Friday, September 30, 2016

Storytime Without A Theme

I had first planned on doing a "Fall" theme this week, but then decided to postpone it until the trees were in full color. I didn't really have another idea, and there were a couple of new books that I really wanted to try, so today's theme was "Books Miss Jennifer Wanted To Do". I do use themes most of the time because I like having some direction, but occasionally just pull books I want to try out (for more discussion, see my previous post "To Theme, Or Not To Theme").

We started with our welcome song, introductions, and our story song. I led into our first book, Is That Wise, Pig? by Jan Thomas, by mentioning how it's nice to eat warm soup when the weather starts getting cooler. I love Jan Thomas books because of their simple, bold illustrations and good silly fun, and I couldn't wait to use this after it came out.

In this story, Mouse, Cow, and Pig are making soup, each contributing different ingredients in increments of 1 to 10, but Pig's contributions are highly questionable, prompting Mouse and Cow to ask, "Is that wise, Pig?".

We followed that with a simple song that let us pretend to make soup as well. You can have the kids suggest ingredients to add, or use small fabric or plastic food props (I have some, but forgot them). I like to throw in a silly ingredient, like dirty, stinky socks, to see the kids' reactions.

Stir, Stir, Stir the Soup
(to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

Stir, stir, stir the soup;
Stir it all day long.
Add some _____;
Take a taste (Sluurrrp!).
Soup will make us strong! 

Our second book was also a new book I just saw yesterday, Hooray For Today! by Brian Won. His first book as author and illustrator, Hooray For Hat!, turned out to be a big hit last year, so I was eager to give this one a try. 

Owl has just woken up and is looking for her friends to play with, but they are all tired and ready for bed, and by the time they wake up, Owl is ready to sleep. It can be lonely being nocturnal. Like the first, this book has animals to identify, lots of repeated phrases the kids can say, and the opportunity to predict what might happen next.

This led to a fun song that I used previously in an "Owl" storytime that allowed the kids to move a little bit and pretend to be owls, and ends with them sitting down.

Just Like An Owl
(To the tune of "London Bridges")

Open your eyes up big and wide, big and wide, big and wide.
Open your eyes up big and wide, just like an owl.

Flap your wings and fly around, fly around, fly around.
Flap your wings and fly around, just like an owl.

Land on the ground and hop along, hop along, hop along.
Land on the ground and hop along, just like an owl.

Fly up in the tree and sit on a branch, sit on a branch, sit on a branch
Fly up in the tree and sit on a branch, just like an owl.

Turn your head and say "Who, who?", say "Who, who?", say "Who, who?",
Turn your head and say "Who, who?", just like an owl.

Our last book was not brand new (2013), but I just hadn't ever gotten around to using it, and decided why wait? In Greg Pizzoli's The Watermelon Seed a crocodile tells us how much he LOVES watermelon. But then, he accidentally swallows a seed, and fears the worst. 

As his tummy rumbles and begins to feel funny, he imagines a watermelon growing in his belly and vines coming out his ears. The kids will love the hilarious way in which the true fate of the seed is revealed.

Following the story, we discussed how the seed wouldn't grow in your belly because it doesn't have the things a seed needs to grow: dirt (hopefully), rain, or warm sunshine. [I considered telling them what would really happen to the seed, but decided against it so the teacher wouldn't have to listen to them talking about poop the rest of the day:)] Then we sang a cute call-and-response song about it:

The Watermelon Seed
(to the tune of "Are You Sleeping")

Oh, No! (Oh, No!)
I just swallowed, (I just swallowed)
A watermelon seed, (A watermelon seed).
Will I grow a watermelon (Will I grow a watermelon)
Inside me? (Inside me?)

No, no. (No, no.)
The seed can't grow (The seed can't grow)
In my tummy, (In my tummy).
There's no rain or sunshine (There's no rain or sunshine)
Inside me, (Inside me).

After a few silly-billies insisted that they did have rain and sun in their tummies, we finished with our closing song and passed out stickers.

How It Went
We had a lot of fun, and no one missed having a theme at all. I would say Is That Wise, Pig? was the favorite, but they liked them all. I really enjoyed it as well, and thought it was a great storytime book. I liked Hooray For Today! for all the participatory elements, so the kids could join in saying "Hooray For Today," identify the animals, predict they would say they were sleepy, and repeat Owl's good-night to each animal. It's maybe not quite as good as Hooray For Hat, after all it's more fun to be grumpy, and there's more feelings to discuss, but it's very close. The Watermelon Seed was funny and nice and short for the younger ones, since three books is pushing it a little.

