Preschool: Sharks Under the Sea

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 guide20140130-220054.jpg 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 Hole in the Deep Blue Seanon-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!
(Repeat with:)
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

over in the oceanBook: 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)mrs armitage and the big wave

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!)

Cork boats

Does it float?

2 wine corks
1 wood craft stick hot glue
scraps of construction paper, ribbon, fabric, or other sail material
craft glue
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.

paper bowl
google-y eyes
ribbon in various shapes and colors
craft glue
hole punch
piece of ribbon for hanger to secure on top of finished jellyfish

Photo Credit:
Marianne Collins Berkes

STEAM-y Storytime 2: Under the Sea, Matey!

Wow! STEAM-y Storytime 2 was part fabulous, part controlled chaos. With almost 70 kids and caregivers, we managed to read, sing, experiment, and create!

A storytime friend returned to the library to read this week. I provided him with a few pirate and sea books that he brought to life between songs on his guitar. This volunteer is a great addition and I love introducing storytellers to the library families.

Under the Sea books...

Lots of rhyming in this week’s books! All were kid-pleasers.

sheep on a ship

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Sheep on a Ship by Nancy Shaw and Margot Apple (Houghton Mifflin, 1989).

Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Jill McElmurry (Harper Collins, 2012).

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008).

Under the Sea activities…

I was a little worried when I looked out on the crowd before me and explained what was happening at the three activity stations we were offering. There were a lot of kids! I quickly described the stations and how caregivers could help their little ones explore. Not to worry. With the help of great caregivers, the kids dove right in discovered new ideas and tools at the multiple stations. Storytime lasted longer than the usual hour, but I was happy to let kids experiment. Here is what we did for the latter part of storytime:

Sink and Float

sink float Sink and Float is a classic preschool activity, but it was a first for storytime at our library, perhaps because of the water that ended up all around the station! Clean was pretty easy though, thanks to plastic table covers.Photo Jun 05, 4 27 48 PM

I had four tubs of water with a variety of objects and a laminated sink-float chart alongside. Caregivers were instructed to help kids predict if each object would sink or float and why. They placed the object on the chart under sink or float based on their decision. Then they tested their prediction.

The best moment at this station was watching a little one’s face when we made an aluminum foil boat that floats and placed an object that sunk on top of it…and it floated. His mind was blown!

Squiggle Fish

This station was a hit! It allowed kids to do what they do best: create and explore across media. Using fish drawn on 1/4 page white cardstock and the Squiggle Fish app on an iPad, we turned over twenty-five fish into a digital sea swimming with creatures!

squiggle fish2

The trick with this app is having kids draw and color fish on the white paper and outline the fish with a thick black pen. I had kids write their names inside the black outline so we could easily identify the fish on-screen.

Once the fish were finished, I held the iPad over the drawings and the picture of the fish, minus the white background, was digitized and animated on screen. We had everything from a family of fish to an octopus. While the finished sea of creatures isn’t shareable (maybe in an update?), I took screenshots of different views of our sea and posted one on our library’s Facebook page for families to download.

Are you looking for other apps to integrate into storytime? Check out the field-tested apps for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary age kids pinned on Little eLit’s Pinterest boards. Each pin includes technical information and suggested storytime use.

Fish in the Sea

fish craft At the last minute I added this simple craft station, fortunately. This one was most popular with younger kids and allowed almost every kid to find something that captured their interest. I found the idea on Pinterest. The minimal materials made it affordable and easy to put together.

A sheet of cardstock folded on each of the short edges and down the middle was cut horizontally (to the side folds). Small fish were cut out of 1/8 page scrap construction paper and stapled on to the slats. I had several fish already cut out as samples, but kids and caregivers cut out many more. Some paper was cut in wavy lines making the scene look even more sea-like. This craft was perfect because it was self-explanatory and the teen volunteer and I could focus on the other two stations.

images: Macmillan, Nerdy Chicks Rule