Fall tends to come quickly in Alaska, so the beginning of September was the perfect time for a storytime celebrating my favorite Autumn signs. Moose, leaves changing colors, and apples are just some of the annual highlights that lie ahead.
After a few songs with the song cube, this week we read two stories and explored a third.
Looking for a Moose by Phyllis Root and Randy Cecil (Candlewick Press, 2006) is the story about a gaggle of children looking through forests, bogs, and mountain tops for the elusive moose who are so well camouflaged on each page, only the readers can see them. The storytime kids loved looking for the hidden moose on each double page spread and acting out the sounds of boots tromping through the forest and feet squishing in the bog, among others. The book offers many opportunities for talking about the natural history of moose and, of course, teaching families the ASL sign for moose.
For the feltboard rhyme, I used a couple of felt pieces from my weather storytime and added a caterpillar to my collection. The leaves are similar to those of an alder, a tree found all around this part of Alaska.
Feltboard: Five Autumn Leaves
Five autumn leaves, five and no more,
[Hold up 5 fingers.]
The caterpillar ate one, now there are four.
Four autumn leaves, that’s easy to see.
Along came a rainstorm, now there are three.
[Index finger down.]
Three autumn leaves, nothing much to do,
A big wind blew, now there are two!
[Middle finger down.]
Two autumn leaves, that’s not much fun,
I glued one on my paper
[Ring finger down.]
Now there is one.
[Hold up pinky.]
Hang on, pretty autumn leaf!
Your branches won’t break,
You’re one less leaf for me to rake!
Credit: SurLaLune Storytime
The second story we read was Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (Harcourt, 2005). This story, a collage of Fall leaves, follows leaf man as he adventures from page to page discovering animals formed from the clever placement of leaves. Like Looking for a Moose, this is a great book to tie with nonfiction nature titles. Endpapers feature information about the variety of leaves.
Before our craft, we looked over the amazing artwork by Nikki McClure found in Apple. In the book there are individual pages with a single word followed by an accompanying page with McClure’s cut paper illustrations in black, white and red. I read the word aloud and the kids and I then told the story found in the associated picture. We didn’t read every page, but the idea was to introduce McClure’s work, encourage kids to use their narrative skills, and model for parents how books can be shared even with minimal or no text.
Before we moved on to the craft activity, I told what I call the Apple Star Story, but is actually known as The Little Red House with no Doors and no Windows and a Star Inside. It tells a fun tale about the star revealed when you cut a red apple in half horizontally. You’ll need a red apple and a knife for the end of the story. I also use this amazing tree puppet I found at a local toy store. The kids love the moveable eyes.
Telling this story captivates the kids attention because there isn’t a book in my hands, just a puppet and a bag with something inside. They are very curious! it also makes a great segue between the stories and today’s art activity- Apple Painting!
This activity is all about process! We used cut apples to paint on paper. Kids discovered how different apple halves made different patterns, as did how much paint was on the apple when pressed on to the paper. They also made patterns with the different colors and experimented using the different colors on different colors of paper.
- 12 apples, precut and placed them on trays in the middle of several tables covered with plastic
- plastic, reusable plates for washable paint (yellow, red, and orange),
- white, red, and black card stock
- a pencil for writing names on artwork at each table
- old adult size t-shirts for kids to wear over their clothes (donated by families)
Below is just one of the many final products from today’s activity! Each child experimented several times. Some families carried their wet projects home after storytime and some left the artwork to dry until next week. I always offer that option with projects like this, so parents and caregivers feel good about the extension activities. Science and art can be messy, but by including this option and having kids help clean up after storytime, it is all manageable.