I haven't seen anything inspiring lately, so today I ended up recycling a theme I've done before (owls), but found a couple of different books to use. I also ended up having another library employee accompany me as part of a job shadow.
We started with our welcome song, then I told them I was going to give them clues and see if they could guess our theme. I first told them our stories were about an animal that sleeps during the day and is awake at night. I fully expected to have to give them an additional clue, and just as I was about to after several incorrect guesses one little girl got it. We then talked about how owls are nocturnal, and they have such big eyes to help them see at night.
We sang our story song, incorporating flapping our wings and saying "Whoo-whoo", then read our first book, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson.
This classic is one of my favorites. The baby owls are adorable as they wait for their mother to return, become more concerned the longer they wait, and little Bill wailing "I want my mommy!" over and over. Children can easily relate to missing their parents, and being excited to see them again.
Then we got to pretend to be owls with a song:
"Be 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.
For our second book I chose one of Jonathan Allen's Baby Owl series, I'm Not Cute! This is a very cute series that is both funny and sweet. In this story, Baby Owl wants to be seen as the strong, fierce hunter he will be someday, and gets upset when everyone keeps saying how cute he is instead, saying "I'm not cute!" over and over.
But when Mama Owl agrees with him, he gets upset because he now wants to be cute, and Mama knows he just needs a nap. This is a good opportunity to talk about how being tired can make us cranky and more prone to tantrums, and that's why sometimes we just need to go to bed.
I followed that with a pair of "Five Little Owls" rhymes, first counting up and then counting back down, using a different hand each time.
"Five Little Owls"
One little owl when the moon was new,
Along came another owl, and that made two.
Two little owls perched high in the tree,
Along came another owl, and that made three.
Three little owls flew to the barn door,
Along came another owl, and that made four.
Four little owls lined up side by side,
Along came another owl and that made five.
*Five little owls hooted "Whoo, whoo, whoo,"
Then they flapped their wings and away they flew.*
Source: North Mankato Library
(*I skip this last verse when I'm combining the two rhymes*)
Five little owls on a dark, dark night,
Five little owls are quite a sight.*
Five little owls! Are you keeping score?
One flies away, and that leaves four.
Four little owls, as happy as can be.
One flew away, and that leaves three.
Three little owls calling, "Who, who, who."
One flies away, and that leaves two.
Two little owls, having lots of fun.
One flew away, and that leaves one.
One little owl, and we're almost done.
She flies away, and that leaves none!
Source: Upper Hudson Library System
I pause at the end of each verse and let the audience fill in the number. If I hear several wrong answers, then we will stop and count them before moving on.
For at last book I found one that is a little funny and a little dramatic, Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien. Hoot Owl is hungry and on the prowl when he spies a rabbit. Being a master of disguise, he dons a carrot costume to try to lure the rabbit closer. When that fails, he then tries to get a lamb, followed by a pigeon.
Despite his prowess, he is unable to catch any of them. Then, finally, he finds a unexpected target that can't run away. Kids will like name the disguises and predicting whether Hoot Owl will be successful or not, and the striking illustrations help keep their attention.
We finished up with our closing song and handed out owl stickers, having the kids identify the colors of their respective owls.
How It Went
The kids seemed to like all the books, but were most attentive with Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise, perhaps because of the slightly dramatic tone or maybe they had just finally settled down. The loved pretending to be owls with the song, but some got distracted during the counting rhymes.
Their reactions to our guest observer were funny and unexpected. I thought they would get excited, and mob her asking her name and such, but instead they just stared at her, some seemingly with suspicion. I'm really not sure why, other than the fact I've never brought anyone else before.