I saw Jbrary’s Pinterest board about a Berries and Jam storytime and immediately got to work planning the Alaska version. Right before the annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race is a great time to talk with my storytime kids about the rest of Alaska, and berries are an easy way to capture kids’ attention. I used basically the same plan for the two preschool age weekly storytimes I held this week and for the family storytime which is part of my two month Storytime on the Go outreach program. We began storytime with the rhyme cube. We ended up singing two songs, The ABC Song (to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb), and If You’re Happy and You Know it.
Before I began reading the first story, Berry Magic, I shared a quick keynote slide show on my iPad about Alaska berries which I made before storytime. Berry Magic (Alaska Northwest Books, 2004), written by Teri Sloat and illustrated by Betty Huffmon, is a wonderful story based on a Yu’pik tale about the magic of how berries came to be on the tundra, but without some additional berry visuals, kids may not understand the connection between the berries and the head scarves worn by each of the dolls in the story. Connecting the colors is a key element to appreciating the beauty of the story.
Using the quick keynote is a simple way to introduce new media in storytime in an intentional way. The clear, real-life,
berry images added to all of the stories I read, not just Berry Magic, and captured the attention of the children from the start. I also added text to the bottom of the images and pointed to the words as I read them aloud, an important literacy technique.
After the first story I brought out the feltboard to tell the tale of the little hungry bear and the 5 red strawberries. Before I began the story, we talked about why we knew the five strawberries were all strawberries, using our categorization skills. They are all red, have green leaves and little seeds on the outside. Our little bear puppet confirmed that they all tasted like berries also! (Mel Depper has another version with a green strawberry!)
A little message about using feltboards. I love their ability to help kids build their narrative skills and I encourage kids to touch, feel, and play with the story pieces…after storytime. As soon as I bring them out, I have lots of little hands ready to grab them off the board. Unless I am prepared to have lots of helpers, which happens some weeks, I let everyone know I am going to have the first turn and will leave the board out during craft time for others to play. Kids are learning about taking turns and the story gets told with all of the pieces intact. It works well.
Flannelboard: 5 Red Strawberries (with bear puppet)
Five red strawberries, sweet to the core.
Bear came and ate one and then there were four.
Three red strawberries, for you and you and you.
Bear came and ate one and then there were two.
Two red strawberries, sitting in the sun.
Bear came and ate one and then there was one.
One red strawberry, left all alone.
Bear came and ate it and then there were none.
Credit: Storytime Katie
We immediately moved into a fingerplay about two bears. I used the two bear finger puppets I have, one brown and one black, to represent two of the three kinds of bears in Alaska. The families used their fingers.
Fingerplay: Two Little Black Bears
Two little black bears sitting on a hill,
One named Jack and one named Jill,
Run away Jack, run away Jill.
Come back Jack, come back Jill.
Two little black bears digging in the snow
One named Fast and one named Slow…
Two little black bears feeling very proud
One named Quiet and one named Loud..
Our next story was The Blueberry Shoe (Alaska Northwest Books, 1999) written by coworker Ann Dixon and illustrated by Evon Zerbetz, another Alaskan. I am biased, but this is a wonderful book about a baby who loses his shoe while he and his family are blueberry picking. After an extensive, but fruitless, search, the family returns home without the shoe. Over the winter various animals incorporate the shoe into their daily life, but only temporarily, leaving the shoe for the family to find the next summer.
The story’s highlight is the sweet, animal-filled sequence of shoe-filled events featuring eye-catching images of Alaskan creatures including bears, foxes, ptarmigan, and even voles. Many families in Alaska make at least one outing for berry picking so many children were able to recount their personal berry adventures, and misadventures.
The final book we read together was Jamberry (Harper & Row, 1983) by Bruce Degen! This book has a rhythm that captures kids’ attention and the quirky illustrations keep them focused. We read straight through this story because many kids were ready for something different, but during other readings I have stopped often to talk about the images. Kids felt comfortable to point, touch, and call out humorous features and their favorite berries even without my usual pausing.
On to craft time!
I offered two crafts, both of which were pure hits. I even ran out of the supplies used for the second project. Note to self, have lots of contact paper on hand!
For the first option, I printed out the template for a strawberry from Artsy Momma on to a white piece of paper and cut out the berry and the leaf section. A high school volunteer traced the templates onto the red and green card stock. Families cut out the pieces, glued them together and used yellow paint to finger paint the seeds on to the berry.
Materials:1 sheet of red card stock (8 1/2″ x 11″)
1/2 piece of green card stock
hand wipes or sink to wash hands
The second craft proved to be a great sensory activity also! Kids made berries using contact paper and tissue paper. Some made raspberries, while others made blueberries or salmonberries.
For each child, I peeled the backing off of a piece of clear contact paper and taped it, sticky side up, on to the table in front of them. Immediately, each child put their hands on the sticky paper and was completely surprised at how sticky it was! The looks were priceless! Some kids used one color to create their favorite berry, others chose to do a multi-color collage pattern but all were very clear about what kind of berry they had made.
After the berries were finished, we peeled the back off another piece of contact paper (same size and shape) and laid it on top, sticky side down to create a contact paper sandwich. the result was a square or rectangle shape. With scissors, the adult or the child cut the contact paper into a berry shape.
Two pieces of contact paper per child (approximately 12″ x 12″)
tissue paper in berry and stem colors (red, blue, orange, purple, green)