Swimming Lessons Are A Great Way to Learn!
Swimming lessons are a great way to learn!

Storytelling, Swimming and Safety

As summer approaches, most of us look forward to having fun swimming at a pool, beach or lake. Since water is one of nature’s most wonderful, essential and powerful forces, we would do well to appreciate the many ways our lives depend on it. The time has come when we can no longer take this resource for granted. We need to find different ways to have active discussions about how to maintain, conserve and protect, yet still continue to enjoy, this important resource for generations to come. And what better way to do this than through story?
In this issue, I provide a story about a frog who takes a swim in an unlikely place. I believe this Russian folktale can be used to explore a variety of water-related subjects from water safety for kids to the loss of waterways and marshes throughout the world. Later in this issue, you will find other possible topics that could be introduced after telling “Winston Takes a Swim.”
I hope you enjoy this issue. Please let me know if you have comments, questions or suggestions about this newsletter. I will be happy to include your remarks or suggestions in future publications.

Family Time in the Pool
Family time in the pool.
 A Story to Tell
“Winston Takes a Swim” (an adaptation of a Russian folktale)
© 2010 by Glenda Bonin
Winston was a very curious frog, and most of the time he was a cautious frog. He had learned early on that being careful could keep him out of trouble but sometimes he forgot this important rule, particularly when he was having fun.
Winston’s mother loved the fact that he was so smart and curious. She believed he was smart enough to one day be a leader in the community. But his being smart didn’t prevent her from constantly reminding Winston to be careful, stay in the neighborhood, come home before dark, be polite and never swim alone. Now Winston was one of the best swimmers around, so he couldn’t understand why his mom thought he always had to have a buddy with him whenever he took a swim. But, he was a good son, and usually did as his mother asked.
One hot summer day when Winston was exploring the neighborhood, he discovered a place surrounded by a fence. Inside the fence were a house and a big barn. There were many different animals near the barn – the kind that would never do too well on their own in the forest. Winston’s mom had told him about how dangerous these places where people lived could be, but Winston still wanted to explore on his own.
As he hopped toward one of the buildings, he noticed a large bucket half filled with fresh cream sitting in the shade. Winston hopped up on a bale of hay to look into the bucket. The cream appeared to be cool and inviting, and since Winston felt pretty hot, he decided to take a swim. When he jumped into the bucket, the cream felt silky and smooth on his skin. It was a perfect way for him to cool off and feel pampered at the same time. He swam in circles, in one direction and then the other.  For quite awhile, he swam with enthusiasm.
When Winston was ready to go home and tell his friends what he had discovered and what fun it was to swim in cream, he found he could not get out!  The sides of the bucket were too slippery for him to climb, and the cream was too deep for him to touch the bottom so he could push up and out. There was no place for him to rest – no branches, rocks or logs like the ones in the pond or river. Winston suddenly felt afraid. Here he was, all alone in a pool of cream with no way to escape. Soon his life would be over, and no one would ever know what had happened to him. Winston decided not to give up – he swam back and forth, and around in circles, until he was too tired to move.
“I’m a goner,” he whispered to himself. He swam to the center of the bucket and looked longingly at the blue sky. “Goodbye sweet world,” he thought as he let himself sink into the cream. But as soon as his head was below the cream, Winston decided he wasn’t ready to give up just yet. He started to swim again, thinking that perhaps someone would come along and help him. It wasn’t long before he was exhausted and felt he could not continue. But once again, when his head was below the cream, Winston realized he was not ready to give up hope, and he continued swimming.  This went on several times.  The sixth time this happened, however, he sank only a little bit before he felt something soft and slippery under his feet. Winston wondered if it was sold enough to hold him, so he pushed down, and to his delight he pushed up and out of the bucket!  He went right home as quickly as he could.
“I was worried about you, Winston,” said his mom. “Where have you been?”
When Winston told his mother about what had happened, she agreed that he had been a very lucky frog. Then she looked concerned, “Did you call out for help?”
“Well, no, momma. I guess I was too afraid,” he said.
“You were very lucky, son. I think you were saved by the cream.”
“Huh?” said Winston.
“Actually, Winston, as you were swimming around, I believe you churned the cream and it turned into soft butter.”
“Really, mother, is that how it’s done?”
“Well, they don’t use frogs to do it, but you have the idea. But, most importantly, Winston, this is a good example of why I always ask you to take a buddy with you when you go swimming. You never can tell what might happen.”
“Yes, momma,” said Winston.

