“I’m interested in what the stones may reveal about the human relationship to the Earth.” These are the words of Cyndera Quackenbush, Hamlin teacher and storyteller. In an age when the internet is the source of all things and nature is often only visited on vacations, Quackenbush works with Hamlin 2nd graders to harken a billion years back, to time immemorial, before imagination even existed.
At the intersection of the environment, and artistic narrative, Hamlin students create their very own “Stone Stories,” giving voice to actual billion year-old stones that they are able to hold in the palms of their hands. These stones were a unique inheritance that Ms. Quackenbush received from her father, James Quackenbush. Imbued with creative inspiration through Ms. Quackenbush and her deep-rooted introspective work with rocks, Hamlin girls first draw a detailed colorful sketch of the rock, guess the type of rock and how it got it’s patterns, express what they see in the stone, narrate a story about the rock, and conclude by reflecting on what they learned.
One student wrote as part of her story: “She lived on desert. Lots of orange, yellow skies and lots of cactuses. The girl, who’s name was Scarlett, thought the cactuses were beautiful. That gave her an idea. She would paint one of those, but what would she paint on?” The story goes on to describe how Scarlett used a stone as a canvas to capture the beautiful natural image of the cactus.
Through this exploration students delve profoundly into nature’s wonder and interconnectivity, as they create a foundational narrative for understanding our often fragile earth.
Watch a video of a Hamlin Student speaking about the activity: