Monday, November 7, 2011

Preschool Story Time (Fantasy Theme), 11/7

This story time is such a rollercoaster for me, but today was far and away my best performance. Attendance was low, and not every child there was the right age, but I was just so on, and so prepared, and it was a great feeling.

Here is my set list:

Opening Song: Hello, how are you? 

I decided to replace my usual second introductory song, If You'd Like to Read a Book, with two action rhymes instead. It wound up being a wise decision.

Rhyme: Fierce is the Dragon
This is a rhyme I wrote this morning when I realized that I needed just one more filler item and couldn't find one that felt right to me. It's based on the format of Blue is the Lake, but I don't think it paints a picture in quite the same way. Here are the words and actions: 

Fierce is the dragon 
(hold up hands like claws and make a mean face)
Brave is the knight
(hands on hips, sitting up very straight)
Pretty is the princess
(make the ASL sign for beautiful)
Tiny is the sprite
(hold two fingers up with very little space between them)
Tall is the giant 
(hold hands far apart in a vertical position)
Quiet is the queen 
(put a finger to your lips and whisper)
Silly is the jester
(put hands on either side of your head and wiggle fingers)
Happy is the king
(make the ASL sign for happiness)

This went over so surprisingly, I'm going to have to come up with more excuses to use it. Maybe I'll just do it at baby/toddler story time for the heck of it.

Song: Where is Thumbkin? (Royal Family Edition)
I am not crazy about Where is Thumbkin? but it always works well in a pinch. I simply replaced each finger with the name of a member of the royal family.
  • Thumb: King
  • Pointer: Queen
  • Middle Finger: Prince
  • Ring Finger: Princess
  • Pinky Finger: Royal Baby
Book: Where the Giant Sleeps by Mem Fox, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
I've read this one before, but I finally paid attention this time and slowed down enough to point out the interesting aspects of the illustrations. 

Rhyme: Here is a Giant
Here is a giant who is tall, tall, tall.
And here is an elf who is small, small small.
The elf who is small will try, try, try
To reach the giant who is high, high, high 

This was definitely the weakest link in the chain today, but the kids still really liked trying to stretch as high as a giant. 

Song: There is Clapping in the Castle
Another unexpected hit! We did it twice, because the kids really got into it.  I downloaded the free MP3 from Nancy Stewart's website and played it on my laptop. (Careful when you click the link; it starts playing right away!)

Book: Over at the Castle by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (2010)
This book was too long for the really young twos, but for the fours and fives, it was just right. They loved picking out the dragons in the latter portion of the book when they start creeping in close to the castle, and they needed only slight prompting to figure out that the dragons had lit fireworks at the end. A great book for this theme.

Action Song: Curtsy Like a Princess 

(Tune: Skip to My Lou)
Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess just like so
Curtsy like a princess!

Bow like a prince just like so...
Juggle like a jester just like so...
Fly like a fairy just like so...
Roar like a dragon, just like so...

Flannel Board Song: Royal Crowns
I owe a lot to my Twitter colleagues on this one! Melissa from Mel's Desk suggested singing "The princess wore her blue crown..." etc. based on Library Quine's "The pirate wore a blue patch..." song. I instantly loved the idea, because I have already used that song a handful of times (Daddy's Ties, Grandpa's Ties, Grandma's Scarves) and knew my group would be familiar with it. Initially, I planned to have the princess wear five different-colored crowns, but then I decided to get a little more creative, and I gave each of four members of the royal family his/her own crown to wear. The king wore red, the queen purple, the prince blue, and the princess yellow.

I sang about each crown as I put it on the character's head, then we sang about each one once more. If I did this again, I'd like to print four more identical crowns with a crazy pattern and sing about the family wearing its fancy crowns!

Book: The Foggy, Foggy Forest by Nick Sharatt (2008)
This author is some kind of story time genius. This book is fantastic, and gorgeous to look at, and the kids and parents all loved it.

Flannel Board Song: Five Little Fairies
This leftover from my Irish story time last week was actually the inspiration for this entire story time. I saved it for last because the final fairy says goodbye because it's time to go home. The perfect ending to what I would call an almost-perfect story time.

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

I really think the reason this story time was so much more successful than others had to do with luck as much as skill. I was definitely better-prepared than usual, even though my rhymes and songs weren't fully memorized, and I chose a theme that was a bit of a challenge so I really had to engage with it to make it work. But it was also a really slow afternoon here today, and I had very few kids, and no babies. With a different set of kids, things could have gone a lot worse. But I enjoyed this so much, I can't wait until I have the chance to repeat it!

Also, for the record, my goal was to fill 30 minutes, and this session lasted about 28. Perfect. 

Other books I considered reading for this story time include:

I couldn't find any other Fantasy story times. If you have done one, or know someone who has, and there's a post about it, let me know, and I'll link it!


  1. What about...
    The Frog Prince, Continued
    The Paper Bag Princess
    The Kiss That Missed
    The Squiggle
    The Wizard, the Fairy and the Magic Chicken

    These all go over well with my preschool/kindergarten crowd!

  2. Thank you! You just gave me two new "templates" for storytime activities, which I will use the heck out of: "Blue is the Lake" = themed "setting" rhyme and "Skip to My Lou" = themed action song (a great alternative to "If You're Happy and You Know It"). Plus I love the way you decided to do the crowns, with one for everybody. Definitely do the crazy crowns next time, they will be a big hit! Thanks so much! ALSO plus I'm going to give these titles to my colleague who is working on our Royalty storytime resource pack. THANK YOU! This totally turned out perfect.

  3. I had the same revelation about Blue is the Lake as a setting rhyme! It just hit me all of a sudden, and I realized it is so adaptable, if you have some time and a rhyming dictionary. ;-)

    I originally started using Skip To My Lou as my hello song, and I do various actions with that, but it has spiraled from there. There are only so many ways to adapt If You're Happy, so I'm really glad to have an alternative.

    And thank YOU for sharing all of your wonderful ideas. Your "This is Big Big Big" rhyme is the hit of all my baby story times, and I'm always excited to see your posts. I'm glad you found this story time useful - I think it's the best one I've done, so it means a lot to know someone else thinks it's valuable!


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