Just like the previous class, they seemed to really like the "Just Like An Owl" song and loved "hooting", and they had fun with the soup song, suggested all kinds of ingredients and really getting into slurping to taste it.

One thing I find funny, is that they always seem fascinated by my library badge I wear on a lanyard around my neck. There at least a couple that ask about it every time. I told them it's my name tag, and that it tells people I work for the library, so people know I'm not just a stranger wandering around their school.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Full Circle

It was just about this time last year that I was fortunate enough to attend an all-day workshop on early literacy programming given by Saroj Ghoting, the children's librarian who was the primary force behind the "Every Child Ready to Read" (ECRR) initiative, a movement to educate and train youth services personnel on how to plan storytimes using practices rooted in the science of child development (and how to educate caregivers on early literacy practices as well).

At the time I attended the workshop I had been doing a biweekly storytime for about a year, and had recently been promoted to a position doing anywhere from 10-16 outreach storytimes a week. Now, a year and many, many storytimes later, I find myself on the other side, giving the training!

Today my manager and I conducted a training session for a new group of prospective volunteers for the Storytime-To-Go program. This was the first time a training session had been conducted since I joined the program, but I had the Power Point presentation that had been used previously. The feedback from both the current volunteers that had been through it, and the children's librarian that helped conduct it, was that it was too long and detailed, and too much unnecessary theory. So I re-designed the presentation to focus on the day-to-day policies and procedures, and very practical tips on what makes a good storytime book and how to engage the kids in the stories, music, and other activities, which we also demonstrated.

I thought the training session went very well; it was a small group, but everyone showed up and seemed genuinely interested, and most had some kind of related experience. We were also able to cut it down from 6 hours to 2-1/2 hours. Since I will be working with the volunteers, they can still learn "on the job," so to speak (previously, the program had been all volunteer, so they needed more extensive training before being turned loose on their own). I'm optimistic we will get at least a couple of good volunteers, which I really needed, and maybe even 3 or 4, which would be great!

Later this week I'm helping my manager do a session on early literacy and storytime for an "Early Childhood Community Summit" hosted by the local school system. This session will be for a larger group and include much more information on early literacy skills and the practices used to develop them (based mostly on the "Every Child Ready To Read" program) and how they are applied in storytime, along with the practical information about conducting storytimes and book selection.

I'm very fortunate to work in such a collaborative environment where my input is respected and valued, and glad to have opportunities such as this for professional development! 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Apple-Picking Time

It's that time of year! School has begun and fall is the season of field trips and festivals, often starting with a trip to the apple orchard. "Apples" are a traditional theme for the preschool and kindergarten set around here, so I decided to follow tradition again this year with the Storytime-To-Go program. I began each session with an introduction which included discussing the different kinds and colors of apples, things we liked to eat/drink that were make with apples, and showing them the star inside; followed by our letter-of-the-day ("Aa") and our story song.

I used most of the same books as I did before, with the addition of a couple and the elimination of a few that I just didn't think worked that well before. I would really like to find at least a couple more fun stories with apples. See my blog post from last year for a more complete description of each book.

The Books

I Am An Apple by Jean Marzollo & Judith Moffatt; big book, seasons & life cycle, collage
Tap The Magic Tree by Christie Matheson, magic of the seasonal changes, interactive
Ten Apples Up On Top! by Dr. Seuss (as Theo LeSieg) & Roy McKie, counting, silly
All For Pie, Pie For All by David Martin & Valeri Gorbachev, pictures a little dark & busy
The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall & Shari Halpern, seasons, making apple pie
Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins; counting, animals, interactive.
Ned's New Home by Kevin Tsang, cute story with fruit and colors to identify
Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington, apples & apple products, farm to market

Not pictured:

Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray; cute, but kids get bored with alphabet books
Odd Dog by Claudia Bolt, cute story but illustrations are too pastel
Apples by Gail Gibbons; non-fiction, good to show variety of apples, too detailed to read

The Activities 

"Five Little Apples"


I used some of the same activities from last year ("Five Little Apples Hanging In A Tree," 
"A-P-P-L-E," and "I'm A Little Apple"), but added some new activities using the apple-sorting set below by Learning Resources that my manager subsequently purchased (it is also available online from Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart, so depending on your purchasing options, check around online for the best price):

This set contains 27 apples in 3 different colors and 3 different sizes (the smallest is slightly larger than a cherry to give you a sense of scale). Some of them have leaves, some don't; some of them have worms, and some don't. These can be used in a variety of ways, and come with some suggested activities. I would hand one or two to each child, and then ask them to make observations and comparisons between their two apples. Next, I would sort the remaining apples into groups based on either size or color, and then each child would bring their apples up and put them where they thought they belonged. I would encourage them to explain their choice, but some were too shy so I didn't push them.

