Storytelling at DC Public Library

“We love these programs such as Story Tapestries for our children in the public library space and attend them often. They are enriching, exciting and bring storytelling to another dimension. -Parent and Woodridge Neighborhood Library user
Story Tapestries was invited to share folklore, play music and create an interactive storyscape at the reopening ceremony of the Woodridge Neighborhood Library on October 1st. We’ve partnered with local libraries before and this was yet another incredible experience to bring arts integration into the DC community. We’re excited to highlight some of the library’s amazing features as well as the initiatives the DC public library system is doing for our community…
The new construction at Woodridge (corner of 18th St. NE and Rhode Island Ave) finished this summer. The library officially opened on September 28th and spans over 20,000 square feet, complete with updated study rooms, computer kiosks and rooftop terrace for the general public.
“We’re looking forward for the rooftop terrace to be used as a lounge area and additional reading space. The terrace overlooks a view of the neighborhood park and we’re excited for the natural lighting the outdoors will bring to the library space”, said Janette Graham, Woodridge Neighborhood Library branch manager.
The building also enjoys environmentally friendly features such as energy efficient light, recycled materials in flooring and finishes, and water-conserving fixtures. First built in 1955, Woodridge Library has remained an integral fixture in the northern DC neighborhood. To ‘Give Kids a Smart Start’, Woodridge and all public libraries in the District are partnering with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to give a free book every month to every child under the age of 5 living in Washington, DC.
“This library and libraries in general provide a place to begin and nourish the life-long learners in all of us,” Miss Graham adds.
Story Tapestries’s collaboration with Woodridge at its reopening ceremony gives us all a chance to reflect on how integral community engagement and arts integration truly impacts a child’s life. Arianna connected with the audience of children by telling colorful folklore about the animals across the world through sweeping gestures and high audience involvement. Her musical instruments, native to India and Brazil, were used as accompaniments to bring her stories to life.
“It was a wonderful performance and the kids were really involved and hands-on with the tales and instruments,” remarks another parent.
We’re thrilled to have partnered with the DC public library system and hope to continue offering opportunities for children that allow them to engage in learning in new ways.

Connect with Woodridge and the DC public library system on Facebook and Twitter.

— by Ruoxi Cao

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Welcome Back!


Several of our artists had the pleasure of leading programs at the Strathmore for their annual Discover Strathmore festival to kick off summer. As we head into a new academic year, let’s reflect on these events and get ready for what’s to come!
ST Artist Barbara Effron shares about her experience:

Discover Strathmore, a free, family-friendly festival, is an annual neighborhood tradition providing an up-close look at the many offerings of this multi-disciplinary arts center.

This year’s theme, “Discover Strathmore Off the Page,” presented in association with Story Tapestries, celebrated the “way we tell stories through various forms of artistic expression – like song, spoken word, puppetry, and film.”

Blog contributor, Barbara Effron, performing at Discover Strathmore         


ST Artist, Diane Macklin

I was delighted to join with ten artists from the greater D.C. area for this wonderful family day. What a treat to hearJamaal Collier engage his audiences with his beatbox and rapping style, to watch so many children join Diane Macklin on stage to create an adaptation of an Aesop’s fable, and to listen to The Fourth Wall tell “The History of the Toy Soldier” – featuring a flutist dancing like a mechanical ballerina, and a trombonist simulating a sword.

I opened my storytelling set with a story song, “King Kong Kichie, Kichie Kimee-oh”, followed by my musical adaptations of two folktales — “Wide Mouth Frog,” told with puppets, and “The Old Woman and the Pumpkin.” Children and parents joined in the fun by singing to the accompaniment of my guitar.  Next, I told a Native American tale, “Scunee Wundee and the Stone Giants,” and I concluded with “Clarissa the Butterfly,” using a paper prop to simulate the objects in the story.

ST Artist, Jamaal Collier, leads children in an interactive, fun-filled beat-boxing workshop









Later, I provided a workshop for children and parents: “Spicing Up your Stories With a Dash of Music.” I began with the classic story song, “The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night.” With sign language we sampled some of “The Little Red Hen.”  Then we rapped, chanted, and sang a favorite by Eric Carle —Brown Bear, Brown Bear — to the tunes of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Frère Jacques.” I followed up with a bit of “The Three Bears” using three different rhythm instruments to signify Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear, and the children did not want to stop! I concluded with ideas for using Mother Goose Rhymes as a jumping off point for creating stories at home.


