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
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
Our next story is Belling the Cat, based on an Aesop fable. What do you know about cats and mice? Yes, cats like to chase mice. Cats like to eat mice. Let’s see what these mice do about the cat.
Use the handout below to tell the story and to pass out to families so that they can retell the story at home.
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: Having your children retell stories is one good way for them to learn about how stories work. It’s also a lot of fun. They can also try drawing and writing the story, adding their own ideas. Enjoy!
Belling the Cat story and handout: bellingcat
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
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
To view a videoclip of using a host puppet to convey early literacy information in the Explain Aside during storytime, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvZr8i_25_E
Cat Puppet: There’s a cat in my hat, a cat in my hat, a cat in my hat today (do twice). What does the kitty cat say? [cat puppet says meow]
Read Mama Cat Has Three Kittens
Early Literacy Aside–Example: When children hear rhymes, rhythms and sounds of animals, it helps them develop phonological awareness, hearing the smaller sounds in words. This is a skill that will help them as they begin to read.
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: Keep doing rhymes with things in your children’s world. Today we did cat in my hat. You can do ball in the hall or star on my car (give a star sticker).
Submitted by Cathy Cartedge, Public Library of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County (NC)
Early Literacy Aside–Explain: Teddy Bear puppet talking to introduce the skill: Today we are going to develop your children’s story knowledge and thinking skills. These skills help them to understand what they read when they learn to read. [Then hide the bear in a black piece of paper like a cave.]
Read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, putting motions to the words.
Activity: Give children colored stips of paper to represent each of the scenes in the book. Connect each color strip with each scene; for example: blue for river, green for grass, brown for mud. Now, retell the story using first, second, third, etc.–first we went to the river and as they say the phrase they place the blue colored strip down, and so on. For the last action where they go home, have a piece of material to represent a blanket.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: With this activity what your child knows, by helping them in a couple of ways–retelling the story so they understand how stories work and also with sequencing and connecting colors with actions which develops their thinking skills.
Submitted by Irania Patterson, Public Library of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County (NC) and Saroj Ghoting
Storytime Plan includes these books with suggested activities and relation to the early literacy skills.
Arabella Miller’s Tiny Caterpiller by Clare Jarrett
On the Farm by David Elliott
A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker
Tweedle Dee Dee by Charlotte Voake
[Some activities are more for school-age children.]