Another activity I used them for was pattern recognition. I would set up a row of apples in a pattern, and let them tell me what would come next. But I think the most fun activity I used them for was after reading Ten Apples Up On Top, I would give everyone an apple and we would try balancing them on our heads, which was no easy feat. If anyone managed to get their apple to stay, then we would try to hop with them on our heads. 

How It Went
The kids seemed to really enjoy this theme, even though I got a little bored with it. Such specific themes that don't have as many good books work fine for an individual storytime, but it gets a little tedious for the presenter if you are doing it multiple times. The books that the kids seemed to like best were Tap The Magic Tree (though they didn't seem as impressed as last year), Ten Apples Up On Top (which I greatly shortened by skipping pages 38-58), and Ten Red Apples, which one of my volunteers does a great job at getting the kids to participate with, using subtraction to say the next number, naming the animal and it's sound, and saying "Yippee, fiddle-dee-dee" and "Save some for me!".

The younger kids also seem to really like I Am An Apple, which we have as a big book, and I make a big show of how big it is by calling up the smallest child in the class and showing how the book is almost as big as they are! I really like the layers and textures in the collage art illustrations, and the life cycle at the end. Ned's New Home seems to work better with slightly older kids, even though it is a short and simple book. Apple Farmer Annie is one I usually don't use because I think it's a little dull and dry, but there was a little girl in one class named Annie, so I pulled it out and she LOVED that the character shared her name, and the other kids were more interested in it as well.

The Apple Pie Tree is okay, but a little meh, the illustrations in Odd Dog are too pale and too busy, so it doesn't hold their attention as well as it could, and while Apple Pie ABC is cute to me, I have yet to try an alphabet book that kids don't get bored with by the time you're halfway through. I really need a couple more truly engaging and fun apple stories. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments! I think I will give this theme a rest next year; maybe just add a couple of the books and an activity in with the "Fall" theme instead.

The kids all seemed to really like the "Five Little Apples Hanging On a Tree", many recognizing it as being similar to the rhyme about the five little monkeys teasing the alligator, which is a favorite among all the classes, and they had a lot of fun trying to balance the plastic apples on their heads, all agreeing we would never be able to do 2, much less 10! While introducing Tap The Magic Tree, I always explain that I'll need their help for the magic to work, and one little boy calls out, "Abra-cadabra!" I responded that no, that was not the kind of magic we would be doing, then another little boy pipes up with "Apple-cadabra!" I thought that was very clever!

I'll close with my usual apple joke I save for the older kids who will get it:
Q: "What's worse than finding a worm in your apple?"
A: "Finding HALF a worm in your apple!" 
Sometimes it takes them a couple of minutes, and maybe some prompting, to get it, but when they do there are lots of "Ewww"s ;)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Some Great New Picture Books

Some of you may have already seen some of these, but I just had the chance to look at them this week, and was so impressed I wanted pass them along.

Hocus Pocus It's Fall! by Anne Sibly O'Brien and Susan Gal. August 16, 2016. Harry N. Abrams. 24 pages. Ages 3-5.

Just in time for Fall! This book reminds me of Tap The Magic Tree, with the way it portrays all the changes of the season as if by magic and can be highly interactive. Have the audience say the magic words on each page, then open up the page to reveal the transformation. The illustrations are full of rich autumn colors, and have a slightly nostalgic feel.

I was just remembering that I needed something to jazz up my Fall line-up, and this is perfect! I can't wait to use this in my Fall storytimes!

Everyone Loves Cupcake by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Eric Wight. September 6, 2016. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 40 pages. Ages 3-6.

If you loved last years' Everyone Loves Bacon, you'll love this next installment. Cupcake is sweet, beautiful, and has a tiara! No wonder everyone loves her (Coffee loves her "a latte" and Brownie is "nuts about her"). But then Cupcake begins to worry about living up to her image of perfection and starts trying too hard, annoying her friends. In the end, she learns to be comfortable with herself and be who she is.

