Wild Animals!

For my second afternoon storytime, I decided to do a wild animals storytime. And I had nineteen kids show up to practice their animal noises! (I was floored, given the weather!)

First up, I read “Dancing Feet” by Lindsay Craig.

I used this book in my “Shake Your Sillies Out” program, and promised that I would use it again. It was the perfect book to kick off storytime. The kids love guessing which animal is coming next. I did not have the kids stomp their feet with the animals though, because I didn’t want to get them all riled up at the first book! And since they were sitting so well, I went straight into “Jump!” by Scott Fischer.

This is a great repetitive, cause-and-effect book — the kids quickly caught on to the animals pouncing on each other, happily shouting out “JUMP!” between pages. My favorite part of this book is the vertical spread. Make sure you know when it’s coming, and the kids will be so surprised when you turn the book around! Since they were already such great jump shouters, I gave them a chance to practice their own jumping with this action rhyme:

Action Rhyme: Kangaroo!
Jump, jump, jump (Jump)
Goes the kangaroo (Jump)
I thought only one (Hold up one finger)
But now I see two! (Hold up two fingers)
Momma and her baby
With his head popping out (Make a fist, have other hand pop out)
He holds on tight (Hug yourself)
As they jump all about! (Jump)
Credit: Preschool Education — Animals: Zoo

Next up, I had the kids sit down for our flannelboard: Dear Zoo (Based on the book by Rod Campbell).

All of the kids kept trying to guess what animal was coming next from the zoo — and I had one boy who insisted the zoo should send a dog, which was excellent when I got to the end and he proclaimed, “I WAS RIGHT!”

After that energetic story, I led the kids in a quick round of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” slow, fast, slow to get them prepared for the next book. It actually gave me a great segue for “Whose Nose and Toes?” by John Butler.

Now this book is definitely for the younger crowd, and my older kids dominated the younger kids. But! One of my youngest loved the pictures and kept pointing all the way from the back row, trying to sound out the animal’s names. The only one that she got clearly was dog.

(Another reason why I like to mix things up, and do some younger books is that I often have bilingual families attending. So this simple book can be understood without actually understanding all of the English words I’m saying. The reason I know this? I had some kids guessing Spanish animal names instead of English.)

The book ends with an elephant as the last animal to guess, so that was another great intro to our next action rhyme.

Action Rhyme: “Big Gray Elephant”
The big gray elephant slowly walks.
She doesn’t make a sound.
She swings her trunk from left to right.
When she puts her feet on the ground.
Swing, swing, left and right,
She doesn’t make a sound.
Credit: Alphabet Soup – Zoo Poems, Songs, and Fingerplays

Next up, “My Heart is Like a Zoo” by Michael Hall.

Definitely a great rhyming story; my (and their) favorite page is the page where hippos are drinking apple juice. The kids were very talkative during this story, and I definitely had to lower my voice to sometimes get their attention between rhyming couplets. Overall, this is still one of my favorite books for its bright colors, and almost homage to “Color Zoo.”

Next, I just couldn’t resist using two flannels in one program! So, I pulled out my Seals on the Bus flannel (Based on the book by Lenny Hort) and we sang the book out loud.

One last song before our last book! I pulled out my Manhattan Toy “Sweet Safari” finger puppets for this one, and modified what animals we heard so that the puppets would fit.

Song & Puppets: “You Can Hear” (Tune: She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain)
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR! ROAR!
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo, ROAR! ROAR!
You can hear the lions roaring, you can hear the lions roaring
You can hear the lions roaring at the zoo! ROAR! ROAR!
(Elephants trumpeting, zebra braying, monkey eeking)
Credit: Perpetual Preschool

Last book, I did as an action rhyme/book — “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle.

Luckily, we own the big book version of this one, so I was able to have all the kids stand (short ones walk towards the middle of the rug to see better, tall ones move to the sides) while I held up the book, panning back and forth and doing (most) of the motions with them. This led to hysterical giggles — I don’t recommend doing this as the opening story!

But for me and my kids, it was time for the craft. They made lion masks that I found on my new favorite website, KidsSoup. (Again, it’s paid, but for me it has been WORTH it so that I’m not struggling to find a craft to fit my theme.)

Nothing beats little ones running out of the program room roaring at one another.


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