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Music Storytime

I had a difficult time pulling this program together but am extremely proud of the result!

We read:

Valentine and His Violin by Philip Hopman

Valentine and His Violin cover art

Floppy haired moppet Valentine loves playing his violin, especially since his instructor says he’s doing so well. Unfortunately, Valentine is the worst violinist in the history of music. Banished from town for his screechy mangling of Ode to Joy, Valentine goes on to solve a series of character’s problems with his atrocious art, from startling a stuck horse into action to finally saving the castle from an invading army. The art is beautiful.

*Warning: This book has a graphic depiction of a wolf spraying explosive diarrhea across the page. I paper clipped it shut and altered the story a bit so that the wolf burped instead, and quietly mentioned the real plot to the moms during craft time.

Interactivity factor: Heh heh. Ordinarily, I would say low, but the way I did it, I’m going to say extremely high! This week we did craft time before starting storytime. We made kazoos out of toilet paper tubes and wax paper. Since the book lists all the musical pieces Valentine slaughters, I made a CD of those pieces in the order they’re mentioned in the book. Then (for example) I’d read, “He played Ode to Joy,” and add, “It’s supposed to sound like this…” and play them about 15-30 seconds of the song, then say, “…but when Valentine played it, it sounded like THIS,” and we would all kazoo as loudly and horribly as we could manage, which was extremely loudly and incomparably horribly.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss

Zin Zin Zin A Violin cover art

This book uses snazzy rhymes to teach kids the names of orchestral instruments as well as how to describe an ensemble by number of players (duo, trio, etc.) It doesn’t go through every instrument, stopping instead at “a chamber group of ten,” but it hits most of the biggies. The only section not represented is percussion. Splashy, curvy, eye-catching art adds fun.

Interactivity factor: Medium. We pretended to play each instrument and make the sound it makes. You can also have the kids count the number of players on a couple of pages.

Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler

Jazz Baby

Baby’s snazzy, jazzy family put on quite a swinging, onomatopoeic show leading up to bedtime. The text splashes everywhere and fonts mimic the sounds they describe. Quite stylish! Plus, I love working in books that promote diversity. I live in an area where the vast majority of the population is Caucasian, so I think it is extremely important to give the kids positive images of other races and cultures since they’re not encountering much diversity in their everyday lives.

Interactivity factor: If you have trouble dancing around while reading, I’d say low. If you’re like me and can hold a book in one hand and act out motions with the rest of your body, high! I found some medium-tempo instrumental jazz and played it in the background.

Honorable mention:

Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis

Squeak, Rumble, Whomp Whomp Whomp cover art

I had this as a backup but didn’t read it just because it was too similar to Jazz Baby (jazzy and onomatopoeic.) Next year, I want to do a storytime about jazz, because some great picture books about jazz have come out recently. I will definitely use this book for that theme. Anyway, I wanted to mention it because it’s new and wonderful, and it’s by the great Wynton Marsalis. Check it out if you haven’t read it yet!

Flannelboard: Peter and the Wolf

In my newest foray into out-there flannelboards, I made a Peter and the Wolf matching flannelboard. First, I made four characters from the great Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev: the Duck, the Cat, the Bird, and the Wolf.

Peter and the Wolf 011 Peter and the Wolf 012

I don’t know what’s up with those spots on the flannel in the photos. I think it’s sunlight coming through the miniblinds. I promise my flannelboard is clean.

Anyway, I made sure the kids could tell what the animals were. They spotted right off that I’d used a goose pattern for the duck, btw. Can’t get much by these agrarian society kids. However, they did think the wolf was a dog. A lot of families up here have huskies, so I understand the confusion.

I asked if any of them had heard of Peter and the Wolf. Then I explained that in Peter and the Wolf, each animal character is represented by a song, or theme, and that when you hear the animal’s song, you know that animal has shown up in the story. I told them that we were going to listen to four of those themes, and that I wanted them to guess which song went with which animal. Then I played the snippets and let them guess!

Extension Activities:

I have shakers and wrist bells that I use with my lapsit group. I brought them out for storytime and it was a blast! The first group did the Banana Dance with shakers, and then we did a couple of the lapsit rhymes and songs since one of my lapsit babies was in the mix and looking a little lost. With the second and third groups, though, I revised the ever-popular disco hit “Shake Your Booty” like so:

Shake, shake, shake,

Shake, shake, shake,

Shake, shake, shake your shakers!

Shake your shakers!

Now shake ’em really high! Now shake ’em really low!


Now shake ’em really fast! Now shake ’em really slow!

(over here, over there…soft, loud…etc)

The kids loved it because it just involved shaking the snot out of those shakers, and the parents were amused to see me break out the disco tune.

Craft: Make Your Own Kazoo

Take one toilet paper tube, one rubber band, and a circle of wax paper larger than the mouth of the tube. Rubber-band the wax paper over one end of the tube, then take a pen and stab a hole in the side of the tube near the bottom of the paper. Presto, kazoo! I poked the holes in the tubes first and let the parents help the kids assemble their kazoos. For my big daycare group, I preassembled the kazoos because some of those little boys (and a couple of the girls) do NOT need loose rubber bands in their lives. We put them together before storytime and used them during the first book, but then after we were done with the program, I brought out markers and let them decorate the kazoos.

How It Went:

Needless to say, the kazoos went over like hot air balloons. The kids LOVED them, the parents were cracking up, and I loved the extra dimension they added to the first story. Of course, they were crazy-hyper because of the kazoos, but they were really into storytime, so who cares?

My storytime hooligans are so smart. They were able to put the right animal with the right theme on the flannelboard, even though most of them hadn’t heard of Peter and the Wolf yet. My two older groups had a little mix-up but straightened it out, but surprisingly, the youngest group all guessed correctly on the first try. In the third group, we decided the Cat and the Duck should have their themes reversed. They just really thought the Cat theme sounded Duckish and vice versa. I told them that was fine because everyone experiences and interprets music differently, and that however they feel about the music is the right answer.

The biggest surprise was the response to Jazz Baby. I was worried that after all the wacky kazooing, shakering, and boogying, I’d have lost their attention by the last book. Nope! Because I had music on and was acting out the sounds and movements from the book as best I could, it turned into a dance party story.

Best. Storytime. Ever. Of course, all those kids went home with kazoos, and I’m sure the moms were ready to kill me by the time they got to the car.



3 responses »

  1. Note: big JazzFest coming up in February in town. This is a huge event for the university and many kids at least know about it. You could tie your jazz program into that week.

  2. Pingback: Hippos And Elephants Babytime | Time for Storytime

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