Friday, July 17, 2015

Unusual Pets

I've had the idea of doing some type of pet storytime in the back of my mind for a while, but wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go.  All pets, cats and dogs, just cats, just dogs.... In the end I decided it would be more fun to talk about unusual pets.  I was originally inspired by Trinka Noble's The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate The Wash, which I find quite funny, but in the end decided the 3 year old class might have a little trouble following it, and the illustrations were a little pastel and too detailed for this age.

So I decided to start with Cats Are Cats by Valeri Gorbachev (following our welcome song, introduction and "story song", of course).  This is a cute story about a orange kitten named Tiger who grows, and grows, and grows....into an actual tiger!  But, cats are cats, and Miss Bell loves her cat.  One day she decides to buy some pet fish since Tiger enjoys watching them swim, and one of them grows and grows....and I'm sure you can guess the rest.  I chose this because I thought it was cute and the kids would enjoy the twist to a seemingly typical kitten story, and I wanted to see if they would predict the ending.

After that, we did an action rhyme I saw on Sunflower Storytime (who got it from Library Storytime), called "Can You..."

          Can you hop like a rabbit?                     (hop like bunny)
          Can you jump like a frog?                      (jump)
          Can you waddle like a duck?                 (squat & waddle, bend elbows like wings)
          Can you wag your tail like a dog?          (wiggle bottom)

          Can you fly like a bird?                          (flap arms)
          Can you swim like a fish?                      (make swimming motions with arms)
          Can you sit back down,                         (sit down)
          and be still like this?                              (hands in lap)

Kids always love any song or rhyme that allows them to imitate animal actions or sounds!  Also, if you want to lead into a discussion about what pets they would like, you could replace the last two lines with:  "If you could get a pet, what pet would you wish?"

For the next story, we read A Pet For Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold. I chose this since Fly Guy seems to be pretty popular with the 3-5 year old set, and I liked the twist of the owner becoming the pet (which I'm pretty sure is how my cats see me anyway).  I also thought the kids would enjoy helping me make the buzzing sound at the end of all of Fly Guy's words.

Now that we had already done animal actions, it was time to have fun making animal noises!  For this I chose keep it simple, using the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It":

                                                        "If You're A ......"

                                   If you're a fly and you know it, say "Buzzzz".
                                   If you're a fly and you know it, say "Buzzzz".
                                   If you're a fly and you know it, then
                                   your "Buzzzzz" will surely show it.
                                   If you're a fly and you know it, say "Buzzzz".

We did several versus using animals from the two books we had read so far, and a couple of others that the kids suggested.

Then on to our last book, Hieronymus Betts and His Unusual Pets, by M. P. Robertson.  Obviously this book fit the theme to a "T", and made the unusual pets in the first two books look pedestrian and mundane!  I chose this because I knew the kids would love the pure silliness of it, and enjoy pretending to be appropriately grossed out or scared of each animal, and trying to guess what could be even worse (of course after having my house overrun with my niece and nephews all week, I immediately predicted it would be a little brother).  And of course we ended with our usual closing song.

How It Went
We had an unexpected change of venue this week.  When I arrived at the daycare, there was a notice that the class had been temporarily relocated to the church next door due to mold being discovered under the carpet and in the ceiling of their classroom.  Once I found my kiddos, of course they were more unsettled than usual since their normal routine had been totally disrupted, and I found my usual leader was in time out for interrupting, so I had a quick talk with him, then got the others settled.

Once we got going, things went pretty well.  They of course enjoyed imitating the various pets' actions and sounds with our rhyme and song, and we talked about what kind of pets they had and what kind they wanted.   They really liked Cats Are Cats, and how it tied into the last storytime's shark themeA Pet for Fly Guy seemed like it was just a bit too long, I felt like their interest waned a little in the middle, and I think they were just a little too young to appreciate the irony of the boy becoming the pet.  They still liked it, and thought the buzzy way Fly Guy talked was funny, but it would have been better if it was a little shorter.  They loved the fantastical creatures in Hieronymus Betts and His Unusual Pets, but I think they were a bit disappointed that in the end it was just his little brother that was slimier, louder, smellier, stranger than all his imaginary pets instead of some really bizarre, scary creature.  Again, I think older kids would appreciate the humor in that a lot more, but I still think this book was a winner.

I also showed them a picture of my own unusual pet, Randall, the leopard gecko (he's technically my daughter's, but guess who gets stuck taking care of it while she's at college?).  At first I told them he eats bad little kids' toes, and they weren't quite sure if I was kidding or not :)  Then I explained that he really eats crickets and worms, which they of course thought was gross.

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