This week I gave our revamped Snow storytime kit a whirl. I planned to do a snow theme back in December, but we get so much snow that I just couldn’t bear to talk about it. I felt like everyone might be tired of it. This week, we had some 40-degree temperatures and clear, dry ground, so I felt a little better about talking white stuff. Of course, the snow started falling again mere hours after the final storytime session, but seeing grass was a nice break. On to the rundown.
Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer
I bet you thought winter was cold! You were so wrong. Winter is the season of hot chocolate, extra blankets, radiators, and footy jammies. This book is a fun way to get kids thinking about a constant in a new way, and it’s vindication for those of us who despise having central heat breathing on us for several months. I know what you’re thinking, and if I lived alone, I would turn it down to 60, but I don’t, so I can’t.
Interactivity factor: Low.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Peter plays in the snow and discovers that snowballs do not last in one’s coat pockets overnight. I’m not in love with this book, but it is a classic. Also, since we handed out copies during Family Reading Week, several of the kids excitedly recognized it from their homes.
Interactivity: Low to medium, depending on how much you talk with the kids about the pictures.
Snowballs by Lois Erdrich
The speaker in this book has saved “good stuff” all year for the perfect snowperson-building day, and now that it’s here, it’s time to build an entire snow family and a couple of snow pets, too! As with many of Ehlert’s books, the writing leaves something to be desired, but the pictures offer a rich experience.
Interactivity factor: High. Ask the kids what the people in the book used to decorate each snow person, and before you know it, they’ll be pointing and shouting answers with no prompting.
Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett
Annie’s cat Taffy starts acting strange and then disappears altogether. Desperate for a new pet, Annie starts leaving food at the edge of the forest in hopes of luring in some tiny, fuzzy fluffkin she can tame. Unfortunately, she gets a moose, a bear, a wildcat, and other large dangerous creatures, but no adorable bunnies or squirrels come to play. Finally spring comes, bringing other food sources for the animals and the return of Taffy with three kittens in tow.
Interactivity factor: High. Say, “What animal is that?” when a wild animal shows up, then ask, “Would a (whatever it is) make a good house pet? Why not?”
Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett
Treva runs into trouble when she and her dog Tuffi try to cross Mount Baldy and are harassed by not one, not two, but FIVE dog-nabbing trolls! Quick and tricky thinking saves Treva and Tuffi from their pointy-headed machinations.
Interactivity factor: Low, but the story’s so fantastic. Little ones’ minds may wander, but the 3 and 4 year olds stay pretty focused on this one.
Five Little Penguins
Yay, a flannelboard I didn’t have to make! We already had some nice felt penguins in the set, so I used this rhyme:
Five little penguins slipping on the ice,
One fell down and that didn’t feel nice!
Mama called the doctor and the doctor’s advice
Was “No more penguins slipping on the ice!”
And so forth.
The Penguin Dance Chant
Source: Jack Hartmann
Yes, I said science experiment. I read some statistics on Idaho students’ performance in science and kind of freaked out. The situation isn’t pretty. I think a STEM focus in my storytimes is probably a good idea.
Melting Point of Ice
I got a plate, two ice cubes, and some table salt. I drenched one cube in the salt, left the other alone, and explained that we were trying to see which would melt first. We left the plate alone and checked it at the end of storytime. Of course the salted cube melted faster, because the salt lowers the freezing point of the water. I explained that to the kids as, “Water has to get really cold to turn into ice and stay ice. When you put salt on ice, it needs to stay even colder to keep from melting.” I have no idea if that made sense to them. Some of them are quite tiny.
Craft: Paper Mugs
I cut out a bunch of mug shapes from construction paper and gave the kids crayons, glue, shiny stickers, and rhinestones.
How It Went:
Response to Winter is the Warmest Season was tepid. The other books went down like hotcakes, though. Everyone had a laugh when I asked, “So where did Taffy go?” at the end of Annie and the Wild Animals and one little boy answered, “To find more cats in the forest!” because he didn’t realize Taffy was the kittens’ mommy. Well, I assume she is. Actually, it’s only implied, so maybe she did find cats in the forest and bring them home. What do I know?
The flannelboard made the kids giggle because it’s so much like Five Little Monkeys, and it was easy for them to follow along with it since they all know Five Little Monkeys.
If you’ve never done the Penguin Dance Chant, you HAVE to try it. It’s hilarious great fun. One of my coworkers found it, and I’m extremely thankful that she shared it with me. The kids loved it. Even the ones who don’t like to do the crazy songs and dances with us were laughing their butts off watching.
They liked the science experiment! I guess children really are natural scientists. They really weren’t sure which ice cube would melt faster, though. I thought that being from a cold place, they’d know about salt and ice, but now that I think about it, they don’t salt roads here. Some businesses salt their sidewalks, but it’s pretty much plow and go. Because it’s totally fun to have the roads freeze solid at 8 pm every night! Yeah! Anyway, they were all interested in the results. In the third group, they all ran up and stuck their fingers in the wet salt, then picked up the ice cubes and examined them.
Wait ’til they see next week’s experiment…from a safe distance…