The library gods must be watching out for me, because this past weekend's Milk & Cookies Story Morning could have been a logistic disaster. You see, that Saturday morning program has been consistently popular, filling my meeting room to the max. It just so happens, however, that our new children's dvd shelving couldn't be delivered last week as planned, and so all of our children's dvds are currently on tables in the back half of the meeting room. That meant coming up with an alternate plan for the story time, snack, and play time of my program.
Except then it turned out to be about 15 degrees outside Saturday morning, with a windchill just north of 0. The prospect of venturing to the library on the first frigid morning of the year was apparently unappealing, and my attendance numbers dropped to a minimalistic 13. Happily, that more intimately-sized program was completely doable with the temporary meeting room logistics. We were all in closer quarters than we might usually be, but everyone professed to having a great time.
December Milk & Cookies Story Morning
With this smaller group, I asked the kids if they wanted me to read from a chair or to sit on the carpet with them. They chose carpet, so I grabbed my first book and we got started.
Story: Six Little Chicks by Jez Alborough
This rhyming book is quite a bit of fun, with a story that builds in anticipation as a mother hen worries about a fox in the chicken coop. There are a selection of animals whose noises you can mimic, there are opportunities for counting, and there are great spots for movement as kids copy the little chicks. The illustrations are bright and big as well, making this book a good choice for groups. I had quite a few kiddos helping me to finish the rhymes throughout the story.
Song: "I Know a Chicken" by Laurie Berkner
I passed out egg shakers to our group--we had enough for every child to get two eggs--and we got really into the shaking of our eggs according to the song's instructions. One little girl in particular was way into some interpretive chicken-egg dancing, which helped get some of the more shy kids into the groove.
This book finds Theo at school on Mood Monday, and his teacher asks what happened over the weekend and how he feels. Theo shares that his mom just had a baby--a new baby sister--but that he doesn't know how he feels. His classmates help give him options of moods--happy, mad, jealous, proud, sad, and afraid--and ultimately Theo figures out how to express all the feelings he has as a new big brother. The pace of this quick story is perfect for inviting kids to uses their faces to express their different emotions; "Show me your afraid face" got some especially great facial reactions. This story explores a range of emotions in a safe, heart-warming way, illustrating that it's okay to feel all sorts of different things. I love that this story really shares vocabulary for the variety of things a preschooler might feel on a daily basis.
Song: "Grey Squirrel"
Our song cube toss landed on "Grey Squirrel," so I handed out egg shakers once again to serve as acorns to our squirrels. To my great enjoyment, many of the dads in attendance got into this song with their little ones. Shake your bushy tail!
Story: The Little Red Hen by Byron Barton
I think this version of The Little Red Hen is one of my favorites--the illustrations are just so kid-friendly. Together, we shared this story and acted out what the little red hen was doing, and at the end we talked about why it's important to help other people. Or hens, as it were.
Fingerplay: "Zoom, Zoom, Zoom"
I found this simple fingerplay/song on Jbrary (don't you just LOVE them?!?), and I knew I needed to add it to my story time movement repertoire. It has easy hand motions throughout, and it includes counting backwards from five as well, helping to solidify those numeracy skills. Plus, what kid doesn't like to do sound effects for "Blast off!!!"?
Song: "We're Going to Kentucky"
We sang this favorite a few times through, making sure to get a little bit faster and sillier each time.
Chant: "Form the Orange"
With just two minutes left in story time, I pulled this chant out of my back pocket; a quick scan of the room reminded me that none of the children in attendance had heard me lead the rhyme before! We made some orange juice, mashed some potatoes, and went bananas. As one does in story time.
Milk & Cookies Time!
On the menu was 2% milk and cinnamon alphabet cookies from Trader Joe's. I love handing out cookies that providing an opportunity for letter and number recognition, too.
Free Play Time
With our more limited space for play this month, I pulled out just three sets of toys: large building blocks, our wooden cars and garages set, and a new alphabet puzzle. Several of the kids got really into solving the 24-piece puzzle, and we ended up finishing it, taking it apart, and finishing it a second time. I'll definitely be bringing out this puzzle again in future programs; it's great for letter recognition, vocabulary, visual problem solving, and cooperation as we solve the puzzle together.