Monday, September 17, 2012

September Outreach Story Time: Starting the year with a hop

I love starting a new season of outreach in September. The children I visit at daycares and preschools are fully of energy and the joy of school in September, and they are pumped to have someone come to read stories to them. I also love the beginning of fall outreach because it coincides with the start of the Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award voting period. Each year from September 1-December 31, any child who reads at least five of the 10 nominated books is eligible to vote for his or her favorite. I read two or three Building Block books at each monthly fall outreach story time, so my frequently-visited preschools get to vote in December. This past week I started things off with three great 2012 Building Block nominees, plus a former nominee that always proves a hit. Add in some rhymes and songs and you're set!

September Outreach Story Time

Opening Song: "Open, Shut Them"

Story: If You're Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre, illus. by Jackie Urbanovic
     Even the youngest preschool-goers are familiar with the song "If You're Happy and You Know It," so this animal-centered adaptation is always a welcome treat. Children get to meet a variety of hoppy, sloppy, growly, and flappy animals in this bright, fun read. I read the words musically so kids recognize the tune, and they love getting involved with the actions in the story.

Fingerplay: "This is the Bunny"

This is the bunny with ears so funny
hold up two fingers for bunny ears
And here is his hole in the ground.
make a ring with other hand
When a sound he hears, he pricks up his ears
wiggle then straighten your bunny ears
And jumps into his hole in the ground.
put the bunny ears in your ringed hand

Story: Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan A. Shay, illus. by Tom Slaughter
     This colorful, rhymed book gets great reactions from children of all ages. The youngest ones watch carefully as flaps lift to show things that do not grow (e.g., sweaters, cars). Slightly older children emphatically supply "yes" or "no" answers to the questions of which things grow, and the oldest preschool children try to finish all of the rhymes in the text. This book also includes great vocabulary--it mentions that young owls are owlets, young cows are calves, and young foxes are kits. The animal-loving readers really got into these words. I love finding books that will engage and appeal to a wide range of ages.

Fingerplay: "Five Fat Peas"

Five fat peas, in a pod pressed
show five fingers, then ball into a fist
One grew, two grew, so did all the rest.
lift fingers for growing peas
They grew and they grew and they did not stop
with hands together, slowly move hands apart
Until one day that pea pod POPPED!
move hands apart and clap on "POPPED"

Story: I Spy With My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs
     This story is another great read for a wide age range. A hole in each page lets kids "spy" what is on the next page. For clues to guess the animal they are spying, they have the animal's color as well as the animal's short description (think "long trunk" for elephant). I like to encourage kids to get out their spyglasses to read this story--and before I know it everyone is peering at the book through spyglass hands. There is a lot of great vocabulary in this read, too, whether your audience is just starting to learn colors or is learning about wild animals.

Puppet Rhyme: "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree"
     Seems like all preschoolers are familiar with the variety of "Five Little Monkeys" rhymes. Which is not to say that they tire of reciting them--no, no, much to the contrary, they love chanting along to something they know. I bring my alligator puppet with my Eileen Christelow finger puppet monkeys when I take this rhyme on the road, and the whole room always erupts in giggles when Mr. Alligator snatches those monkeys for a snack.

Story: The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend, illus. by John Manders
     Jack the cat is trying to set a trap that will give him some eggs to make omelets. After a chicken, a duck, and a goose all lay an egg in this perfect nest, however, things don't go quite as Jack planned. Children love the voices and foreign words written into the text--these are some silly fowl, people--and the story develops at a pace that really keeps their attention. The story also ends on a calm, quiet note, which is great for signaling the end of story time.

Closing Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It"
     We read a book based on this song, so why not finish our story time with the original version, plus a few funny animal motions mixed in? I find this song always leaves groups in a good mood--perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it encourages them to shout in school?


That's three Building Block nominees down so far for this fall's outreach visits. I'll be visiting a few more preschools and daycares with this story time before the end of the month, and then it's on to a new batch of stories for October!

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