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SOS - Searching Out Stories/Information
Paper Folding and Cutting - Cut and Tell

Advice, comments and references from Storytellers,
Teachers and Librarians

Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians

(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story and song titles are in italics.
To retell any stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the materials is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) I found an easy paper folding story -I think it was in a Valerie Marsh book, Mystery Fold: Stories to Tell, Draw, and Fold 1993. It ends up making a dog's face -very easy with a folded triangle (the mountain and some easy markings. The other fold is for the two ears up at the side which I've done with kindergarteners, and think four years old could do with help.

Give the kids squares of colored tissue paper in 3 different sizes. All they need to do is round off the corners of each, then stack them up, largest to smallest and twist the bottom. You can use long green twisties, available here in garden stores for staking plants, for stems.

3) How about making a rose out of a paper napkin - it's easy. I've done it with eight year olds who loved it. It's quite simple. Believe me, if I can do it, it's simple.
Video examples from Google:

4) There are directions in Anne Pellowski's book The Storytelling Handbook: A Young People's Collection of Unusual Tales and Helpful Hints on How to Tell Them for a tree that can also be called a flower. It is in the "Apple Thieves" story. You roll up paper, tape it so it doesn't unroll and cut fringes about 1/3 down the tube. Then reach into the middle of the flower, grab a fringe and gently pull the flower up I have done this with a group of 20 7-8 year olds and it worked just fine.


Anne Pellowski's "Apple Thieves" involves a great deal of preparation time - it takes more time to make all the paper props than it does to tell the story. It is a good one, though.

Ina V.D.

5) Query: Cut and Tell
I do a cut-and-tell story during my winter shows. It is a lovely tale shared by Suzette Hawkins. The cut and tell story ends up as a beautiful snowflake. The children, and parents always oooh and aaah as the snowflake unfolds at the end. I would like to add a new cut and tell as well for my upcoming winter shows. Do any of you use cut and tell, and, if so, care to share your sources?

Karen C.


a) "Christmas Surprise"
I finally had a chance to look for the source of this Christmas story. My version is a good bit different from the original story, but for the sake of accuracy here's the source: Paper-Cutting Stories for Holidays and Special Events by Valerie Marsh, 1994.

Take a piece of green paper, and fold it in half lengthwise. On the inside of one half, draw half of a Christmas tree. Decorate both halves of the tree--you can guess about where the second half is---with glued-on sequins, etc. Re-fold the paper so the tree and decorations are inside. When you draw the tree, press hard enough so you can see the outline of the tree on the outside of the paper.

A little boy wanted to get a gift for his family, but didn't have any money. The family went out and he went for a walk. (Make a cut for the tree's trunk, cutting through both halves of the folded paper.) He walked into the woods (make a cut for the bottom branch of the tree) and there he saw it--the perfect Christmas tree! That would be his gift to his family! He ran back home (make the cut back towards the "trunk" of the tree) and got an axe. Then ran back to the tree (cut for next branch). Then thought I could dig it up and then we could replant it. Ran back home for a shovel. (Cut back to trunk). Got the shovel, ran back to tree (another branch cut). Realized he needed a wheelbarrow to haul the tree, so ran back home (cut back to trunk). Got the wheelbarrow, ran back. (another branch cut). Dug up the tree and hauled it home. (back to trunk). When he got home he carried the tree right to the center of the living room and set it up. (Make the last cut to make the tip of the tree). He decorated it and waited for his family. And when they walked in he cried out "Surprise" and there was the beautiful tree, all decorated. (Open the paper to show the tree).

I hope these directions are clear enough to follow. It's very much fun to tell. The kids all guess that it's a tree you're cutting out, of course, but they are so surprised by the decorations.

Granny Sue

b) Here are five books with some cutting or folding - only the fourth is just paper and the fifth uses paper PLATES. (I like paper tearing which is what I use for the Nibble/Snowflake.)
Note of interest - Hans Christian Andersen did intricate paper cuttings - NOT what I do.

