This summer, I chose some storytime themes because I wanted to share books on the theme, but I chose others because they fit with an experiment I wanted to show the storytimers. One obvious experiment to use in storytime is the classic vinegar and baking soda volcano: showy, no dangerous chemicals, and easily replicated at home. Since volcanoes were extremely active during prehistoric times, dinosaurs seemed like a nice match, and I’ve ordered several great new dinosaur books this year. Perfect match!
Our letter was D for Dinosaurs!
Digger Dog by William Bee
Digger Dog loves to dig for bones, and he’s found a big one this time! He rents progressively bigger equipment until he digs up the biggest bone ever. It’s bigger than he is! But a foldout page at the end shows what’s still hidden beneath the surface: a perfect Tyrannosaurus skeleton. I didn’t tell the kids we were having Dinosaur storytime but read this book and asked them to guess our theme for the day at the end. We also pretended to dig with Digger Dog.
Concept: Repetition and refrain. Play.
If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by Linda Bailey
Hilarious illustrations imagine the many uses for a dinosaur, if you happen to have one: yard work, can opener, potato masher, kite, and so on. A great conversation starter for talking about the many types and sizes of dinosaurs and what you could do with one. In the end, readers are asked what they could do with a kangaroo.
Concept: Play. Imagination.
If I Had a Raptor by George O’Connor
A little girl wants a pet raptor badly because they are fluffy and adorable! As it grows up, the raptor acts more and more like a pet cat: sleeping all day, staying up at night, turning its nose up at food, and stalking small prey. Finally, it stalks the little girl…but to no avail, as she’s put a sweet little bell on its collar and hears it coming. Funny and sly. Plus, the heroine is an adorable African-American little girl, and I do like to show kids diverse characters.
Concept: There’s not much of one except pet care, perhaps. However, I used this book as a springboard to talk about how some dinosaurs had feathers, and we also talked about dinosaurs having different diets.
Here Comes Destructosaurus! by Aaron Reynolds
Godzilla is popular right now thanks to the recent movie, and this is a kid-friendly version of a kaiju story. Destructosaurus wrecks New York while the narrator admonishes him to watch what he’s doing, wipe his feet, and stop touching things that aren’t his, like, you know, that train station. However, the narrator feels pretty awful when he/she realizes Destructosaurus was actually looking for his teddy bear, not being naughty on purpose.
Concept: Manners. Using our words.
Five Little Dinosaurs
One little dinosaur, letting out a roar (ROAR!!!!)
He called for a friend, and now there’s one more. (count dinos)
Continue until you have all five on the board.
I just have five simple die-cut dinos for this one. The kids don’t care that the shapes are simple; they’re in it for the roars.
While I am completely horrified that anyone would dress kids up in these costumes, a slightly abbreviated (me-a-saurus? a little much) version of the song went over very well with the kids.
Not about dinosaurs. No one cared. Yay for jumping!
I was unable to get photos as I was the one actually causing the eruption, but you can find different versions of this experiment all over the Internet. Many will tell you to use hot water. Instead, I heated up the vinegar and added dish soap. Worked like a charm. We talked about what volcanoes and eruptions are, then I explained that I was going to cause an eruption using a chemical reaction. The process is pretty easy to explain to childen: vinegar is an acid, baking soda is a base. Acids and bases are opposites. What do you think will happen when we put these opposites together? Then after the eruption, I explained that the reaction created carbon dioxide, which was what caused all the zillions of soap bubbles and the spilling foam. Everyone wanted to smell the vinegar. No one liked how it smelled.
How It Went:
Exhausting but awesome. Everyone loves dinosaurs, especially because of Dinosaur Train. We discussed quite a few science/nonfiction facts even though none of the books were nonfiction, and the roaring and stomping made everything go by very quickly. The boys really liked the raptor book because they were pretty sure that raptor would get that girl eventually, even after the story ended, and everyone seemed fascinated by Destructosaurus and pantomimed hugging him at the appropriate part without any prompting from me. We also had some great ideas for what to do with a kangaroo: use it as a pogo stick, ride it places, keep stuff in its pouch, or let it babysit your baby in its pouch. Everyone always loves the volcano experiment, so we knew that would be a hit. I had fewer grouchy kids today, although I did have one who tried to shake me up by pointing out that “dirty diaper” starts with D. I just smiled and loudly announced that “dirty diaper” does start with D and he has a really good ear for letter sounds. He looked disappointed. I’m guessing his grown-ups are easy to rile. Sorry, kid, you can’t faze me. I had a two year old say “punk ass” last year.
Next week, Colors and color-mixing lemonade.