Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Storytelling with Papercutting: Fish

Last summer, we did Storytelling with Papercutting: Apple in a special Reading and Listening Comprehension class offered by the school. The children enjoyed The Hungry Gnome so much that they have been requesting for another one. So I invented another one.

- Template
- Construction paper
- Glue (In Montessori classrooms, glue always come in glue pots and we use q-tips to apply. This helps children control their use of glue more. You may use small old lids or plastic pill cases as glue pots.)
- Scissors (Scissors always come with a tray. We never use blunt scissors in Montessori classrooms. They can be frustrating for children.We teach and supervise children so they can use real ones properly and safely.)
- Tray
- Newsprint

You can start by downloading, printing, and cutting the template on a scratch paper/board.

Trace the template on construction paper. A tan/light brown circle, black oval, orange triangle, blue heart, and different colors for the cutting strips (here I used pink, purple, and green).

Important note on the cutting strips: It's best to manually draw the lines on the cutting strips.
Use thicker lines (using a Sharpie/marker) for younger children to guide them better.
Thinner lines may be used for older children who have more control over the scissors already.
I used thin lines here because I did this activity with 5 and 6 year-olds.
If you want to do this activity with children who cannot follow lines when cutting yet,
you may use an unlined cutting strip and let the children cut freely--that would work with the story, too.

This is how I/the children would prepare the trays.
I usually have most of the parts cut and ready (the circle, the black oval, the triangle, the heart),
leaving the cutting strips for the children to do so that they could just focus on that
when it comes to cutting.

Now we're ready for the story. Here it goes (the dialogue is in italics, actions are in brackets [  ]):

The Land and the Wizard

Once there was a piece of dry, dry land. Because it was very, very dry, the land was very, very sad. It was very dry because it hasn't rained for a long, long time. No oceans, no seas, no rivers, no lakes, not even a single puddle of water, can be seen in the entire land. No animals, too, because there was no water to drink. [Just take out the tan circle and place it in the middle of the newsprint.]

Then one day, out of nowhere, came a wizard with a wand of magic! [Pretend that the q-tip we use for gluing is the magic wand. Get this out and give it a little wave (I love this part, makes me feel like a giant wizard).]

But the wizard was worried! The Mountainous Mountain (mountainous means very, very huge; just like, well, a mountain) [Show the orange triangle] is after him to get a magic egg he carried! [Take the black oval and show it to the children. Put the orange triangle away again for a while.]

The wizard asked the land if it could help.

The dry land, though it was dry, was very, very kind. It said to the wizard, "Dig a hole on the ground [take some glue and put some on the left part of the tan circle, where you would paste the black oval] and hide the egg there."

The wizard thought that this was a good idea. And so he hid the egg with the land. [Glue the black oval on the tan circle, just as in the picture.]

But just as the wizard finished hiding the egg, the ground trembled! It's the Mountainous Mountain, charging to find the magic egg! [Make the orange triangle come from right side of the tan circle.]

The wizard quickly made a magic spell to try to stop The Mountainous Mountain and glue it on the ground. [Glue the orange triangle on the right part of the tan circle, just as in the picture.]

Just a quick note on gluing: I find that it is better to glue where you want to paste, not on the piece you're going to attach itself--easier for the children to position the pieces.

But it did not work. The Mountainous Mountain was going to break the spell.

The dry land, though it was dry, was very, very brave. It said to the wizard, "We can make mountains and rocks and block The Mountainous Mountain's way!"

The wizard thought that this was a good idea. And so the land and the wizard made mountains and rocks. The mountains and rocks they were able to make weren't as huge as The Mountainous Mountain, but they did their best. [Take the cutting strips and follow the black lines when cutting. It's best to catch the pieces on a tray. This takes a while so while I do this, I tell the children that just like the land and the wizard, we can do our best in cutting.]

The land and the wizard lined up the little mountains and rocks. [Glue the small triangles (or small pieces if you used unlined cutting strips) on the tan circle. Note that most children will not be able to line the triangles up perfectly. So when I work, I don't model perfection. I model concentration (and enjoyment). Another note: I tell the children to put the side of the paper that has black lines/marks at the back so that the clean side will be the one seen after they've glued. Black, back. Clean, seen--so they remember.]

The little mountains and rocks were not as huge as The Mountainous Mountain, but they were so many and so brave that The Mountainous Mountain had no where to go! It could no longer cross the land to get to the magic egg. 

Soon, The Mountainous Mountain had to give up.

The wizard was so happy. He thought it would be a good idea to grant the land its wish, to thank it for all its help.

