Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Two Mice, High and Low

Story:  "Very Tall Mouse and Very Short Mouse" by Arnold Lobel  (from Mouse Tales)
Puppets:  None
Props:  None
Technology:  None
Presenters:  One
Audience:  Preschool, Early Elementary

Here's a fun and simple oral tale that I usually like to also use an "in-betweener," because it gets the kids up and moving.  It also has great opportunities for participation and vocabulary stretching.

I have the kids all stand up and tell them that we're telling a story about two friends and when we tell about Very Tall Mouse we'll all stretch as high as we can; and when we tell about Very Short Mouse we'll all bend down as low as we can.  Then we start, with:  

One day two friends went on a walk:  Very Tall Mouse (and we all stretch up) and Very Short Mouse (and we all scrunch down). When they came to a tree, Very Tall Mouse (stretch up) said:  "Hello leaves!"    And Very Short Mouse (scrunch down) said:  "Hello....trunk!"   So this sets up the way the rest of the story goes, and a preschool or early elementary crowd catches on pretty quickly to the idea:  VTM sees what's high up and VSM sees what's low. 

I continue this pattern but now encourage the kids to provide the "high" thing and the "low" thing, using examples from the book, but also other stuff if there's time and we want to extend it a bit.  So it's animals, and the kids will guess what Very Tall Mouse says "hello" too (birds...bees...giraffes...) and what Very Short Mouse greets (ants...snails...moles...).   Same thing with flower, car, rain storm...or anything else you think of.  It's tempting to let the kids pick what they see next, but also a bit of a risk because it's actually a bit hard to think of something that has clear high and low components on the spot....I've tried it both ways but usually keep the "what they saw" component for myself and let them go with the greeting details.

The tale has a nicely satisfying ending:  After they see a rain storm they go inside ("Hello ceiling, Hello floor").  Then Very Tall Mouse sees something wonderful through the window.  But Very Short Mouse (here your voice goes all mock sad) is too short to see out of the window.  So his friend picks them up and they both look out the window together and say:  "Hello Rainbow!"  

It's really a fun bit of vocabulary building, because they not only have to come up with words, they have to find words that fit both the thing the mice are seeing and the high/low concept.  Not all kids get it and you do get some answers that don't make sense at all, but that's fun too.

And of course they're going up and down the whole time, so it's a good between-stories break as well.  And finally, it's a way to promote a great book that's just two small to share with groups.  "The Journey" is another story from Mouse Tales that has similar elements of storytelling/action/participation, so using both stories in one session can be just right. 

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