Friday, March 1, 2013

It's a Tiger on the Screen

Book:  It's a Tiger!  by David LaRochelle, Illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
Puppets:  None
Props:  None
Presenters:  One
Technology:   Scanned images in PowerPoint
Audience:   Family Storytime (mostly 3-6 year olds)
Usually when we scan pictures and project them for a Storytime it's because the pictures are too small to see with our crowds of 120+.  It's a Tiger is like that, but also once you put it into PowerPoint you can make some minor adjustments to make it work even better in a Storytime setting.  I used our scanned version of this book with a couple of class visits this week.  The group size was small enough that the book alone would have worked...just not as well.
The book is kind of a variation of "Bear Hunt":  We walk through the jungle, see some vines, notice that one of the vines is orange with black stripes.....than a page turn reveals:  "It's a Tiger!"  So lots of participation opportunities, and you can have the audience standing and running away (in place) each time the Tiger appears.  Plus the book is one of those rare gems that I always like to discover for Storytime: A good story that also counts as a "stretch," so you stick in the middle and don't need a traditional "in-betweener." 
Here's how our PowerPoint adaptation worked:  The first scan is just the green background while I introduce the story:  "We're going to go exploring.  Let's start in the jungle..."  Although the words in the book are just fine, I decided to just tell in my own words rather than read or memorize.  Makes it more of a storytelling presentation, which feels right with this book.  
Then a click and the "Jungle" illlustration does a slow "Fly In" from the right. "Look, there are monkeys, and vines," I say...."Wait a minute! What's that?!" 
Then another click and an Arrow appears, pointing at the Tiger tail. The arrow isn't in the book; it's kind of the PowerPoint equivalent of pointing to the picture on the page with your finger.
With the next click the Tiger appears, plus the added words: "It's a Tiger!" zoom in at the same time. The kids run away in mock terror, just like they're supposed to. 
Then here's a neat added feature from PowerPoint, which you don't get from the book: The next click brings back the green blank background, which is the kids' signal to stop. The visual cue works really well with the self-regulation that's required in a lively participation story like this. 

Then it's back to me for: "Let's not explore in the Jungle any more. Let's go exploring in a....Bat Cave." And the "Bat Cave" spread moves in from the right.

The same pattern follows as the Tiger hides among Snakes, on a Boat, and in a Treasure Chest.  After the Treasure Chest I use the Green blank again to focus the kids for:  "What if that Tiger is...a nice tiger?"  So on the count of three we all go "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty..." and the scan of the happy tiger slowly flies in.  Which sets up the ending just right:  "Now that we're not afraid of the Tiger, let's go exploring again.  Let's go back to that Jungle."  Click for the Jungle, another click for the arrow pointing at a green tail, and one more click for:  "It's a Crocodile!"
The kids had a great time interacting with the images, but also paid attention to me and the storytelling cues.  Many spotted the Tiger clue before the arrow appeared, but that didn't detract from anything, and then the arrow ensured that everyone would see the clue in time.  The second time through I realized it works great to hold off on the arrow click until you hear the first few kids spotting the Tiger. 

I enjoyed this so much that I want to use it in Family Storytime as soon as possible.  We do themes, and with no "Jungles" or "Cats" themes on the horizon, we're going to squeeze it into "Reptiles" in a couple weeks (because of the Crocodile at the end).

So I'm sold on the PowerPoint version and (slowly, slowly, so as not to upset my love of books, puppets, and oral storytelling) opening my mind to the potential possibilities of picturebook apps... 



  1. I absolutely LOVE your blog posts! I've come up with fantastic storytimes based on a lot of your posts. Can you tell me what format you use for your family storytimes? I'm having trouble engaging the older kids while keeping the 2 & 3 year old's attention. Do you have "favorite songs" that you use frequently?

  2. We always start with a song to welcome everyone and give them something to do. This year we've used one called "Come On and Wave," where the kids, wave, clap, stomp, and jump. We typically do three stories, and have an "In-Betweener" between each one. Often the best known ones work great: "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes;" "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed," that sort of thing. They're pretty important especially for those younger ones who might not get everything in the stories. With our two-person storytimes we throw in puppets and props and other stuff, so sometimes when the younger kids aren't really following the story or getting the jokes, they "watch us being silly" (as Terri from our staff says) and that can be enough...