Props: Selected images from the books, scanned, printed, and laminated
Audience: Toddler Time (1's and 2's)
Saxton Freymann & Joost Elfers have done a bunch of books with photographs of fruits and vegetables put together to look like people, animals, and other stuff. They're really amazingly creative and kids love to look at them. We've used them more than once for our "Food in Fact and Fiction" K-2 Book Adventures program, putting scanned photos into a slide show that we ran with musical accompaniment.
Later, we used an adapted version of that in Family Storytime. I decided to give it a try in Toddler Time, but there's just one thing: we never, ever do anything in Toddler Time that puts the pages of a book on the screen. Although I've really enjoyed our creative uses of the screen with stories for older kids, we're not going there with 1's and 2's. Also, our Toddler Time crowd is small enough (20-25 kids, but they're little) to see pictures pretty well.
In our slide show, we utilized three pieces of music, but for Toddlers I stuck with one: Marvin Hamlisch's recording of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" (aka the Theme from The Sting). It's an instrumental that has just the right bit of playfulness. It also has a strong pattern, so you get very strong end-of-line cues on where to do your page turns. Or in this case, page switches. The music adds a lot to the experience, and I'm sure there are other tunes that would also work. I actually did go to the trouble of "transcribing" the music, so I could organize the images neatly. I don't know anything about music, so my transcription was just a line by line list of sounds, using a "d" for some reason:
d d d D d D d D / d d D d d D d d D
It made sense to me anyway, and did help my planning some, so if anyone wants to try the story and would like the line by line, let me know and I can send it. I'd also be glad to list the photos I used, but it's also fun to just pick out your favorites.
The song divides neatly into 6 sections, and I picked 4 illustrations for each section, grouping them into similar themes for each section: Faces, Animals, People, Vehicles, More Animals, and Faces again to end. With the slide show, we used more illustrations, switching them faster, because clicking for a new slide is seamless. Also, the toddlers really need more time to absorb what they're seeing. So doing 4 per section means that I held each one up for about 4 or 5 seconds.
I thought about putting the images on sticks to make them easier to handle, but just using two hands worked fine. And even though "holding up a picture" sounds simple, Terri pointed out that there should be rhythm and sameness to the appearance of each picture. So I picked up the picture from the stool on my right, slowly panned it from left to right, then slowly went back right to left, and picked up the next one. That regularity meant the kids could focus on the images without having to work to track where the picture will be.
This is one where all the work is in the prep. Choosing the illustrations, scanning, printing, and laminating, and practicing to the music. You really want the transitions from one picture to the next to match the rhythm of the music....it could work without that, but it's better with. And then once it's time to tell it, you just put on the music and flip from one picture to the next.
The toddlers really enjoyed it, but I'm sure it was on a different level than the preschool or K-2 groups did. The older kids see bananas that look like giraffes and are amazed at the cleverness; toddlers just see giraffes that look kind of silly...and that's okay. Identifying the fruits is more of a lap activity, and since so many of the Freymann/Jelffers books I had available checked out, I'm sure some of that happens later at home.
A couple weeks later I did this same version for a Family Storytime at the Hillsboro Library, where I'm a sub and do a Sunday Storytime a couple times per month. We don't have the screen and projector set-up there, so using the pictures and my ipod worked just fine. The things I was sure to do for Toddlers (fewer pictures, move them slowly and regularly) were equally useful for a mostly 4 and up group, so I really didn't need to change a thing for the older crowd.