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
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.
Read book: Joseph Had an Overcoat by Simms Taback
Have children say the repeated phrase, “But it got old and worn.”
Retell with flannel board: Now let’s do the story on the flannel board. What happened first?
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: [As you give out the handout] I have a handout for you today for Joseph Had an Overcoat. It is the same pattern that I used for the flannel board. You can cut out the pieces and have your children retell the story. As you have your children retell other stories too, using props can help them remember what comes next. For your younger children who may not be able to retell stories, they can repeat a word or perhaps a phrase. These are all activities that will later help your child understand how stories work and also help them understand what they read.
Pattern for flannel board and handout: josephovercoathandout
Extension Craft Activity: Five in the Bed
Hand out half-sheet of construction paper cut lengthwise and figures for children to decorate. Younger children glue five figures in the bed; older children decorate with more detail.
Each child also gets a brad so that they can rotate their figures onto and out of the bed as in the book/song.
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: Adults, your children are not only using their art to reinforce retelling the story There Were Ten in the Bed we read today, but also to reinforce our early literacy skill. Singing is a great way to support phonological awareness in that it slows down the words and gives a different note to each syllable, so today’s activity is a 2 for 1!
Submitted by Katie Ringenbach, Bucks County (PA) Public Library
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: In our storytime today, we read the story of the Little Red Hen by Byron Barton. Your children also retold the story with me on the flannel board. In today’s handout I have the repeated phrases and the order of what the little red hen did. There are also boxes for your children to draw the animals. You can cut them out and have the children retell the story for you. For your younger children, they can say the words “Not I” or say the sounds of the animals. Having your children retell stories helps them understand the story better and helps them learn how stories work. Enjoy!
Empower Aside: I have a handout for you related to the book we did with a flannel board today in storytime, Too Much Noise. Using little cues like the flannel board pieces can help your children retell the story. The handout has squares where your children can draw in the animals, you can cut them out and then retell the story together. Your youngest children can say the animal sounds, slightly older children can say the names of the animals and perhaps repeat the words “too noisy” and your preschoolers can try retelling the whole story. All of these are stages in helping your children develop narrative skills which will help them later understand what they read and how stories work. Enjoy!
Handout for Too Much Noise: multsttoomuchnoise
Our next book is a wordless book. It has pictures but no written words. Let’s see if you can figure out what the story could be just from the pictures.
Read through Breakfast for Jack by Pat Schories (or another wordless book of your choice) Let the children contribute to the conversation as you go through the pictures in the book.
Early Literacy Aside–Example: Using wordless books and having your child tell the story is one easy way to develop your children’s narrative skills–having them tell stories. They can tell the story different ways when reading the book several times.
Early Literacy Aside–Empower: I have displayed some wordless books today. Feel free to check them out and have your children tell you the story. If they seem to be stuck, you can ask open-ended questions like “What do you see in this picture? What do you think is happening here?” If you are telling the story together, remember to follow your child’s lead. Supporting your children’s narrative skills helps them later understand what they read.
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: Earlier in our storytime we read the book Something from Nothing and then you helped tell the story with the flannelboard. Today I have a handout for you, so that you can color and cut out the pieces from the rectangular blanket and then retell the story at home. Adults, when you give your children little aids or props, it helps them remember the story and retell it. When children retell stories they are better understanding how stories work as well as the story itself. This will help them later understand what they read. Have fun together!
Library Staff: You can enlarge the handout to make your own flannelboard.
Submitted by Saroj Ghoting, Early Childhood Literacy Consultant www.earlylit.net