I loved this book, with all its little jokes and puns, and the Cupcake character (not surprising considering I used to have a cake business and recently gave a cupcake decorating demo). Right after my co-worker showed it to me, I ordered one for my personal collection! The humor might be a little too sophisticated for preschoolers, but kindergartners through third graders will love it.

Is That Wise, Pig? by Jan Thomas. September 13, 2016. Beach Lane Books. 40 pages. Ages 3-8.

Jan Thomas' books are always full of good, silly fun, and her latest one does not disappoint. But this one has the added bonus of counting. Pig and Cow are helping mouse make some delicious soup. Mouse adds one onion, Cow adds two cabbages, and Pig starts to add three...umbrellas!? "Is that wise, Pig?" They continue, with Pig bringing the most unlikely contributions each time, culminating in a chaotic ending and last-minute change in dinner plans.

I love Jan Thomas' books with their simple, silly humor and bright, bold simple illustrations, and most of them have been big storytime hits, as I predict this one will be.

Friday, September 16, 2016

"C" Is For Cookie

I've toyed with the idea of a cookie-themed storytime for a while since I knew of several great books, and who doesn't like cookies, but I was hesitant out of fear that it would be cruel to talk so much about cookies and not give the kids any (allergy concerns as it was at daycare, not with parents). But after several people assured me they had done it without issues, and I came up with the idea of introducing it with the focus on the letter "C" instead of cookies, I decided to give it a try. I also made a rare discovery in the process (more on that at the end).

We started with our welcome song, then I told them we were going to talk about the letter "C" and showed them an uppercase and lowercase "Cc". I had them make a "C"-shape by curling their fingers and thumb, then by drawing in the air with their finger. We talked about the two sounds the letter "C" makes, the "s" sound as in "circle" and the "k" sound, like in "Colby" and "Carlton" (we actually used two names of kids in the class). Then I showed them examples of other "C" words, ending with "C is for Cookie".

"Hey, I know a song like that, and I bet you do, too! It's sung by my favorite monster, Cookie Monster!"

"C" Is For Cookie

"C" is for cookie, that's good enough for me.
"C" is for cookie, that's good enough for me.
"C" is for cookie, that's good enough for me,
Oh, cookie, cookie, cookie starts with "C"!
[followed by munching of many pretend cookies]

I didn't show them the video, but just in case you're not familiar with the song or *gasp* the character, here it is:

We followed that with our "story song" and then read our first book, Who Ate All The Cookie Dough? by Karen Beaumont and Eugene Yelchin (uncle of the late actor Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the latest Star Trek re-boot). I have to say, I love this book; it's the one that originally gave me the idea for a cookie theme the first time I read it. Mama Kangaroo made some cookie dough, but when she was ready to bake cookies, it was all gone! 

She goes around asking all the other animals if they know who ate it, but the culprit turns out to be closer to home. I like that this book is relatively short and simple, and has a nice rhythm with lots of repetition to encourage the audience to join in. This is a great book for the older toddler-younger preschooler crowd. Plus, I can definitely relate to eating cookie dough ;)

After that, we pretended to make cookies, using an action rhyme I originally found at Sunflower Storytime, but this time I modified it a little bit. I start by telling the kids we are going to pretend to make cookies, so to get out their bowls (hold arm out as if holding a big bowl) and first add butter, then sugar, and then crack two eggs and add them, but to be very careful not get the shells in! Then we proceed with the poem, continuing to act it out.

Making Cookies

          We are making cookie dough.          (hold out arms like a bowl)
          Round and round the beaters go.     
(move hand around bowl, twirling finger)
          Add some flour; just 2 cups.            
(dump in 2 cups)
          Stir and stir the batter up.               
(stirring motion)
          Roll them, cut them nice and neat.  
(rolling pin motion)
          Put them on a cookie sheet.           
(place pretend cookies)
          Bake them, cool them on a rack,     
(pretend to place on rack, blow)
          Serve them to my friends for snack!    
(pretend to hand out & eat)

At the end, we compared what kind of cookies we each made, were they chocolate chip, sugar cookies, gingerbread men, oatmeal, peanut butter, etc.

