This week, our letter was P for Prepositions!
No, I didn’t really try to get them to understand what a preposition is. The 2-5 crowd is a bit young for parts of speech. I explained it as “where words: words like on, in, out, over, and under that tell us where something is.” In my original planning phase, I thought I would break this concept into a series of opposite-themed storytimes: In and Out, Up and Down, and so forth. Then I realized I might have to stretch to find good books for so many preposition themes, and I don’t like stretching in that regard. If you cannot find enough good books to clearly fit a theme, put the idea in the scrap drawer and revisit it in a year or two after the publishers have put out more picture books. I also thought it would be Opposites overkill! Instead, we just did a positional preposition mash-up.
Joey and Jet by James Yang
Jet is the best ball-fetcher in the world! When Joey throws the ball, Jet chases it among the birds, between some restaurant tables, over the rooftops, and so on, then brings it back via the same route. How does Joey repay Jet? He throws the ball again. Jet has a tough job, although I’ve met some border collies who would enjoy life with Joey and the Infinite Fetch.
Early Bird by Toni Yuly
In this new release, Early Bird, a childishly drawn and totally adorable redbird, goes for a walk to get the Early Worm. She walks across the grass and…well, you know where it’s going. Eventually she grabs that Early Worm, but in a twist ending, the two turn out to be buddies who nibble strawberries together and then whistle a duet. Cute, cute, CUTE art, bold colors, and simple shapes: great for group sharing! You can make it more interactive by pointing out the bugs on each page and asking the kids to name them.
Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins
Pat Hutchins, how do I love thee? I love thee for thy cross hatch patterns and thy cutesy-tootsy but sly storylines, and I shall but love thee better after death. (Clearly I am not a Browning.) In this chortler, Rosie the hen takes a walk across the farm, followed by a hungry fox. Every time the fox pounces, something goes wrong: he gets hit in the face landing on a rake, he gets stuck in a haystack, he gets chased away by the mother of all bee swarms. The text only narrates a seemingly dull walk through this and around that and over this without ever mentioning the fox despite his starring role in the illustrations, and the reader can assume the placid Rosie never even noticed him. She’s no Minerva Louise, that’s for sure.
Concept: Prepositions. Visual literacy.
Flannelboard: We’re Goin’ on a Bear Hunt
This classic is chock full of prepositions. If you don’t know the words, you can find them at Timmy Abell Music and Storytelling. This chant is extremely flexible. You can make it call and response or just be the leader and have everyone do the motions if you need it shorter. You can add or subtract obstacles as needed. Of course, you can always rewrite it. Our outreach coordinator does a fantastic Dragon Hunt.
I cut all the pieces free hand except the bear, who came from the Accucut machine. I added each piece as it came up in the song and took them back down as we “ran home.”
Jump Up, Turn Around
Jump up! Turn around!
Clap your hands! Stamp the ground!
(Increase the difficulty by having the kids raise their arms, then hold their breath, then close their eyes as you repeat.)
Source: Jim Gill (recording here)
Craft: In ‘n Out Groundhogs
So, you find a groundhog reproducible, then you reduce it on a copy machine so that it’s small enough to fit in a cardboard tube when printed out. Each kid colors a groundhog and glues it to a craft stick, and then it makes a nifty little puppet that pops in and out of the cardboard tube hole. We used green paper packing shreds (in the gift wrap aisle at the craft store) to make the burrows grassy. The puppet can be used to show in/out, over/under, and up/down.
How It Went:
Two weeks ago, I did storytime while bouncing back from a stomach bug. Last week, I felt great. This week, I have a terrible cold. Who knows what next week will bring? Also, you know what isn’t much fun when you have a cold? Anything at all. Even storytime is tough when you’re trying to be your usual chipper self while secretly thinking, “I didn’t know my nose could hold so much…”
However, all went well, and I didn’t even have to whip out the Kleenex stash. I chose extremely simple books, and to be perfectly honest, they’re all the same story: Animal goes for a walk that involves many prepositions with a few jokes or sight gags thrown in. However, the storytimers just laughed at all of them. I think they liked having all funny books. Usually I throw something serious or sweet at them at least once in a session.
I always forget how much kids love We’re Goin’ on a Bear Hunt. As the leader, you worry that you’re dragging it out too long with all the repetition and that they will get bored, but it really immerses the audience. Of course, anything Jim Gill is always a big hit. You keep telling the kids you’re making Jump Up, Turn Around harder with each repetition, right? Well, after we finished it in the first session, one of the youngest storytimers proudly told her mother that it was REALLY hard! She was very proud that she had done it all correctly because I’d convinced her that it was challenging. Which, to a 2 or 3 year old, it probably is.
The best part was probably today, when I told them to get ready for a big word and then said, “Preposition!” Then I explained that it’s a big word that’s talking about little words, like on, in, up, down…and then one of the little girls yelled, “That is so silly!” I said, “You’re right! We use this great big word just so we can talk about little bitty words! That IS silly!” At which point, she dissolved into uncontrollable laughter and tipped over. Parts of speech are HILARIOUS, y’all!
Next week, those shapely Shapes.