This idea has been percolating in my brain, and the end result is quite different than I thought it would be. I’m surprised by how many crocodile books I really love. I will have to fit some of them into other themes. I decided to add a non-fiction book to this storytime, which is not something I’ve done very often. I chose a book that compared alligators and crocodiles, since kids tend to use them interchangeably (I’m guilty of this myself sometimes).
I always introduce all of the books before we begin, and as soon as I showed them the non-fiction book a number of the kids got excited, asking if the pictures were real. Clearly I need to do this more often! It was my literacy tip for parents as well, since I think we all tend to focus on picture books:
Kids are full of questions about their world. Reading quality non-fiction children’s books will pique their curiosity and build background knowledge about the world that is key to academic success.
I’d Really Like to Eat a Child by Sylviane Donnio
I love this story and have read it for early elementary class visits before, so I was pretty confident it would be a hit with my storytime group, regardless of age. And it was! The older kids really picked up on the repetition and I would pause each time the little crocodile said, “I’d really like to eat . . .” and the kids would chime in, “a child!”
Snip Snap! What’s That? by Mara Bergman
Another favorite of mine, and the kids, who love shouting “YOU BET THEY WERE!” Before reading I asked the kids what they would do if an alligator came to their house and after a few responses of “Run!” “Hit his on the nose!” the general consensus was that you should call the police. So throughout the reading kids kept chiming in, “They should call the police!”
Crocodile or Alligator by Susan Kralovansky
I chose this non-fiction book because it had good photographs, limited text with key facts, and fit my goal of showcasing how crocodiles and alligators are different. The kids were very excited and it was more of a discussion group than a reading. Some kids already knew facts about alligators and crocodiles and really wanted to share. Without the narrative format, I didn’t feel the need to stick to the text either, and we we did more of a picture walk, with facts from the kids and the book.
I’ve been trying to add a Take-Home message with a literacy activity caregivers can do with their child to reinforce the day’s literacy tip, but, while I add it to the song sheet, I haven’t been doing a very good job of talking to parents about it. I was able to really model the game, Fact or Fiction with the kids using the stories we read and encouraged parents to try it at home:
Fact or Fiction?
This fun game can be a great conversation starter and practices critical thinking. Share a fun fact or something crazy you just made up and ask, “Fact or Fiction?”
Flannel Story: The Wide Mouthed Frog
I have a frog puppet and tell this tale with my puppet interacting with pictures of the other animals. I use laminated photos of the animals, which goes along with the non-fiction aspect and try to keep to food the animals would really eat.
Five Little Monkeys Swinging from the Tree This was our only song that really fit the theme. I thought of adding Alligator Pie, or looking for other new songs, but decided to just focus on familiar tunes rather than worrying about a theme.
And Danced: “We Are Monsters” by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael from Shake, Rattle, and Rock
I saved the non-fiction title for last, and I think it may have worked better as a starting story. Then we could have examined the picture books using our new facts about alligators and crocodiles. As is was, we did look back at the books and ask, Fact or Fiction: Crocodiles eat chocolate cake. It wasn’t as effective, but all in all it was a very successful storytime.
Other Books I Considered:
Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzole
The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino
A Girl and Her Gator by Sean Bryan