Friday, September 15, 2017

Preschool Storytime - Sometimes You Need a Cheat Day

While I usually (but not always) plan my storytimes around themes, this week I just wasn't feeling it. I was in the mood to do something totally new; first I looked into a couple of new themed ideas that didn't pan out, and then I looked through all the books on our new shelf, and still was uninspired. So I cheated! I pulled up Jbary's list of "2016 Favourite Storytime Picture Books" and looked for titles I had not used (or even seen before) that sounded good.

But, hey, isn't that why we blog, so others can benefit from our knowledge and experience? Though I still feel a bit like I'm cheating and should come up with an original storytime every time, I know in my head that isn't realistic. It's okay to use other people's ideas as inspiration, or even copy a whole storytime plan in a pinch (as long as you give credit). We are only human and shouldn't feel like we have to re-invent the wheel every single time, or constantly go bigger and better.

We started off with our welcome song, and they all had to share something with me today, then we moved on to our story song. The first book I chose was Still A Gorilla! by Kim Norman and Chad Geran, about a young gorilla who lives at the zoo, and thinks he might like to be a different animal, so he tries to become different animals by imitating their behavior and appearance. But, no matter what he does, he finds he is "still a gorilla". 

This is great for the younger ones as it is short and simple, and the kids can try to act like other animals along with Willy, and join in saying "still a gorilla" over and over. The pictures are big and bright, without too much detail.

After we finished the story, we talked about how you can't really change into another animal, but you can pretend to be something else, and several said which animal they would like to be, which segued perfectly into singing a song that would allow us to pretend to be different animals, starting with a gorilla, then doing the other animals that Willy pretended to be and a couple of additional ones.

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

The gorilla at the zoo goes (beat on chest),
(beat on chest), (beat on chest).
The gorilla at the zoo goes (beat on chest), 
All day long.

The lion at the zoo goes roar, roar, roar.....

The walrus at the zoo goes (hold finger up to mouth like tusk & bob head)....

The goats at the zoo go butt their heads....

The alligators at the zoo go chomp, chomp, chomp...

The kangaroo at the zoo goes hop, hop, hop....

The bear at the zoo goes growl, growl, growl...

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

I ended with a penguin to lead into our next story, Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer, which stars a grumpy penguin. Penguin was in a very bad mood, though he didn't know why, and nothing seems to help until he gets home and finally gets in a nice cool bath, has hot chocolate, reads his favorite book, and gets into bed with his favorite pajamas and teddy. This book has short and simple text with simple illustrations, and kids can act out some of Penguin's actions. 

This book gives a nice opportunity to talk about how sometimes we might just be in a bad mood for no reason, and that we might just need a little quiet time to ourselves with our favorite things to help us calm down and relax, or maybe a nap since being tired can make you grumpy, too. Since we were talking about feelings, it was only natural to follow this story with "If You're Happy & You Know It":

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're happy and you know it, then your smile will surely show it.
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you're grumpy and you know it, give a frown.....face....

If you're angry and you know it, stomp your feet....face....

If you're sad and you know it, say "boo hoo"....frown....

If you're happy and you know it, give a smile....face....

After ending back at "happy", it was time to end with our closing song and stickers.

How It Went
This storytime went really well and had just the right amount of interactive and movement elements to keep the kids really engaged, without getting them too wound up (which can be a difficult balance to achieve!). The kids really enjoyed both books and the songs.

There were lots of giggles and comments of "he's so silly" or "that's silly" during Still A Gorilla, which they found thoroughly entertaining and enjoyed pretending along with Willy and saying "still a gorilla" over and over. They also giggled at the title of Grumpy Pants, and of course more giggles at the mention of taking off his grumpy underpants and being naked, though I reminded them that penguins don't really wear clothes anyway! They also appreciated me acting out the stomping, kicking off of boots, and angrily pulling off socks and flinging them over my shoulder. And of course, any songs or rhymes that allow them to act out animal sounds and movements are always a hit.

So I had a great storytime that I didn't have to stress about planning, and discovered two great storytime books I haven't used before. Thanks, Jbrary! We are so lucky to have such an amazing array of resources at our fingertips! I can't imagine how much harder youth programming was to plan before the internet! (While I must admit to being old enough to know pre-internet days, that was long before my second career in libraries began.)

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