This is my Thanksgiving storytime from a year ago, before I started my blog, and only my second storytime ever. Since the kids weren't used to me yet, and we hadn't had a chance to establish a regular routine, I kept it short and sweet.
After my first storytime I realized the importance of a beginning routine with repeating elements that the kids can recognize as cues to settle down and get ready for stories, so I planned a routine, with a welcome song (which we sang twice), then introductions of both myself and the theme, followed by what we have come to call our "story song", which is based on the song "If You're Happy And You Know It". I like this song because you can add as many verses as you need, and change up the actions or included theme-related actions; I start with bigger motions and work down to much quieter ones, always ending with them seated. Then we went over the rules of storytime, like sitting "criss-cross applesauce", ears should be listening, eyes up front, hand in our laps, and lips zipped.
For the first book, I chose Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson. While this is not a Thanksgiving book per se, it certainly shows the Thanksgiving spirit with all of Bear's friends bringing food for them all to share. I wanted to be sure to have at least one book that focused on being thankful, without incorporating any religion. This is a sweet, simple story with loveable characters and absolutely beautiful painted illustrations by Jane Chapman.
After that, a couple of action rhymes for a little movement (doing each twice). The first uses ASL signs for the motions. There are several sites online for ASL that will not only describe the sign, but show video, which makes it much easier to learn.
"We Are Thankful"
We are thankful for the food we eat. (make sign for thank you & eat)
We are thankful for the friends we meet. (make sign for thank you & friends)
We are thankful for the golden sun, (make sign for thank you & sun)
the trees, the birds, and everyone. (make sing for tree, bird, and everyone)
The turkey is a funny bird,
His head goes wobble, wobble. (wobble head from side to side)
All he knows is just one word, (hold up 1 finger)
"Gobble, gobble, gobble."
After that, we were ready to settle back down for our second story, this time a silly turkey story. I thought it best to stick with stories about turkeys, family, and generally being thankful. There are not a lot of good Thanksgiving books suitable for preschool storytime, but 10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston is mercifully short, silly enough to entertain the kids, has counting down from 10, rhyming verses, and a repeating line for the kids to say along. The illustrations are really funny and cute. (For even younger ones, Salina Yoon has a somewhat similar Five Silly Turkeys board book.)
Then we closed with a rousing round of "The Turkey-Lurkey":
You put your wattle [head] in, you put your wattle out.
You put your wattle in, and you shake it all about.
You do the turkey-lurkey and you turn yourself around,
That's what it's all about. (clap on each beat)
Other verses: wings (arms), drumsticks (legs), tail feathers (bottom), stuffing (stomach), & whole turkey (whole body).
Though I had brought another book (The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing), I decided not to bother with it, and we ended with our closing song.
How It Went
I had about 10-12 kids, and it went really well this time, better than the first time. Most of the kids did a great job listening this time, and there was no jumping up. I think having the opening routine, especially the "story song", really helped get them more settled and ready to listen.
The kids really enjoyed the songs and rhymes, asking to do the welcome song again and participating really well with the signs and motions. They liked the stories, especially the silly turkeys in 10 Fat Turkeys and enjoyed counting them. The one thing that surprised me is I thought they would really get into saying the "Gobble, gobble; wibble, wobble" line that repeats in each verse, but they didn't.
Of course they LOVED doing the "Turkey-Lurkey" with it's silly turkey names for body parts and all the movement. They asked for another story, but we were out of time and I wasn't sure they could really handle another one. Always better to leave them wanting more, rather than extend it past their attention span, right?