Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Creature Comforts: animals at home

These are three books I happen to like very much. There are many others that would fit within this theme. As I gather titles I'll add them to the bottom of this post. One I should mention right away that I read to kids often is Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell. It's one of my favorite picture books and would also have been a perfect fit for this storytime. I think it must have been unavailable when I threw this program together, which I did very quickly. So, not my best program, maybe, but it worked out just fine.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, is an interesting choice because it is the story of a baby bat growing up in a bird's nest. Stellaluna has to adapt to living like a bird, and then relearn how to live like a fruit bat. Even very little kids sit still for this story, which has pretty lengthy narration in the beginning. The illustrations are gorgeous and Stellaluna's expressions are priceless. The book ends with some factual information about bats.  Featured early literacy skill: narrative skills. There is one page in which Stellaluna falls and the words swirl down like the little bat falling, that text can be pointed out to the kids, exercising print awareness.

Action Song: Bats Are Sleeping
(tune: Frere Jacques)
action instructions follow the lyrics

Bats are sleeping, Bats are sleeping
upside down, upside down
Sleeping in the morning sun,
waiting for the night to come,
when they fly around,
when they fly around. 

Here is the American Sign Language sign for bat:

 I start out with everybody standing up. 
Bats are sleeping:  use the ASL sign, then tuck your hands under your cheek for "sleeping"
Upside down:  bend forward at the waist and hang upside down - this is also a yoga pose
morning sun:  stand up straight and make a big sun with your arms
night:  ASL for night - see picture above, move your hand over the other hand 2 or 3 times

Fingerplay: Two Little Bats
I am always surprised by how much kids enjoy the simple little fingerplay about two little dickie birds, or two little blackbirds. This is an easy one to adapt to a variety of themes. I found this one online: 
Two little bats (hold up 2 fingers or thumbs)
hanging in a cave (point fingers upside down)
one named Dan (hold up 1 finger)
and one named Dave (hold up other finger)
Fly away Dan! (1st finger makes flying motions to behind your back)
Fly away Dave! (2nd finger flies behind back)
Come back Dan, (1st finger returns)
Come back Dave. (2nd finger returns)

Try doing this 2 or 3 times at least so the kids learn it, 
then to have more fun, speed it way up, or slow it way down.

Book: Secret Place by Eve Bunting. This is not a kid favorite unfortunately. I think the text is maybe a little boring for very young children. But it makes an important point about the wildlife living all around us, even in big cities and how we need to protect the animals and their habitats. The kids do like the pictures of the animals, and during the storytime, they moved closer to the book to ask questions about some of the animals. School age kids might like this book better than preschoolers. This would be a good book for an Earth Day storytime.

Action Rhyme: The Egg

Snuggled down inside an egg that was white (crouch on floor with head down)
was a tiny little duck all curled up tight.
Then he lifted his head , tapped the egg with his beak (lift head, with finger "tap" egg)  
Then out he popped with a peep, peep, peep! (jump straight up and PEEP!)

Felt Board Song:  Irene, Good Night (new lyrics by Raffi) 
I love Raffi, and I use this song all the time in programs. I made felt board figures for it out of construction paper, laminated them and put felt on the back. Today I would use velcro. This is one of the first felt board sets I made, and every time I look at these little critters, I smile. I think they're pretty cute. Before singing the song I hand the critters out to the kids and tell them when they hear their animal in the song to come up and put their piece on the board. For some of them it's pretty hard to wait!  Early literacy skills: all music, songs, and rhymes exercise phonological awareness. Action rhymes and finger plays add motion to the rhymes which aids memorization. Songs and rhymes are fun and they are great exercise for our brains too!

Chorus: Irene, good night
Irene, good night
Good night, Irene
Good night, Irene
I'll see you in my dreams.

Foxes sleep in the forest,
A lion sleeps in a den,
Goats sleep on the mountainside,
and a piggy sleeps in a pen.

Whales sleep in the ocean,
A zebra sleeps on the land,
Hippos sleep by the riverside,
and camels sleep on the sand.

Coyote sleeps in the canyon,
A birdie sleeps in a tree,
and when it's time for me to rest,
My bed's the place for me. 

Above: the menagerie (cell phone pic, not very clear), and close up of my hippo sleeping by the river.

Book: One Wolf Howls by Scotti Cohn There are lots of cool ways to include this book in storytime programs. It's a counting book. It is a seasons book. It is a months of the calendar book. It's a book about wild wolves and how they live, sleep, hunt, raise families. The illustrations are realistic and calendar-worthy. There are several pages of facts and activities related to wolves. The kids enjoyed finding and counting the wolves on each page and  at the end we all howled like wolves. School age children will enjoy the learning games that follow the story.
After the storytime we completed a little craft, Stellaluna finger puppets. I found a bat pattern online, which I could not locate again, so here's another one:
I copied multiples of the pattern on construction paper - I used brown, like Stellaluna, but generally I use lots of colors, because it's art, and bats don't have to be black or brown in art. I cut the bats out, because it was tricky cutting for 3 year olds. Older kids could cut them out themselves - scissors require skill and patience, so this is a real learning experience for kids who can text a bazillion words a minute but can't write legibly or cut a straight line! So good practice, if you can teach them to slow down. I cut 2 small horizontal snips across the bat tummy so kids could slip a finger through.Then I let the kids color the bats and stick wiggle eyes on them. They loved them!

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