The next book was Keisha Cane and Her Very Sweet Tooth by Ashley Foxx and April Foxx. Keisha Cane's love of sweets often gets her into trouble. One night, she sneaks out of bed and tries to steal some cookies out of the cookie jar, but accidentally breaks it! Knowing she will be in trouble, she tries to clean up the mess, but in the process makes one mess after the other!

I just happened to find this in our catalog when I searched for juvenile fiction with the subject of "cookie". It turned out to be a great book with humor and drama, lovely cut-paper collage illustrations, and entertaining but with a good message. Plus it featured a character of color, which was a great bonus. I also loved the way the author had Keisha's mother call her by just her first name when she found the first mess, first and last name when she found the second mess, and all three names when she found the last mess! Unfortunately this was the only copy in our whole system, and was coming apart. 

Upon looking to buy a replacement, I discovered it was a unicorn! That rare, self-published book that was good, and had met the criteria to be included in the collection; all the others I've seen have been pretty bad. It was great to see a good self-published book, but sad that there are no more copies available for purchase anywhere. It was written by a Memphis kindergarten teacher who was frustrated at not being able to find many good books for her students with characters that looked like them. I hope this author finds a publisher and re-releases this book in hardback, and continues to write more.

After we read the last book, we sang our closing song and passed out stickers. [I had also brought If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff and The Duckling Gets A Cookie!? by Mo Willems, but decided two books was enough for today since the second was on the longer side.]

How It Went
Despite my initial qualms, this storytime went really well, and no one was disappointed I didn't have cookies for them; in fact, no one even asked! I think introducing the theme as being the letter "Cc" helped, and we made a big show of eating pretend cookies at the end of both the song and the action rhyme, both of which they really enjoyed.

Both books worked very well. As I expected, Who Ate All The Cookie Dough? was perfect for them. With it's short length and simple rhyming and repeating text, they couldn't help but start saying it along with me, and they liked seeing all the different animals. Most of them thought the monkey ate it, but I think one observant child noticed the joey's ears peeking out above Mama Kangaroo's apron. This is a must-have for a storytime collection.

Keisha Cane had just a little too much text on a few pages for some of them, but overall they really seemed to like this book, and recognized Keisha was just digging herself deeper and deeper in trouble. When she first reached into the cookie jar, once little boy said dramatically, "She's gonna get a whoopin'!" Some of them could hardly stand the suspense, knowing Keisha was eventually going to get caught, and all adults chuckled when Keisha's name got progressively longer each time her mother yelled it. We all know you're in BIG trouble when your mother uses all three of your names! 

I think the kids were relieved to see Keisha did NOT, in fact, get a "whoopin'," but rather her mother talked to her and helped her to see that it just made things worse to try to fix your mistakes by yourself, and that they still loved her even if she made mistakes, and even when they got mad at her. I think this is a good message for kids to hear. I am so disappointed to find I can't buy a hardback copy of Keisha Cane for myself, or to replace the paperback copy we have that is falling apart.

Friday, September 9, 2016

In The Jungle

We concluded our 2-week rotation of "Jungle"-themed storytimes with the Storytime-To-Go program this week. Like most animal themes, this one was well-received and had some great books and fun activities. I saw an average of 4-5 groups each day for a 20-30 minute storytime per group. Each storytime started with an introduction, the letter-of-the-day (Jj), and our "story song", followed by 2-3 book and 1-3 activities.

The Books 

(Click on picture for full-size image)

Tall by Jez Alborough, very little text, shows how "small" and "tall" are relative terms
Hide And Seek in the Jungle by Sean Callery, lift-a-flap with clues, mothers & babies
Tiny Little Fly by Michael Rosen & Kevin Waldrow, interactive, repetition
Do Crocs Kiss? by Salina Yoon, lift-a-flap, animal sounds, rhyming text
Count The Monkeys by Mac Barnett & Kevin Cornell, highly interactive, silly, very fun!
Splash! by Flora McDonnell, very short and simple, good for the younger kids
Five Little Monkey Reading In Bed by Eileen Christelow, little longer, but fun
Wild Child by Steven Salerno, adults will appreciate most, lots of sounds & actions
Just The Thing by Damian Harvey & Lynne Chapman, cute and funny, little long
What To Do If an Elephant Stands On Your Foot by Michelle Robinson & Peter Reynolds
Giant Pop-Out Safari! by Chronicle Books, short & simple, good for younger kids
If You're Happy And You Know It - Jungle Edition by James Warhola, to be sung

And I completely forgot to include my favorite book in the photo above because it wasn't with the others, It's A Tiger! by David LaRochelle & Jeremy Tankard. This is a great storytime book because it can be very interactive and include lots of movement in acting out the story: running, stooping down, climbing, swinging, jumping, and swimming.