And so the wizard made water fall from the sky. [Pretend that the blue heart is the water going down slowly from above the tan circle.]

It rained and it rained, and soon there was a lake in the middle of the land! [Glue the blue heart.]

The wizard took the egg and put it into the lake. Pretty soon, the egg became a beautiful, colorful fish. [Show the fish to the children.]

Finally, the land had water, and the land had a fish. Soon, more rain came; and more animals came.

The land is now very, very happy.

The End

I hope your children enjoy the story as much as the ones in my classes did. Papercutting stories always get wows from them. And it's always such a treat to hear them retell the stories themselves when they get their turn to do the activity.

Haku the Maine Coon Loon makes another appearance. Look, fang and claw--could fend off a Mountainous Mountain.

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Christian Montessori Network


  1. This is a lovely idea! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you, Sheila! I'm glad you appreciated it! :)

  3. Wow would love to try this when my baby G gets older. ☺ Thanks for sharing!

    I hope you could drop by baby G's blog: http://cierrafrancine.blogspot.com/

  4. Hi, Cierra!

    What a cute photo of your baby. Looking forward to see more of you around here. :)

  5. This is so cool. Oftentimes, when I do paper cutting activities with my kid, he'd just love the cutting and gluing part and not finish the rest of the activity I have for him. Thanks for this I can now get his attention. Well, hopefully! Great job!

    1. Hi, Camille! I'd love to find out how the activity will work with your boy. Let me know if you can. :-) That's the exciting and tricky part about working with kids, I think--something that works with one, might not work for another. I hope this would encourage him to do more cutting and gluing. :-)

  6. Replies
    1. Thank you, Kaity! :-) I have fun doing the activity myself. :-)

  7. I love this kinds of activities reminds me when my daughter was younger, Can I just say that the cat is so cute!!

    1. Thank you, Leira! Haku and his brother, Tobi, are "crafter cats"--that is they love to mess around when me and my sisters do arts and crafts--catching and chewing on the ruler is just one of their favorite things to do. :)

  8. Oh, I'd never heard of papercutting stories before! I love the idea!!! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I'm glad you liked this, Elsa! :-) Enjoy! :-)

  9. When do you usually introduce scissors? Sixtine is very intrigued by them so I decided to get her a pair but they are bit challenging. I wonder if it is the type of scissors we used or if it will come with time? Any brand you would recommend?

    1. Hi, Deb! I usually introduce scissors after a few beginning Practical Life activities (hand transfer, plunking, tong transfer), early on when they arrive in school--so they start at around 2.6 years old. And you're right, it's always intriguing, yet, a bit challenging for them (though the children are always intrigued and amused enough not to give up on it--I wish we all had that attitude).

      I forget what brand of scissors we used--I'm sure it was a local brand found in one of the book stores here. But I recommend getting, if you look closely in the picture, one that has rounded tips instead of pointy.

      Also, the scissors in picture have handles that have same-sized holes/circles, but I'd recommend getting one that has one hole smaller than the other. That way, we can tell the child to put the thumb (one finger) in the smaller hole. And two fingers in the bigger hole (though sometimes I let the child put 3 fingers in if only to help him/her control the scissors more--pretty soon they'll correct in their own pace and use 2 fingers).

      Here are some links to pictures I found to illustrate what I just said better:


      Also, a tip I tell the children when cutting--I tell them to make sure they always see their thumb when they cut (because some tend to twist their arms and stick their elbows out making the thumb go under when they cut--I hope I make sense). This helped a lot of the kids in my classes. :)

  10. I love your tips and your whole site. I am totally stealing your Pin It heart, is that a plugin, I'll search for it now hehe :-)

    1. Hello, Lani / TweenselMom! Thanks so much! I do my best. :)

      I don't know if that's called a plugin. I self-taught myself to do all these coding and frankly, I don't know anything haha! But I got that Pin It button from here: http://www.spearmintbaby.com/2013/03/how-to-add-a-custom-pin-it-button-to-your-blogger-blog/

      See you around! :)

    2. Also some more here: http://www.katrinaleechambers.com/how-to-add-the-pin-it-hover-button-to-your-blog-images/

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this. I can use this for my kids. :) already downloaded the template.

    1. Thank you, May. I'm glad you found this useful. :) Hope to see more of you around here. :)

  12. Oh! I LOVE paper stories! I only know two - so I'm excited to have another one to add to my little repertoire! ;)

    1. Do share the ones you know, Anne! I only know of another one, too:


  13. Such a fun idea! We do a lot of paper cutting here. I know my kids will love adding storytelling to that fun craft. :) Thank you for linking up at CMN Learn & Play Link Up!