Friday, April 5, 2013

Sheep/Lamb Storytime

March roars in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, so what better theme to kick off our spring storytime session with than lambs?  (I took the liberty of extending the theme to sheep in general, not just those of the baby variety.)

I presented this storytime three times this week with alterations to each group: once to my regular preschool storytime crowd at the library, and twice at a local preschool as part of our outreach program. At the preschool, I presented to a group of two year olds and to a group of three and four year olds.

With both preschool groups, I opened (as I always do) with my Mystery Bag. I shamelessly stole this concept from the a post on the ALSC Blog last fall, and have been using it to great success this year. (The Mystery Bag deserves an entire post of its own!)  The Mystery Bag gets filled with items that start with the same letter as the theme for that week. I show the kids the letter and demonstrate the sound it makes and ask them to guess what might be in my bag that starts with that sound.  I decided to get a little bit tricky this week and go with things that started with the sound "SH" for sheep. In my bag, I had a shirt, a shoe, a shovel, a pair of shorts, and, of course, a sheep.  This one was a little bit tricky for the kids: the abundance of clothes threw them off and made them think of other items of clothing, and I think the consonant blend may have been a bit too sophisticated. Nevertheless, everyone enjoyed it for sure.

Books I used for this storytime were:

Sneaky Sheep by Chris Monroe
I read this to both groups of preschoolers, and they really loved it. Two sheep want to explore a dangerous meadow high atop a mountain, but are thwarted at every turn by the loyal sheepdog who guards their flock.Not only was it hilarious, but it turned out to be a great one for dialogic reading. I asked the kids before the book started why the thought the sheep would be sneaky, or what the dangers to sheep might be, or how the sheep might get out of an especially tough situation.

The Sheep Fairy: When Wishes Have Wings by Ruth Louise Symes
I also read this to both groups of preschoolers. A sheep rescues a fairy, who grants her one wish as thanks. Sweet and funny.

Three Bags Full by Ragnhild Scamell
A generous sheep gives her woolly coat away to help other animals stay warm, but what is she to do when winter comes to the farm? Mrs. Farmer come to the rescue! I thought this book was very sweet, but it wasn't a smash hit with my first group of preschoolers, so I didn't read it to my second. I think this would be better in a smaller group or one on one.

Where Is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox
A classic for a reason. I read this to all three groups, who all adored it and really engaged with it. I don't think any of the adults were familiar with it, so I was pleased to introduce it to everyone. It was a lot of fun to read the book to different groups on the same day and see how they became more sophisticated at guessing some of the sheep ("brave sheep," "clown sheep") as they got older.

Wee Little Lamb by Lauren Thompson
The two-year-old group I read this to was perhaps the quietest and best-behaved group of twos I've ever presented to, and boy, did they love this sweet book about a little lamb who is too shy to go play with the other creatures in the field but instead wants to stay close to his mama. It was adorable and would be great for one year olds as well.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
A hit with the two-year-old group as well. We had a lot of fun continuing to say "Beep beep!" throughout the story, even though it was only written on the first page. A nice introduction to rhyming words.

We sang "Baa Baa Black Sheep," of course, and my other main storytime activity this week was my color lambs.  I cribbed the idea from 1234 More Storytimes.

I put up a white lamb and had everyone sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" with its fleece as white as snow, but then I said, "You probably didn't know that Mary had a lot of other lambs, too, who were all sorts of colors!" With my younger kids, who were just learning their colors, I put up the lambs one by one, named the color, and put up the object that was that color. Then we sang the song again, e.g. "Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was as red as an apple."  With my older kids, I put all the lambs out at once at the top half of the board, and all my objects at the bottom of the board, and asked them to match them up. We also named different things that were each color.  This was a huge hit with all groups. It took a very long time, so I didn't get to a lot of my other flannels or songs this week. I had an idea of doing baby animal vocabulary -- sheep/lamb, horse/foal, cow/calf -- which I still think would be great, but I just ran out of time. I'll have to save it for another storytime...

For the craft, the kids made a lamb puppet out of a brown paper bag, some paper cut-outs, and a cotton ball.

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