Friday, August 2, 2013

Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain Drop-In Story Time, 8/2/13

 Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain Drop-In Story Time, 8/2/13

This story time has been a source of frustration for the past few weeks, because the adults have been so rude and difficult. In the past, what has sometimes worked is to change the format and structure of the story time so they can't anticipate what comes next and therefore can't figure out when it might be okay for them to talk. (They seem to have the idea that it's okay to talk during books, but they will sing songs. If I'm playing the ukulele, they will be quiet, but if I have a puppet, they talk. It's weird.)

This morning, I ditched the usual themed story time, and instead did something a bit different to change things up and hopefully get us out of our rut.  On the flannel board, I put up four items - a sun, a moon, a sky full of stars, and a raindrop - and as we read books and did activities for each one, I removed that flannel board piece. ("Sun, moon, stars, rain" is a line from "anyone lived in a pretty how town" by e.e. cummings, if you're thinking it sounds familiar.) I was a bit concerned that four books would be pushing it, but it wasn't at all, and this turned out to be one of the all-time best large-group story times I have ever done.

Book: The Sun is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch
I made sure to read this book with a very excited tone, and to stop and point out interesting tidbits in the pictures. I expected to have to scold them for talking, but to my great surprise, no one was saying a word! This book even got applause at the end!

Song with Sun Puppet: Mr. Sun

Song with Ukulele: You Are My Sunshine
I really like playing this song on the ukulele, and it tends to calm the whole room. Some of the kids even started to sing along! 

Song: Moon Moon Moon

Book: The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson
I find it helps to narrate a little bit of what is happening in the pictures between lines of the poem. This was the book I was most nervous about, but keeping a conversational tone helped the kids get into it, I think.

Song with Ukulele: Aikendrum
There was one adorable little boy in the back of the room who spontaneously started to clap during this song, which made my entire morning!

Book: I Like Stars by Margaret Wise Brown
They started to lose it around this time, but I brought them back by asking the group to tell me what color the different stars were on each page. Unfortunately, a couple of little boys right in front took this as an invitation to yell every line of the book back at me, so we kind of rushed through this one and quickly went into the next song.

Song: Stars Shining Bright

Book: Rain by Robert Kalan
This was a good, simple book to end with. The rainbow caught everyone by surprise and caused spontaneous applause. 

Song: I Like to see the Raindrops Fall
The kids always like this song, and most of the motions are easy enough for even a lot of the babies to do.

Some of the success of today's story time is owed to the fact that people are out of town and some of the problem nannies were not there,  but I think there is also something important about keeping books as the central focus. It might seem foolish to read four books in a session when they often don't allow me to get through two, but I actually think showing them that story time is mainly about stories, and is not just a sing-along with an occasional book does command greater respect from the audience. We'll see if a similar approach works next week!

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Flannel Friday: Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

Last week, my preschool story time was all about imagination. In addition to several picture books, I also shared this flannel board adaptation of Jeremy Draws a Monster. In this story, Jeremy, a bored, lonely boy, draws a monster. The monster is rude and demanding, and asks Jeremy to draw him all kinds of things. When the monster takes over Jeremy's bed in the middle of the night, Jeremy finally wises up and sends that monster packing!

Here is Jeremy when he first draws the monster. My Jeremy is a clipart image from The monster is also from mycutegraphics, but I recolored his outline in Microsoft Word to make him look more like a drawing. I made sure to use blue so he would match the monster in the book as much as possible.
I found line drawings on Google Images of each of the drawings the monster requests, and recolored them in Word to match the color scheme used in the book. I tried to use a special text effect to make them look even more like pencil drawings, but some of the lines were too thin, so that didn't work out.

When it came time to show that Jeremy had gone to bed, I used a piece of blue felt as his blanket.

This picture shows the monster with his hat, which is the last item he asks Jeremy to draw, and the bus ticket and suitcase Jeremy draws to get rid of the monster.

This is the bus and the group of kids who appear at the end of the story. As the bus left the flannel board, I prompted the kids to say goodbye to the monster, which they did with great joy.

My preschool group responded really well to this story, and after story time, I brought out the picture book and many of the kids could  retell the entire thing from the book, after only hearing me tell it with the flannel board once. Monsters and ways to catch them figured heavily into the pictures the kids colored, and we had lots of discussion about what else Jeremy could have drawn to get rid of his monster problem. This was probably the most successful flannel board I've ever used with this age group.

This week, for my beginning reader story time at the main library, I created some more flannel board pieces to use with this story. I created a speech bubble for the monster, so the kids could interact with the story and call out the names of  the various things he wants Jeremy to draw. Though I only wound up seeing two kids, this was a  really effective way to tell the story, and both enjoyed it.

This week's Flannel Friday host is K Leigh at Storytime ABC's. Learn more about Flannel Friday at the official site.
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