I always tell the kids, "You know how when we have stories I ask you to sit criss-cross applesauce and put your hands in your lap? Well, guess what! Our next story is NOT a sit-down-and-be-still story, it's a stand-up-and-move story!"

The Activities

There were a couple of other songs and rhymes I tried, but didn't really seem to go over that well, so I'm just going to include the ones the kids really liked and I used repeatedly, which were the two different "Five Little Monkeys" rhymes, and a song that allowed them to make animal sounds.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed

Five little monkeys, jumping on the bed.
(hold up 5 fingers, move hand up & down)
One fell off and bumped his head.
(Put hand to head)

Mama called the doctor, and the doctor said,
(hold hand to mouth & ear like phone)
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"
(point and wag finger at audience)

Four little monkeys....[continue down to zero]


Five Little Monkeys Swinging In A Tree

Five little monkeys, swinging in a tree;
(Hold up 5 fingers, swing hand from side to side)
Teasing Mr. Crocodile, "Can't catch me!"
(Waggle hands, use sing-song voice)

Along came Mr. Crocodile, as quiet as can be,
(move hands together slowly)
And SNAPPED! that monkey right out of the tree!
(clap hand loudly)

Four little monkeys....[continue down to zero]

No little monkeys sitting in the tree,
(shake head, make zero with hand)
Just Mr. Crocodile, as happy as can be!
(big smile, rub belly)

I had a storytelling glove and velcro monkeys and crocodile I used sometimes, but sometimes I just did the hand motions so I could do the big clap at the end.


I Went To The Jungle One Day

I went to the jungle one day, 
Jungle one day, jungle one day.
Saw a  lion  on the way, 
And this is what he said: "Roar, Roar!"

Fill in the blanks with appropriate animals and sounds (or say "did" instead of "said" to incorporate actions). Suggestions are: monkey - "Ooo, ooo; eee eee", elephant - trumpet, crocodile - snap, snap, gorilla - beat chest, tiger - "Growl, growl", etc. I used the photos above to hold up so they would know what animal to say for each verse.

How It Went
The kids really enjoyed this theme. The books *I* enjoyed doing the most were Count The Monkeys and It's A Tiger!. They seemed to work well with all ages, and we all had a lot of fun with them. When I was giving my spiel about It's A Tiger! being a stand-up-and-move-around kind of a book, not a sit-criss-cross-applesauce-and-be-still kind of a book, this one boy started smiling. I asked him if that sounded good to him, and he smiled even bigger and nodded enthusiastically. This is a must-have book for any storytime collection, in my opinion.

What To Do If An Elephant Stands On Your Foot worked well with the groups that were a little older or more sophisticated who could follow the humor. The other kids still seemed to like it, but they didn't really get it or fully appreciate it. I further demonstrated the relativity of small and tall after reading Tall by first having two kids stand, and asking the group if the taller child was tall or small. Of course they all said "tall". Then I stood up and asked, "What about now?" and they all giggled. Wild Child is probably most appreciated by adults, or older kids with a colicky younger sibling at home.

They all loved doing both "Five Little Monkey" rhymes and already knew them, so I had great participation, and of course they never get tired of making animal sounds, especially roaring! I have learned to leave the roaring to the kids; after multiple storytimes roaring will destroy your voice! Same for the hard clapping, after a while, it starts to hurt.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Monkey Business!

I've been doing a "Jungle" theme on the Storytime Bus this week, and one of the books I've really enjoyed using is Mac Barnett's Count The Monkeys, so I decided to build my regular Friday storytime around it, with a "Monkey" theme, especially since most of the kids seem to know and really enjoy doing the "Five Little Monkeys" rhymes.

I started with our welcome song, then introduced myself since this was only the first or second time most of the class has had me for storytime. Then to introduce the topic we did the "Five Little Monkeys Jumping In Bed":

Five little monkeys, jumping in bed.
One fell off and bumped his (her) head.
Mama called the doctor, and the doctor said,
"No more monkeys jumping in bed!"

