School Programs – Workshops & Interactive Sessions

Jon Sundell is a sensational musician whose folk music is enhanced by wonderful stories from many cultures, so his performance is entertaining as well as educational.  Jon’s first visit to Keene was for one performance at an elementary school; his next visit will be for a three-day residency, since word of that one performance has spread. Jon is very professional and accommodating, a joy to work with. –Judith Perry, Project Coordinator, Grand  Monadnock Arts Council, Keene, NH.

jon-sundell-perfect-storm-edutainment (link to general school flyer)


These are highly interactive programs  led by Jon and aimed at smaller groups (15-75, depending on the topic). In certain workshops teachers can lead some of the sessions.

 For teachers & librarians:

For students &/ or teachers:

For families:

  • Story games for families - Students and parents are introduced to storytelling through a series of fun (and sometimes funny), unthreatening games based on personal and family experiences.
  • An evening square dance, possibly to include an interlude of folktales and songs. This is especially suitable for upper graders, but younger siblings can be incorporated through some additional activities.

For parents (English and/or Spanish speaking):

  • How to select, read aloud and discuss books with children ages 1-9. Children can be engaged in another activity while this is taking place.


Curriculum Connections (CC) & Related Projects (RP)

These suggested projects can be led by classroom teachers or school media coordinators with input or collaboration from Jon Sundell.

CC: Classroom study of folktales

  • RP: Researching fairy tale “motifs” (elements of character or plot) in different stories; creating a new fairy tale using motifs or alternate versions of a traditional tale;
  • RP: Selecting, learning and performing a folk tale. (See also under workshops.)
  • RP: Comparing and contrasting fairy tale variants

CC: Writing Skills

  • RP: Listening, Telling and Writing Personal Stories - Coached initially by Jon Sundell, students in small groups spend several sessions listening to and orally sharing personal experiences (including answering classmates' questions) on topics such as a pet they once had or mistakes they have made. After they have used this interactive exercise to "develop the film" of these experiences in their head, they translate their story into written form and refine it.

CC: Hispanic Heritage

  • RP: Research projects on different countries that can include interviews with Hispanic family members and other local residents.
  • RP: e-correspondence projects with Hispanic students in other countries

CC: School-wide multicultural or international day

  • RP: Research a country and its folk tales with a partner; one student presents a country report using PowerPoint or some other format, while the other performs a tale.
  • RP: e-conferencing with foreign students.

CC: Independent reading; summer reading kick-off

  • RP: Students read from fiction (and possibly non-fiction) representing different cultures, time periods or sub-genres of fiction. They write reviews and share them with each other, then compare and contrast them according to certain issues. This can lead to creation of a school book review blog, such as Jon set up at Old Town Elementary School when he was media coordinator.

CC: Group reading project

  • RP: Lunch group - Students read and discuss 2-3 books together from the same or different cultures, comparing and contrasting the characters' experiences and relating them to their own lives.

CC: Social studies - study of immigration

  • RP: Partners or  groups research  an immigrant group that came to the US voluntarily or under  force – its reasons for immigrating, challenges, & contributions.  Students can choose from their own ethnic group or a different one. Each group creates a final project, which could involve writing a script based on findings and reading or acting it out. 

CC: Social studies/ American History  (5th grade or high school) - Westward Expansion

  • RP: Paired research projects  wherein student pairs research one aspect of this topic, such as the Louisiana Purchase, transcontinental railroad, or Mexican War, examining and presenting different points of view from different stakeholders, such as White, Black, Hispanic, Native American, rich and poor.

CC: Christmas In the Trenches (5th grade through high school)

  • RP:  Jon shares the song, "Christmas In the Trenches," by John McCutcheon, which gives a moving, thought-provoking  first hand account of how English and German soldiers unexpectedly left their trenches and joined hands as friends on Christmas Day in 1 914. After the class discusses the song, students work in groups investigating several internet sites to compare and contrast specific aspects of the World War I truce as it took place in different spots along the English/ German trenches. For example, What led up to the truce? What took place during it? How did the high command react to the truce? How did it affect soldiers' views of the "enemy"and the war? Finally, the class will consider how this situation might apply today in international relations, as well as domestic situations like gangs.