I thought early March would be a good time to do a "Weather" theme, since this time of year (especially where we live) you can have many kinds of weather, sometimes in the same day. And true to form, the week I started this theme we had a very windy cool day, followed by a partly sunny warm day, then the next day started warm and sunny, then became rainy and stormy, and then we woke up to snow on the ground the next day!
With the Storytime-To-Go program I visited 10 daycares for approximately 30 storytimes, using 2-3 books and 2-3 songs/activities for each plus our "story song" and letter of the day (in this case, "Ww") to start.
Hello, Sun! by Dayle Ann Dodds and Sachiko Yoshikawa is a cute, slightly humorous story about a little girl who has to keep putting on more layers as the weather keeps changing every time she's ready to go out. Ask the audience to name the weather, and join in with saying "Hello," and "Uh-oh."
Maisy's Wonderful Weather Book by Lucy Cousins is a fun book that shows all kinds of weather and has small pop-ups and tabs to pull for added interest, and ends with a rainbow magically appearing, providing an opportunity to work on color recognition.
One Windy Wednesday by Phyllis Root and Helen Craig is a short, simple, silly book that kids will love! One day, the wind blows so hard, that it blows away the animals' voices, and they end up all mixed up. This can be a very interactive story by having the audience help make the sounds of the wind and the animals, and saying which sound should go with which animal.
Mushroom in the Rain by Mirra Ginsburg, Jose Aruego, and Ariane Dewey is adapted from a Russian folktale and tells of a ant who takes shelter under a tiny mushroom during a rainstorm. He is joined by a butterfly, mouse, sparrow, and finally a rabbit, and somehow they all manage to fit. Ask the audience if they can figure out how. This is also good for working on sequencing, asking the kids to recall the order in which the animals came to the mushroom
Little Cloud by Eric Carle is great for encouraging imagination as it shows Little Cloud traveling across the sky, growing and changing shapes along the way.
Kite Day by Will Hillenbrand is a good follow up to a general weather story or windy story, and has Bear and Mole building and flying a kite that later crashes. This is a simple story, but it has the opportunity to plug reading books to learn about something, and going to the library to find those books, emphasize teamwork, name colors, and show how something good can come out of something bad.
It's Raining, It's Pouring by Kin Eagle and Rob Gilbert is a take-off on the familiar children's song, with additional verses for all kinds of weather. It can be either sung or read. I like to read it first, then sing it all together.
The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins is an old classic that shows the wind blowing things away, one by one, then dumping them all back down to the ground in the end. Some explanation of the judge's wig will be needed. Don't be surprised if this prompts some comments about tornadoes.
In Like A Lion, Out LIke A Lamb by Marion Dan Bauer and Emily Arnold McCully is a perfect book for talking about the weather in March, though younger kids do have a little trouble understanding the metaphor. But it shows how March has all kinds of weather, starting out wintery, cold, and blustery, but giving way to milder weather as we transition to spring.
"Make A Rainstorm"
This was one of the activities I used the most, and the kids all loved it. I really liked how it had a lot of movement and sound, yet was very controlled at the same time, so it helped get their wiggles out without winding them up even more.
First, I would have them close their eyes and just listen while I used the rain stick and asked them to listen and think about what weather it reminded them of. After they said rain, I told them to look and explained how it worked, and how the original rain sticks were made of wood and seeds and sounded even more realistic. Then I asked them if they knew they could make it sound like a rainstorm all by themselves.
First, start rubbing your hands together so it sounds like a gentle rain falling softly. Then, the drops start to get bet bigger and you can hear them go plop, plop, plop. (Snap fingers and/or click tongue. Start slow, then get faster.) Next, pat your hands on your thighs as it starts to rain harder, then even harder. After that, stomp your feet and it turns into a storm; clap your hands loudly for the lightning and thunder.
Then, work backwards as the storm subsides into rain, and eventually stops (I sometimes go back and forth to make it more fun and stretch it out a little). Then the sun comes out and makes a..............rainbow!
"Five Little Kites"
(Fingerplay with "Flannel" Board)
|(These are craft foam with magnets on the back,|
but could easily be made out of felt as well.)
One little kite in the sky so blue (hold up one finger, place first kite)
Along came another, and then there were two. (place 2nd kite, 2 fingers up)
Two little kites flying high above me, ("fly" hand with 2 fingers up)
Along came another, and then there were three. (place 3rd kite, 3 fingers up)
Three little kites, just watch them soar. ("fly" hand with 3 fingers up)
Along came another, and then there were four. (place 4th kite, 4 fingers up)
Four little kites, so high and alive, ("fly" hand with 4 fingers up)
Along came another, and then there were five. (place 5th kite, 5 fingers up)
Five little kites dancing across the sky, ("fly" hand with all finger up)
What a sight to see, way up so high! (continue to make "kites" fly)
I always tell them to wiggle their counting fingers and loosen them up, and explain that their fingers represent their kites and to fly them around. At the end, we count the kites and name the colors, then I ask if they know what two colors you would mix to make orange and green, respectively. Some will know, many won't. So then I explain, and also mention that blue and red would make purple, even though I don't have a purple example. I would like to add additional verses (and kites) to 10, so that with my smaller groups at least, I could give everyone a kite and let them bring them up to put on the board.
"May There Always Be Sunshine"
by Jim Gill
May there always be sunshine. (make circle with hands over head)
May there always be blue skies. (gesture to skies with both hands)
May there always be Mama. (hug yourself or point to mothers)
May there always be me. (point to yourself)
The remaining verses vary depending on the recording you have, and are taken from what various children have suggested to him. Ask your audience to suggest things, preferably weather related in this case. Possibilities are:
May there always be spring rains. (flutter fingers like rain falling down)
May there always be rainbows. ("draw" an arch in air with hand)
May there always be snowballs. (pretend to make & throw snowball)
May there always be clouds. (gesture to clouds in sky)
How It Went
This theme went pretty well, though I think the book selection could use a little improvement. There were a number of books in this kit, but most of them seemed pretty boring to me. I added a few, but the whole kit really could use a little jazzing up, both with some more fun books as well as more activities that provide for a lot of participation.
The kids all loved the silly story of One Windy Wednesday, and liked Maisy's Wonderful Weather Book with it's pop-ups, pull-tabs, and magically appearing rainbow at the end. They also seemed to really like Mushroom In The Rain, and I was impressed when one little girl recognized it as being similar to Jan Brett's The Mitten, where the mitten keeps stretching to accommodate more animals. Little Cloud fared pretty well, too, though I found it amusing that one boy identified the clown as a monster! I really like In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb, but I think it might be better for slightly older children. My preschoolers listened to it okay, but I don't think they really got it; the whole metaphor just went right over their heads, even when I tried to explain it first.
Of the activities, the rainstorm was a clear winner. Kids who had never seen a rain stick before were fascinated by it. I would prefer to have a natural wooden one, though, but I know the plastic will hold up much longer. The seemed to really enjoy making their own rainstorm, especially the lightning and thunder, of course. I got lots of giggles when I would surprise them and go back to raining hard after we had already started to taper down. But, isn't that how it always goes? You think the rain is about to stop, and as soon as you go out, it starts raining harder again.
We also got to work on colors a little bit, with all the talk of rainbows and the multi-colored kites. The kids at the very last preschool we went to were just too smart for me. They not only recognized all the colors (as I expected), at least one child knew the correct order of colors in the rainbow and used the terms "indigo" and "violet", plus they also already knew all about blending primary colors to make secondary colors. These kids are going to need some more challenging activities in the future! Maybe I can come up with some mini-STEM activities just for them.