As popular as Nibble, Nibble is the Rainhat story. Several years ago, Batsy sent directions. (Some of you may know the Rainhat story as the Pirate one -it's old, old, old.) You'll find it in one of Anne Pellowski's books.

Here are the books:
1) Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller by Margaret Read MacDonald.

2) The Story Vine: A Source Book of Unusual and Easy-To-Tell Stories from Around the World by Anne Pellowski ; illustrated by Lynn Sweat.

3) Caroline Feller Bauer's New Handbook for Storytellers: With Stories, Poems, Magic, and More by Caroline Feller Bauer's new handbook for storytellers : with stories, poems, magic, and more / illustrations by Lynn Gates Bredeson.

4) Marsh, Valerie. Mystery Fold: Stories to Tell, Draw, and Fold, 1993. Other books by Valerie Marsh have cuttings, e.g., Paper-Cutting Stories for Holidays and Special Events, 1994.

5) Warren, Jean. Totline "Cut & Tell" Scissor Stories for Fall ~ Original Stories, Paper Plate Cut-Outs and Patterns. 1984.

Ina V.D.

c) There is a story called Paper Flower, attributed to Fran Stallings, in a collection called Joining In, edited by Teresa Miller. It is told as a Chinese story of a servant girl who must wrap fire in paper, water in paper, and wind in paper before her employers will allow her to go home to visit her family. Fran says in her note that this version is an original story, not a traditional one, but it is built upon "impossible" task motifs found in various Chinese and Korean tales. She refers to another version, The Young Head of the Family in Tatterhood and Other Tales by Ethel J. Phelps. She gives a couple of other sources as well, but these are the ones you are most likely to have.

Vicky D. 5/23/05

d) Here is part of the message where Fran S. talked about this story that she calls "Paper Flower" and contributed to Joining In: An Anthology of Audience Participation Stories and How to Tell Them book.

Sent: Sunday, January 12, 2003 10:40 AM
Subject: Re: simplest stories for student telling

I've had students as young as second grade learn "The Story of Paper Flower" (my contribution to Joining In), which can be illustrated by folding/cutting shapes out of paper while telling. An experienced teller can handle both tasks, but beginners have an easier time if one tells while the other concentrates on the paper. (It takes some practice to work out appropriate timing together.) And this provides a role for the student whose mouth isn't ready to open in front of an audience....

Ina V.D. 5/23/05

6) Query: I am looking for a fold-and-tell story about 2 brothers (?) who are invited to a castle--the story involves knocking at the doors, etc., and the end product of the fold-and-tell is a box. I seem to remember an Asian flavor to the story, but I could be wrong. I didn't know enough details to find it on Jackie's site. Does this ring any bells with anyone?

Pat R. 1/23/06

The story you are looking for is called "The Brothers Short and the Brothers Long" and it can be found in The Storytelling Handbook by Anne Pellowski. The basic story is there, but you can add any flavor you want to the story--but of course you know that. You're a storyteller!

Rose the Story Lady 1/23/06

7) "The Mouse and the Snowflake." The original is called "Nibble, Nibble" in Is Your Storytale Dragging? I've used mice, chipmunks, rabbits, groundhogs for the animal -- any soft furry rodent (SFR) will do!

You start with a piece of square paper folded into 6 layers, just like you would cut a snowflake. If you remember how to cut a snowflake by taking small snips from the 2 sides where the folds are, the story will make more sense.

