The most important thing to know is that every program can be adapted to include the local flora and fauna, the stories of indigenous peoples, and the local geological and natural history of your region. Every program includes a mix of true stories, poetry, folklore, songs and audience participation. You will note some overlap in the following programs, but you will also note that each has a slightly different emphasis, again, everything is custom tailored to meet your science curriculum. Please Contact Fox to discuss programs designed for specific ecosystems or science themes.
Adventures in Nature - These ecological tales have been designed to teach scientific facts, theories, and process skills through stories and songs. These original stories get students excited about science and draw them into a deeper relationship with their environment. Fox has created these tales with the help of a dragonfly, a frog, a hemlock tree, and a mountain lion. He draws from the writings of the American Naturalist movement, which included writers like Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, and Aldo Leopold. With audience participation and sing-a-long songs, these stories breathe life into dry bones, allowing the listener to travel through geological time and enter the worlds of molecules and woolly mammoths. From plate tectonics and mineral cycles to metamorphosis and reproductive cycles, these tales make abstract concepts concrete and palpable. The water cycle and the food web come to life in these adventurous stories, many of which can be adapted to include the local geological and natural history.
Many of these stories are on his CD Adventures in Nature I & II
Follow this link to view lesson plans.
Many Lands - One Earth: Ecological Folktales From Around the World - People who live close to the land share a deep respect for the earth and her creatures. This reverence is best expressed in their folklore and folksongs. From the Amazonian Rainforest to a Japanese Garden, from the Eastern Woodlands of North America to sub-Sahara Africa, Fox will take us on a journey that gives us a deeper appreciation for our homeland and a deeper connection to the earth.
Turtle Island Tales - These are the stories of the first Americans. From the Shawnee of the eastern woodlands to the Pueblo of the desert southwest, from the Cherokee of the southeastern mountains to the Inuit of the far north, there are many distinct tribes and cultures. One thing they all have in common is a deep respect and love for the earth and her creatures. Through stories, drumming songs, and circle dances, Fox seeks to share what he has learned from his elders. Blending traditional folktales from the beginning of time with modern literature about current events, these stories celebrate the richness and diversity of the many people who call Turtle Island home.
Trees Around The World - In this celebration of trees, and Arbor Day, Fox weaves stories and songs from around the world. Sit under the great baobab tree of Africa. Listen to the story of the Kapok tree from the Brazilian rainforest. Plant an apple tree with Leo Tolstoy and Johnny Appleseed. The pear tree of China and the Peace Tree of the Iroquois will also share their wisdom in this song filled natural history of our arboreal friends. Follow this link to view lesson plans.
Butterfly Tales - From the Pawnee story of the creation of butterflies to the modern conservation efforts of school kids this performance weaves the science of butterflies with legends and folktales from many cultures!
BUG TALES! - Blending science and folklore, humorous poetry and personal encounters, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis takes us into the amazing world of creepy crawly creatures. Starting with a true story he learned from a dragonfly, Fox tells of a childhood fishing trip with his father, recently published as the award winning picture book THE WEB at Dragonfly Pond, (DAWN Publications 2006). He invites the audience back in time to recount a traditional Cherokee creation myth about grandma spider and then flutters away with a Pawnee butterfly tale. More than icky-stinky bugs, this dynamic program immerses listeners in the wild world where we discover our place in the web of life.
RIVER STORIES - A Natural History of American Rivers
Explore the human and natural history of the heartland's river roads through this dynamic presentation of American History. Hear the legends of the original inhabitants of the American Bottoms come to life through the stories of the ancient mound builders and the Historic Indians. Travel in prairie schooners and keelboats with the first settlers of this region. Listen to the tall tales, jokes, and river history through the writings of Mark Twain and Abe Lincoln. Learn the ecological history of this diverse habitat from plate tectonics and glaciations to woolly mammoths and buffalo grass. The performance can focus on the human history and development of this region or the aquatic ecology of the river, depending on the needs of the host. Prairie fires and pioneer politics will blend in an epic performance of song and story, poetry and myth. With more than ten hours of stories and songs, special programs can be put together that center on specific time periods, themes or places along the river. Performances could focus on the Ohio, Mississippi, Illinois or Missouri Rivers. Though most programs include a lively mix of stories from different time periods; some of the specific topics that could be covered include:
- River Ecology is a program of original stories that celebrate the geology, the water cycle, the diverse flora and fauna, and the web of life that binds us to the river.
