The new story leads everyone into laughter and the joy of summer. The sticks could now explode bubbles, which still allow Professor Worm to feel the power in the story, and it is reframed in a way that allows less fear and more joy for others.
Current Work, peer communication, storytelling with preschoolers

Turning Upset to Joy: An Experiment

My co-teacher wrote a post about my work with our children that demonstrates how we practice moving through the gifts of the seasons to turn upset into joy. This work of changing the stories we tell is powerful and the children make it look easy. I offer her words to you here in hopes of explaining some of the work we are doing together.

While playing, Professor Worm feels powerful with sticks that he calls bombs.
By hiding behind grown ups’ legs, Lightning shows us that she feels fearful that Professor Worm intends to explode Everything. Power and fear are both winter traits.


Katie steps in with a plan (spring) to recreate the story. The new story leads everyone into laughter and the joy of summer. The sticks could now explode bubbles, which still allows Professor Worm to feel the power in the story, and it is reframed in a way that allows less fear and more joy for others. A_L_MovetoJoy

This is a brilliant example of Katie leading the children through the gifts offered by the cycle of the seasons. In this way, she helps them both feel comfortable, without taking away what they needed in the moment (power AND safety). She brings them into partnership by partnering them both during the conflict.

Katie’s plan was to ‘tell another story’, which is a technique from her Masters work in Transformative Leadership and Social Change. Creating many stories that retell an upset moment in many different ways can help us let go of being stuck in upset.

Adults can practice this skill with amazing results. So can children.


Gifts of Summer


The summer season is represented in the Chinese Five Elements tradition by the color red, the element of fire and the sound of laughter. When I develop lessons for the summertime they are full of sorting, partnership, connecting, and awareness.

Finding Balance

As we design games in small groups, we build connections with each other and find ways to partner with our buddies. We take turns being the leader of the play we engage in. In our play, we develop empathy and joyful awareness of each other. One kind of energy we see in summer mimics the dancing quickness of flames.


Another way that summer shows in our daily lives is in the slower more subtle and intimate or protected interactions akin to the embers of a fire. When we sit together with a trusted adult and explore simple materials, we use our sense of touch to learn about the world. We can connect deeply with children by witnessing their play with sensitive hearts.

Partnership at Work

Dramatic play games that began indoors in the fall, blossom into a new fullness when we take them outside. This is a good time of year for dancing activities and Original Play. One job of the teacher in a summertime classroom is to help children build bridges between themselves and their peers.

Flying Badger

The best way that I know to help folks understand the spirit of summer is to remind them to connect to the spirit of play within themselves. Children are excellent stewards of the fire element, when we open to the energetic of fire, we open ourselves to joy and passion, to intimacy and lightness of being.