That was the very last time he swam alone, and he made certain that his friends didn’t swim alone, as well.

Oh, yes. . .that was the last time Winston ever took a swim in a bucket.

Synopsis of Featured Russian Folktale

A frog discovers a bucket of cream and decides to take a swim. After swimming for a while, he finds that he cannot get out of the bucket. Without anything to rest on, he has no choice but to swim in circles and from side to side. He becomes tired and realizes that he may never escape from the bucket of cream. He does not want to give up, so he continues to swim around and around in the cream. Just when he thinks all is lost and he starts to sink to the bottom of the bucket, he senses something soft and slippery under his feet. He pushes up and out of the bucket from the soft and slippery stuff and is grateful to be free again.

What happened? His constant swimming was actually churning the cream and made butter. The mound of butter below the surface of the cream is what made it possible for the frog to escape.
How To Tell The Story
I like this story because the messages within have meaning for youngsters, particularly those just starting to question boundaries and safety rules. It is possible for older children to enjoy this tale, but I have found it to be most appreciated by children between the ages of 4 and 7.  For older kids, you might consider presenting the story as a riddle, as this will engage them at a different listening level.
When telling “Winston Goes Swimming,” do not feel obliged to keep the name I have given the frog. If you name the frog in your story, you will have an easier time imagining his adventure. By replaying the sequences of this story in your mind, after a few tellings you will find yourself adding delightful details to make the story your own. Do not memorize the story, because if you do you will encounter problems, particularly if interrupted by children’s questions, a phone call, fire drill, etc.
Allow yourself to play in the story – have a good time. If you do this, the kids will listen closely and have fun with you.  If you are inclined to use voices within the body of the tale, please do so. Just make certain that you use the same voice for each character every time they speak. Having each character hold a place in space, is also an excellent way to differentiate between characters. For example, the frog may look up and slightly to the right when he speaks to his mother, and the mother may look down slightly and face left or forward when she addresses her son.
Many beginning storytellers worry about forgetting parts of a story, or they fret about making mistakes. The beauty of telling a story versus reading a story is the conversational tone and the connections that take place between teller and listeners. Just think about what you do when you are at the dinner table telling family members about an incident. If you forget a detail, you probably stop and tell what it was that you forgot, and then pick up where you left off. During the recollection of an event to family members, a mistake is seldom bothersome. Most likely, you simply correct the error and finish what you were saying. These natural speaking techniques will serve you well whenever you tell a story.
Storytelling is a forgiving art.  Listeners want you to succeed, and as long as you are able to replay the story in your mind, know that you will be able to tell it successfully.  The goal is to share a story so others can enjoy it. Think about the story you want to tell, and spend some time with what I call the Four Rs of Storytelling: Rehearse, Relax, Remember and Retell. You will have a great time, and so will your listeners.

Educational Connections
This tale, while seemingly simple, is an excellent way to introduce swimming safety to children and families. Winston’s behavior can lead to a lively discussion, since the frog’s ridiculous situation is easily explored on many different levels.
Because the frog’s natural habitat is near ponds, streams, lakes and rivers around the world, it is easy to start a conversation about the environment and ecology.
Another possible topic could be the history, production and uses of milk, cream and butter.  
The various animals, including people, who feed their young with milk from the mother’s body is a great way for youngsters to understand the classification of mammals. Children enjoy learning about the similarities and differences between the cow, mare, ewe, goat, buffalo, camel, donkey, zebra, llama, yak, gnus and reindeer.
 It is an easy transition to the science and art of cooking when exploring the subject of milk and milk products. What better way to encourage kids to useaccurate measurements as they make their own milkshakes? 
Other possible educational connections: (a) amphibians,(b) the difference between imagination and reality (how well would a frog be able to survive in cream?), and (c) wild and domestic animals. Since this story is based on an old Russian folktale, it is also possible to link classroom study of Russia to the telling of this tale.

