Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Storytime Is A Zoo!

Last week I finished up our two weeks of zoo-themed storytimes on the Storytime Bus. Animals of any kind are always a hit with kids, especially if they get to imitate their movements and sounds! I ended up using a wider range of books than usual, as a couple of my favorites were a little long or sophisticated for most of my groups. Each storytime started with our opening story song and letter-of-the-day (Zz), then we read 2-3 books and sang 1 or 2 songs, depending on time and the mood of kids.

The Books
Wild About Books by Judy Sierra & Marc Brown was the perfect zoo story for the storytime bus! In this story the librarian accidentally drives the bookmobile to the zoo, and the animals soon find they love reading, then build their own branch "zoobrary"! Older kids and adults will appreciate the references to well known literature. It's a little too long for the younger kids.

In My School's A Zoo! by Stu Smith & David Catrow, a boy wakes up to find his family, bus driver, and whole school have turned into zoo animals! He is understandably shocked and upset, and tries to figure out what is going on, only to fall asleep on the bus home. The next thing he knows, his bus driver is waking him up and everything is back to normal.

Stop Snoring, Bernard! by Zachariah Ohora is a funny story about Bernard, an otter who loves everything about living at the zoo, especially naptime. Unfortunately, Bernard has a snoring problem which disturbs the other animals. Kids enjoy making the sound effects, and saying the repeated line, "Stop snoring, Bernard".

Zoo Ah-choooo by Peter Mandel & Elwood Smith is based on a cute story idea, but the writing definitely leaves room for improvement. But, the kids find it funny, and love saying all the "ah-choo"s. This is one book I break my rule about reading as written and do a little editing to make it flow more smoothly, and leaving out some of the confusing or oddly repetitive phrases.

ZooBorns! by Andrew Bleiman & Chris Eastman is a great "awww"-inducing book with photographs of baby zoo animals from all over the world. It's a little long, so I find I end up not reading all the text. There is a paragraph of information about each animal at the end, including where it's from and it's status on the endangered list.

Eric Carle's 1, 2, 3 To The Zoo is a simple counting story with his usual wonderful illustrations. The animals are riding a train to their new zoo, with each car carrying a different type and number of animal, so you can work on counting, number recognition, animal identification, and colors. See if the kids notice the little mouse on each page.

Z Is For Zoo by Roger Priddy is a large board book with lift-a-flaps and beautiful color photographs of zoo animals. The text is very short and simple; good for 2-3 year-old's.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip & Erin Stead is a modern classic about a loyal and kindly zookeeper who goes to work every day and takes excellent care of the animals. But, when one day Amos is sick and doesn't show up, the animals decide to take care of him.

That's Good! That's Bad! by Margery Cuyler & David Catrow is a fun story with lots of twists and turns as a young boy accidentally floats away from his parents with a balloon. He ends up having many animal adventures, and with each new development, the audience can decide whether they think it's good or bad. Adults will appreciate the tongue-in-cheek ending of the stork dropping him back in his parents' arms.

Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo by E. S. Redmond tells the unfortunate tale of how all the zoo animals got sick when a young girl with a cold wiped her snotty nose on her hands and then touched all the animals, spreading her germs everywhere, illustrated by green handprints. This would be a great book for a program about germs and good hygiene!

In Il Sung Na's latest book, The Opposite Zoo, a cheeky monkey slips out of his cage after closing time and explores the rest of the zoo. Several pairs of opposites are illustrated as he visits the other animals. The characteristic charming illustrations are vaguely impressionist, and the text is short and simple.

The Activities 

I ended up just doing songs this time, focusing mostly on imitating the animal sounds and/or movements. I definitely need to come up with a couple of additional activities using the flannel/magnetic board next time.

The Animals At The Zoo
(to the tune of "The Wheels On The Bus")

The lions at the zoo go Roar, roar, roar;
Roar, roar, roar; Roar, roar, roar.
The lions at the zoo go Roar, roar, roar,
All day long.

[I let the kids suggest other animals and sounds/movements, 
prompting if needed. Some of the others we came up with are below.]

The tigers at the zoo growl, growl, growl....

The snakes at the zoo go hiss, hiss, hiss....

The kangaroos at the zoo go hop, hop, hop....

The penguins at the zoo go waddle, waddle, waddle....

The wolves at the zoo go howl, howl, howl....

The seals at the zoo go bark, bark, bark....


If You're An Elephant And You Know I[
(to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It")

If you're an elephant and you know it, raise your trunk.
If you're an elephant and you know it, raise your trunk.
If you're an elephant and you know it, 
Then your trunk will surely show it.
If you're an elephant and you know it, raise your trunk.

[Again, I tried to let the kids suggest the animals & actions, but prompted if needed]


Animal Fair

Oh, I went to the animal fair;
the birds and the beasts were there.
The old baboon, by the light of the moon,
Was combing his auburn hair.

The monkey climbed and jumped,
And sat on the elephant's trunk.
The elephant sneezed - ACHOO! - and fell to his knees,
And what became of the monk, the monk, the monk?

[I was surprised that none of the kids thought the monkey got squished,
as I had always thought when I heard this song as a child.]

How It Went 
Overall, it went well. Of course with it being summer the kids are a little more restless and a little harder to keep engaged since they are out of their normal school year routines at the daycares and have so many special activities going on, like going to the pool. Storytime is *almost* a lost cause if it's pool day! They are just soooo excited about going to the pool, they can't stand it!  So, with those groups I try to pull the shortest, yet most engaging and interactive books, do more songs, and do a slightly shorter storytime. I would rather shorten it, than try to force it and have everyone leaving frustrated!

The books all worked pretty well, though as much as I love Wild About Books, I only used it with a couple of groups that I knew had the attention span and the familiarity with some of the other books mentioned to be able to pay attention and really get it.  But those that did really liked it, and thought we should take the Storytime Bus to the zoo some time and have storytime for the animals. I was also pleasantly surprised the group I read My School's A Zoo! to did figure out it was all a dream; I was afraid that would go right over their heads.

And since kids always like imitating animals, most of them loved participating in the songs, except the ones that were tired, hot, and cranky from playing outside. Sometimes it was a challenge to come up with a suitable sound or movement for the animals they suggested, but we always managed to come up with something!

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