Softly and gently it fell, down, down, onto the ground where SFR was. It looked like a kite, so he went closer. SFR sniffed the strange object. It didn't smell like anything he'd ever smelled, so he went closer. He pushed it several times with his nose (cut off 1/2 of top edge that will be the outside of the snowflake). It was cold! He was puzzled. He sniffed closer and touched it with his nose. It tickled! (cut off other half of top edge, you now have something that looks like an ice cream cone shape, still folded into 6 layers). Maybe it was an ice cream cone. SFR took a huge bite. t off pointed tip, where the bottom of the cone would be). No! It wasn't ice cream. It had no taste. SFR took a few more bites. (make cuts into side of cone shape, like little half circles) It was yummy, so SFR decided to push it down into his hole. He pushed it with his nose but he pushed right through it. (cut bigger half circle on other side) He tried to hit with his paws, but it made his paw cold (another half circle). He pushed it and pushed it, down into his dark hole. (last half circle cut) The strange thing fell down into his dark hole. SFR scurried downto find it, but it was gone! (palm shape in your hand so it's not visible). Where could it have gone and what was it? (By now the kids are giving all sorts of advice about what it is and where it went). There was only a wet spot on the bottom of the burrow, and SFR never figured out that what he had been nibbling and pushing on was ... (open it up) a SNOWFLAKE! I use cheap, light napkins - as I prefer cutting to tearing. And by using napkins, the folding is easier and faster.

Batsy B.


a) "Nibble, Nibble" is an interactive story with paper tearing that is about a mouse on a train that is hit on the head by a strange paper object. ( It's ends up with a ... snowflake.)

I've changed it a bit by using a paper napkin -cheap kind that tears easily- makes it easy to have some prefolded and if you have small audience, they can make a snowflake too, after the telling is over. I can send those directions too.

Hope this helps. It's a real "crowd pleaser."

Another suggestion: "Rainhat" - made with newspaper.

Ina V.D. 1/27/06

b) You can also add "Water in Paper" for a folded paper cup as has been done in some variations.

Pat N. 3/29/06

c) One I got from somewhere that is simplicity itself is "Mouse's First Winter"

(You have ready in advance paper folded to be cut into a six sided snowflake and a pair of sissors.)

A young mouse, so young it was her first winter, found somehthing white (hold up folded paper)
"What is it?" she asked.
Mice find things out by tasting. She nibbled a bit here (cut off a bit) and nibbled a bit there. (keep cutting till you are tired of cutting and they are getting bored with nibbling)
"Oh, I have heard of these. I know what it is!" And perhaps you do too. (open the snowflake)

Jane D. 11/21/06

8) Did you know that Hans Christian Anderson was known for his beautiful and intricate paper cuttings? You can look inside the book here and see one.
The Amazing Paper Cuttings of Hans Christian Andersen by Beth Wagner Brust.

Wouldn't it be fun to do a series of his stories along with paper cuttings as illustrations? Of course, not as complicated as his!

Karen C. 11/21/06


a) Here in northern California, we have a teller named Randal McGee who dresses up as HCA and cuts as he tells. When he's done, he holds up one of those intricate paper cuttings to show everyone. It's a wonder to watch!
Jackie B. 11/21/06

b) And following up on that, Randal McGee tells stories and cuts beautiful paper figures in character as Hans Christian Andersen. I highly recommend his program--it's fascinating, and Randal is a pleasure to work with.

Granny Sue 11/21/06

9) Grandma's Magic Scissors: Paper Cutting from A-Z by Linda S. Day
Mary Lee S. 11/20/06

10) Jean Warren's paper plate Cut-and-Tell stories each include full-size patterns. One of the books has a winter theme. Out of print now, I think, but probably in many libraries. (Note from JB: They are available on for as low as $1.41.)
Totline "Cut & Tell" Scissor Stories for Winter: Original Stories, Paper Plate Cut-Outs and Patterns
Totline "Cut & Tell" Scissor Stories for Spring ~ Original Stories, Paper Plate Cut-Outs and Patterns
Totline "Cut & Tell" Scissor Stories for Fall ~ Original Stories, Paper Plate Cut-Outs and Patterns

Irene D. 11/20/06

11) Cut & Tell Bible Stories (CPH Teaching Resource) by Jean Stangi.
Snip-And-Tell Bible Stories by Karyn Henley.

12) Paper-Cutting Stories for Holidays and Special Events by Patrick K. Ludzadder.

Created 2004; last update 3/3/10

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