By Awnali Mills
Today was the kickoff for the first preschool storytime session of 2015. Huzzah! It was fun to get back into the groove. Since this storytime also coincided with the first craft time of the new year, the two naturally needed to go together.
Animals was the theme today. Yeah, it’s pretty broad, but the craft was “Create a Critter,” so I didn’t want to mentally direct kids into a specific sort of beastie. More on that at the end though. For now, here are the books I used!
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown, Jump by Scott Fischer, and Chicken Butt by Erica Perl (because you can’t have a good animal storytime without a few butts, can you?).
Some animal friend puppets introduced storytime and argued about whether wild animals or tame animals were better. We took a vote on it, and the pre-k crowd were almost unanimous in their love for the wild things, while adults voted heavily for the farm critters. This was a perfect segue into Mr. Tiger Goes Wild because he starts out tame and goes wild, only to come back to civilization.
We used the song cube and then did our flannel, Animal Faces. This flannel predates me, but it has faces for several different farm animals. For each one you put on the board, you sing a variation of “Pigs in the mud go oink, oink, oink, oink, oink, oink, oink, oink, oink. Pigs in the mud go oink, oink, oink, all day long.” Which is sung to The Wheels on the Bus. The kids enthusiastically oinked, moo-ed, and quacked their way through.
Then, we moved into Jump. I had the kids practice jumping whenever I said the word “jump.” This is a skill that not every kid will have, so it’s good to practice it. In the book, “jump” is usually on a page all by itself, so the kids weren’t too distracted from the story by their activity. We did lots of dialogic reading on this one to get the kids engaged with what was going on in the illustrations so they weren’t just waiting for the next jump. A few kids declined to jump, but the rest enthusiastically participated.
To bring things down after that, I brought out my Free Animal Sounds app by PXL. I had the kids go sit by their adult and told them that we were going to play a game. I would say, “The children all went to sleep, (children act like they’re sleeping in their adult’s lap) and when they woke up they were (play the animal sound).” Then the children got to act like whichever animal had made the sound. This was very successful as well. Some of the animal sounds are harder to guess than others, but it was fun to pretend to be animals. When I felt like we had done enough, I said, “The children all went to sleep, and when they woke up, they were all children again!”
Then I asked the children if they ever tried to make their parents crazy by asking silly questions. This got a lot of laughs and was a perfect segue into Chicken Butt. This was definitely the most popular book because, come on, it’s preschoolers and butts!
I finished up with one more flannel, a variation of A-hunting We Will Go. We put a fox in a box, combed a bear’s hair, put a mouse in a house, tickled a whale’s tail, and put a goat in a boat before we let them all go.
And it was on to craft. This is so easy-peasy! I put a pair of eyes on each page of construction paper and set out crayons, glue, scissors, pompoms, foamies, and feathers. The children then used the eyes as a foundation for drawing their own critter. I showed them a sample of what they could do and let them go. They had a lot of fun, and the feathers weren’t too bad to clean up!