By Awnali Mills
This week we had an exciting storytime about snow. Fortunately, it isn’t snowing here yet, or it wouldn’t have been much of a storytime. I don’t know about where you live, but here in Virginia, snow means we don’t go to storytimes! So, I figured that if I wanted to do a snow storytime, I needed to get it in before any of the white stuff made an appearance.
The books I chose were Snow by Cynthia Rylant, Ten in the Sled by Kim Norman, and Snow Happy by Patricia Hubbell.
We started with Snow because it’s a bit longer and quieter. I knew the rest of storytime might get a little rowdy, and I wasn’t sure how this book would go over, so I thought I’d put it first. I needn’t have worried. The kids were glued to it, one boy with a look of wide-eyed wonder, which I found totally endearing.
Then, I did the flannel Five Snowflakes.
One little snowflake with nothing to do.
Along came another and then there were two.
Two little snowflakes laughing with me.
Along came another and then there were three.
Three little snowflakes looking for some more.
Along came another and then there were four.
Four little snowflakes dancing a jive.
Along came another and then there were five.
Five little snowflakes having so much fun.
Out came the sun, and then there were none!
This flannel predates me and has no attribution. Sorry!
Now, we needed to get up and move around a bit, so we did the “Snowkey-Pokey” which I’d made up right before storytime. We put our mittens, snow boots, scarves, knit caps, and snow suits (behinds) in, shook them all about, and that’s what it’s all about.
In case you were wondering.
Then we settled in for a fun reading of Ten in the Sled, one of my favorite snow books. I just love the rhythm of this book and have to rein myself in so that I don’t rocket through it.
Then, I handed out our jingle bell bracelets. These aren’t homemade jobbies, they’re purchased hard rubber bracelets (or rings—as in not for your finger, but round) with four jingle bells attached to them. I did a quick search for them, but nothing came up. Sorry! If you know where to get them, please feel free to post in the comments section.
I explained that we were going to read the book Snow Happy and that they were going to help me. Every time I pointed to them, they needed to ring their jingle bells and say “Snow Happy!” But! They couldn’t just keep ringing them, or they wouldn’t be able to hear the story. So they had to hold the bells against their chests until I pointed at them.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work. I figured that, at worst, they’d have great fun ringing their bells while I shouted over them. All the adults got bells too, so they were my good examples for the kids. It worked GREAT! Even the adults were thrilled with getting to shout “Snow Happy!” while shaking their bells. I only had one little kid who was so enamored of his bells that he had to keep moving them while I read. And he wasn’t shaking them loudly. I confess, this was a last minute idea. I wanted to have them wave white scarves instead (snow, ya’ know?), but I didn’t have enough. Setting up story time I saw the bells in the closet and thought, “Why not?” I love it when a last minute idea works out!
I gathered up the bells at the end of the story, which almost resulted in a few meltdowns, but we headed that off at the pass with the next activity.
Jan Brett has created several masks for use with her story The Mitten. I printed them out, laminated them, and glued them to craft sticks.* Because this was a smaller group, I asked two adults to be volunteers. They were the mitten. I quickly explained to them that they needed to link hands, and that all the “animals” were going to come inside, so it would be like London Bridges. Then I handed out all the masks to the children, with one extra going to a game adult. I explained what each animal was, because not all of them were obvious (particularly the mole and badger). I had written up an edited version of Jan Brett’s story (you could also use the book), and as I read the story, each child acted out their part. At the end of the story, the bear sneezed and all the animals whirled out of the mitten, encouraged by the adults. When Nicholas shows his mittens to his mother, I put up one regular sized felt mitten and one enormous sized mitten. Everyone cheered and we brought out the toys for playtime.
*Yeah, this didn’t work as well as I had hoped. One kid promptly peeled the stick off of his mask and the other kids quickly followed suit. So after story time I hot glued them and then packing-taped them down for when I’ll repeat this next week at a daycare visit. Fingers crossed!