While I was planning for my first outreach storytime, I read Hooray for Hat for the first time. I couldn’t help smiling at the illustrations and I knew the kids would love it, so I planned a Hats theme for this group.
I started out with my usual opening song and then told the kids I had a hint for them about our stories for today. I pulled a cowboy hat out of my bag and put it on.
All of the kids yelled, “Cowboys!”
I smiled and said, “No! I have another hint for you!” And I pulled out a felt top hat that I found at Target and put it on.
The kids all shouted, “Magic! It’s a magic hat!”
“Noooo…let me see if I have another hint for you.” And I pulled out a baseball cap and put it on.
They all called out, “Baseball!” So I lined the three up on the stage and pulled out a winter hat and set it next to them.
“What are all of these things?” I asked, pointing to each of the hats in turn.
“Cowboy hat, Magic hat, Baseball hat, Snow hat!” they all said and one little boy said, “they’re all hats!” And then it clicked and they all together called, “Hats!”
This was a lot of fun and there was a lot of giggling and smiling going on the whole time. They loved guessing what the books for the day could be about.
The first book I read was Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. I didn’t expect the very mixed ages in the pre-school group that I had, so this was a bit long for the youngest kiddos, but just right for most of them. I acted out the peddlers parts in this and had the kids act out the parts for the monkeys. We talked about what would happen and if he would get his caps back from the monkeys and at the end we talked about how he got his caps back. The children in this group were such great listeners and really participated in acting out the monkeys parts and answering questions about what was happening in the story.
Next we did a flannelboard where I pulled out my felt mailbox I got at Target and told them, “Oh! I think we have mail!” When I opened the mailbox, there were three little envelopes. I said, “We got some letters! How exciting! Should we see what our letters say?” Each envelope had a felt letter inside and I opened them one by one and held them up so that the kids could “read” them and name each letter. The first was “H” and we all made an h sound and I put it on the board. The next was “A” and we named it, sounded it out, and put it on the board. The last letter was “T”. When they were all up on the board, we sounded out the word “HAT” and I said, “Oh! Our letters said HAT! That makes sense because that’s what our books are about today!” This activity was definitely a hit with this group and I will be using it again for sure with other themes.
After that we stood up and did The Wiggles Monkey Dance and Simon Says to get some sillies out.
When I had them sitting down again I asked, “Who here has ever been grumpy? Raise your hand if you’ve ever been grumpy.” Of course they all raised their hands, with the teachers laughing and saying that everyone needed to put their hands up. Then we talked about how it’s okay to be grumpy sometimes because everyone is, but what’s not okay is to let your grumpiness out on other people and make them feel bad.
We also talked about ways that they cheer themselves or others up when they are grumpy. They had some pretty good suggestions, too! One of them was to do something nice for someone who is feeling grumpy, which was a great lead in to our next book, Hooray for Hat by Brian Won. Before starting, I had them all practice making grumpy faces with me. (Lots of laughing during this part!) While reading this one, I had them all say the lines “Go away, I’m grumpy!” with me while making their best grumpy faces and then making happy faces and saying “Hooray for Hat!” with me. Loved this activity so much!
We learned the fingerplay song My Hat It Has Three Corners next and when we had practiced it a time or two, we tried it like this, substituting funny faces instead of singing the word hat. It’s harder than it sounds and it’s really fun to do, too!
Our last book of the day was This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. When I chose this book, I wasn’t aware that this was a Christian pre-school and so I didn’t really consider the theme as being possibly inappropriate for this group. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t know because it actually went really well. Several of the kids were familiar with the book and throughout the book we made predictions about what might happen and whether the little fish would get caught or not. The teachers also used it as a teaching moment to talk about stealing and other behaviors. They were great about doing it when I would stop to discuss what was going on in the story at that moment rather than just interrupting while I was reading, so I thought it went really well.
We wrapped up by doing a couple of action songs, Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes and A Very Simple Dance To Do and then moved to the craft of paper hats. I had prepped up plenty of newspaper hats and put them out along with lots of things to decorate them with: colored paper shapes and strips, feathers, stickers, foamies, sequins, etc. Even the teachers got into this and some fabulous hats went home with this group!
My favorite storytime so far!
Again I overplanned and wound up not using these songs: