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Friday, February 23, 2018

Cabin-Fever & Storytime - Not a Good Combo!



As you might have guessed from the title, today's storytime did not go so well. But that's okay, it happens, and is often not under our control. It started off great, with kids running up to hug me, and one boy saying "I love you, Miss Jennifer!" 💗, but kinda went downhill from there.

It has rained here almost every day for the last two weeks it seems (though we did get ONE glorious day of sunny, 79-degree weather Tuesday), plus it is still February, and everyone is sick of it. The kids have not been able to go outside at all because even when it's not raining the ground is either too muddy or covered with standing water. So I knew they would likely have tons of excess energy, and I tried to plan accordingly, with a slightly shorter session, movement, and what I thought would be very engaging books and activities.

When I got there, they weren't quite ready as they had apparently forgotten it was my day to come (our schedule has been so disrupted the last 3 months by holidays and illness, it was totally understandable!), but quickly got the kids settled on the rug. We started with our welcome song, and I tried to give an introduction to today's storytime, but I could tell I was losing them, so went right on to our story song, adding a couple of extra verses, hoping to settle them down.

Music & Movement StorytimeFor our first book I chose I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison & Frank Morrison. It features an African-American girl walking through the neighborhood, presumably with her mother, sensing the rhythms around her. I love the illustrations and that the audience can join the main character in sniffing, clapping, stomping, etc. I thought it would be highly engaging and they would enjoy it, but to my surprise, it really fell flat. They just weren't interested or couldn't focus, and did not participate consistently.

I followed that by back-to-back movement activities that I thought they would enjoy and would help burn off some energy. The first has been around so long I have no idea where I first heard it or who to attribute it to.


"Knickerbocker, Knickerbocker"

Knickerbocker, Knickerbocker, number nine;
I've got the rhythm and I'm feelin' fine.

I've got the rhythm of the head (ding, dong).
Now you've got the rhythm of the head (ding, dong).

I've got the rhythm of the hands (clap, clap).
Now you've got the rhythm of the hands (clap, clap).

I've got the rhythm of the feet (stomp, stomp).
Now you've got the rhythm of the feet (stomp, stomp).

I've got the rhythm of the hips (shake, shake).
Now you've got the rhythm of the hips (shake, shake).

I've got the rhythm of the fingers (snap, snap).
Now you've got the rhythm of the fingers (snap, snap).

I've got the rhythm of the eyes (roll, roll).
Now you've got the rhythm of the eyes (roll, roll).

Knickerbocker, knickerbocker, now let's put them all together:
(Ding-dong, clap-clap, stomp-stomp, shake-shake, snap-snap, roll-roll.)

There are many variations to this out there; a good indication of just how long it's been around! For the next one, I chose something similar that's also been around for a long time, a song that incorporates various movements into a "dance". I don't know where it came from originally, but I know it from appearing multiple times on Sesame Street. There are at least 4-5 Sesame Street versions of it on YouTube, but this one is believed to be the first, dating back to about 1974 by David:


A Very Simple Dance

Come on and do a dance with me; it's just a little step or two.
I'll teach you how; we'll start right now! 
It's a very simple dance to do.
First you clap your hands, (clap, clap, clap).
Then you stomp your feet, (stomp, stomp, stomp).
It's a very simple dance to do.

Wait, I forgot to tell you, there's another little step or two.
Now you turn around (turn), and you touch your toes (touch).
It's a very simple dance to do.
Put them together now:
Clap your hands, (clap, clap, clap), then stomp your feet (stomp, stomp, stomp);
Turn around (turn), and touch your toes (touch).
It's a very simple dance to do.

Wait, I forgot to tell you, there's another little step or two.
Now you pull your ears (ouch, ouch, ouch), and you flap your arms (flap, flap, flap).
It's a very simple dance to do.
Put them together now:
Clap your hands, (clap, clap, clap), then stomp your feet (stomp, stomp, stomp);
Turn around (turn), and touch your toes (touch).
Pull your ears (ouch, ouch, ouch), and you flap your arms (flap, flap, flap).
It's a very simple dance to do.

Wait, I forgot to tell you, there's another little step or two.
Stretch real high (stretch), then all fall down (carefully fall to floor).
It's a very simple dance to do.
Put them together now:

Clap your hands, (clap, clap, clap), then stomp your feet (stomp, stomp, stomp);
Turn around (turn), and touch your toes (touch).
Pull your ears (ouch, ouch, ouch), and you flap your arms (flap, flap, flap);
Stretch real high (stretch), then all fall down (carefully fall to floor).
It's a very simple dance to do.

[Repeat the last part as many times as desired, getting faster each time:]

They did like this one, though I didn't do as many repetitions as I'd have liked because there was so little space I was afraid someone would get hurt.

Souds, city life storytime
After that, they were *a little* more ready to settle down and listen to the second and final book, Noisy Night by Mac Barnett & Brian Biggs. Some were afraid it was going to be scary because of the dark cover, and I explained that no, it's just dark because it's night time. I set the scene, describing living in an apartment building (which I'm sure some of them do) and that we were going to guess what all the noises were that people heard from their neighbors. The clues give too much away for older kids, but it's perfect for 2-3 year olds, maybe younger 4's, and they really liked this one. At the end, one of the kids had the idea that we should count all the floors, then all the windows, in the apartment building, so we did. 

After that, we did our closing song and passed out stickers.

Thoughts On How It Went

It was definitely a rough start, but the latter part went better. Although the first book didn't work very well, I really don't fault the book; it was just a matter of the wrong book at the wrong time, I think. I will try it again with a different group soon and see how it does.

I won't deny I was slightly frustrated in the beginning, especially when I thought I had taken circumstances into consideration and planned an engaging storytime that would work for kids with cabin-fever. But, sometimes things just don't go as well as we'd hoped, and that's ok. I tried some of the tips and tricks I described in my "Sometimes It's Just a Hokey-Pokey Day" and did finally manage to corral them enough to finish.

I will definitely be using the "Very Simple Dance" again, now that I've remembered it. I'm feeling very nostalgic for the classic Sesame Street days, back when Mr. Hooper was still alive, Mr. Snuffleupagus was still invisible, and it was still mostly real people and real puppets, not all the CGI crap they've ruined it with now. And to show my age, can anyone else remember when Maria and David were a couple?? Sesame Street was ahead of it's time!

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