Summer Time, Means Pool Time

Summer fun in the sun.
12 Water Safety Tips for Kids
Swimming can be a lot of fun. To do it safely, remember to follow these water safety tips. 
1)  Never swim without an adult nearby to watch you. 
2)  Never swim alone. Always have a buddy close by.
3)  Swim only in safe areas designated for swimming.
4)  If you are hurt, have trouble or see someone else having difficulty in the water, CALL FOR HELP.
5)  Never swim during a storm or when there is lightning in the sky. When you get out of the water during a storm, do not seek shelter under a tree. Go inside.
6)  Know how deep the water is, and swim in areas where your swimming ability will keep you safe.
7)  Do not dive or jump into shallow water. It is only safe to dive or jump in water that is at least 12 feet deep.
8)  Never run around a pool, push people in or dunk other swimmers. 
9)  Do not chew gum or have drinks in glass containers when you go swimming.
10)   If you go to the ocean be extra careful since waves can knock you down.
11)  It is best not to swim in rivers because many dangers are hidden under the water, and river currents can be quite strong.

12)  Taking lessons on how to swim is the best way to enjoy a lifetime of swimming fun.


Water Pollution:
For a long time, people have put lots of things into streams, rivers, lakes and oceans without thinking their actions would cause problems. We now know that whatever we put into our waterways causes ecological damage affecting plants, animals and people. It is now up to us to help stop pollution and find ways to restore the health of streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. 
What can we do?   
* Plan ahead when you go to the beach or spend a day at a river or lake. Take along a garbage bag and collect your trash to take back with you when you leave.  
* Cut apart the plastic rings that come with six-packs of canned drinks. These rings may find their way into the oceans, and have been known to choke sea birds.
* Think about the soaps and detergents you use. Regular soaps and detergents have polluted streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean over the years. Using biodegradable products will help make a difference. 
* Join community waterway clean up efforts. Don’t forget to bring heavy gloves, boots and appropriate clothing to prevent injury as you help with this work.
* Become creative about recycling things. It is time our “use once, and toss” way of life is no longer the norm.
Click here for an interesting science experience to demonstrate how people have been able to use wells to access ground water. 


Show Off Safely There are many ways to have a good time in the water. 

Squirrely Shirley: Who is She, and Where Does She Think She’s Going?
No Boundries!

Squirrely Shirley is an inquisitive squirrel puppet who lives in a tree trunk. This summer,
Squirrely Shirley wants to learn how to swim. She plans to join me as I present library shows during an eight-week 2010 Summer Storytelling Tour through Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Unfortunately, Squirrely Shirley does not know she’s a puppet, so this can lead to a lot of fun and nonsense for audiences to enjoy.

If you happen to live in Reno, Nevada, the Olympia, Washington area or near Glacier National Park in Montana, be sure to check your local library to see when Squirrely Shirley and I will be performing. If you get to one of our shows, please stop by after to say hello. Squirrely Shirley and I will enjoy meeting you.

To see our summer schedule, just go to my website

and click on the calendar page.

Facebook and Twitter

If you enjoy social networking, I invite you to follow the wacky adventures of Squirrely Shirley and yours truly this summer as we visit libraries, community events, YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs.  Starting June 15, we will travel through parts of Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana before returning to home base around August 15. When you sign up, you will receive regular posts from Story Works Group on Facebook and Twitter. Please join us on this adventure!