[Repeat, counting down to zero. Hold up fingers for the number of monkeys, put hand to head for the bump, and use hand to imitate talking on the phone, wag finger when the doctor says no more jumping on the bed]

We talked a bit about why you shouldn't jump on the bed, and then sang our story song to help us get settled for our first book.

Kiki's Blankie by Janie Bynum is a cute story about a little monkey who is very attached to her blankie, which most kids can relate to because they remember having a blankie or stuffed animal they were attached to (or still are). Kiki takes her blankie everywhere, and uses it as a napkin, a bandana, a superhero cape, and more. But then one day the wind blows it away, and she must rescue it from a scary crocodile! Will she ever get it back?

Since Kiki had to climb the coconut tree to rescue her blankie, I decided to transition into singing a song about a monkey climbing a coconut tree.

Itsy Bitsy Monkey
(to the tune of "Itsy Bitsy Spider")

Itsy, bitsy monkey climbed up the coconut tree.
(pretend to climb)
Down came a coconut and bopped her on the knee.
(hold fist up, then bring down & hit knee)

Out came her mommy and kissed away the pain,
(hug self, bend down and make kiss sound)
And the itsy, bitsy monkey climbed up the tree again!
(pretend to climb)
*Source: Library Village

Next we read the book that was the inspiration for today's theme, Count The Monkeys by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell. This book is so much fun to do in storytime! It has everything: animals, counting, unexpected twists, silliness, and a surprise ending. 

We start out to count the monkeys, only to find a king cobra has chased them all away. Luckily, two mongooses (or is it mongeese??) chase him off. But then three crocodiles show up! It's one thing after another, and we fear we are never going to see those monkeys! The story prompts a lot of interaction with the audience; it reminds me a lot of Tap The Magic Tree, only sillier and with counting!

Since we had crocodiles in both of our stories, it only made sense to do a rhyme with monkeys and a crocodile (this one is more often said as an alligator, but I use either alligator or crocodile, depending on what goes best with our stories).

Five Little Monkeys Swinging In A Tree

Five little monkeys swinging in a tree,
(hold up 5 fingers, swing hand back and forth)
Teasing Mr. Crocodile, "Can't catch me!"
(move hands & head in teasing gestures, use sing-song voice)

Along comes Mr. Crocodile, as quiet as can be,
(move hands together)
And SNAPS! that monkey right out of that tree!
(Clap hand together loudly like jaws snapping)

[Continue counting down to zero monkeys]

No little monkeys swinging in a tree,
(shake head sadly)
Just Mr. Crocodile as happy as can be!
(Grin and rub belly)

For our last story I read one I've used before in a "Shark Week" storytime, The Monkey Goes Bananas by C. P. Bloom and Peter Raymundo. This book tells the story of a monkey stuck on one island, who spies a banana tree on another island. Sadly, the waters in between are patrolled by a fierce shark. Will he ever get the delicious bunch of bananas?

This story is simply told with only one or two words on each spread, relying on the narrator's expression and the illustrations to tell the tale of the best laid plans going awry, and narrow escapes. In the end, the audience will be surprised by who ends up with the banana.

I had thought about doing the "Go Bananas" chant before we closed, but the group was already getting a bit wound up, so I decided against it, and just went ahead and concluded with our closing song and stickers. This week I had extra special scratch-'n-sniff stickers! And no, they did not smell like monkeys, but like bananas, and the kids were very amazed.

How It Went 
While they were not the perfect little angels that they were last time (which I expected), they were still pretty good, especially considering most of them have only just turned 3, only their second storytime with me, and it was a larger group today (16 compared to 12 last time). There was some wiggling, talking, and getting up, but overall I still think they were very engaged most of the time. 

They seemed to like all of the books and songs/rhymes we did, and since most (if not all) knew both "Five Little Monkeys" rhymes, I had excellent participation, both with saying the words and doing the motions. They laughed at Kiki's falling asleep on top of the washer and dryer while waiting for her blankie to get dry, loved the silliness and the inter-activeness of Count The Monkeys, and the drama of The Monkey Goes Bananas. They LOVED telling me they saw the monkeys in the end-papers of Count The Monkeys, after we had given up on ever seeing them.

I got quite a few hugs at the end, and one boy in particular said he had to give me a BIG hug. This is my third school year coming to this classroom (where I got my start doing storytime), and they always remind me of how much I love my job!

And, of course I can't talk about monkeys and not include this video: