Storytelling Activities for Children

Greetings parents and teachers, We understand the challenges faced with teaching online. Children want to be interested in the content and they want it to be enjoyable. You also want the children to be  engaged, but you also want them challenged. We want to help.  My student, Sarah Freeman, and I have prepared activities using the age old art of storytelling. These storytelling activities are designed into two units of study and  based on the Ontario curriculum expectations for Language and Drama. These units feature personal and traditional storytelling as a means of building literacy skills, community, self confidence, and self expression. The six module primary unit is designed for children in grades K-3. The ten module junior unit is designed for children in grades 4-6. All modules include user friendly instructions, original videos, many hyperlinks to sites and traditional stories from around the world, and 2-4 activities for each module. YA child can work through the entire unit or you can pick and choose for them whichever modules you think are more suitable.

Parents, we know how hard it is to suddenly be immersed in the role of teacher, especially if you are also working from home.Teachers, we know how much you care for your students and how hard you are working.  We hope these units relieve you of some of your burden. We also sincerely hope your students and children love doing this.

Click Primary Storytelling Unit for activities for children grades K-3:

Primary Storytelling Unit

Click on Junior Storytelling Unit for activities for children grades 4-6:

Junior Storytelling Unit

Please, stay safe. Be positive. We are getting though this together.


Dr. Cathy Miyata and Sarah Freeman

Teachers and Homeschooling Parents! A Remote Storytelling Unit for grades 4-6

Dear Teachers and Homeschooling parents, We understand that emergency remote teaching and learning is a challenge.  We want to help.  My student, Sarah Freeman, and I have prepared a remote unit for you based on the Ontario curriculum expectations for Language and Drama. It features personal and traditional storytelling as a means of building community, self confidence and self expression. This 10 module unit includes 16 original videos, many hyperlinks to sites and traditional stories from around the world, and 3-4 activities for each module. You can assign the entire unit or pick and choose whichever modules you think are more suitable for your students and children.  All modules are student friendly and can be read by them independently.  The unit was designed for students in grades 4-6 but the unit is very family friendly so siblings and parents can also be involved.

We know how much you care for your students and how hard you are working. Parents, we know how hard this is for you, especially if you are also working from home while trying to cope  with disengaged children. We hope this unit relieves you of some of this enormous burden. We also sincerely hope your students and children love doing this.

Click on the Junior Storytelling Unit page at the top right to get started! (Menu top right on a smart phone). Primary unit is yet to come.

Please, stay safe. Be positive. And smile.  We are getting though this together.

Dr. Cathy Miyata and Sarah Freeman


First Class at Laurier Milton

WelcomeFirst published in the Laurier Newsletter:

“I just wanted to thank you for a very interesting, engaging, emotional, and thought-provoking evening last night! I also enjoyed the story-telling aspect of your instruction and the ease with which it allowed us as participants to connect with one another. I am very excited to begin this learning journey with you and the many colleagues in the course” (Master of Education student, Milton Campus, 2020)

After many years of preparation, on January 8, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. the inaugural Master of Education class for the Laurier Milton Campus sparked to life. The heart of this first class was the mining, shaping, and sharing of significant personal stories; stories that represent us as deeply emotional and intellectual beings, as caring and insightful educators, as novice researchers and research participants.  Twenty-two highly-engaged students filled the bright and airy classroom located in Milton Education Village Innovation Centre. Together we talked, wrote, analyzed, laughed, and some of us even shed a tear or two. It was that meaningful. I was enthralled to witness the power, honesty, and compassion demonstrated in just the first class. Now, I can’t wait to be part of the second.

Dr. Cathy Miyata, Assistant Professor, Graduate Studies

Master of Education:


Research Study and Professional Development in Cairo, Egypt

First Published in Wilfrid Laurier Newsletter:

“We don’t want it to end,” states the senior-school educator, sitting on the floor with papers and markers still strewn about. I smile, because I’ve been delivering professional development to educators for 30 years and have never witnessed such enthusiasm. Alas, time is of the essence, the staff bus is leaving, Cairo traffic at rush hour is a nightmare, and security is tight with the president’s residence only a block away. So, vacate the school we must. We quickly pack up the workshop materials and sweep down the magnificent marble staircase into the grand foyer for final farewells. Hugs, selfies, and double cheek kisses.

The Egyptian educators here are as warm and affectionate as they are enthusiastic. A joy to work with. Our two days of professional development with the staff at the Dover American International School in Egypt has sadly come to an end, yet, friendships and bonds have been formed. Facebook and email addresses exchanged. It is not an ending at all. It is a window of opportunity and growth for both the facilitators and the staff. We are all excited, charged, and renewed.

