April 3, 2014

Giraffes Can't Dance

Title: Giraffes Can’t Dance
Giles Andrae (Author)
Guy Parker-Rees (Illustrator)

Comprehension Strategy: Making Connections                     
Art Modality: Drama, Creative Movement

Meet Gerald, the humble and inspiring giraffe in Giraffes Can’t Dance, written by Giles Andrae and illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees. Gerald is tall and slim and a really bad dancer. Other animals show up at the Jungle Dance to skip and prance. In fact, the warthogs waltz, the rhinos rock and roll, the lions dance a tango, the chimps do a cha-cha and the baboons even spin a Scottish reel. Feeling useless and lonely, Gerald leaves the dance. Just in time, a cricket gives him a wonderful piece of advice: “...sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.”  Gerald finds his boogie, and his dance is like a dream. The moral of the story? “We all can dance...when we find music that we love.”

Giraffes Can’t Dance

We know that good readers ask questions before, during and after a story. With this lesson, good readers will be guided to making connections before, during and after a story.

Begin by asking, “Have you ever tried to do something and you didn’t think you were very good at it?” The story I tell my kids is actually about dancing. When I took my movement class during my Integrated Arts program, I was very nervous. I didn’t think I’d be able learn the steps fast enough and I already knew I wasn’t very coordinated.

Read aloud Giraffes Can’t Dance. There is also an animated version you can enjoy: http://vimeo.com/33829782. 

After the read aloud, use these ideas to practice making connections through movement.
Travel through the story from Gerald’s perspective:

How does it feel to be tall and slim? Stretch your neck to eat the leaves.

Try to run around, but buckle at the knees. What are your feelings when you fall?

Slowly walk onto the dance floor. Freeze. How does your body look when you feel useless?

Creep away. How do you move when you are sad and lonely?

Find your own space where you can look up at the moon. 

Shuffle your hooves in circles on the ground. Gently sway from the neck. Swish your tail.

Throw your arms out sideways! Leap into the air!

Twirl and finish with a bow.

Just for fun, try out some dance movements inspired by the other animals. Your students’ will probably not be familiar with this dance lingo, so be sure to use the illustrations to increase their understanding of the new vocabulary.

Waltz like the warthogs.
Rock and roll like the rhinos.
Get a partner and do a bold and elegant tango like the lions.
Do a cha-cha like the chimps.

Now for making connections after the story. Again, I tell my kids that in my class, I learned to enjoy moving in my own way—even if it was a little bit fun and funky. When we acted out this story, guess who played the part of Gerald? (I’m not sharing pictures of this part!) Ask, “What special skills or talents do you have? What is something you didn’t think you were good at but you now you have fun doing it anyway?”

Need more Gerald?
Visit Deep Space Sparkle for a step-by-step art lesson.

I jumped for joy when I recently found this new Gerald book…

November 16, 2013

Book to Boogie

Book to Boogie is a monthly series on The Library as Incubator Project that pairs picture books with dance and movement activities for preschool story time. Some of the books featured recently are...

Yours truly had the privilege of contributing this month's idea. I picked one of my favorite books: 

To read the ideas, click the covers above or see the entire series here:

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March 26, 2013

Cindy Moo

Title: Cindy Moo
Lori Mortensen (Author)
Jeff Mack (Illustrator)

Comprehension Strategy: Questioning                       
Art Modality: Creative Movement

One night on the farm, the cows overhear a fantastic tale. “Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon!” Inspired by this classic rhyme, a plucky cow named Cindy Moo sets out to prove that cows really can leap over the moon. The other cows laugh at her, but that doesn’t stop Cindy from trying—and failing—night after night . . . until a trick of nature shows Cindy a way to triumph. As delightfully silly as the original nursery rhyme, this hilarious picture book will have readers of all stripes (and spots) cheering for its determined heroine. (HarperCollins)

Cindy Moo
hula hoops
white paper plates

It’s time to get your kids “moo-ving!” All you need is a copy of this book and some hoops. (Real rain puddles would be best, but...well, they’re wet.) Begin by making sure that all of your little ones are familiar with the nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.” For fun you can check out the many versions of the rhyme/song on YouTube. Here are two I liked. The first has the words and a pleasant version of the tune. The second video is from vintage Sesame Street.

