Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Extraordinary Animal Friendships, with Scans and Music

Book:  Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships  by Catherine Thimmesh
Puppets:  None
Props:  None
Technology:   Scanned Images Projected with PowerPoint;  Music
Presenters:  One
Audience:   Family Storytime  (mostly 3-7 year olds)

We use scanned images and PowerPoint in a variety of ways during our programs.  Sometimes it's just to make sure that our large crowds can see the excellent artwork....we call that a "straight scan," where we just show the pictures and read the words.  But more often we do something a little different.  One of my favorites is when we add music, which we did this week for our "Family and Friends" theme in Family Storytime.
Friends is a very cool book by Catherine Thimmesh.  She briefly tells the story of unusual animal friendships, and accompanies each story with a great photo of the pair.  We've tried this three different ways in our Family Storytime and finally got it right.  First we scanned the images and told the story of each pair in a couple sentences, shortening from the text for our mostly preschool audience.  It was fine, but a little too much for the kids to absorb.  So the next time we added music:  a nice instrumental version of "What a Wonderful World" (the one that was a hit for Louis Armstrong, not the Sam Cooke).  We played that medium-low while we narrated over the music....still too much.

Then Sheila had the solution:  No words at all, just show the pictures with music to accompany.  And it worked great.  We used "You've Got a Friend in Me" by Randy Newman (the kids know it from Toy Story).  We showed each image for about 10-15 seconds and clicked to the next, which fit perfectly for the two minute song.

Just focusing on the images allowed the kids to easily follow it and enjoy it without trying to absorb the back stories of each.  Just seeing the frog floating with the mouse on its head, or the monkey resting its head on the bird is enough to keep them absorbed.  We let them know it's fine to talk to each other during the story, because they're really eager to identify the animals and marvel at the unexpected combinations.

The music was light-hearted and fun, matching the mood of the photos.  And although we didn't use the words, we generated strong interest in the book, which doesn't work well for a large group in its entirety, but can be an excellent one on one read aloud at home.  We also pulled a bunch of other animal friend photo essays together for our book display and lots of those checked out too.  Titles include Koko's Kitten, Owen & Mzee, A Friend for Einstein, and several others.  It's a great way to promote non-fiction in a storytime.

Another fun music/scans combo is the one we did for our K-2 Book Adventure "Foods" program, using Saxton Freymann's food photo books.  Details are at the beginning of our Program Summary for our K-2 Book Adventure "Foods" program which we did a couple years ago (and just repeated last week).

And I really liked the way music worked with Mo Willems' & Jon Muth's City Dog, Country Frog.  We did narration with that one, along with four different music samples (one for each season).

We're lucky, of course, to have a built in projector in our story room, so we can project from the ceiling without having to have a projector on a table.  We got an iPad a few months ago and have added AppleTV which allows you to project from that screen...haven't quite explored the possibilities there, but we're still finding plenty of fun stuff to do with old fashioned PowerPoint.  For other examples you can click on the "Projector" label in the column on the right.,..

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