I did three preschool storytimes this week with a space theme. They were all relatively small groups, probably because this is the first week in ages that it’s been nice enough to play outside. I usually read 3 books per storytime, but this week some of the books were short and small crowds move more quickly than big ones, so for most of the programs I read four books (and in my first I even did a fifth!) They went fine, but this is definitely not my favorite theme for this age group. There are lots more fun space books for a slightly older crowd.
Opening Song: “I Am Here & You Are Here” by Peter & Ellen Allard (on Sing It! Say It! Stamp It! Sway It! Vol. 3)
Story: Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli. We talked about how to get into space and then read this fun, quick story about a little girl who keeps asking her dad to push her “Higher! Higher!” on the swing until she gets all the way to space. The book itself has very little text, so for each page, I said, “Now she’s as high as…” and the kids filled in with “a giraffe!” “a mountain!” (or whatever.) Then I said, “But is that high enough?” And the kids all said, “No!” and then we repeated the “Higher! Higher!” together. This was a fun book for all ages. I even had one 16-month-old (younger sibling of an attendee) shouting “Higher!” along with the big kids, which was super cute.
Story: The Sun is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch. We talked briefly about when you see the sun vs. when you see stars and moon. I read them the title of the book and told them that the sun is actually a star, which only a few kids knew. We talked about why you can’t see stars in the daylight and how the moon is actually reflecting the sun, and then we read the book. It’s a short book with limited text per page, but the kids were surprisingly engaged.
Song: “Climb Aboard”. We pretended to get into our spaceships and sang the song through twice. The kids really loved the countdown and the blastoff. I had a child on a camp visit last summer who had a huge fit because we counted down from 10 and he wanted to count down from 5. He actually had to be carried out of the room screaming. So I was kind of traumatized by that, but this went fine all three times.
Story: Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle. We actually have an Eric Carle animal rug in the story room, so we talked a little bit about how the same artist made those animals and this book. The kids loved all of the fold-out pages. We talked about how the moon doesn’t actually get smaller, you just see different amounts of it at different times. I also introduced some of the names – full moon, quarter moon, crescent moon. There isn’t a great example of a gibbous moon in this book, which is too bad – my kids love the word “gibbous”.
Song: “Aiken Drum” I made up a quick flannel for this. I also brought in a small ladle after the first storytime, when the kids didn’t all know what a ladle is. Not a lot of people knew the song, but it’s simple enough that they were able to join in after the opening verses.
Story: Smile if You’re Human by Neal Layton. We talked about people coming from another planet and what they might notice on Earth. I got all sorts of responses, but interestingly, they were all related to items in nature – grass, trees, flowers, different kinds of animals. No one mentioned cars or buildings or iPads or anything. Then we talked about what “human” means. In the book, an alien comes down to Earth and wants to find a human, but the alien family has actually landed in a zoo and is walking around looking at other animals. The kids got the general silliness and had fun identifying the different animals and how they were different from humans. They also liked the ending, where the alien child misidentifies (not sure what – a monkey? chimp? ape? one of my older kids called it a “primate!”) as a human at the end. The adults probably liked this one the best.
With most of the groups I stopped here, but in my first group, which was smallest and also had some younger elementary kids, we added The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara. I have used this before, mostly with older kids, and it is great. I lost a few toddlers at this point, but the older ones were with me. I almost wish the author would have interspersed the robot appearances with the aliens finding houses, because the robot noises are the fun part, and it takes a lot of setup to get there. At some point, with a Cub Scout group, I made a pair of three-eyed alien glasses to wear while reading this story, but I found them a little bit distracting, so I skipped them for the little guys.
Ending Song: “See You Later”
Craft: Space pictures. Because everything looks nice when glued onto black construction paper.
(on Singable Songs for the Very Young by Raffi)
There was a man lived in the moon, in the moon, in the moon!
There was a man lived in the moon, and his name was Aiken Drum.
And he played upon a ladle, a ladle, a ladle.
He played upon a ladle, and his name was Aiken Drum.
And his hair was made of spaghetti…
And his eyes were made of meatballs…
And he played upon a ladle…
And his nose was made of cheese…
And his mouth was made of pizza…
And he played upon a ladle…
There was a man lived in the moon…
(to the tune of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”)
Climb aboard the spaceship,
We’re going to the moon.
Hurry and get ready,
We’re going to blast off soon.
Put on your helmets
And buckle up real tight.
Here comes the countdown,
Let’s count with all our might.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 — BLAST OFF !