones, exploring ideas and having good-natured arguments with people

 

I am only there on the Saturday  doing workshops:

  • the Value of Tiny Things
  • Finding Stories

(details below)

 

tiny crows too small for easy photographs!

Other excitements from a very busy programme include:

  • working with special needs students
  • circular map making
  • Biomimicry: learning from nature’s genius
  • trainer in a rucksack
  • …and lots more!

 

The conference often sells out (and at only £75 for the weekend, it’s a bargain – the fee includes 4 workshops,a cocommodation and food) and workshop spaces need booking.

 

Follow the Lindley Trust link to find out more – and come and join us!

 

Tiny pirates meet a Tiny mermaid

 

Finding stories

A lively session spinning new stories, wild tales and improbable characters out of found materials. Working indoors and out, we’ll look at techniques to use with groups to build stories to tell, practical hints and useful themes for ourselves as leaders and additional activities to give ourselves the confidence to weave new stories on the spot.

 

The Value Of Tiny Things

Two main themes coincide in this workshop: the sheer excitement a lot of children (and older people!) find in working on a small scale and the practical limits on what equipment we can carry with us. So, with a guide to “make nothing bigger than your own hand”, we’ll set off to explore some Tiny Worlds with pirates and goblins, castles, treasure maps, tiny books terrible, tiny monsters. There may be even a fleet of very small ships on a very small pond

 

a tiny lantern-reef grows along a tree-root

From sea eagles to young children: training courses this autumn

TRAINING WORKSHOPS, AUTUMN 2013

Time for glue, imaginations, inspirations and wild and rewarding days! Flex those elbows, wiggle those fingers and give your inspiration a boost!

capturing landscapes

September Saturday 28th: Celebrating Wildlife I am running workshops at this exciting event in Portree on Skye organised by the Skye and Lochalsh Environment Forum.. I’ll be running one session on building new environmental stories and another that i suspect will end up with either lots of dramatic sea-eagle, otter and wild cat masks or beautiful, elegant landscape sculptures in card…or both

Official blurb:   “Join SLEF and a wide range of other organisations to celebrate the biodiversity of Skye & Lochalsh. Based in  Portree High School, activities will include wild stories, art, photography competition, lots of free stuff, advice about wildlife recording and how to get involved, music, drama….. Also a chance to discuss the future of the Local Biodiversity Action Plan document – due to be revised during winter 2013/14.” Visit the SLEF website for more information: http://www.slef.org.uk/events/28-sep-2013-celebrating-wildlife.asp

October15, 16, 17th 3 Nights of Lanterns: willow, tissue and glue! Three workshops to learn willow making techniques- in return we hope you can spare some time to help families make their own lanterns at our public workshops in November   Its not necessary to attend all the workshops but beneficial if you can

Tuesday 15th October 7pm til 9pm Willow lanterns & fixings: starting with the quick ones – a chance to meet materials and get a feel for how willow works and just what you can do with some wet tissue paper and glue!

hard at work: covering

Wednesday 16th October 7pm til 9pm More complex willow lanterns & Starting large sculptures: getting more adventurous: with me, you can try your hand at willow fish, processional people or whatever takes your fancy: looking at the basic principles involved in making more complex shapes that can still be carried. While I’m doing that the wonderful Mark Hornsey from the Babbling Vagabonds will be starting work on some static lantern installations and looking at some much bigger things

Thursday 17th October 6pm until 9pm Large willow sculptures: Mark is leading this session when the ideas from Wednesday really come to life!

Please book – limited places- invite anyone you know who may be interested e mail buxtonsparkles@gmail.com for more details   Materials and tools will be provided. Dress for mess!

November 2 training courses down in Devon. These days are designed to give participants that opportunity to try activities but also to pause and think, to plan and to share ideas, experiences and issues with each other. Rich, rewarding days in a wonderful setting – come and join us!

  Monday 4th Celebrations!

9.30 – 4.30

Dartington Estate

£115/£95/£70

Organised by Wildwise: contact them for more information or to make a booking

“we live in a world worth celebrating” – and this workshop will help you do just that. From first inspirations and wild ideas through planning the event to activities to excite and engage people, Celebrations will help you organise your own occasions of wonder and delight. With lanterns, flags, processional masks and tiny installations, there will be activities to try and materials to improvise with Who the course is for: Teachers, youth and play workers, environment and community workers and anyone who is hoping to get people out and doing something adventurous and creative in their local area

What will you take away:

  • ways of getting people started; how to spark first ideas and encourage imagination
  • a plan for designing celebrations with groups
  • checklists for yourself – points to cover
  • ways of using the immediate environment to offer stories and settings for celebrations
  • discussions about traditional celebrations and new ideas – principles and goals to look for in a celebration
  • the experience of trying activities for yourself: processional flags, tiny installations, lanterns, masks, puppets – small and very large

 

small boats offer tiny adventures for young children

Tuesday 5th

Adventures with younger children!

9.30 – 4.30

Dartington Estate

£115/£95/£70

organised by Wildwise: contact them for more information and to make bookings

 

Build your own toolkit of activities and themes to use with younger children. Looking at a world full of stories, we can use the world around us to inspire language, encourage communication and foster a deep sense of excitement in and connection with that world – and discover the best pizza for a troll, who hides on the other side of the tree and how to call a dragon from a flowerbed. Using readily transferable techniques and easily sourced materials, this workshop will encourage us to value and cherish the creativity of younger children

 

Who the course is for:
Early Years teachers, Forest School practitioners, family centre and playgroup leaders, environmental education and countryside staff

What will you take away:

  • ways of building storylines with young children that help us shape their experience and learning
  • activities to encourage creative exploration
  • event ideas for family groups
  • direct experience of a range of activity ideas for outside storybuilding to rainy day alternatives, mixing discovery with story, drama, art and craft ideas
  • the value of tiny things and the power of giants