Saturday, January 16, 2016

Brrrr.....It's Wintertime!

We had some very cold temperatures and our first snowfall of the year during this rotation, so the kids were very aware that it was wintertime, even if they weren't always able to verbalize it.  Since we have a "Snow" kit that focuses on fun things like snowmen, snowballs, and sledding, the "Winter" kit focuses more on trying to stay warm in winter.  We used a number of books, though there were 4 or 5 that I tended to use the most, using 2 or 3 for each group.  We had a few different songs and activities and generally did 2 for each group, in addition to our "story song".

The Books

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na is one of my favorite winter books.  Even though it is short and simple, the charming illustrations really seem to hold even the older kids' attention and it is perfect for a younger audience.  I particularly like how it demonstrates all the ways animals survive winter:  hibernation, migration, and adaptation.

Duck At The Door by Jackie Urbanovic tells the story of poor Max, a duck who enjoyed spring and summer so much that he though he would like winter, too, so he stayed behind instead of flying south with his flock.  Of course he soon finds that winter is very cold and lonely.  Fortunately, Irene welcomes him to stay with her and all her pets, with some funny consequences.  I also like to use this story to illustrate how they should never open the door when someone knocks, but should go get their grown-up, just like the animals in the story got Irene.

Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London is a classic.  Not only is it funny with Froggy forgetting critical items of clothing, including his underwear, kids can relate to Froggy's excitement about the snow and difficulties getting dressed.  I like to introduce the book by first talking about how frogs and toads normally sleep all winter.  You are guaranteed laughs and giggles at the mention of underwear!

In Bedtime for Bear, by Brett Helquist, Bear is ready to go to sleep for the winter, but his friends are making too much noise outside for him to get to sleep.  At first Bear is angry, but soon finds himself joining in the fun and the friends spend one last day playing together in the snow and Bear can finally go to sleep.

In Time To Sleep by Denise Fleming Bear realizes that it is almost winter and tells his friend Snail, who tells Skunk, who tells Turtle, who tells Woodchuck, who tells Ladybug.  Then Ladybug decides she needs to tell Bear, not realizing Bear already knew.  So she goes to Bear's cave and wakes her up just to tell her it's time to go to sleep!   Older kids will get the humor, but younger kids may need a little prompting.

In Karma Wilson's Bear Snores On, we see how Bear first met all his friends after they each take shelter in his cave while he is asleep for the winter.  The story is cute and has a nice rhyme and rhythm that helps draw in the audience and keep them engaged.  And of course Jane Chapman's illustrations are beautiful as always.

Brigitte Sidjanski's Little Chicken & Little Fox tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a chicken and a poor little lost fox out in the freezing snow.  The story offers the opportunity to discuss how we can be friends even with people who are very different from us.

Me Too! by Valeri Gorbachev is a short, simple story that might seem a little dull at first glance, but it works really well as a participatory story.  Best friends Bear and Chipmunk are enjoying a day of winter fun playing in the snow.  Every time Bear makes a comment, Chipmunk chimes in saying "Me, too!".  Tell the audience that they are playing the part of the chipmunk and assign them the roll of saying all the "Me, too"s.

Hibernation by Anita Garneri is a non-fiction book that I like to use to show pictures of different animals hibernating (or preparing to hibernate), so that the kids can see all kinds of animals hibernate, not just bears.

Kitten's Winter by Eugenie Fernandes is a very short and simple story, following a little calico kitten's travels on a winter day, showing various wild animals.  I find it a little boring, but it's good in a pinch when you need something short and simple.

The Songs

 The Winter Wind Is Cold
(to the tune of "The Farmer In The Dell")
Let's sing a winter song, let's sing a winter song.
The days are short, the nights are long.
Let's sing a winter song.
The winter wind is cold, the winter wind is cold.
It freezes nose, ears, and toes.
The winter wind is cold.
Winter now is here, winter now is here,
Put on your coat, your hat, your gloves.
Winter now is here.
*Building Block Daycare

The Mittens On My Hands
(to the tune of "The Wheels On The Bus")

The mittens on my hands keep me warm,
Keep me warm, keep me warm.
The mittens on my hands keep me warm,
All winter long.

Other verses: hat on my head, scarf on my neck, coat on my body, boots on my feet, etc.

"Winter's Coming Soon"
(to the tune of "Wheels On The Bus")

The weather's getting cold, so bundle up, bundle up, bundle up.
The weather's getting cold, so bundle up.  Winter's coming soon.
(pretend to wrap coat around yourself)

 The bears in the cave sleep all the time, sleep all the time, sleep all the time.
The bears in the cave sleep all the time.  Winter's coming soon.
(lay head on hands as though sleeping)

The squirrels in the trees gather nuts, gather nuts, gather nuts.
The squirrels in the trees gather nuts.  Winter's coming soon.
(pretend to gather nuts)

The frogs and the toads go deep in the mud, deep in the mud, deep in the mud.
The frogs and the toads go deep in the mud.  Winter's coming soon.
(squat low on floor)

The ducks and the geese go flying south, flying south, flying south.
The ducks and the geese go flying south.  Winter's coming soon.
(flap arms or flutter hands like wings/birds)

The people in the town wear hats and gloves, hats and gloves, hats and gloves.
The people in the town wear hats and gloves.  Winter's coming soon.
(pretend to put on hat & gloves)
*Source: Off The Library Shelf 

I also had this set of mittens that I used for matching and sorting, and also had a couple of songs that went with them, which I described in detail in yesterday's "Flannel Friday" post.
How It Went
I found that I ended up using Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit with almost every group.  It's short and simple enough that even my youngest kids could pay attention to it, but it also held the interest of the older kids, too.  I really like how it shows not only hibernation, but also migration and adaptation.  I also used Duck At The Door, Froggy Gets Dressed, and Bedtime For Bear frequently as well, and the other books only occasionally.  Of course Froggy always gets big laughs and giggles as soon as you say "underwear".  Overall, I would say most of the books were well-received, though Kitten's Winter was on the dull side.

All of the songs worked well, and the mitten activities, though I was surprised that most of the groups seemed to have a little trouble with the rhyming concept, so I will have to make a point to incorporate rhyming activities and point out rhyming words more in the future.  They really seemed to like each getting their own mitten and being able to bring it up and put it on the board.  The only problem was that for some reason some of them are compelled to pick at anything you give them, and pull the magnets or embellishments off, so by the end I had to repair several mittens.

I had several funny comments during the course of this rotation.  One child cautioned us about not eating the yellow snow, another brought up having to get flu shots, and of course there are always several funny underwear comments with Froggy Gets Dressed.  One morning it had started snowing pretty heavily, which worked great with the theme, but one group was so overly excited about it that they couldn't contain themselves.  They started out okay, just a little wiggly and chatty, but as soon as my volunteer started reading the second story, the kids just went crazy.  I've never had a group get that out of control before!  They were all over the place, jumping around, climbing on chairs, etc.  Even with four adults (myself, my volunteer, our driver, and the daycare worker) we couldn't manage to wrangle them.  So we gave up on the book, sang a quick song, and sent them on their way.

But then the next day the group that got out of control during the very last Christmas storytime were perfect angels.  That just shows how variable kids can be and how things outside of our control can have a profound affect on their behavior.  So you can't take it personally or let it bother you; sometimes a group is just having a bad day, and it's best just to cut it short before everyone gets too frustrated, and next time will be better.

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