Monday, November 4, 2013

When We Get the Wiggles

The number of outreach visits I'm making each season has skyrocketed, which means I'm really refining my bag of storytime tricks. Each month, I put together a new bag of stories, planned songs and rhymes, and maybe a puppet, but all that materials preparation doesn't completely do the trick--especially when a group gets the wiggles and sitting still is just not an option. What do I do when my story time crowds get the wiggles? These are some of the no-materials strategies I've been using in different levels of wiggle crisis:

Low Wiggle Crisis:

A brief song or rhyme interlude will suffice. My go-to is a wiggle-packed variation on the "Finger Family" rhyme.
Wiggle Your Fingers!
Wiggle your fingers up,
Wiggle your fingers down.
Wiggle your fingers all around.
Wiggle them on your shoulders,
Wiggle them on your head.
Wiggle them on your knees,
And tuck them into bed.

I'll add extra variations to that rhyme, too, including having kids wiggle their fingers by different parts of their bodies. My recent favorite variation is to have kids wiggle fingers to one side, then wiggle them on the other, back and forth, so that we have an opportunity to talk about the hula. That odd change of topic at the end of the wiggle rhyme seems to get them back into listening mode.

Another recent favorite for those low wiggle crises is the "Fruit Salad" song I learned at the first Guerrilla Storytime from Anna.

Fruit Salad (tune=Frere Jacques)
Watermelon, watermelon
hold arms over head in an oval
Papaya, papaya
move hands in two groundward bumps
Ba-na-na-na-nana, ba-na-na-na-nana
start with hands over head and move downward
Fruit salad! Fruit salad!
make a bowl with hands

We usually do this song twice: once to learn it, then a second time to get silly with it.

My last recent go-to favorite was taught to me during a Skype session with Cory of Storytime Underground:

The Peanut Song
A peanut sat on a railroad track
mimic holding a peanut
And his heart was all a-flutter
tap your heart
Around the bend came Number 10
move hand like train, then hold up ten fingers
Toot, toot!
mimic pulling a train whistle
Smash, smash!
clap hands
Peanut butter!
raise hands in an "oh, well" gesture

I should note that I learned these hand motions to go with the song when I did it with a particularly great preschool group--they taught me the motions that they do when they sing the song. (Their teacher also explains onomatopoeia when cowboy goes "Eeeeek!" in Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy. Stellar!)

Medium Wiggle Crisis:

A sit-down wiggle song or rhyme just won't cut it, so we stand up for an action-packed song or two. I start with "Form the Orange" as demonstrated by the incredibly terrific Rick. I'll give you the words, but make sure you watch the video for all the motions.

Form the Orange
Form the orange. Form, form the orange.
Peel the orange. Peel, peel the orange.
Squeeze the orange. Squeeze, squeeze the orange!
[I ask, "What do you get when you squeeze an orange?"]

Form the potato. Form, form the potato.
Peel the potato. Peel, peel the potato.
Mash the potato. Mash, mash the potato!
["What do you get when you mash a potato?"]

Form the banana. Form, form the banana.
Peel the banana. Peel, peel the banana.
GO BANANAS! GO, GO BANANAS!
[after I explain what "going bananas" means, we do it again!]

Another medium wiggle crisis option is the ever-popular "We're Going to Kentucky," which many a librarian has recrafted to suit specific story time needs. I go for the original version I learned from Mel:

We're Going to Kentucky
We're going to Kentucky, we're going to the fair,
To see a seƱorita with flowers in her hair.
march during this first couplet

So shake it, shake it, shake it, as fast as you can,
Shake it like a milkshake, and do the best you can.
wiggle/shake/twist

Shake it to the bottom
twist to the floor
Shake it to the top
twist back up
Turn around, turn around, turn around...
spin
STOP!
freeze

I particularly like Kendra's zoo version, which she uses in zoo-themed programs.

High Wiggle Crisis:

All hope is lost unless kids get to move their bodies and focus their attention on something they really enjoy. My strategy in these instances may seem counterintuitive, as we do not stand up to work out that energy. Instead, we tell stories with our hands.

Little Bunny Foo Foo - I preface this story by telling the kids that they need to be able to do a few things to help. They need to make bunnies; hop those bunnies; make a scoop; bop their knees; shake a finger like someone did something naughty; and make magic fairy fingers. From there, we start singing the "Little Bunny Foo Foo" story, with high emphasis on what this crazy thing called a "goon" might be. Our goons end up with us making the silliest/scariest faces we can.

Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree - Marge shared this mind-bogglingly outstanding sign language version of the familiar rhyme at a Guerrilla Storytime. First she teaches the kids the signs for the important words: monkeys, swinging, tree, teasing, alligator, etc. Then she launches into the rhyme, saying and signing the words simultaneously. The repetition of the rhyme means that, by the time you're at three or two monkeys left, many of the kids have figured out at least a few of the signs. Then, as the grand finale, do the final "One little monkey" verse completely in sign. The tension builds and builds as the kids anticipate a big "CLAP!" as the last monkey gets snatched out of the tree. There is absolute silence in the room for that last verse, and everyone is fascinated.

*Bonus for these stories: teachers and caregivers are familiar with them, even if they haven't shared them with their kids, and so they are interested to see how the librarian does them. When they participate because they're interested in a story, they aren't talking amongst themselves and distracting the kids, which can create wiggle crises in the first place.

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What do you do when your story time crowd has the wiggles?


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