My recent trip to the island of Hawaii has left me saltwater deprived, so an ocean themed story time was in order. This program got a lot of mileage this week, demonstrating at the very least its repeatability. I used some version of this theme at both the preschool and toddler storytimes at the library and during an outreach visit at a local childcare center. (This storytime theme is featured in a radio story recorded by our local radio station. Listen here!)
Living by Kachemak Bay means that kids get a lot of marine experience, but it is usually focused on Alaskan and Arctic environments. I wanted to expand their world a bit and explore more southerly locales and give them a taste of what they might find closer to the equator. it wasn’t a stretch for them because they could use their marine knowledge and their reading experience to guess the names of plants, comment about the stories, and ask questions.
In Hawaii I picked up a Folkmanis great white shark puppet, Snappy, disregarding my husband’s remarks about the fear I would induce in the preschoolers with it. That gave me some focus and I was off to look for shark books. I found a couple that were close, but one that was recommended on Facebook we didn’t own and the other would make a good second book, but didn’t feature my shark. (For what it’s worth, I ordered Shark in the Park, the recommended title which is now out of print, but it still hasn’t shown up…) So, I headed off to Jbrary’s Under the Sea Pinterest board for some ideas. I wandered down the rabbit hole of internet searching and ended up on Lisa Mulvenna’s site Lisa’s Libraryland where she talked about the different ways to “read” A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea by Jessica Law. She ended up creating a flannelboard of the story.
Did we have the book? No, of course not, as my luck would have it. (It’s my own fault since I order all of the kids, and many of the YA, materials at the library.) But, I agreed that the story had great potential as a flannelboard and had the added bonus of allowing me to incorporate STEAM elements into storytime, as Lisa pointed out.
I adapted the story to include snappy the shark who I met while swimming in the ocean off Hawaii. He became my tour guide and showed me the magical hole in the deep blue sea where lots of other animals in the food chain lived.
And that, my friends, is how storytimes are born!
(Note: the sun is from my weather felt collection and the plane is from my things that go collection. I love being able to use felt pieces in different stories!)
From there, the rest of the program fell easily into place.
We started story time with rhyme cube, but before we could even give it a roll, the designator roller saw the picture of the spider and started us all singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider!” It was a perfect segue since I am a little scared of both which I confessed to as we began talking about the day’s theme.
To set the stage for today’s theme, we used the library’s globe to see how I traveled from Alaska to Hawaii. Did I swim? Did I drive? Did I walk? Did I fly? We talked about an island and what makes it a unique landform (water). Then we talked about sharks and all of their cool characteristics like: they are fish with cartilage (like in our noses) instead of bone, they are great at growing teeth, and their eating habits. I had an eye-catching non-fiction Shark book on hand to share as we went along. Snappy the shark also provided a less startling approach to the shark talk. Who knew a shark could be cuddly? Those shark kisses are sweeeeet!
A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea (Barefoot Books, 2013) is a story about the food chain that is sequential. First is the shark and then comes the eel, the squid, the crab, the snail, and finally the seaweed. The story ends by going back through the chain with the sun feeding the seaweed which feeds the snail, and so on. Jessica Law’s version is worth reading and you can even watch a short video of the book made by Barefoot Books on You Tube featuring music by the Flannery Brothers.
I kept moving with the feltboard and shark puppet to sing this next song with the kids. They loved this song and were swaying, dancing and singing along by the third verse.
Song: Five Little Fishes (with felt fish and shark puppet)
(Tune: 5 Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree)
Five little fishes, Swimming in the sea.
Teasing Mr. Shark, You can`t catch me, You can`t catch me.
Along comes Mr. Shark, As quiet as can be… Snap!
Four little fishes, etc…
Credit: Canton Public Library
Are you Ready for a story (with penny whistle)
If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands
If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands
If you’re ready for a story, If you’re ready for a story,
If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.
… sit down please
Book: Over in the Ocean by Marianne Collins Berkes & Jeanette Canyon (Dawn Publications, 2004)
This is a beautiful counting book that features a variety of mama sea creatures and their babies which increase in number throughout the book. Unfortunately, after the felt board story and songs, the kids were ready for something else. So, instead of reading the book word for word, we took a quick book tour, talking about the colorful animals. This book would be a nice one to share one on one or with a group earlier in storytime. Over in the Ocean is also an iOS book app (best shared on a big screen).
Book: Mrs. Armitage and the Big Wave by Quentin Blake (Harcourt Brace Co., 1997)
To bring the focus of the group back together, we read this tale of a woman and her dog who are ready to surf the big wave. While they wait for the perfect wave, Mrs. Armitage realizes there are things she is missing to help them pass the time. From snacks to a tool for detecting wind direction and force, she returns to the beach of each of them before catching the big one. The repeated lines allow for kids to participate, keeping them engaged in the story.
Activity: Cork boats and Jellyfish
I pre made these cork boats by hot gluing two equal size corks together with a small wood stick in between. The colored craft stick was approximately 2 inches long. Kids used scrap pieces of construction paper to create a sail for their boats before trying them out in the small oceans we had waiting at a big table. Kids tested to see if their boats floated and sailed them around islands, trees, and sea creatures they constructed out of play dough. (Non-paper material for sails works best so that it doesn’t fall apart when wet and the play dough eventually dissolves in the water. Several kids loved feeling the soupy mess left behind!)
2 wine corks
1 wood craft stick hot glue
scraps of construction paper, ribbon, fabric, or other sail material
play dough (various colors)
aluminum pans for “ocean” (shared)
The paper bowl jellyfish was a craft I added at the last minute thinking some kids wouldn’t want to make a boat. In actuality, most kids made both which was great! I forgot to take a picture of the jellyfish sample, but take a look at this link for the idea.
ribbon in various shapes and colors
piece of ribbon for hanger to secure on top of finished jellyfish