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Play Storytime

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This week, our letter was P for Play and Pretend! I brought out a little Moonbear doll to help us play and shared books about playing games, using your imagination, and playing with others. Before we got started, I explained to the parents that playing is important to early literacy because story play helps kids learn sequencing and understand how stories are structured, and also that including books as well as writing materials and utensils in play is a great way to help build literacy skills. Then I asked the kids, who’d glazed over a little during my two sentences about the importance of play, “Did you guys know that? Did you know that playing will help you get ready to go to school and learn to read?” They all said that yes, they did indeed know. I have the most early literacy savvy three and four year old kids you ever did see, I guess.

We read:

Moon Game by Frank Asch

Moonbear learns to play hide-and-seek and invites the moon to play. When the moon blows behind a cloud, however, poor Bear thinks it’s lost forever, until he realizes that if you can’t find someone, you’re supposed to tell them they’ve won and that you give up.

Concept: Cooperative play

 

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

The narrator keeps interrogating the rabbit about what he’s doing with a box, but the rabbit insists it’s not a box. Red line art over the black line art shows the rabbit’s imaginings: the box is a car, a burning building, a hot air balloon!

Concept: Imaginative play

The Nowhere Box by Sam Zuppardi

George’s little brothers drive him nuts, so he turns the box from the new washing machine into a vehicle to Nowhere, where his imagination can run free. However, eventually he realizes he has no one to play with as he sails a cardboard ocean and defends a cardboard castle, so back he goes to his brothers. Apparently they make pretty good pirates after all.

Concept: Cooperative play

Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas

A ladybug leads children through a game of pretend until a real frog comes along. I’ve used this in Bug and Frog storytimes, and its interactive qualities make it a huge hit.

Concept: Imaginative play

Action Song:

Can You Move With Me (tune of Do Your Ears Hang Low?)

Can you wiggle like a worm?
Can you squiggle? Can you squirm?
Can you flutter? Can you fly like a gentle butterfly?
Can you crawl upon the ground
Like a beetle that is round?
Can you move with me?
Can you flip? Can you flop?
Can you give a little hop?
Can you slither like a snake?
Can you give a little shake?
Can you dance like bee
Who is buzzing round a tree?
Can you move with me?

Source: Storytimes Online

Parachute Song:

For our parachute song, I sang Jim Gill’s Alabama, Mississippi. I added actions and had the kids follow along, and then I added a few directions, as well.

Alabama, Mississippi

Alabama, Mississippi, (lift up on Alabama and lower on Mississippi)
Alabama, New Orleans, (same as above)
Alabama, Mississippi, (same as above)
Shake it on down to New Orleans. (lift and then gently shake as you lower)

We’re gonna shake, shake, shake,
Shake it, baby,
Shake it on down to New Orleans. (keep shaking it)

Now shake it really high!
Now shake it really low!
Now shake it in the sky!
Now shake it on your toe!
Now shake it up up up!
Now shake it down down down!
Now we’re going to shake it round and round!

(Walk the parachute in a circle while singing the “shake it baby” chorus twice)

Craft: Sack Puppets

I wanted the storytimers to make something that required imagination and that they could play with at home, so I put out ribbons, pom poms, eyes, foam shapes, crayons, and glue, gave everyone a brown sack, and told them to make any kind of sack puppet they thought seemed fun.

How It Went: GREAT theme! The kids waited intently while our Moonbear doll “whispered in my ear” what he wanted to do next–my example of pretending. I liked having Moonbear to blame everything on, by the way. “Moonbear wants to hear one more story before we play with the parachute!” Ha ha, kids, Moonbear’s a jerk! No, actually, they were happy to do whatever Moonbear said. No one wants to argue with a 6″ tall stuffed bear. Hmm… Is this how a fear of puppets, dolls, and ventriloquist dummies starts? With plushie overlords in storytime?

Not a Box was familiar to many of the kids, and they were excited to see a book “from home” in storytime. I love this age where they get excited to see something familiar instead of saying, “Ugh, I’ve already read that.” Anything by Jan Thomas is a hit, and having an interactive book to stand in for a wiggle rhyme was nice. Everyone thought Moongame was funny, especially when the bear and bird looked for the moon in the garbage can. I think Nowhere Box was more of a parental favorite, since it promotes good sibling relationships, but the kids did like it. It’s just awfully similar to Not a Box, but with a different message.

Of course, the parachute was a mega-hit as usual. I would really like to start a Parachute Play program this fall. I think it would be successful.

The free form sack puppets were hugely popular. The kids got to decide what they made, how they made it, and what to call it. One table at session one all made cats, but every cat looked very different. One almost-three-year-old walked around doing an impression of the snowman from Frozen with her puppet: “I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs!” At session two, a very young storytimer had her mommy help her make a puppet, and then she named it after their dog. Aw! The session two group produced very imaginative puppets with multiple eyes, noses where noses don’t goeses, bow ties, and antennae.

I am at home away from my storytime theme list, and I’m not sure what we are doing next week. I believe that it’s Talking week, which is an all-wordless-book plan. Maybe that’s a crazy idea, but I say fortune favors the bold!

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2 responses »

  1. Please please keep up this blog! I love your ideas for storytime. We do run a “story adventures” that is 45 min for 3 and up, and include a craft at the end. I’m getting up the nerve to try the parachute for an activity – your model really helps!! THANKS!

    Reply
    • Best of luck with parachute adventures, Carole! You might try to get your hands on a copy of Parachute Games by Todd Strong. While it mainly focuses on activities for older children, it’s still good for inspiration. My advice for the parachute is to keep whatever you do very simple for the little ones, and to only use it if your group is 25 or fewer (unless you have a bigger parachute than I do, of course.) If your crowd is like mine, it will be the first time any of them have ever played parachute games, and they will think you are the most magical person ever for pulling out something so new and so fun!

      Reply

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