ST Artist and blog contributor, Barbara Effron


My experience at Strathmore drew upon my thirty years of sharing music and stories with the young and young at heart. I tell at childcare centers, preschools, elementary schools, libraries, festivals, and retail town centers. I enjoy sharing my true, personal stories with “Better Said Than Done.” This September I will commence my sixth year providing a monthly inter-generational program that involves an assisted living center and a preschool.

Singing and accompanying myself with a variety of instruments has been a magical experience, focusing the attention of young listeners, inviting their participation, and breathing life into my stories.  Thanks to Arianna Ross andStory Tapestries for inspiring a special day of storytelling and the arts at Strathmore.

– by Barbara Effron


Here’s a short video of ST Artist, Arianna Ross,
performing at the Discover Strathmore festival:

In addition to their annual festival, Strathmore provides
incredible professional arts experiences year-round.
Visit their site for full upcoming event details!

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EXTRA! Read all about progress with improving graduation rates

The nation has achieved an 82.3% high school graduation rate


While this is an awesome achievement, before we get too excited, we must also discuss CHALLENGES.

1) This year the nation is slightly off pace to reach a 90% on-time graduation rate by 2020

2) At both the national and state levels, troubling graduation gaps remain between White students and their Black and Latino peers, between low-income and non-low-income students, as well as, between students with and without disabilities

3) Low-graduation-rate high schools – a key focus of the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act – pose a significant roadblock to the national goal of a 90% graduation rate for all students. While the number of low-graduation-rate high schools has declined considerably over the past decade, in some states they still predominate.

Children Learning


The good news is THERE IS A SOLUTION that has been proven successful and has helped us make improvements to graduation rates over the last several years in particular:

Students who have fallen off track to graduation need:

1) Positive relationships with caring adults
2) Strong and tailored instruction
3) Opportunities to engage in learning experiences that connect school to careers and life beyond
4) Support and resources to help them figure out what they want to do once they have earned their diploma.

These should be at the core of any school or program, particularly those serving vulnerable student populations.

Studying Tools of ArtThese needs are at the core of ALL Story Tapestries’ programs, we work with high-need communities to create sustainable solutions that help ensure every child has the possibility to learn and has access to the resources they need for success. We have seen that an arts-based approach not only helps with relationship building and picking up new skills, but also can inspire and give direction to students that otherwise lack motivation for developing an interest in learning at school. Story Tapestries forms partnerships with other non-profits, public and private organizations such as schools, libraries, museums and senior living centers to connect supportive networks within communities. Working with like-minded people like you, we’re confident that we’ll continue to make strides in reaching the Grad Nation goal – helping students graduate from high school and increasing their possibilities for the future.

These facts and the analysis are reported by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and released in partnership with America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education. Read the full report yourself here!

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Original Greek Myths written by Jessup Elementary School Students #2

We love our students and schools we get to teach at, Jessup Elementary is no exception. The teachers and students there are remarkable. We recently had a few classes submit some original writings about Greek Myths. Student creativity is AMAZING. Check out this work submitted through Mrs. Donor’s classroom

Original Greek Myth


  • Zeus (King of the Gods), 100 years old, Powerful, Excited
  • Poseidon (God of the Sea) 112 years old, Aggressive, Angry
  • Athena (Goddess of Wisdom) 40 years old, Brave, lonely
  • Artemis (Goddess of the Hunt and Moon), 99 years old, Helpful, Afraid

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On a Gigantic Cloud above an ocean full of dangerous sharks, Spring Thunderstorm, Chilly, The sky is a dark ominously gray color, huge undulating waves


Poseidon stirs up the ocean creating gigantic angry waves.  He wants to knock Athena off of the clouds and into the water.  Athena bragged directly to Poseidon “I’m  1 million times smarter than you!” She is so cruel to him because he made fun of her yesterday.  Artemis overheard and tells Athena that she’s right. Artemis shouts, “Poseidon is the meanie of the family.”

