Storytelling and Props:
[This story with props is based on a wordless picture book, now out of print. Elephant Buttons begins with a picture of an elephant, but the elephant has buttons on his belly; on the next page we realize that this is not actually an elephant, but a lion dressed up as an elephant. But wait! The lion has buttons too. Who is it in the lion costume? And so, each page reveals yet another animal in a costume with buttons in order after the lion there is a horse, then a duck, and then a mouse all with buttons. When we open the buttons of the mouse, there is an elephant with no buttons.]
The attached document give the pattern and instructions. elebuttons
Our next story Elephant Buttons by Noriko Ueno is quite an interesting one. I am going to tell it to you using some props. Let’s see what you think is happening as I tell this story.
Begin by holding up the elephant piece that has buttons on his tummy.
What’s this? An elephant? Right! But what’s this on his tummy? Buttons? Do elephants have buttons on their tummies? No? What do you think will happen if we unbutton the buttons?
Unbutton the buttons and reach inside and pull out a lion, with buttons on his tummy. And the questions continue. Proceed with a horse, a duck, and a mouse, all with buttons on their tummies. Unbuttoning the mouse reveals a big elephant with no buttons on his tummy! If the elephant is too big to actually fold into the mouse, then hold it hidden in the palm of your hand and pull it out at the appropriate time. Discuss why an elephant would dress up in a mouse costume inside a duck costume inside a horse costume, and so on.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: Using stories that can be interpreted in different ways offers your children an opportunity to think and offer their opinions. It allows them to look at what is happening from different perspectives. By asking open-ended questions and encouraging children to talk, asking what they are thinking, we give them a chance to problem-solve and to express what they are thinking, both are skills that will help them later understand what they read.
Amy Alapati, Montgomery County (MD) Public Libraries
Early Literacy Aside–Explain: We can talk with children about the books we read with them in many ways. Today I am going to point out ways that you can develop their understanding by encouraging them to think of what they might do in the situation in the story. Having them put themselves in the situation in the book will help them understand the story better now and will also help them understand what they read later.
Read the book to the page “There was absolutely nothing they could do.” Stop and ask the children how they think the problem might be solved. What could the cat and dog do? Get suggestions, then go on reading the book. After you have finished the book:
Early Literacy Aside–Example: Adults, you can see that I stopped in the middle of the story to get ideas from the children about ways to solve the problem. It doesn’t matter if they come up with the same idea as the author did or not. It is more important that to get the involved and thinking and to give them an opportunity to express their ideas. In this way they gain a better understanding of the story and learn to think this way later even when they are reading themselves.
Early Literacy Aside–Explain: In today’s storytime I will be pointing out ways you can support your children’s background knowledge through talking about what is happening in a book and writing about it too. By asking children about the story, we help them thinking bout what is happening and help them better understand the story.
Introduction: Our next book is Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino. There are two houses in this story, one for Rabbit and one for Owl and they get the two houses get too tall; they get very tall. In this story Rabbit and Owl have a problem. Let’s see what that problem is and maybe you can give some suggestions on how to solve it.
Read the book to the page where Owl’s house is blocking the sun that Rabbit needs for his garden, but Owl wants to see the forest. Ask an open-ended question such as “What do you think might happen?” “What do you think Rabbit and Owl could do solve their problem? Rabbit needs sun for his garden but his garden has grown tall and Owl wants to see the forest.”
Early Literacy Aside–Example: Some stories, like this one, really lend themselves to helping your children think about how to solve problems. Asking them to stop and think about possible solutions develops their thinking skills which also helps with understanding. Remember there is no one right answer. It is good for them to think about different possibilities.
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: In our storytime today we read the story Too Tall Houses. There are several ways Rabbit and Owl might have solved their problem. Have your children draw their own ending to the story and write down what they say. This activity combines writing with problem solving to make for better comprehension now and as they learn to read themselves.
Introduce the book The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. Have children repeat the phrase “No one makes cookies like Grandma.”
Read the book. Count the cookies on one plate as more children arrive.
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: The kitchen is a great place for activities around counting and measuring whether you use recipes or not. A “handful” is a measurement! How does the amount in your handful compare to the amount in your child’s handful? The bathtub is another great place to play with measurement, pouring water from one container to another.
I have a handout here to go with The Doorbell Rang. You and your children can cut out the twelve cookies and plates and see how the cookies are divided as more children come.
Preparation: Use a crocodile hand puppet and five monkeys that can be removed from a glove puppet. If you have a tree prop, like one for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, place monkeys on the tree.
Children count and snap. Children of all ages enjoy the rhythm/chant of the song and the snapping. Adults with babies can gently give them a surprise snap with a big smile. Toddlers and preschoolers count and like the repetition.
Five little monkeys sitting in a tree (Hold up five fingers and bounce hand up and down)
Teasing Mr. Crocodile, teasing Mr. Crocodile (Wave fingers forward)
Can’t catch me; can’t catch me. (Shake head no.)
Along comes Mr. Crocodile as quiet as can be. (Whisper with index finger over nose and mouth.)
And SNAPS that monkey out of the tree!
To make this rhyme more interactive between adults and children, when you repeat it, have the adult be the five little monkeys, holding up one hand. The child is the crocodile making a mouth with one hand. Optional: Reverse roles.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: In this rhyme, we are counting backwards with our children in a fun way. Counting is part of learning concepts which support your child’s background knowledge.
Submitted by Katie Rinenbach, Bucks County (PA) Public Library
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: I am gong to give you a pre-literacy skill magnet that says “Talking” to put on your frig. This will remind you to extend your conversations with your children. In this way you are building on what they know and they will be able to better understand what they read. The magnet also lets you know you are already your child’s first teacher! Great job, parents!
Workshop Participant, Sacramento (CA) Public 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
Book Introduction: In this book there are four animals (point to them on the cover)–a yellow bird, a white dog, an orange fox, and a brown squirrel. For each animal something sad happens, but then something good does, too! Let’s see what happens.
Read the book A Good Day by Kevin Henkes.
Sometimes something happens to us that makes us sad, but then we find a way to be happier. I am going to give each person a piece of paper and there are some crayons to share. I would like you to draw a picture of a time you were sad and a time you could make yourself happy. Then tell me or the adult who brought you about your picture.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: Adults, having your child describe their experiences and feelings aloud gives you an opportunity to develop their vocabulary and background knowledge. You can add more words to what they already use and also explain more about the situations they describe.