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
Our next story is about a rabbit who notices a black rabbit following him around in the light of day. Let’s see if you can figure out what that black rabbit is.
Activity: Use a flashlight to demonstrate making a shadow. If you want you can do this after the book as an explanation.
Read The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers.
Activity: Hand out flashlights for children to make hand shadows. Ask questions about how to make a shadow larger or smaller. Have children and adults experiment together.
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: As you walk around outside during the day, talk about shadows and how they are made. Do you see your shadow on a cloudy day? at night? When you talk with children about shadows, you are helping them learn about earth sciences, their world and how it works. Children are curious and interested in the world around them. Your explanations will later help them understand what they read.
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.
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: Our next book is 17 Kings and 42 Elephants written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy. Now we will take a journey into the jungle without even leaving the story room. In this story there are some nonsense words—that means they are not real words, but are made-up words. Listen carefully to try to figure out which are the nonsense words, but don’t tell.
Read the book.
Go through the book and tell which are the nonsense words. Ask the children what they think a couple of the nonsense words might mean. Talk about one of the real words and its meaning.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: Talking about specific meanings of words strengthens your children’s vocabulary which will help them understand what they later will read. Often times children have a general idea of what words mean but that benefit from an actual explanation. No need to do that with every unfamiliar word! Just pick out one or two or ask your child to pick out a word that sounds interesting and talk about its meaning.
For a sound clip 17 Kings & 42 Elephants of an excerpt from the book said in a mesmerizing chant by Amy Alapati
Submitted by Amy Alapati, Montgomery County (MD) Public Libraries
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
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.
Read the book The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson. Have participants join in with the repeated phrase “but the cow loves cookies.”
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: At the end of storytime pass out the attached handout. Tell the adults they can cut out the pictures with their children and play different games. Children can match the animals to what they eat. Use the pictures to help children retell the story, too! Young children can say the sounds of the animals. Have children say the repeated phrase “but the cow loves cookies.” Older children can retell the story using the pictures to remember the order. All these are steps to help your children retell stories and help them understand how stories work which will later make it easier for them to understand what they are reading.