Bruce Alexander, his wife Sherry, myself, Cathy Miyata, and my husband Kaz were invited guests at the Dover American International School through the Educator and Leadership Institute (ELI), a brainchild of Dr. Steve Sider, Associate Professor at Laurier’s Faculty of Education. ELI’s mission is to build teaching and leadership capacity in communities all over the world, including Haiti, Nepal, Ghana, China, and Egypt.

At Dover, Bruce, Sherry, Kaz, and myself each facilitated six workshops to 100 teachers (K-12) focusing on our areas of expertise.

Bruce and Sherry are experts in G Suite applications for education by Google. They had a chance to share their technological experience and demonstrate how to improve student learning with the use of technology.

I am a literacy and drama specialist with a penchant for storytelling and children’s literature. My husband Kaz is a primary specialist who specializes in the reading process. He worked exclusively with the Kindergarten teachers and co-teachers.

Dover is a private international school in El Shorouk, a suburb of Cairo. The building was originally designed to resemble a resort, which explains the magnificence of the structure, manicured grounds, lush courtyard garden and football, tennis and basketball courts. The school Director, Chuck Reid (former education director with the Avon Maitland District School Board in Ontario) and his wife Suzanne Tsuchida (former school principal in the Grand Erie Board) undertook management of the school in 2012. Identifying staff development as a priority, they began their partnership with ELI. In six years, their student enrollment and reputation has quadrupled. Chuck and Suzanne anticipate hosting many more professional teams and also welcome Laurier student teachers seeking an international placement. I highly recommend the experience. Not only were the staff wonderful and the school gorgeous, but our visit also included a guided tour of the pyramids of Giza and Saqqara, the Cairo Museum, shopping at the Khan-El-Khalili Bazaar and of course, a camel ride.

By Dr. Cathy Miyata – Assistant Professor of Literacy, Faculty of Education

Presenting at AERA!


I (Cathy) am delighted to be arriving in Washington D.C. this week to attend the American Educational Research Association Conference. I will be presenting a paper entitled, Examining the Influences: Literacy Teacher Educators who us a Multiliteracies Approach. This study is a subset of a larger study on which I have been a researcher. I examined 7 participants who demonstrated a proclivity toward multilitercies. As I used a grounded theory approach (which does not begin the research with a hypothesis) I was both intrigued and surprised by the findings. Hope you can join me on Monday, April 11, 11:45am to 1:15pm, at the Marriott Marquis, Level Three, Mount Vernon Square.


According to Dewey (1974) “[e]ducation, experience, and life are inextricably intertwined”. This study examined how early life experiences and other influences affected the practices of 7 literacy teacher educators (LTEs) who currently enact a multiliteracies approach. Early childhood experiences, mentors along their journey, personal and professional turning points, and developing notions of literacy were explored. Three findings (a) an innate love of language/literature, (b) inspiring mentorship, and (c) a unique set of dispositional qualities were significant contributing factors to these literacy teacher educators adopting a multiliteracies approach. The participants for this study were a subset from a large-scale study entitled, Literacy Teacher Educators: Their Backgrounds, Visions, and Practices which examines the lives of teacher educators from four countries: Canada, the USA, England and Australia.

Hope you can join me!

Finding a New Community- in Baseball!

The wild ALDS Blue Jays Game this past Wednesday,  marked my induction into a new community.   The “baseball fan” community.  This may seem strange to people who know my family well, as they see us as a baseball family.  Both of my children were catchers in elite ball.  They toured the United states, and played in several world series tourneys. They trained year round.  My husband was a coach and scout.   For twelve years, every weekend during the official season I attended a baseball tournament in some city or other.  As the dutiful and loving wife and mother, I was ever supportive: cheering in the rain, patching their injuries; cursing poor sportsmanship, and; washing smelly baseball socks in hotel laundry mats in the dead of night.  Even today, with my children well into adulthood, my son coaches a rep team; my daughter plays on several adult softball teams; my husband is a rep pitching coach;  and I still attend some games. But it has always been their passion, not mine.  I was, and am, an artsy.  To their chagrin  I still occasionally refer to their uniforms as costumes and their practices as rehearsals.

This all changed this past season and Wednesday was the culminating event.  This year, I decided to be an “insider.”  I worked hard at not watching, but belonging.  I wanted to have a team .  I learned the names of all of the Jays players and their positions.  I learned about them as people, and watched specials about their lives and how many obstacles they had to overcome to get to wear a Jays cap.   I picked a favourite player, Jose Bautista, and proudly wore his name and number on the back of my new T-shirt.  I even wore a cap. Strangely,  I felt akin to complete strangers who also wore Bautista garb.   I quickly learned that I could cheer and sing, wave towels and even dance in the street after a game in Toronto, and it was smiled upon.  (As an artsy I would have willingly  done this anytime, but my husband would not have necessarily smiled!).  I even found a vendor outside of the Rogers Center who served gluten-free wieners, and brought my own bun so I could eat hot dogs like everyone else.  I learned it is work to belong to a new community- any community- but you have to really want it.

