Sunday, December 16, 2018

Cookies - Family Storytime

My current library serves a very diverse population, so we do not do holiday themes at all for regular weekly storytimes (though we do some separate holiday special programs), but I still wanted to do something seasonal, or holiday-adjacent. I like to wait and do snow-related themes in January/February and I'm tired of doing hibernation, so I decided on "Cookies", since everybody likes cookies and they are often a part of holiday and other celebrations.

We started with our welcome song and then I introduced the topic, which elicited lots of smiles. We talked about our favorite cookies, making cookies, and then sang Cookie Monster's song:

"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 the munching of many cookies]

Then we sang our story song, adding a "say yum-yum!" verse, and read our first story, The Best Mouse Cookie by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond. The kids recognized the mouse right away from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

I like this book because (1) it's a little shorter and works well for less attentive audiences, (2) they likely haven't heard it before, and (3) it shows Mouse baking cookies, which gives lots of opportunities for interaction with questions and motions, as well as deductive reasoning by observing smoke coming out of Mouse's house and predicting that he burned the cookies. It also shows that sometimes things get messed up and you have to start over but that's okay and sharing with friends.

After that we did an action rhyme and pretended to make cookies.

"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, I asked if anyone burned their cookies; then we compared what kind of cookies we each made, were they chocolate chip, sugar cookies, gingerbread men, oatmeal, peanut butter, etc.

Our next story was The Gingerbread Man, but I chose to tell it with a flannel board instead of reading a book, because I've never been able to find a version I liked for the younger kids. Most are too long and text-heavy, and while Harriet Ziefert's version is short and simple enough, the book is too small and illustrations dull. All the pieces are pictured below; for more details on how I made it, see my previous Flannel Friday post.

The Gingerbread Man flannel, The GIngerbread Man felt, Gingerbread boy

After that we read our final story, The Duckling Gets a Cookie by Mo Willems. Of course everyone recognized the Pigeon, and we discussed how sometimes Pigeon is naughty and how sometimes he can be really impatient and forget his manners. 

In this story, Pigeon is upset because the Duckling gets a cookie just by asking (politely), but he never gets what he asks for. In the end he gets a pleasant surprise. This book is a fun lesson in asking politely, saying thank you, and sharing.

I followed that with a cookie countdown rhyme I found at "Everything Preschool" and modified slightly, accompanied by pieces from another felt set I made that will be featured in my next "Flannel Friday" feature.

Cookie felt pieces, cookie rhyme

"Five Little Cookies"

Five little cookies, with frosting galore!
Daddy ate the red one, and then there were four.

Four little cookies, two plus two you see.
Mommy at the green one, and then there were three.

Three little cookies, and before I knew,
Brother ate the white one, and then there were two.

Two little cookies; oh, what fun!
Sister ate the brown one, and then there was one.

One little cookie, yum-yum-yum!
*I* ate the last one, and then there were none.

We also discussed the shapes found in the cookies, and you could just make them simple geometric shapes as well. I made two different ones for brown, since I couldn't decide which I was going to use. (I like options).

We ended with a closing song, and then moved to the optional craft that was extra-special today.

Gingerbread man cookie decorating, gingerbread boy cookie decoratingOur craft was decorating gingerbread man cookies! I kept it very simple, partly due to the younger ages I usually get, and partly because we have to do it in a carpeted space and I didn't want our custodian to hate me.

I used Pepperidge Farm Gingermen cookies because that is literally all we could find. They worked fine, I just would have rather had some slightly bigger and without the sugar on top. They are a good choice for the younger kids because the flavor is a little milder and they are crisp, but not hard.

I gave each child two cookies on a paper plate and about 2 tablespoons of vanilla icing (from a can) in a snack-sized zip-lock bag with just the very tip of the corner snipped off. I also had additional bags of green and red icing if they wanted to add colored accents. Then I demonstrated how to squeeze the icing out to decorate the cookie, and told them to decorate theirs however they liked.

The kids all really seemed to enjoy it, and were proud of their finished cookies, but of course eating them was the best part! I did tell them they could eat them when they were done IF their grown-up said it was okay, but to listen to their gown-up if they wanted them to save for after lunch (our storytime is at 11:00, and it's usually close to noon by the time they finish the craft/activity).

How It Went
This was a really fun storytime, and it had the holiday feel for those who wanted it, but was still neutral and included everyone. The theme also really got the kids attention and I had much more enthusiastic participation all around than I sometimes get; even the shy kids would say what kind of cookie they liked.

I think having stories that had characters they were familiar with, but hadn't necessarily heard the story before helped get them engaged, too. I've made felt sets before, but this was the first time I'd used one to tell a story as opposed to using with a rhyme or song, and I really need to start doing that more. It's a great way to adapt a story to a younger age group and shorter time frame/attention span. This was one of my more detailed sets and I was really pleased with how it turned out, and the kids seemed to like it, too.

Of course the special craft was a huge hit. It was interesting to see the dynamics. Some parents just let the kids figure it out for themselves, some had to help them make at least one cookie look "right" but then let the child do the second one. Some kids did put some intentional design into their cookies, and others just squeezed icing on randomly. Piping icing is actually good pre-writing practice as it works on muscle strength and coordination in the hands and fingers, and fine motor skills.

The biggest surprise was how little mess there was afterward! I just had to pick two pieces of cookie of the floor, and wipe down the tables, which just had a few crumbs and smudges!

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