Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stories, Songs, and Dancing: A Program Plan for Twos

Please complete the following statement: Two-year-olds love _________.
     a) stories
     b) songs
     c) dancing
     d) all of the above

Did you select d) all of the above? Because it's true! Libraries traditionally focus on sharing stories in preschool programming, and while most program plans will involve some songs and maybe some dance, stories are definitely the main event. Have you ever considered a program where stories, songs, and dancing all have equal parts? Such a program can be lots of fun for kids and caregivers. Here's just such a program that was recently a total hit with two-year-olds at my library.

Opening Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It" + ukulele
     As each two-year-old came into the program, he or she got a name tag. I opened the program by welcoming each child individually by name and asking if he or she had a favorite animal. I wrote the favorite animals on our dry erase board. Writing down what children say helps them make the connection that written marks have meaning.
     After the first "clap your hands" verse of our song, we repeated it by going through our list of favorite animals. We had some repeats, so in the end we were giraffes (stretching our necks), elephants (making trunks with an arm), dogs (barking), and cats (meowing). This opening song got everyone loosened up and set the stage for a really energetic program.

Story: Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas
     The cows in this story keep doing silly things on Chicken's sofa, like jumping and wiggling. Reading this story aloud invites lots of action, and it's a funny read, too.

Song and Dance: "Mahna Mahna" by The Muppets
     I passed out rhythm sticks for this song (as I saw done at the ALSC Institute), and we grooved to the silly song for a few minutes. We worked on tapping a rhythm on our sticks, then we moved on to tapping fast, slow, up high, down low, and (most difficult) behind our backs. There was lots of movement during this number!

Story: King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood
     I love this story. It has great rhythm, is an easy-to-follow story with a repetitive pattern, and cracks kids up with its hilarity every time. Plus it's always fun to make the "glub glub glub" noises when the page lets all the bath water go down the drain.

Song and Dance: "Splish Splash" by Bobby Darin
     Go ahead, try to play this song and then not dance. It's simply a tune to be danced to! Our dance moves came from miming like we were taking a bath: washing our arms, legs, and hair. We also did some silly things like swimming in the bathtub and holding our noses.

Story: Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig
     While we were still standing from our "Splish Splash" dance, I pulled out this great rhythmic story that includes lots of fun animals. We danced on our tippity feet, our stompity feet, and our very own feet.

Story: Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
     Whew! We needed a bit of a break at this point, so all the kiddos sat down while I read Go Away, Big Green Monster--a perennial October favorite. My two-year-olds were really getting into the groove of a participatory story time, as they chimed in to say "Go away!" toward the end of the story.

Song and Dance: "Monster Boogie" by the Laurie Berkner Band
     I love songs whose lyrics narrate their dance moves; Laurie Berkner is great for just such tunes. For this song, we stomped around the room pretending to be monsters, and we intermittently bared our teeth, wiggled, danced, and roared.

Craft: Make-your-own ribbon dancer
     Our craft involved three supplies: the cardboard tube from a dry cleaners' pants hanger; a length of fabric ribbon; and some duct tape. With some assistance from their caregivers, the children taped their ribbons to their cardboard tubes to create a ribbon dancer, perfect for dancing. We even danced in some bubbles after the craft was finished! We had a great time popping those bubbles and shimmying to some surf songs from Jan and Dean.


There you have it, a simple program that matches stories, songs, and dancing perfectly. I'm confident this sort of program plan would work really well for, shall we say, energetic outreach classrooms as well.

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