Puppets: Hen, Pig, Rabbit, Cow, Cat, PuppyProps: Egg, Carrot, Flowers, Milk, Stick, Egg, Chick
Audience: Toddlers (1’s and 2’s)
Here’s one of those circular stories that works neatly with puppets and very young kids. Hen lays an egg and decides to give it to….Pig. Pig’s response is one that repeats with each transaction: “How kind!” Hen’s gift makes Pig want to do something kind too, so he gives a carrot to…Rabbit. Rabbit is then inspired to give flowers to Cow, who gives milk to Cat, who plays a game with Puppy, whose gift (a stick) brings us back to Pig. Pig then shows Puppy that egg he got from Hen….which hatches, he gives the chick to Hen whose response neatly concludes the book: “How kind!” It’s kind of like Pay It Forward for toddlers (but no one gets shot), at a level that’s just right for them.
The patterned telling makes it a natural for puppets, though it does require some orderly hand switching and prop handling, so it definitely needs a run-through or two before presenting. I tell it so that both the next animal and the next gift are pop-outs from the puppet bag. So it’s Rabbit saying. “I will do something kind too. I will get my…..” (hesitation while Rabbit (and audience) look toward the bag) “….carrot!” And I will give this carrot to my friend…” (hesitation/anticipation again) “…Cow!” It’s a story to tell with a slow pace, so the kids can absorb what’s happening and get into the pattern. Quick switches from one animal to the next could lose them.
I use a second bag for this one to make sure that I can easily stash each animal and prop out of temptation’s reach. And also so I can quickly grab Pig and Hen for their return appearances at the end. For my Toddler Time presentation of this, I cut Puppy and went straight from Cat to Pig. Partly because it seemed like five animals was just the right number for this age, and also because the “gift” that Cat gives Puppy (playing his favorite game) is a bit of a shift from the pattern, where the puppet gets something from the bag. I like the gift of a game in the book, since it expands the concept of kindness to stuff we do, not just stuff we give….but with puppets and toddlers I so often opt for simplifying.
This is only available in board book these days, which is fine, but I really liked the original hardcover (now $67.99 at amazon!)