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Nancy Larsen

“At the present moment my goal is to learn and experience,” was the closing line in an autobiography Nancy Larsen wrote in high school, many years ago. Her goal has never changed. Larsen was a curious child and has not outgrown that most essential trait.

She is now a third-grade teacher at Brooklyn New School/PS 146, where the third-grade social studies curriculum focuses on West African daily life, environment, art, music, dance, and storytelling. For the past 19 years, Larsen has been teaching in public elementary schools, first in Manhattan and now in Brooklyn. She left a career in film and television to follow her dream to spend her days surrounded by children – teaching, exploring, and learning.

In her first career, Larsen wrote, produced, and directed programs for national television networks, including Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, PBS, and Sundance Channel. Her other interests include exploring the natural world, reading, collecting shells and rocks, listening to music and watching films.

Larsen holds a BFA in film from Purchase College and an MS from Bank Street College of Education.


Larsen is interested in developing a unit of study focused on Dahomey appliqué cloths, also known as story cloths. From about 1600 until about 1900, Dahomey was ruled by a succession of kings who would commission appliqué cloths to convey their stories of power and conquest. Other appliqué cloths told stories of well-known proverbs. Story cloths, hand-sewn today by fabric artisans called tisser and in Benin, still show some of the symbolic images from the older traditions. Larsen hopes to work with artisans in Benin to learn the craft of making story cloths and more about the legends behind them. In addition, she would like to gather Beninese proverbs. The unit of study will lead up to students creating their own story cloths based on Beninese proverbs. First, students will learn about the history of the Kingdom of Dahomey and the importance of story cloths during that time period. They will study various proverbs and probe to find their hidden meanings. Students will then make story cloths illustrating both the literal and hidden meanings of proverbs. This unit will culminate in the students showcasing their work at our school’s “West Africa Museum” so that their knowledge of Benin culture will ripple out into our school community.

Grade(s) Taught

(reading, writing, math, social studies, science, word study, social/emotional curriculum) 3rd Grade