For Thanksgiving break, we brought back this summer’s popular Imagination Storytime model. Each program consists of a few books followed by dramatic play on a theme. Unlike our regular Storytimes, this is a registered program for only 18 three- to six-year-olds with an adult. The program is listed as 45 minutes (our usual storytimes are 30), but families head out whenever they feel done. Over the summer, we tried running the program for two- to five-year-olds, but the twos were a little bit young and limited our material selection because of choking hazards, so we bumped it up a year.
Our goal with this program is to bring back some of the dramatic play that we see missing in our community’s overscheduled preschoolers, and to show parents and caregivers that it can be inexpensive and easy to set up some pretty fun dramatic play areas. The summer themes were: Animal Hospital, Post Office, Camping, Baby Care, Gardening, and Construction. Over the summer, we ran each program with one staff member, but I was fortunate to plan and run this program with another librarian, and I think we really needed the second set of hands.
Opening Song: “I Am Here & You Are Here” by Peter & Ellen Allard (on Sing It! Say It! Stamp It! Sway It! Vol. 3)
Nonfiction: The Sun is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch. Some of the kids already knew some of the facts presented in this book and some didn’t. As we read, we talked about stars, shadows, rainbows, and the moon, so for a simple book, there was a lot packed in there. I reversed the order of the repeated line so that I said, “My favorite star is…” and the kids filled in “… the sun!” I thought that was more effective.
Song: “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!” by Kathy Reid-Naiman from Zoom Zoom Cuddle and Croon. We sang this acapella, using these actions from JBrary.
Fiction: Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli. Unlike the first book, this was definitely full of misconceptions about space, but the kids got the humor and enjoyed it. Since it’s a holiday week, there were more dads and grandpas around than usual, so it was nice to have a book featuring a dad and a child.
The storytime portion lasted about 15 minutes. Most families stayed the full 45 minutes, and some stayed closer to an hour. All of the activities worked out well, but the wind tubes and jet packs were definitely the highlights.
Activity #1 (table): Make a jet pack. These were insanely cute, and not too hard to make. We pre-prepped them quite a bit. Each jet pack was made out of a cereal box, a toilet paper tube, some crepe paper, and the two sides of a paper grocery bag. Before the kids came, we wrapped the boxes in foil and taped the rocket boosters to the boxes with tape. (Each rocket booster was half of a toilet paper tube with two strips of red crepe paper and one strip of orange attached to the inside of the tube.) We also cut out the sides of the grocery bags. At the event, the kids decorated their boxes with stickers, and the adults sized the straps for each child and taped them on the boxes. It was soooo cute to see the kids all running around with their little jet packs on!
Activity #2 (table): Space pictures. We put out black construction paper, die cut shapes in bright colors, glue, and star stickers, and let the kids make their own pictures of space.
Activity #3 (table): Play dough. We made this black sparkly play dough and then put out a few other items to play with: glow-in-the-dark stars, crystal builders, glass pebbles, river rocks, and plastic planets. The only adjustment I made to the dough was that the recipe calls for 1/8 of the liquid to be liquid watercolor, and I really needed a full 1/4 of the liquid to be liquid watercolor to get that deep black color. The dough had a nice texture, although not as stretchy as it was in the post we followed, and the kids enjoyed playing. When we were cleaning up, we found a lot of the glass pebbles completely buried in the dough, so apparently that was fun.
Activity #4 (on the floor): Reading and playing in the spaceship tent. We borrowed this little popup spaceship for the program and it was super cute. The kids seemed excited about it at the beginning, but didn’t go crazy in there during the program. We limited them to 3 at a time, and we also put some space books in there to read, so it functioned as a quiet space during the program.
Activity #5 (on the floor): Wind tubes with scarves, paper cups, index cards, pipe cleaners, paper clips, and scissors. I reused the wind tubes from our recent Fun with Science event. This was the highlight for many kids. I’m glad we got to reuse the tubes, since they’re super fun and were a little bit expensive/time consuming to make. Many of the kids just put in scarves and cups, but a few did experiment with the materials to see how different shapes/arrangements worked differently. One little guy spent an entire hour just playing with the wind tubes!