Props: 2 Signs each for Cows, Chickens, Pigs, Dogs, 1 each for Cat and Mouse
Presenters: 2, plus 4 child volunteers
Audience: Family Storytime (mostly 3-6 years old)
I've enjoyed doing What Will Fat Cat Sit On? with puppets, and it was even my first post on this blog (January 17, 2011). Terri and I decided to do it as an act-out for our "cats" themed Family Storytime. In the story, Fat Cat half-threatens to sit on five different animals, so we decided to use kids for four of those, with Terri as Mouse, who comes in at the end. Sometimes with stories like this we've had kids hold puppets or have something on their heads to identify the animals, but this time we just decided to have them hold a mask, laminated and mounted on a paint stick. Some of the kids put the masks in front of their faces, some held them at their chest and either way works. We had some store-bought farm animal masks for Cow + Chicken + Pig already that we'd used for a different story. Then for Cat, Dog, and Mouse, we scanned, enlarged,
and laminated face pictures from the books.
Having the masks on sticks makes it real easy to switch, so we decided to have Terri and a child as each animal (except Mouse). That way Terri could cue the kids and supply some of the personality, but it also gives the kids enough room to get into it too (and some did, some didn't). I was thinking maybe I should stuff my shirt with a pillow to make a really fat cat, but Terri said don't worry about it: curved arms, big wide steps, and a deep, goofy voice is all you need....and she was right, as usual.
So first I come out as Fat Cat, wondering what I should sit on. All four kids are sitting on small chairs, while Terri is behind the backdrop poking the Mouse mask out and back, which the kids see, but I don't, to sort of preview the Mouse ending (and parallel what Jan T. does with her illustrations). Then Terri comes out, grabs a Cow mask and steps up with the Cow child as Fat Cat notices them and says: "Will Fat Cat sit on...the cows?" Then there's a short, slow chase as Fat Cat takes big steps towards the cows, circling them, until the cows say: "Sit on the Chickens!" The pattern continues with Chickens and Pigs, then shifts a bit when the Dogs growl and Fat Cat runs away.
In the book, it's only the Chicken who tells Fat Cat to sit on someone else, but Terri had the good idea to do this for each animal, to really make the transition clear to the audience and to give the child volunteers a little more of an active role. When Mouse comes out, Fat Cat repeats the big "What will Fat Cat sit on?" refrain, getting closer and closer to Mouse, who finally suggests the chair. Each time we did this, when Fat Cat sits on the chair, the audience thought it was over, making the final twist ("Now....what will Fat Cat have....to EAT?!") even more fun. Fat Cat gets off the chair and we have another slow chase as all the animals take off.
To give it a nice clear conclusion, after chasing the animals I say one more "What will Fat Cat eat?" and pull a carrot out of my pocket. Not in the book, but it worked just right for this presentation. For two of our four performances we had a third teller, Carson Mischel (a visiting children's librarian from the nearby West Linn Public Library), and this story worked fine with three too. Carson took the Mouse part, leaving Terri to do the other animals.