Friday, March 9, 2018

Suspenseful Storytime

Today's storytime didn't really have so much of a theme as a mood. The class I visited today really needs highly engaging books to keep their attention, with lots of interaction, drama, and/or humor. I LOVE reading very dramatic books, so I decided to go with that since I really needed a fun day after the last couple of weeks!

picture book with suspense, drama, surprise endingWe started with our welcome and story songs, and then I read one of my current favorite books from one of my favorite storytime authors, The Doghouse by Jan Thomas. This books is SO much fun to read out loud to a group! Cow, Pig, Duck, and Mouse are playing kickball, when the ball rolls into...the doghouse (cue thunder and ominous music). One by one the animals go in to retrieve it, but they don't come out! 

I love building up the drama and suspense as each animal disappears, and hearing the audible gasps when Dog says Duck can't come out because he's "...having Duck for dinner!" But of course, when we peak inside the doghouse we see all is well and that Dog is just having a everyone over for a dinner party. I also take this is an opportunity to talk about how some dogs may look scary, but most of the time they are friendly (though you should always have your parent's and the owner's permission to pet them).

After that we pretended to be doggies with this cute action rhyme. I don't remember where I first saw the first verse, but I wrote the second verse myself:

Some Dogs

Some dogs bark, (bark)
Some dogs growl. (growl)
Some dogs yip, (yip)
Some dogs howl. (howl)

Some dogs beg, (beg & whimper)
Some dogs play catch. (pretend to catch frisbee)
Some dogs sit, (sit down)
And some dogs scratch (scratch behind ear)

But all dogs wag their tails! (wag tail)

After that we sang a quick verse of "B-I-N-G-O":

There was a farmer who had a dog,
And "Bingo" was his name-oh.
B - I - N - G - O,
B - I - N - G - O,
B - I - N - G - O,
And "Bingo" was his name-oh!

Alligator story, books with suspense, surprise ending, Snip Snap!
I had originally wanted to do Wolf's Coming by Joe Kulka for our second book, but, alas, our copy has been lost 😭 So I chose another book I had not gotten around to using before, Snip Snap! What's That? by Mara Bergman & Nick Maland, which is clearly inspired by the rumors of alligators living in the sewer systems from being kept as illegal pets. As the story opens, we see an open manhole cover, then the alligator slinking up the stairs of an apartment building, getting closer, and closer! This is another book that is fun to read very dramatically. Just when you think the children are doomed, they turn the tables on the wayward alligator.

Of course we had to follow that with everyone's favorite rhyme about monkeys and an alligator:

"Five Little Monkeys"

Five little monkeys, swinging in a tree.
(hold up 5 fingers, move back and forth)

Teasin' Mr. Alligator, "You can't catch me!"
(waggle hands, shake head)

Along comes Mr. Alligator, quiet as can be,
(whisper, move hands like alligator)

And SNAPPED that monkey right outta that tree!
(move arms like jaws and clap loudly)

[Repeat, counting down to zero]

They love the suspense, knowing the alligator is going to snap! After that, I introduced another rhyme about an alligator that also has a dramatic part that one of my former volunteers taught me:

"There Once Was An Alligator"

There once was an alligator, laying on a log.
(lay one arm on top of other)

Down in the water, he saw a yummy frog.
(make alligator's head look down)

DOWN dived the alligator!
(say "down" loudly and quickly dive down)

Around spun the log!
(roll arms)

SPLASH! went the water!
(fling arms out)

And away swam the frog!
(make swimming motions)

They liked that one so much, and since it was new, we did it twice. Then we sang our closing song and passed out stickers.

How It Went
I had a lot of fun with this storytime, and the kids really seemed to enjoy it, too. They liked both books, but they really LOVED The Doghouse with it's simplicity of text, bold graphics, and almost unbearable suspense. I never get tired of hearing them gasp when they think Dog is eating everyone. Jan Thomas books are great for storytime (and I'm really not happy that her publisher is changing them to the smaller early reader format that doesn't work as well for groups).

The loved the song and rhymes, with a good mix of new a familiar. They were so cute wagging their little tails like puppy dogs, and shrinking in suspense, knowing Mr. Alligator's jaws were about to SNAP!

I'm glad we had such a good day, as this class is particularly challenging. This is the 4th year I've been coming to this same classroom, and this group has definitely been the most difficult to get, and keep, engaged. They are sweet kids and are always glad to see me, but have trouble sitting reasonably still and listening, and require the most highly engaging books to keep their attention, and I'm running out of ideas!

If you've seen any really good, super engaging new books in the last year or so, let me know in the comments! They like things that are very dramatic, or very silly, and highly interactive. But, they are only 3, so not much text, and simple, bold illustrations.

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