On Wednesday I watched the game at home with my husband and found myself  on the edge of my seat.  I was so tense!  I waved a towel to support my pitchers; Stroman, Sanchez, and Osuna.  I found myself yelling in protest in the 7th inning when  Toronto catcher Russell Martin’s return throw to the mound hit Choo’s bat and Odor raced home.  I shouted and danced when my man, Bautista, hit that remarkable home run.

As I reflect on this now, I have to laugh.  I actually know these players’ names.  I am emotionally involved in people I don’t even know.  I have acquired a new language, and a different way to communicate with people .  I can and want to discuss the plays, highlights, and quirks of the game.  I was texting friends and family throughout the game- about the game.  My son was lucky enough to be at the game and I waited up for him so I could talk to him about it- actually needed to talk about it!

I feel like I am part of something. It was worth the effort.  I suspect I still may slip up and refer to practices as rehearsals, but that is okay.  My literacy research informs me we belong to many communities and foster many identities.  I am no longer just the artsy and the baseball mom and wife. I am a FAN.jays game                                      My husband and I on our way to a game with my new-found community.

Been busy…

I have been remiss about blogging on my web site.  The biggest reasons have been my preoccupation with my dissertation and being on my supervisor’s SSHRC research team.  These have kept me very  busy.  I have been blogging weekly on another site  with my research team though.  Look it up.  It’s excellent.  There are five of us (academics) that post, and occassionally there is a guest blogger, so the content is varied; always informative, often intriguing,  and sometimes funny.  I enjoy reading it.  Perhaps it’s time I shared some of my posts from that site, here.

When I look back at my earlier posts on this site, and on the other site, and review my academic writing over the past three years, I can see such changes.   My concept of literacy has changed, just as the literacy landscape has changed.  Its so broad now, and wonderfully, wildly creative.  Multimodal!  It’s exciting.  Something I love being part of.

The dissertation writing goes well.  It’s been a journey and I feel I’ve come a long way.  Attaining a doctorate has not been what I expected, but all good learning.  Several new identities and communities have emerged.  I’ve developed a deeper understanding of theory and its role in education.   I certainly have more respect and appreciation for  social science and research.  I actually love the research.  My analytical side is thriving.  Thrumming.  Working over time.

My creative side is not dormant, just not as large right now.  I feed it by decorating the house, entertaining, and baking fancy cupcakes, and that’s all right.  As long as I DO something.

Below are some of my more recent accomplishments in academia (enormous spread sheets of my data) and my recent versions of my expressing creatively!

spread sheetsBpartytable





Growing Through Research

Embedded within my passion for literacy is my love for developmental drama.  I do love theatre as well (I as a professional actress for a couple of years), but developmental drama is fundamentally different than theatre.  Theatre is about performance.  Developmental drama is about developing human potential, and that is my heart song.

I was recently asked to present a Literacy Workshop for the Royal Conservstory’s new Smart Start Programme .  This Early Childhood Education (ECE) programme uses a multiple arts approach to develop four specific cognitive skills: attention, memory, perception, cognitive flexibility.  It was my role to model and lead a group of ECE leaders through creative drama experiences so they could experience first-hand how developmental drama can and does develop cognitive skills. We explored many drama strategies in the workshop: storytelling; role play; group drama; teacher-in-role; voice over narration; hot seat; tableaux, and; story drama.  My favourite of the eight listed is story drama which uses the events and characters in a story to stimulate the drama experiences, plus, I got to use my storytelling skills.   We became the characters; good and bad.  We learned about a culture from the other side of the world.  We asked questions.  We problem solved.  We also had fun.  The participants left with many practical ideas and felt they were inspired to explore this world with the children they are responsible for.  But, in all honesty, I think I was the one who left with the most insight.

I used to present this kind of workshop regularly, but have not done one in a few years. Due to my dissertation work in multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000), I discovered I was seeing the experiences through new eyes.  I was identifying modes instead of arts disciplines and using critical discernment instead of point of view.  The experience was a literacy event that we constructed within a social paradigm and the participants contributed their own knowledge and expertise in an environment that supported situated practice.  It wasn’t just a new set of vocabulary; it was a much more informed and theoretical perspective of the work.  Vygotsky, Luke, Peabody, Vasquez, Kress, Cope and Kalantzis occupied every corner of the room.  I was well supported.  I recognized a noticeable difference between my role as  intuitive drama leader and informed theoretical guide.  It was progress and it felt good.


Cope, B. & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.) (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of             Social Futures. New York: Routlage