Today our storytime was about art. The books I used were Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty, Art by Patrick McDonnell, and my absolute favorite of all time, I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont (isn’t David Catrow the best illustrator ever?)
This was a crazy storytime. I had a huge group and lots of interactive children. Throw in a bunch of folks who were new to the group and things were lively to say the least!
In my magic bag was a watercolor paint box. Everyone knew what that was and easily guessed that storytime was about art.
Our first book was Jeremy Draws a Monster. This book really requires that you discuss the pictures to start with, and talk about Jeremy not ever leaving his room. If you don’t, the ending is kind of abrupt and confusing. We talked about how sad it was to never leave the house, how demanding and mean the monster is, and then how nice it is when Jeremy gets rid of the monster and goes outside to play. And, I got to do my nasty monster voice, so it was a total win!
Then, we did the flannel Brown Bear, Brown Bear. I didn’t really have a flannel that worked for “art,” so I just went for colors. Afterwards, we counted all the pieces and then counted all the people in the room. Usually, I just do a quick mental headcount before storytime starts, but this group was too big for that. And, we all enjoyed cheering for the large number.
Our next book was Art. This sweet little story is about a boy named Art who likes to make art. There are lots of little plays on words and fun illustrations. The parents enjoyed the double entendres, even if the children didn’t get them all.
I figured we needed to move around some at this point, and instead of singing a song I decided on the spot to have them do some imaginary painting. I had everyone stand up and pull out their imaginary paintbrush. I was awfully pleased that almost all the kids immediately grasped that we were playing and held up their “paintbrushes.” We stretched up and painted a sky, reached down and painted the ground (green, they insisted—I guess we’re all ready for spring!), painted a bird, painted some ants (then we had to stomp them all because they were stinging ants), then painted a fireman. Don’t ask me why. He had yellow boots. Then, we washed out our brushes, shook them out really well, and put them in our pockets.
I had planned a second flannel where the kids would get to bring colored fish up to the board, but I didn’t have enough fish to go around, so I dropped it on the fly and pulled out the ipad app Dipdap. This is an app that lets you draw a picture and then animates it. You can read a complete review that I wrote on Littleelit.com. The kids loved the one I did, and if we would have had a normal playtime afterwards, I would have let them play with it, but we had some messy art, so the ipad went away afterwards. For the kids who asked me about it, I told them they could play with it next time if they reminded me.
Finally, I pulled out I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More. This is always a favorite, and I had two little boys assure me at the end that they would NEVER paint their house because it would be wrong. And messy. Even though I wanted to, I resisted the urge to tell them that it could be a lot of fun!
To transition into our monthly craft time, I pulled out an apron and as I put it on, I asked the children to tell me what it was. They knew immediately. Then, I handed out our child-sized aprons until I ran out. Some of the older kids graciously gave their aprons to the younger ones. I explained that we were going to do some dropper painting, why droppers are good for developing the motor control needed for using writing utensils later on, and how the craft was going to work. Then, to prevent a massive rush to the tables (and subsequent spilling of food-colored water all over the place), I dismissed the children and adults one by one to go to the table. This worked REALLY well. It prevented everyone grabbing for supplies at the same time and no one rushed.
I had trays set out covered with paper towels, and two sets of blue, red and yellow water in small plastic cups per table. Everyone got a tray, droppers, and their choice of coffee filters or white paper towels. Then, they just went to town, dropping colors onto the filters/towels and watching the colors blend. My coworker was able to come in and help, which was greatly appreciated, and she even ran and got my camera for me because I had forgotten it. Again. She even had the brainstorm to use some old manila folders to put the pictures in to take home, which was brilliant. Tables were covered with plastic tablecloths, which was a lesson learned from a previous program. Scrubbing food coloring out of white plastic tables in not fun. Ask me how I know.
The kids had a tremendous time, the parents were totally engaged and commented several times about how cool it all was, and one of my regular parents called me over to tell me that she was bragging on me to the new-to-us parents because I had the BEST storytimes ever.
I love my job.