Book: Happy Birthday Moon by Frank Asch
Props: Hat, Moon (white ball)
Audience: Toddler Time, Preschool
Video: How to Tell "Happy Birthday Moon" with Puppets
Here's one that I like to do in Toddler Time, even though I know deep down it's more of a preschool story. So when I tell it with puppets and props I make sure to do some stuff before the story starts so the group can follow it pretty well. Bear's voice echoing is a key plot element, and lots of kids don't know what that means, so I prep them. I tell them about how if you say something loudly, sometimes the sound can bounce off of a wall or a mountain and you can hear it again. Then I have them practice. My Bear puppet says "Hello!" to them, and they say it back as a group. We try it a couple times and they pick it up pretty quickly.
Then it's on to the story, which is as much storytelling-with-props as it is puppetry. I pare it down to the basics. Bear wonders when Moon's birthday is, decides to ask him, and climbs a mountain to get closer. I hold up Moon in one hand (using a big styrofoam ball, but any big white ball would work). Bear shouts: "Hello!" and then I prompt the audience: "...and the echo came back. Ready...?" And they all join in with the echoing: "Hello!"
Then I have Bear react to that echo, this time addressing the audience: "Wow! Moon said 'hello' to me!" So Bear alternates between calling up to Moon, with the echo coming back, and sharing his reaction with the audience. Bear's calls to Moon are in a slightly different voice, more drawn out, and that helps to cue the audience that their turn to echo is about to come.
Once Bear learns that Moon wants a hat (which is just what Bear wants....this is such a cleverly conceived story!), he gets one and leaves it on a tree for Moon. I've done this
using a big tall plant as the tree, but eventually just went to holding my arm straight up with that hat on it, and that works just as well and is much easier. I take Bear off my hand to bring Moon up across the sky, "freezing" Moon when it's just below the hat. I'm narrating this part, rather than talking as Bear, to make it clear: "The Moon moved across the sky, until it looked like it was just underneath the hat." And then back to Bear reacting: "Wow! The hat fits!"
Then I narrate the wind blowing the hat off the tree and onto Bear's doorstep, where he finds his "present from Moon." Then it's back up the mountain, without the hat which has been blown away, for the concluding dialog with Moon. "Thank you for the hat" says Bear / "Thank you for the hat" echoes Moon/audience.
I know some of the kids are really not getting this exploration of relative positioning and visual illusion, but I think enough of them get the general idea, and anyway it looks pretty interesting. I like to this one because the storytelling is so excellent and the audience participation is fun, but you can also get a ton of STEM points for this one if you need them.
This is one of the stories which also has a link to my "Storytelling with Puppets" youtube page. Often those videos show a way of telling that's different from the blog description here, but in this case the Happy Birthday Moon video shows this same approach described above....