- Turtle Island Tales includes both folklore and true history from the American Indians of middle America.
- Canoe Song: Journeys with the Voyagers is an in-depth look at the travels of the early French explorers and fur trappers of this region. It includes dramatic interpretations from the journals of Marquette, Lasalle, and Tonti.
- Flatboats and Keelboats includes many true stories from the diaries of early pioneers as well as the tall tales Mike Fink may have told sitting ‘round the fire.
- Steamboat ‘Coming is a medley of songs and stories by Mark Twain and other pilots and roustabouts who made the river their home.
- Civil War Tales, Abe Lincoln on the River, River Ghosts, and Fish Tales are just a few of the many special themes that can be explored through stories and songs.
Many of these stories are on his CD River Stories I & II
Fox has also published an Activity Book: Exploring the Illinois River
Follow this link to view lesson plans.
PRAIRIE FIRE! Explore the Natural History of the Heartland through Stories and Songs
Plains Indian folklore and pioneer history blend in this celebration of one of America's most diverse and magnificent ecosystems. Through the adventures of a seed, journey through the four seasons with the plants and animals that call the prairie home. Trace the geological history of the oak savanna through the travels of "Rusty", a molecule of ferrous oxide. Learn of the struggles and successes to restore the prairie to America's heartland. Explore the human and natural history of the tall grass prairie through this dynamic presentation of ecological folklore. Hear the legends of the original inhabitants of the American Savanna come to life through the stories of the ancient mound builders and the Plains Indians. Travel in prairie schooners and keelboats with the first settlers of this region. Listen to the natural and agricultural history of the prairie through the writings of Aldo Leapold and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Learn the ecological history of this diverse habitat from plate tectonics and glaciation to woolly mammoths and buffalo grass. The performance can focus on the human history and development of this region or the biodiversity and ecology of the prairie depending on the needs of the host. Prairie fires and pioneer politics will blend in this epic performance of song and story, poetry and myth.
Many of these stories are on his CD Prairie Fire!
Fox has also published an Activity Book: Exploring Prairie Wildlife
Follow this link to view lesson plans.
Women Wise In The Ways of The Woods - From Native American folktales of the hunter maiden to the Greek myth of Atalanta, the woman raised by a bear, many cultures share stories of women wise in the ways of the woods. In this dynamic performance of stories and songs from many lands, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis will help listeners, both men and women, deepen our connection with all things wild.
FISH TALES! - Through fish tales tall and true, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis blends science and history with humor and adventure. Starting with the true story of the big one that did not get away, Fox tells of a childhood fishing trip with his father, a story that has been published as The Web at Dragonfly Pond (DAWN Publications 2006). In this dynamic story we are immersed in aquatic ecology where we discover our place in the web of life. Fox also shares traditional folktales from pioneer America, folksongs and tall tales that celebrate our relationships to the wet and watery world of fishes.
A Garden Tale - The garden has always been a place to harvest a wealth of stories. In this interactive performance Brian "Fox" Ellis will blend a mix of stories, songs, poetry, and dance to celebrate gardening, our most productive relationship with the earth. Fox draws from diverse sources including African-American tall tales, Eastern European fairy tales, American Indian mythology, and Asian folklore. From modern short stories to the science and mythology of the domestication of plants there is something here for every aficionado of gardening. The program includes audience participation and sing-a-long songs to hold the attention of younger listeners along with a vivid vocabulary and complex ecology to challenge the most astute horticulturalists.