And now introducing...Cindy Moo! She’s the determined cow that is going to help your young readers practice our comprehension strategy of the day: questioning. After all, Cindy Moo wouldn’t be where she is today (famous) if she hadn’t asked the question, “WHY can’t a cow jump to the moon?” Let the questions begin before you even open the book. Just look at the cover. WHY is the cow jumping? WHAT are the three cows on the back thinking as they look on? 

Now on to the first pages...WHY is the cow peeking out of the barn? WHAT is the girl reading? And before too long, the burning question..."WHY can’t a cow jump to the moon?” Give your listeners time to discuss the issues, just as the cows in the barn did that very night. To really stretch their thinking, insert a question that isn’t in the book. Ask students to problem-solve with partners. If a cow wanted to jump over the moon, HOW could it be done? You might get some pretty creative answers! Continue reading to find out how Cindy Loo finally makes it over the moon.

After the book, show your kids a mighty-fine, bovine time with this movement activity. First locate some hoedown style music on the internet. I found this fun music
Take your kids to a gym or open area. Arrange your hula hoop puddles throughout the area. Place a paper-plate moon in each puddle. Now just play the music and encourage the kiddie cattle to start jumping puddles. Yee-Haw!

For an inside peek into the book click here!

March 6, 2013

The Little Little Girl with the Big Big Voice

The Little Little Girl with the Big Big Voice
Kristen Balouch (Author & Illustrator)

Comprehension Strategy: Inferring                  
Art Modality: Drama

There once was a little, little girl... with a BIG, BIG voice.
One day she went to find someone to play with.

In this vibrantly illustrated picture book, one loud little girl looks for a friend to play with. She searches the jungle high and low for a pal, but her BIG voice scares all the animals away! One by one, an elephant, a snake and a croc quickly retreat away from her booming vocals, until at last she finds the perfect playmate-whose "roar" is even louder than hers! (Summary from Simon & Schuster.)

The Little Little Girl with the Big Big Voice

Let me say this loud and clear. “THIS IS A FUN BOOK!” In fact, when I saw this book it screamed, “BUY ME!” This simple story is useful at the beginning of the year when you are teaching appropriate voice volume and you are focusing on classroom management. It also works beautifully if you want to zoom in on inferring. So if your classroom sounds like a jungle, open the book and try this lesson.

Before reading, place a sticky note over the little girl on the cover. Without showing the illustrations, read the beginning of the book in which the little girl attempts to make friends with the elephant, snake, and crocodile. Ask students to make inferences about what might be scaring the animals away. Read the beginning again, this time showing the pictures. Allow students time to continue making inferences. Continue reading, making sure to pause after you read, “But the lion looked at the little girl...” After sharing predictions. continue reading, but pause again after, “And the little girl looked at the lion...” Your students will love the surprise that follows and will join in laughing with the girl and the lion.

Now I just bet that you already have in mind a little, little child from your own class that as a big, big voice. Give that child a chance to use that voice in a dramatic retelling of the story. Invite students to play the roles of the girl, the elephant, the snake, the crocodile and the lion. Prepare the actors by talking about how each of the animals would move and what they were doing in the story. For example, the elephant is blowing bubbles and the snake is swinging. How would the elephant run away? How would the snake escape? As you reread, invite the students to act out the story. Repeat with additional groups of five children.

Want to make sure your voice can be heard? Need to make your little “loud mouth” even louder? Here’s a link for a printable megaphone:

Finally, here’s an analogy map to use with the story. Use it to make a class chart or provide copies so the students can make their own.

August 25, 2012

Put Something In

Happy Back-to School! Here are some pictures of the place where we sing, dance, read poetry, create art and add drama to our days. The room is ready...we just need to put something in!

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance 
'cross the classroom floor,
Put something silly in the world,
That ain't been there before.
                            Shel Silverstein

Walk on in...
Read a story from my rocker...
Guide some reading...
Take a look around...(5 tables for 28 kids! Room looks bigger than it feels.)
Sit down at the computers...(Thinking maps posted on wall.)

Pick a station... (This shelf is painted with magnetic paint.)
Choose a book...
Find your station....
Follow the rules... (Whole Brain Teaching is awesome!)

Enjoy your visit and PUT SOMETHING IN!
Happy Teaching, Jayne