Big Box for Ben by Deborah Bruss

Introduction: I have a big empty box here. What do you think we can do with this box? What could you do with it? [You may want to have more than one box if you want to give them time to explore and play with the boxes, or you may choose to do this after reading the book.]
Today we have a book called Big Box for Ben by Deborah Bruss. Let's see what this boy Ben likes to do with his box. [As you read the book, add interesting words describing the box, the position of the box and the flaps, what Ben is imagining--using the word imagination]

Early Literacy Aside: Playing is a great way to build children's language. By following your child's lead, giving them time to express their ideas and think imaginatively, asking open-ended questions, adding new words and description, you give them opportunities to build their vocabulary, to think of stories, and to understand the world around them. All these skills contribute to later helping them understand what they read.


Sequence Cubes

Storytime Activity: The cubes shown here are made from 6” x 6” packing boxes. There are 6 sequences per cube, one for each side of the cube. You can see here a sequence of three for caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly and from pumpkin to carving a jack-o-lantern face, to the finished jack-o-lantern.To play, each family or small group gets three cubes as a set. A child rolls a cube and describes the picture. If the child is unable to respond, the adult helps the child reply or labels the picture with one word. Next, different people in the group look for other items in the sequence on the remaining two cubes. [For easier sequences use only two items, for harder sequences use four or more cubes.] Early Learning Aside: Talking about sequences, first, second, third, what happens next supports scientific and mathematical thinking with this cube activity. In this case we will be playing with sequences of three, three in a row. Talk together about the pictures and what pictures make sense to be in the sequence. Then line up the cubes in a row in order from left to right. [Note that a 1, 2, 3, sequence could be from less to more or more to less. It is still a sequence.] Continue the game as another person rolls a cube; repeat the process. Instructions to make and use the cubes:  cubesseq


Peanut & Fifi Have a Ball by Randall de Seve

Introduction: When we use books that are fun and use imagination, our children make a connection to the story. In Peanut and Fifi Have a Ball written by Randall de Seve and illustrated by Paul Schmid, Peanut has a new ball and Fifi tries so hard to get her to play.  Watch how this story uses a simple item and adds imagination.
Read the book.
Activity: Act out the story.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Acting out the story, dramatic play, reinforces both the story itself and the pleasure about the story. By internalizing the story, they are better able to understand it.
Early Literacy Aside--Empower:  I hope you'll encourage playing with stories at home as well. Take a box, ruler, blanket, ball, or many other simple items and use make believe to encourage play.  Other books that work with Play and imagination are Not a Box and Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis.  After playing with a simple item, you can always expand on this play by having your child draw something they did, dictate a story about their play, or just describe what they did with the item.  Using writing to expand on the story validates your child’s play. Talking about and recording the story,  going over the sequence is uses their narrative skills which helps your child learn how stories work by using first, next, and last. Submitted by Dianna Burt, Allen County (IN) Public Library

Little Red Hen Readers' Theater

Introduce the book Little Red Hen by Byron Barton: This is a folktale that many authors have retold. The book we are going to read was written and illustrated by Byron Barton. [Have several copies of the book available, or copied sheets.] Today with your help, we are going to read by doing what is called Readers' Theater.  This is playacting without having to memorize any lines. I will act as narrator, but I will need the rest of you to participate as well. Let's divide into three groups: pig, duck, and cat.  Now I will need four parent volunteers and your children to come to the front to read the lines of the characters. After you have read the lines, encourage the children to repeat after you. After the child says your words then the children in groups will say those words as well.Clap for all the participants--children in groups, children up front, parents. Talk briefly about the story by asking questions such as How would you feel if you were the little red hen? What would you have done? What do you think the pig, duck and cat might do next time? Early Literacy Aside--Example: When you have children act out stories, it is not only fun, but this kind of dramatic play helps them understand how stories work and helps them understand the story. These are skills that will help them understand what they read when they get to school. Lillie Butler, St. Tammany Parish (LA) Library


Early Literacy Aside--Empower: When you go to play in the park next time with your children, talk about some of the concepts we talked about today--over/under, top/bottom, left/right. The best way for children to learn these concepts is not by memorizing what they mean, but by learning them as they are playing.  By helping them learn these concepts, they will later better understand what they read.Natalie Beaver, Sacramento (CA) Public Library

Playing with Directional Words

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: We can help children learn new words as we play with them. In today's storytime we read We're Going on a Bear Hunt which had directional words. Here is a game you can play. Show your child an item (a shoe perhaps) and hide it in a room with a little of it showing. Give your child hints about where to find it using position words like right, left, above, below, and so on. You can also give clues like, "You're getting warmer or colder" as they get closer or farther away. Here is a handout with the game and some activities to support pre-reading skills.

Handout--game with five practices

Three Bears by Byron Barton

Early Literacy Aside--Explain: Narrative skills is the ability to talk about events and tell stories. Having children tell you what they are thinking, talk about things that happen, or tell you stories is later going to help them understand what they read.Read The Three Bears and have children help you retell the story using props or a flannel board. Early Literacy Aside--Example: Retelling stories helps children understand what they read. Using props found around home can help children remember and retell stories. Early Literacy Aside--Empower: When children do what is called dramatic play, when they act out stories, this kind of play helps children understand the structure and story and helps them understand the story itself. Play is a great way to support later reading.

Submitted by Sue Smith, Independence Library, Public Library of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County (NC)

Piggy and Dad Go Fishing by David Martin

Read the book Piggy and Dad Go Fishing by David Martin. Retell the story using props.Early Literacy Aside--Empower: You encourage dramatic play when you give your children opporutnities to retell stories with your children using things around the house. Having your children retell stories helps them remember the story and also to understand how stories work, with a beginning, a middle and an end. This will help them later in school when they will write their own stories and to understand stories they will read.

Snap! by Marcia Vaughan

Read the book Snap! by Marcia Vaughan.Early Literacy Aside--Example: This book lends itself to retelling events which helps your child understand the story. Encourage your child with questons that leave room for them to describe what they hear or see. I used questions like, "What did Joey do when his Mom fell asleep?" and "Who did he meet?" Early Literacy Aside--Empower: The ability to retell a story is an important skill for children to have in order to understand what they are reading. Predicting what happens next and acting it out, or as it's usually called, pretend playing, is a fun way to retell a story and to gain background knowldge along the way.

Submitted by Donna Hackman, Bedford (VA) Public Library and Justin Azevedo, Sacramento (CA) Public Library