One of the storytime kits I found particularly un-exciting was the Clothing themed kit. I mean, clothes? Getting dressed? Why don’t we just do a storytime about watching paint dry? But while the topic is possibly less overarching than Colors and maybe not as cool as monkeys or other animals, when I think back to my childhood, I remember that clothing and getting dressed were hassles. First, you have to learn the simple mechanics of which article of clothing goes on first, and then you’ve got zippers, buttons, buckles, and laces to contend with when you don’t understand why everything can’t just have Velcro. Remember learning to tie your shoes? I do. Specifically, I remember taking over a year to learn how. (I have spatial relation issues.) Beyond the mechanics, you have the question of what to wear. I grew up during the 80s. All the clothes were ugly. Shopping was awful because I didn’t want my mom to pick anything for me (note: parents, don’t treat your daughters like dolls), but I hated all the clothes so I had a hard time picking clothes for myself. Then you have the issue of “Mommy, I want to wear this” meeting “But honey, you can’t wear that. You’ll be cold/hot/apparently colorblind.”
Okay, so maybe clothing and getting dressed aren’t as boring as I initially thought.
Too Purpley by Jean Reidy
Ever have one of those days when you change clothes 50,000 times because NOTHING seems right? That’s pretty much the summary.
Interactivity factor: Medium. You can always ask the kids, “What’s wrong with that outfit?”
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems
Wilbur the naked mole rat likes wearing clothes, but the other naked mole rats think he’s a complete deviant for it. Finally they ask the most respected member of their clan what to do about Wilbur, and the wise one decides that wearing clothes can be fun and everyone should shut up and support each other’s life choices.
Interactivity factor: Low, but every time I said “naked mole rat,” I got giggles from the kids. Naked? Not a funny term. Mole? No, not funny. Rat? Eh, not funny, either. Naked mole rat? That is hi-LAR-ious.
Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Levine
Ella Sarah knows just what she wants to wear, but every member of her family thinks she should wear something different, something more like, well, more like what they would wear. But Ella Sarah sticks to her guns, loves her outfit, and goes to a tea party with her similarly-dressed friends.
Interactivity factor: Medium. There’s a sort of refrain, and you can have the kids tell you what color and type of clothing each family member is suggesting. I love this story’s message of using clothing to express your individuality. It’s also a nice reminder to parents that children should be allowed to develop their own sense of style. At least, I hope it is.
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett
Released in 1970, this classic details the problems animals might face if they wore clothing. The drawing of a hen trying to lay an egg through a pair of trousers is particularly hilarious.
Interactivity factor: Medium. The book’s just hilarious, and you can discuss the pictures.
Flannelboard: Froggy Gets Dressed
based on the book by Jonathan London
When I looked at the flannelboard sets in this kit originally, they seemed fine. When I thought about actually using them, I realized I didn’t like them much and decided we needed a new set. Everyone loves good ol’ Froggy, so I made Froggy Gets Dressed.
Notice anything weird? Like, oh, the fact that Froggy’s socks are for someone with two left feet? I think the print-out I used for our craft confused me, but for some reason, I did that weirdness and didn’t realize it until I was mid-flannel. Whoops! Time to paint the other side of one of them.
No one guessed the missing underwear punchline, and the kids who had the book at home kept their mouths tightly closed about it. Everyone thought me pretending to be Froggy’s mom yelling, “Froggy!” was a stitch, probably because the librarian was yelling in the library!
Ravioli (Tune: Alouette)
Ravioli, that’s the stuff for me.
Do you have it on your sleeve?
Yes, I have it on my sleeve.
On your sleeve?
On my sleeve.
(repeat with other body parts or articles of clothing, e.g. Do you have it on your chin? Do you have it in your shoes? etc.)
Source: King County Library System
Put Your Pants On (Tune: Mama’s Little Baby Loves Shortnin’ Bread)
Let’s all put our pants on, pants on, pants on,
Let’s all put our pants on, 1, 2, 3.
Repeat with other articles of clothing (socks or tights, shoes, etc.)
Now that you’re all dressed, all dressed, all dressed,
Now that you’re all dressed, let’s go out to play.
Adapted from: King County Library System
Craft: Craft Stick Clothesline
Source: Preschool Crafts for Kids
How It Went: The first session was a complete wash due to noisy toddlers, but the next two sessions were outstanding. I was a little unsure about Too Purpley as it’s pretty girly, and while I was reading it, the kids had that look on their faces where you can’t tell if they’re into the story or if they’re just zoned out. After I finished, I asked them if they liked it, and they all cheered for it, so I guess they were into the story! I didn’t read Naked Mole Rat with all my groups, just the ones with older kids, as it’s a little above preschool level. They really liked how often the book says “naked.” I got some interesting reactions to Ella Sarah Gets Dressed. When I first read out what Ella Sarah wants to wear, responses varied from “That’s so silly!” to “That’s not right!” and “You don’t wear that!” I mean, some of the kids were absolutely horrified. By the end, most everyone agreed that her outfit was just right after all, but I did have a couple of boys turn up their noses and say, “No, that is still too silly. She shouldn’t be wearing that.” Whatever, mini-patriarchs! Of course everyone loved Animal Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, and they were impressed when I told them the book came out 43 years ago. The Froggy set was a hit. Kids love anything that mentions underwear directly. In one session, I had a daycare group who were all familiar with the story. I showed them that I had the book with me, too. After I did the flannelboard, one of them yelled, “Now read the Froggy book!” We took a vote: Raise your hand if you want to hear the Froggy book which is the EXACT SAME story you just heard. They unanimously voted aye, so we read the Froggy book!
I think we all had fun with this one and had some good discussions about not judging people because they wear different clothing than you and about going your own way when it comes to clothes. I’ll definitely want to use this kit again.