I took a detour from my usual Milk & Cookies Story Morning for this month. My planning process was starting to feel a bit too formulaic, which was harshing my story time juju. I decided to go ahead and put together a story time with a different set of goals for myself: use picture books of the "new books" shelf at my library and sneak in early literacy messages about all five practices. The challenge was invigorating for me, with fun interactive results for the kiddos.
Opening Song: "Open, Shut Them"
This rhyming counting story is excellent for those looking to add a spooky story to story time without being explicitly Halloween. A ghost starts out in a house all alone, but he hears various eerie noises--a groan, a growl, and shriek--and one by one he's joined by other monster characters. Don't worry, though; the illustrations are cartoonish and not frightening. The kids had lots of fun mimicking the sounds of the monsters, especially the click-clack of a skeleton. This is a great story all on its own, but it would pair really well with Go Away, Big Green Monster to emphasize monsters are nothing to be afraid of.
*Talking Tip: Imitating the creatures we see in books helps children become familiar with the range of sounds that occur in spoken and written language; their familiarity with all sorts of sounds will help them when it comes time to sound out words.
Song: "Monster Boogie" by Laurie Berkner
We danced around like monsters to this fun, silly song from one of my favorite musicians for story time. RAWR!
Song: "Dancing Scarf Blues" by Carole Peterson (with scarves)
I handed out scarves to all the kiddos in the room, then we shook those scarves with gusto as suggested by the song. What a great way to get the energy pumping!
*Singing Tip: Singing repetitive songs with children is great because they reinforce new and important vocabulary. Our song included lots of words about directions: around, side, front, back, high, low. We learned all those words while having fun!
It's no secret that I loved Dyckman's Boy + Bot, and her newest story is another great look at an unlikely friendship. Cub, a young bear, stumbles upon a tea party table with lots of cookies, but the tea party hostess--a young girl--has several rules to which Cub must adhere before he can get to the cookies. The expressive pictures add to the humor of this story. I wrap up the story by asking the kids what they would like to play: tea party or bear.
*Playing Tip: When children play, they get to experience the world and how it works in a safe space. Playing tea party or pretending to be a bear is really a learning exercise; they get to practice table manners, try out having claws, and use all sorts of words that go with special scenarios.
Song: "I'm a Little Teapot"
After three tosses and a roll of the song cube, we were prompted to sing this classic song which paired perfectly with the preceding story. Serendipity!
Song: "Five Little Ducks"
Another toss of the song cube led us to sing the fingerplay of "Five Little Ducks." We worked on getting our fingers to show the appropriate number of ducks, and we had plenty of fun quacking loudly as the mamma duck.
This companion to I Spy With My Little Eye contains a great variety of farm animals to spy and guess. Kids are prompted to guess the spied animal by its color and the sound it makes, just like in the companion book, with one great addition: the text says the letter the animal begins with. When sharing this story, I like to say (for a duckling, as an example): "This animal starts with 'D.' Can you use your finger to draw a 'D'? The 'D' makes a 'duh' sound." I love the added element of drawing letters.
*Writing Tip: Writing together doesn't have to mean using pencil and paper. Your child can draw in the air, in bubbles in the bathtub, or in a pan of uncooked rice--these are all great ways to get familiar with creating and recognizing letters.
Song: "We're Going to Kentucky"
What can I say? I just love this song, and so do the kids, and thus I will happily repeat it a second month in a row.
*Reading Tip: Don't forget that there are lots of books on display next to me that you can check out and read at home! Reading together with your child is a great way to have fun together, and it also promotes a love of words and reading in your child. If you show that you enjoy reading together, your child will love it, too!
Milk and Cookies Time!
Honey Teddy Grahams and 2% milk. Mmm.
Free Play Time
I set up four free play stations on the play side of our meeting room: vehicles and garages; play food; puzzles and writing; and science, with magnets, scale, and creature building. One mom in attendance told the whole group that our local fire house was having an event that same day: all the fire trucks would be out of the station and kids could tour them and find out more about being firefighters. That tip meant most of the families didn't stay to play for much longer than 20 minutes--they all wanted to head over to the first station. We had a great time while the kiddos were in the room, however, and I engaged in quite a few conversations with the children about what they were doing. I got plenty of insight into how a child works through a puzzle. Fascinating!