Last week I was out at one of our other locations to put on a Play to Learn program for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Traveling brought its own set of issues as seen in last week's blog post. Since I was traveling, I used a program that another location had already done and added a few of my own pieces. I'll give credit below as I go. The program space was also a lot smaller than what I am used to, which meant less stations.
Station 1: Read the Story
We all know that reading with kids is one of the biggest things that helps children prepare to read. This is why we always include a story in our Play to Learn programs. This station is set up with copies of the book, a flannelboard, and a puppet.
Station 2: Make a Mouse Puppet
We had all of the pieces precut and paperclipped together, which made it easy for me to transport and pass out. The pattern is available here. Personally, I like to copy the pieces on brown and light blue paper so the kids only have to glue, assemble, and can sing the song that goes with the puppet. I know that another of our locations copied the pieces on white paper so the kids could color them. It depends on how many skills you want to incorporate and how much time you have. Lyrics to M-O-U-S-E (to the tune of Bingo) were included so the kids could sing the songs with their puppets (thanks to Deb). Singing is important because it slows down language for kids so they can hear the parts of the words. Plus, it is just plain fun!
Station 3: Make a Mini Book
This station was created by Deb. All of the kids made a book called "If You Give A...". We provided precut pictures of animals and food for the pages. Each page contained the line "If you give a ___________ a ____________, they will want to ____________. This station worked on our talking skill. The kids could each pick out a picture of an animal and a food item for each page (there were 5 pages total). Then they filled in the blanks. Often, the parents would write in the blanks, but it was up to the children to tell their parents what to write. These books turned out great. Honestly, there is nothing funnier than seeing a giving a penguin some cheese. What do you think that they would do?
Station 4: Create a Mouse
This station was created by Alicia. I will admit that my favorite part was that all of the pieces were precut for me and ready to go. Crafts like this are fun because they work on fine motor skills, which strengthen fingers to get ready to write (like exercise). The kids had great fun making their pipe cleaner tales. The mice here will also work with our M-O-U-S-E song.
Station 5: Create a Story Circle
I had never seen a story circle before, but they work really well with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie because it is a circular story. This station is also thanks to Deb. I like it because it gives the kids the tools (pictures) to retell the story. We precut all of the pictures and put them in snack-sized Ziploc bags, which made it easy for me to transport and pass out. The kids glued the pictures onto their circles in the order that they appeared in the story. The one funny thing about the finished product is that many of the kids thought that they circles should be crowns and kept trying to put them on their heads. They ended up more like necklaces since they were too big.
Since I am from a different branch, it was interesting to see people's opinions of the program. Many were confused at first by the idea of a station-based program, rather than the librarian leading the children through each activity. Once they got over that, most had a great time because they could spend time with their child learning and work at their own pace.
My favorite outcome from the program, though, was one of the parents came up afterwards and wanted to know why we chose this book for the program. She then wanted to know how we make our decisions and what we look for. This was fun for me because it gave me a chance to talk about one of my favorite subjects to someone who actually wanted to listen!