Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Elephant Storytime

Week two of our spring storytime session brings... elephants!

I did my usual welcome song, "Welcome Welcome Everyone," and dove right into the mystery bag. (When I brought all my props into the programming room, some eagle-eyed preschoolers were quick to remind me I had forgotten the mystery bag!)

Everything in the bag began with E this week, which turned out to be a hard one.  There was an elephant, of course, and an egg (left over from Easter), a ball that looked like Earth, an eraser, and an envelope.  We had a great vocabulary discussion about the envelope -- kids got Earth right away, but no one knew the word envelope, guessing instead "letter' or "mail."  One of my storytime kids had a name that began with E, and the audience also shouted out "ear" and "elevator."

The Ant and the Elephant by Bill Peet

A series of jungle animals refuse to help each other, but a humble ant and a mighty elephant prove you're never too big or small to help someone. I selected this beforehand, but was a little worried about it because of its length.  And it turns out I was right on both counts. It was really much too long for my audience today, so I ended up paraphrasing and telling the story in my own words rather than read the text.  In retrospect, this would have probably made a great flannel story, although I do love Bill Peet's illustrations.The kids and parents, however, did really like the story and responded to its message.  I was able to demonstrate dialogic reading, by asking the kids to predict what each animal would do, and also we worked on narrative skills, by asking the kids to recall what each animal's problem was.

Five Elephants in a Bathtub Flannel

I saw a couple references to this online, but I did not have the time to make my own elephants, so I used the printable template provided by Sunflower Storytime. The kids really loved this, too.  I'm usually not a huge fan of the storytime standby Five Little Whatsits, in which the presenter puts five little elephants or birds or monkeys on the board and recites a cute little poem... mainly because I don't think I'm very good at presenting them and my audience seems bored. I do love ones like this, though, where the kids are as much a part of the rhyme as I am. 

Big Little Action Rhyme

I came up with this idea minutes before storytime and decided to run with it.  I was glad I did because it was big hit.  I started out by saying in our last book, we read about an elephant who was very very big (and here I made myself as physically big as possible and spoke in a big voice) and a very little ant (and here, I crouched down into a tiny ball and squeaked my words).  I asked them to think of other things that were big and little, and started out by asking everyone to pretend they were trees and whether or not they were big or little.  After we were big tall trees, I asked them to think of something that was little, kind of thinking along the lines of a flower or something, but someone yelled, "A worm!" so worms we were.  The kids made great contributions to this one, and I followed their lead as to what big and small things we pretended to be.  We were little mice and birds and big dinosaurs and ostriches, and it led very nicely into the next book which was...

Big and Little by John Stadler

Told by a mouse circus leader, this lift-the-flap book follows Ellie the Elephant as she climbs a ladder and dares to dive into a little glass of water.  This one begs to be read aloud to an audience, and mine enjoyed the cute twist ending.  This was a short read, and I love adding quick little books like this to my storytimes. I almost overlooked it thinking it was too young for my audience, but I'm glad I didn't.

"You're an Elephant," Geof Johnson off the Exercise Party CD

I've made a conscious effort to include recorded music in my storytimes, especially as a way to work on gross motor skills and give the active kids a chance to move their bodies.  This one was perfect -- there's a repeated part where you have to stomp your feet, wave your ears, and swing your trunk like an elephant.  The rest of the time, we just free-formed danced pretending we were elephants.  A welcome break and a great lead-in into my final book which was....

Let's Go For a Drive by Mo Willems

Oh, how could you do an elephant storytime without an Elephant and Piggie book?  I thought this one was especially fun to read aloud because there's a repeated refrain of "Drive-drive-drivey-drive-drive." I got the kids to sing along with me, and again, it was a great way to demonstrate dialogic reading as I asked the kids to predict what items would need on their drive to protect them from the sun and the rain.  This one got giggles from kids and parents alike.

To finish it out, we closed, as I always try to, with a version of "If You're Happy and You Know It." We were elephants, and we knew it, so we stomped our feet, waved our ears, and shook our tails.  (The kids really liked shaking their tails!!)

For our craft, we had a patchwork elephant -- very Elmer-esque, if you ask me.  Kids got an outline of an elephant on white paper that was divided up into little puzzle segments and construction paper in different colors that had been cut to match the puzzle segments. This was a challenge for the kids in a good way, and a lot of the caregivers were vocally appreciative of this craft.

There were a lot of other great elephant books, and I had planned to read What to Do If An Elephant Stands On Your Foot, but... I ran out of time. Oh well!

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