Monday, September 24, 2012

It's a (story time) party!

Current and former preschoolers
celebrate together.
One of the preschools I visit regularly to provide outreach story times contacted me last month to share some news: they were throwing a party to celebrate their 25th anniversary as a preschool, and I was invited! Woo, a party! Who doesn't love a party? Of course I said I'd be there, and I happily agreed to bring some stories for the activities portion of the day.

There was a lot to capture kids' attention following birthday song and the cutting (and gobbling) of the birthday cake. There was a clown making balloon animals, face painting, a bounce house--the fire department even brought a fire truck to the parking lot for the occasion. With all that stimulation, kids moved from station to station as they pleased. Lots seemed quite happy to have a semi-quiet story time area where they could relax and enjoy some popsicles.

Since kids were moving in and out of my story time area, I had some books propped up in front of me so kids could choose the stories they wanted to hear. Familiarity and silliness seem to be key in choosing stories for an informal story time, as the big hits were Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen ChristelowDuck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and I Am Invited to a Party! by Mo Willems. All these stories make sense to young children even if they arrive in the middle of a telling. They also all boast interactive read-aloud options: kids can use their fingers to tell about those jumping monkeys, and the reader can ask for opinions on what that creature looks like and what kids might wear to various types of parties.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of this story time party was my getting to introduce my new story time tool: a ukulele! It arrived in the mail last week, and so far I've mastered "If You're Happy and You Know It"--which, thankfully, can be adapted and stretched out in a myriad of ways. At the party, we sang it the traditional way as well as with animal noises; kids got really involved, as I asked them to supply the names of animals they wanted to sound like in each verse. We were rockin'!

I may not have had kids lined up by my station like the face painters or balloon animal-making clown, but all the kids I did interact with were all smiles. That's what I call a fun party!

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