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: Some of us can sing well, others not so well. Some of us like to sing whether we can or not and others would rather not sing. Did you know that singing is one way to help children learn the sounds in language which will then help them hear sounds as they learn to sound out words? Songs have a distinct note for each syllable so children hear the rhythm of language and hear words broken down into parts.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: Our next book is a songbook. It uses the words to the song as the book itself. It’s called Sing by Joe Raposo. I often feel like the third bird! I hope you do too. Let’s see what happens when one of the three birds can’t sing. We can all sing the words together and notice how songs help with hearing sounds in words.
Read/sing the book first describing what is happening in the wordless pictures.
Introduction: Our next book is about a crocodile who is trying to have some fun and in the process is stirring up a big ruckus!
Early Literacy Aside–Example: Adults, listen to the many interesting words that children may not hear in everyday conversation. You’ll see that I will actually talk about a couple of the words. This is a good way to build your children’s vocabulary in a gentle way.
Read the book. [You can see there are many synonyms such as a pest, a nuisance, a pain and several interesting verbs such as stalk, splat, croak, squawk, spies, charges. Choose one or two to talk about.]
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: Children learn through repetition. So, reading a story such as Solomon Crocodile over several days or weeks will help them understand the story better. They may become so familiar with it that they join in with the words in the book. And you may find that they use some of those interesting words in other situations. You can too. The best way to learn new words is not from lists of words with definitions, but from using the words in different situations when appropriate.
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.
Using a baby doll or stuffed animal as a baby, demonstrate reading this book using more words than what is in the text. For example page 1: Little you, little wonder. Point to the parents and to the child. Here is the father and the mother and there is the little baby. There is a big round red sun in this picture (as you point to it) and a little flower with a ladybug. They look happy together, they are smiling. Another example, page 3: Little wish, gentle thunder. Let’s see what is in this picture; there’s a cat and a little kitten, a baby cat, just as this mother is holding her baby. And look out the window, there is a crescent moon. It looks dark outside. We see a flash of lightning that also comes with thunder. When I was little I used to be afraid of storms, especially when the thunder was so loud.
Early Literacy Aside–Explain: In today’s storytime I’ll be pointing out different ways you can read with your baby. Reading with your children is the single best thing you can do to help them become good readers later. There are many ways to read and share books with young children and I’ll be pointing out some today.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: When you read to your baby and the book has only a few words on the page, take time to add your own words about the picture or about things the picture makes you think about. This adds to your baby’s vocabulary and background knowledge which will make it easier for them to later understand what they read.
You can have a few minutes of Read Together time where you pass out board books for each family and have them add words to the few in the book. They may not get through the whole book. That’s fine! They are enriching their babies’ language experience.
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 Literacy 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
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.
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
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–Explain: Our early literacy tip today is on print motivation, your children’s enjoyment of books and reading. Children who have had positive experiences around books and reading before going to school are more likely to stick with learning to read even if it is difficult. I’ll be pointing out some ways to make booksharing enjoyable in today’s storytime.
Book and flannel board: What! Cried Granny: An Almost Bedtime Story by Kate Lum is our next book. It’s about a boy who is having a sleep-over at his grandmother’s house.
Let’s see what happens when he tries to get the things he needs to go to sleep. Granny is often surprised and says in a loud voice,
“What!” Let me hear you all say that. You can join in as we go through the story.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: There are many ways to have children participate in stories as we read together. Having them participate as we read the story helps them enjoy the story more.
Submitted by Katie Ringenbach, Bucks County (PA) Public Library