BIRD TALES: Stories and Songs from Many Cultures - Weaving his life-long love for birds with traditional folktales from many countries, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis takes listeners on the migratory flyways of our winged friends. Taking strands from the latest ornithological research, melodious ribbons from song birds and birds of prey, to waterfowl and cranes, along with patchwork squares from Native American, African, European and Asian folklore, Fox creates a tapestry of tales that is informative and inspiring.
THE LEGENDARY EAGLE: Lore from Many Lands - Blending American Indian legends with avian natural history, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis takes listeners into the world of these magnificent birds. Informative and inspiring, Fox tells the story of the eagle’s demise and glorious return from the brink of extinction. Weaving scientific facts with folk songs and folktales from many cultures, this program offers something for everyone!
BIRDS ALONG THE TRAIL: The Ornithology of Lewis and Clark - The Corps of Discovery was first and foremost a scientific expedition sent out by Thomas Jefferson to “observe the animals of the country,” and the men collected more than fifty bird species, many of them new to science. With quotes from the journals and his own ornithological field notes, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis brings to life an important chapter of natural history through exciting stories and hands-on science.
COYOTE PLACES THE STARS: Native American Star Lore - With folktales from many nations, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis, shares the legends of how the stars came to be, the creation of the Milky Way and stories about specific constellations, all from a distinctly Native American world view. Blending songs and poetry with audience participation and traditional cosmology there is something here for both old and young listeners as they are transported to the campfires of not so long ago, not so far away.
FOR ARBOR DAY: I have three different hours of programs depending on the audience you wish to attract.
Tall Tree Tales – Folktales from around the world and true stories from your backyard, tree ecology and poetry, tree songs and tree-mendous fun are woven together in this participatory performance by storyteller and ecologist Brian “Fox” Ellis!
Tales Trees Tell – Drawing from the writings of Aldo Leopold and his own field research, Brian “Fox” Ellis shares non-fiction stories that are both intriguing for the professional arborist and fun for the whole family. True stories with an emphasis on hard science, this program is an entertaining and inspiring mix of storytelling, music and poetry.
A Walk in the Ancient Forest: Native American Tree Tales – Blending stories from many nations with traditional chants and drumming songs, this performance introduces audiences to the American Indian’s relationship with the forest, their uses of bark, nuts and wood, and their respect for the source of all life, our green friends.
The Arbor Day Workshop for Educators: A Celebration of Trees - As fall colors begin to change, spend a fun-filled morning learning about our arboreal friends in this participatory workshop that is a celebration of forests. Blending storytelling and poetry with hands-on science and crafts, author and naturalist Brian “Fox” Ellis will present a dynamic interdisciplinary workshop for teachers, parents and naturalists. We will learn science process skills, creative writing activities, leaf identification games, math lessons and art projects.
Storytelling Swap: Voices of the Earth – Lend your voice to this informal storytelling swap. Come to listen or come to tell as science teachers share folktales and true stories of science discovery and earth wisdom. If you have a favorite legend or short story from the writings of Aldo Leopold, Sigurd Olsen, Rachel Carson, or Barry Lopez, dust it off and share it with your colleagues. Personal adventures, classic literature, songs and poems are all welcome at this open mic format. Hosted by author and storyteller Brian "Fox" Ellis, this is your chance to shine in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere!
Catfish for Supper - Join storyteller and author Brian “Fox” Ellis on a culinary tour of your library. Delicious books, tasty tunes, and scrumptious stories all have one question in mind: What’s for supper? This collection of folktales and true stories will explore wild edibles, gardening, fishing, and the source of much of our dinning pleasure. Classic literature is full of menus and recipes, folklore is rife with the origins of foods, and cultural history gives us the scoop on why we love to eat! You get a line and I'll get a pole and we will see what's cooking!
Brian “Fox” Ellis is the author of the award winning children’s picture book, “The Web at Dragonfly Pond,” that celebrates the idea that the food web is not just a concept in your science book, but what you had for lunch. He once taught cooking classes at a health center and still teaches workshops on wild edibles and wilderness survival. His storytelling programs are fun for all ages and with 400 stories in his head, he can easily tailor the program for any age level children or adults.