Week 1 ~ Elephants
I centered this story time around Elmer by David McKee. A sweet story about a patchwork elephant who thinks that it would be better to look like all of the other elephants, so he covers himself in grey mud. When he gets back to his herd, he realizes that without him, no one has any fun. When it rains and the other elephants realize the funny joke that Elmer has played, they declare this to be a special Elmer Day and every year, Elmer makes himself look like a regular elephant, while the rest paint themselves to honor Elmer. It’s a cute story about fitting in and being loved for who you are. Also, it’s mostly just about crazy elephants (to a 3 year old.)
The other book I read was I’ve Got an Elephant by Anne Ginkel. A cute rhyming story about a girl with an elephant who gets lonely and invites another elephant to play. This continues until there are quite a few elephants and it gets very silly.
I also created a felt board activity for Elmer that made it fun for the kids, especially since my copy of Elmer is small and the pictures are harder to see from the floor. (Sorry, too lazy to rotate the picture!) For the craft, I printed a black and white outline of Elmer and the kids cut squares of colored tissue paper and glued them on the patchwork Elmer squares.
Week 2 ~ Silly Stories
I’ll be honest, I didn’t really leave much time to prepare for this week. It crept up on me! I love the book Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, so I decided to read that and Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas, because I don’t think any kid has ever NOT laughed hysterically at this book. I’ve read it so many times to different groups and it never fails me!
Stuck is very cute, though the group I had was on the younger side and I had to abridge it slightly because they weren’t quite getting some of the subtle humor. Most of them enjoyed it, but there were lots of little siblings running around. The craft I planned was based on the book, so I had to make the best of it! (In LOVE with Oliver Jeffers, btw.) In the story, a boy gets his kite stuck in a tree, so he throws up a shoe to knock it out, but it gets stuck. As does the other. One thing after another gets thrown and stuck in the tree – even the ladder, which you think he would use to climb up the tree – gets thrown and stuck, as do cars, houses, ships, whales, etc., until finally the kite falls and the boy is so happy, that he forgets about all the other things and beings that are stuck in the tree.
For the craft, I had pre-drawn trees that they kids colored and pictures of random objects from magazines for them to glue into the branches of the tree. They came out very cute!
Week 3~ Chinese New Year!
This was a tough one, but I really wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year with the kids. It was difficult to find books that were short enough to read, but I ended up with The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Chang Compestine and Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin. The first one was long, and I had a younger crowd again, but I decided to give it a try, since it was a cute story. I didn’t read all of the text and stopped to ask them what they thought about a pan that could sing, which they thought was very funny. We made it through the story in both sessions. The Grace Lin book is a bit shorter and describes a New Year celebration in a way that is easier for younger children to understand.
In my session this morning, I had a mom and daughter who celebrate the lunar New Year, as the mom is half Vietnamese. I thought this was pretty cool. They told me a few of the things they did to celebrate. Though I was a little worried about trying to explain what Chinese New Year was to the younger kids, especially with people there who actually celebrate it! They seemed OK with it 🙂
Since it is the Year of the Dragon, we made *dragon puppets, which the kids LOVED. When my Monday session finished theirs, they all gathered back on the story rug and just sort of walked around moving their puppets up and down. I never even told them to do it – it’s like the dragons just took over….lol. For a snack we had fortune cookies, which I happened to notice a few weeks ago at Walmart in the asian food section. (This may be the real reason I wanted to do the Chinese New Year theme……)
(*The instructions for the dragon puppets can be found HERE at the Enchanted Learning site, which is worth the $20.00 yearly subscription! However, I found a different head that looked more like a dragon and drew my own tail.)