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There were many examples from this school and we will post more from these young “authors.” What an exciting time to be involved in their lives. The creativity and imagination that pours from them is life changing. We LOVE what we do. We LOVE to impact students and thereby change the communities they and we live in.

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Magic in Glen Echo Park

Our partners at Glen Echo had an amazing event, we, Story Tapestries were honored to be a part of it.

Here are a few words from Glen Echo Staff:

Despite cloudy skies and cool temperatures on April 30th, we had a very nice turnout for our Family Day Festival at Glen Echo Park. In addition to carousel rides and craft projects, visitors were treated to an expanded performance schedule on three different stages – a variety of dance troupes in the Spanish Ballroom, magicians and live music in the Cuddle Up Pavilion, and singing, storytelling, and rhyming in the Bumper Car Pavilion. We were very pleased to work with Story Tapestries for the first time and our audiences loved the interactive, playful performances by storyteller Arianna Ross and hip-hop artist Bomani Armah. We look forward to collaborating with Story Tapestries again for Family Day in 2017.



Read how Bomani saw the day: 

I had a wonderful time at at family day at Glen Echo.  Setting up on stage at the old bumper car pavilion, sandwiched between jazz and magic tricks to the left and a ballroom full of traditional folk dancers, I found myself competing for attention a little bit.  What a great problem to have if you’re one of the hundred of families that came out. An artistic overload was on display all day, as I had the pleasure of following Arianna and her captivating storytelling. By the end of the day, we had transformed dozens of innocent bystanders into breakdancers and beat boxers.  Kids old enough to talk were responding to “Can I kick it?” with “YES YOU CAN!”, and transformed our corner of the park to a b-boy and b-girl jam. Can’t wait to come back for next year!

Arianna Ross, and the staff here at Story Tapestries, are in complete agreement with Bomani and Glen Echo Park. This event was amazing and it was heart-warming to see the community come alive in the Park. We are so looking forward to our return next spring, and are hoping to see you there.


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Family Day at Glen Echo Park, MD – Story Tapestries will be there!!!

newswire_logoWhen: Saturday April 30th, 11am-4pm
Where: 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, MD 20812 
Cost: FREE (select activities have a cost – see Schedule)

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Family Day is a FREE fun-filled annual event celebrating the opening of Glen Echo Park’s historic Dentzel Carousel for the 96th season!!

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We are honored to take part in performing a number of times during the day. We, Arianna Ross and Bomani Armah, will be telling stories from 11am-3pm in the Bumper Car Pavilion. Even more then the few hours that we are taking part in there are SO MANY ACTIVITIES for your family to enjoy.

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You can join in the fun watching magic shows, family swing dancing, face painting, open studios, crafts, hula hooping, puppets, balloon animals, demonstrations and – of course – CAROUSEL RIDES. There are so many activities we can’t list them all but see the full schedule HERE.
Family Day15_PosterSome of the free performances are:

  • Magic Shows with Barry Wood and Abracadabra Alex
  • Taptricity (Youth Tap Group led by LeeAnet Noble)
  • Culkin School of Traditional Irish Dance
  • Sassafras Barbershop Quartet
  • Storytelling and Poetry
  • Gloria de la Danza (Folk Dances of Latin America)
  • La Fille mal gardee by Ballet Petite

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For more information please visit

We are so excited to be part of this event this year and are hoping to see many of our readers and followers there. Come say hi at the Bumper Car Pavillion.

A bit about Arianna Ross:


She creates dynamic, educational programs that weave together dance, theatre, creative writing, music and spoken word. For more then 12 years Arianna has performed and taught workshops for all ages both nationally and internationally in many diverse venues. Each program is tailored to the specific age group(s) in attendance.

Arianna will be telling the story of Waves of Adventure: Experience the magic of stories above and below the water.

When you swim in the ocean or dance on the beach, you can hear waters’ special symphony singing in your ears.  Drink in your fill of stories with animals, creatures and people who live above and below the water.  Travel around the world with only your imagination, voice, and body. Leave the program moving like a giant, dancing like a manta ray, and swimming like a shark.

