Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mouse in a Car

Story: “The Journey” from Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel
Puppets: None
Props: None
Presenters: One
Audience: Preschool

I like stories that also can act as stretches. And I also like stories where kids can easily participate without things getting too off track. So I use this one a lot: “One day, Mouse decided to visit his mother…” and the kids all stand up and do what Mouse does. First he drives in a car: “and he drove and he drove and he drove, until all of a sudden...he ran out of gas! So…he got out of the car and got on…a bicycle! And he pedaled and pedaled and pedaled….until all of a sudden…what do you think happened?” This pattern continues with a new method of transportation each time and you can have the kids supply the “what went wrong piece” as often as you want.

I usually do at least three vehicles myself (car, bike, and roller skate) so they get the idea, then also ask them for suggestions of what Mouse did next. They’ll pick scooter, and motorcycle, and airplane, but also come up with more unusual ideas. This week I did the story with a couple of class visits and got “hot air balloon,” which was fun. And “jet pack,” which I hadn’t heard before. Sometimes I do step in and supply the “what went wrong” piece…like with airplane I’ll say “all of a sudden…he put on a parachute and floated to the ground.” Rather than let them jump in with “it crashed into a building” or something like that.

All of this is great for narrative skills, as the kids see the pattern of the story and continue it and/or play with it. I usually point out when it’s over that they could go home and tell this story to someone else, in their own way. It’s very flexible as a stretch, as well. You can use it as a quick in-betweener and just do a few vehicles, or extend it into a full blown story. Because it also has one of the all-time perfect endings. I never get tired of watching the kids’ expression when you get to the part where Mouse finally walks on his bare feet until they get sore, “So…he took off his old feet” (slight pause to note their befuddlement) “…and put on some new feet.” Just when they think they’ve got the pattern down, you throw some silliness in there (well, Arnold Lobel does). And Mother Mouse’s final line: “What nice new feet you have” is just right.

Lobel’s words on the page are as perfect as can be, but when I tell it I do adapt it a bit. Sometimes I skip the idea of Mouse buying new stuff each time just to simplify (though it is funny) and I add the “all of a sudden…” to cue the kids for ideas. As with so many stories, I can’t exactly where I first got the idea to tell this one, but I’m pretty sure it was from some creative library posting on PUBYAC back in the 90’s.

The illustrations in the book are excellent too…they’re laid out in almost a rebus style. But of course to small to see in a group, so telling one story orally is a good way to promote the book Mouse Tales (which has at least one more very good story for stretching, participation, and narrative skills:  "Very Tall Mouse and Very Small Mouse.")

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