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SOS: Searching Out Stories/Info - Animal Stories - Children
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers,
Teachers and Librarians

Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

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1) Judy Nichols' Storytimes for Two-Year-Olds has saved many a hide. Second edition is out. Look for it in your library's reference section, but they may have hidden it behind the desk. Also look in Stories To Play With. This age group loves fingerplays which they can do over and over and Over And Over... Anything with animals in it would be fair game. Animal theme also invites participation with animal noises, although a firm Start/Stop signal will be needed. (and you may wish for earplugs) I'm allergic to puppets but have reluctantly learned that these micro listeners do respond well to visuals. Got any stuffed animals? Cut-out pictures? Wave them around in some of the stories. They'll need at least one stretch/wiggle break, with controlled whole body movement. Make up your own motions to: The elephant sways from side to side, he's very tall and very wide; he has no fingers, he has no toes, but goodness gracious what a nose. Or sing "My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean" (make that My Bunny for this occasion), with audience going up or down (you'll have to signal them) on each B-word. Rather than Stand/Sit, I find it's less chaotic if you can get them to kneel and go from vertical thighs to sitting on feet.
Remember: that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.

2) If 40 minutes of storytelling sounds intimidating--and it does, why not add your own simple craft. Paste pictures of zoo animals on paper bags. Hand out 1 bag and 1 crayon per child for coloring. Collect the crayons back. (Now admitedly this is going to take a little time and effort, maybe you'll even need a helper.) Then tell a story with lots of animals in it and lots of sounds to make. I suggest this be the last story or the sack puppets will interrupt all the other stories. Alternate idea, let the kids keep the crayon or put it in a box as they leave. Lots of finger plays, simple songs about zoo animals. 5 monkeys jumping on a bed, 5 monkeys teasing Mr. Alligator are 2 good ones. Song: I had a little monkey. His name was sleazy Jim. I put him in the bath tub to teach him how to swim. He drank up all the water. He ate up all the soap. Now every time he tries to talk, there's a bubble in his throat.

Riddle story. Put pictures on a card. Hold card so the picture faces you. Give clues about the animal until the children guess it. Hold up next card. Or have a guessing bag with small stuffed animals inside and do the same type of guessing.

I had a picture story I used to tell many years ago. It went something like this. The duck said Dum, dum, dum. The kitty said Bow Wow, The dog said quack, etc. Mix up all the sounds for the pictures. (Put the words on the back of each picture so you keep it straight.) Now the townspeople didn't know what to do. Should they feed the train or take a ride on the kitten or . .. . etc. Can you help them put everything back together right? Now go through the pictures again and let children tell you the right sounds. You could use a snake, monkey, gorilla, etc. and other zoo animals that have an easy to make sound.

3) Do some paper folding or tearing stories as well as "get the wiggles out." Even a draw-and-tell might do. I find if I do something like "Rainhat," I make up extra rainhats to hand out to the little ones, as they can't make them. (WAIT until the END to do this, of course.) Sometimes older kids and parents want to learn and they can stay to learn how to paper fold. I'm facing a telling with 1-8 year olds this summer - and have urged (OK, I BEGGED) the library to make sure that the ages are taken off the flyers, and that FAMILY storytelling be emphasized. For if parents and OLDER kids are there, the younger children respond to the group reactions and attention. Try to get in some lines for the adults too so they'll "attend" and help you engage their youngsters.

4) Anything with a puppet in your hand will work and just shorten it and shorten it again. "Frog and Snake Child" with puppets.The puppets bounce around. I too had that opportunity this year, all year. They loved at two years old the monster puppet that said I'm Big and the little peeper eyes or small animal puppet that says in a tiny little voice, I'm little.They have this conversation the puppets with opposites. I'm sad, I'm happy, I'm noisy, I'm quiet, I'm crooked, I'm straight etc. Then I'm hungry, I'm gone. Someone on storytell sent this to me and it was a real winner. They liked to watch me do "Mr. Wiggle, Mr. Waggle" and did some of it. But having a puppet in your hand just made such a difference.40 minutes is toooo long. 15 minutes tops. Also I stood them up and sang, If you're a butterfly and you know it flap your wings,(x3) then your face will surely show it, etc. If you're a bumble bee and you know it buzz around, etc. If you're a duck and you know it go quack quack etc. always end with then your face will surely show it, if you're a duck and you know it go quack quack. This gets the wiggles out.Another thing as they're sitting, Clap, Clap Clap your hands as slo-ow-ow-ly as you can, Clap Clap clap your hands as quickly as you can, point point point your finger as sl-ow-ow-ow-ly as you can, point etc. as quickly, shake your hands, tap your head etc.they think when it goes really fast it's so funny. Hope these help.

5) I have a small grant to do storytelling at two Head Starts, so I do this for an hour usually three times a week during the school year. The most important thing is to have an agreement with the director or talk to her well before the event and ask that the teachers sit with their classes and help them to participate. The children will get lots more out of the stories, and you will have much more fun that way. At the beginning , if the teachers are not sitting with the children, just say, "Teachers, please sit with your classes and help them to participate." By the way, the teachers would each love to have a handout on rhymes or songs or what ever you might have. When you ask the teachers to sit with their class, tell them you will give them a handout at the end of the story time. This really gets their participation! Also, you might ask the teachers if they know any zoo animal songs or rhymes- they love to show off what the children can do, and this is a perfect wiggle break. I have zoo animal masks, and the children love to come one at a time , put one on, and have the other children guess what animal they are. Of course , they all roar like a lion for the lion mask, etc. I have a magic story bag which contains my puppets, and I let the children guess what I am going to get out of it. This works well to get their attention as I begin a story. I have to say I did four weeks of stories on zoo animals in April this year!

Created 2005; last update 7/4/09

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