Friday, January 13, 2012

I Have A Dream After School Program, 1/12/12

Today I surprised myself by having a really successful story time inspired by the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. The intended age group was preschool to grade three, and the actual audience consisted of a toddler, five preschoolers, and two kindergarten or first-graders.

Opening Song: Shake My Sillies Out
Opening with this song was a spur-of-the-moment decision based on the fact that three of the kids were running like wild animals around the story time room. The kids instantly stopped acting crazy and actually did the movements of the song, in unison, with no hesitation, which amazed me. And it got enough of  their wiggles out that we actually made it through five books!

Book: Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Brian Collier (2001)
I really wondered how well this book would resonate with younger kids, but a four-year-old excitedly pointed at the cover and said, "That's Martin Luther!" which I thought was pretty good, even if she missed the rest of his name. The kids were silent and open-mouthed through the entire thing and impressed me by really seeming to understand the importance of MLK's message. I did mention before reading that his birthday is coming up, and that he taught us about showing love, kindness, and friendship to others. I made sure not to dwell too long on his death, since that concept seemed a little upsetting to them, and instead used a song to segue into the rest of my books.

Song: May There Always Be Friendship
I had such trouble finding songs and rhymes that would suit this theme, so I wound up writing one of my own. It's based on May There Always Be Sunshine, a song which has been recorded by Raffi and Jim Gill and I'm sure many other children's musicians. I used the same tune, but changed the words, and added in some sign language.

I was feeling creative, so I decided to make a video of myself performing the song. I'm also including the words with links to the ASL signs. (Pardon the video quality; I just used the webcam built into my laptop!)

May there always be friendship.
May there always be peace.
May there always be love.
This is my dream.

We are all different,
But we're also the same.
Let's be kind to each other.
This is my dream.

I had no idea how this would go over, but it turned out that every child in the room could do the signs, and eagerly copied my every motion. I went over all of  them ahead of time, except for dream, which I forgot, but we picked that one up when we got to it, and they all got it right away.

Book: Yoko by Rosemary Wells (1998)
I wanted to include a book that talked about diversity but also had a decent plot, and this was a great choice. I think Rosemary Wells can be hit or miss, but I've never had anything but a positive response to this book.

Book: Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka (1999)
I had never read this book aloud to a group before, and I was worried that they might not understand who was speaking each word without any tags for the dialogue. I was wrong, though. They loved this book, and the ending got this great excited laugh out of  the whole group. It also gave me the opportunity to sing a favorite song from my Girl Scout days.

Song: Make New Friends
I found a version of this song on Google that had some hand motions, and then sort of combined it with my own memories of how the song goes. I could tell we had a couple of Brownies in the audience because they knew all the words!

Book: All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka (1994)
There was something very calm and quiet about this story time that made this book just fit perfectly. This was our fourth book, and it seemed like we'd been at it forever, but the kids were so attentive. I think maybe it was the colors in the illustrations that drew them in.

Song:  Love Grows
This song is pretty similar to Make New Friends, but no one seemed to mind. They all did a wonderful job with the motions.

Book: We All Sing With the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene, illustrated by Paul Meisel (2001)
Our copy of this book used to have a CD with it, but it has apparently been stolen, so I used Lisa Monet's version of the song instead. I sang along with the chorus, but otherwise let the music and illustrations speak for themselves. 

Song: Monkeys on the Bed
One little girl requested this and I just couldn't say no! It actually made the perfect final song.

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This


  1. I like your May there always be friendship song, may I borrow it?

    1. Absolutely. It's not really mine - the original idea came from Raffi and Jim Gill, I just rewrote the lyrics and looked up the sign language!

  2. thanks for putting us on your list - I think? Our blog is pretty basic so Im not sure if those are blogs u have just looked at or if u are recommending. In any case, I'm going to add u to ours if that's ok! thanks

    1. You're welcome! That is a list of all the story time blogs I read regularly, so that visitors to my blog can find more blogs with similar content. There's nothing wrong with a basic blog - I like your ideas! And feel free to add me to your list as well. Thanks for the comment. :-)


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