A bit about Bomani Armah:

unnamedHe is a poet, songwriter, producer, performer and educator. Bomani uses his life experiences, mixed with his musical and poetic skills, to paint lyrical pictures of life, as he sees it, and the future as he envisions it.  Bomani has had videos featured BET and MTV2, as well as hosted and performed everywhere from the Washington National Cathedral to the Fillmore in New York City. His performances featuring Bomani’s music videos Bomani Armah is  “not a rapper, he’s a poet with a hip-hop style”. Bomani has been performing his brand of thought provoking-head-nodding music on stages big and small for over 15 years for thousands of people of all ages, from schools, to churches, to nightclubs and prisons! Bomani’s assembly is a multi-media presentation, explaining the fun process of hip-hop song writing while comparing it to the practical skill of essay writing.  Through the use of positive music videos and song lyrics Bomani encourages students to find and create art that reflect their life and aspirations.

Bomani’s program is a solo interactive performance, featuring music videos, multi-media presentations, call and response, as well as rhythmic movement with the audience.  Students will rap along to original, professionally released music by Bomani, as well as songs highlighting his tips on how to be a better creative writer.  Students will also learn historical facts about the birth and development of hip-hop culture and it’s elements.

“One of the more entertaining voices in a local spoken word scene that’s overflowing with talent.” – Washington Post

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Arts Integration at the Vero Beach Museum of Art ~ Shanti Sanchez

We have partnered with The Learning Alliance and The Vero Beach Museum many times. They have been and continue to be amazing partners in so many ways. Their staff, the events, the community… We can’t get enough and look forward to continuing our partnership. We wanted to take a moment to highlight the great work they are doing at the Vero Beach Museum.

0815 TLA Moonshot Academy Trainings (48)Over the past two years, the Vero Beach Museum of Art’s education programs have become aligned with a school district and community literacy initiative in Indian River County, Florida called the Moonshot Moment. The Museum has been working with schools, families, and other community partners to bring “literacy off the page” through the use of visual arts, story, movement, and sound. The Museum has hosted a number of professional development sessions for teachers facilitated by arts integration thought leaders like Kurt Wootton, author and co-founder of Brown University’s ArtsLiteracy Project and Arianna Ross, founder of Story Tapestries.
DSC_1035While artists and museum educators are well aware of the power of the arts to support learning in all subject areas, often teachers and parents need guidance to experience and feel confident with using arts integration strategies and activities for students. The Vero Beach Museum of Art has expanded its young family programs to include, for example, Artful Storytime where young children visit the galleries to view and talk about works of art then explore a related children’s book and do a hands-on art project. Parents participate as well, observing simple strategies as demonstrated by teaching artists and receiving tips to use at home.
Beachland Grade 1 (7)In addition, the Museum has installed large-scale reproductions of art from its permanent collection in all public elementary schools. These Moonshot Masterpieces feature simple instructions created by local teachers offering parents ways to engage with visual images that will enhance oral language development, reading and writing. The result of these and other combined efforts is that art is making a visible difference in this community, where close to seven out of ten children are living in poverty, receiving free or reduced lunch. The goal is for 90% of third graders to be reading on grade level by 2018, and the vision is for this small central Florida county to become a literacy capitol of the nation. Arts and cultural organizations like The Vero Beach Museum of Art are helping make this dream a reality.

Here are few quotes from those who have been impacted by this great museum and their programs:


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“Thank you so much for the class visit today. I have been teaching a long time and have never had a more appropriate classroom visit. The material covered was extremely applicable to 1st graders. Thank you so much for the preparation that went into the presentation. We are so grateful for the collaboration of The Learning Alliance and Vero Beach Museum of Art.”



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“Could the students receive one free pass to bring a  parent back? I think if we sent it home you would get kids bringing their families.  Then they could share what they learned and could educate the whole family.  I loved the field trip.  My daughter loved it too.  Thank you so much.”


“I am a high school junior. I moved to Vero Beach last year, and over the summer I visited the Museum of Art for the first time. It was a wonderful experience, as the staff was very helpful and the artwork was diverse and intriguing! I have never been as familiar with a museum as I currently am with the Vero Beach Museum of Art, and I am ecstatic and grateful to be involved with it.”




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