Puppets: A few sea animals, including a shark
Props: A big cut-out squid
Technology: Projector with a ouple slides
Audience: Family Storytime (mostly 3-6 year olds)
One of the many benefits of doing two-person storytimes is that you get to do stories that you never would have thought of yourself. In this case, Sheila and Terri developed the story, Brad came up with a couple of additional enhancements later, and by the time I got a turn at a recent Family Storytime, all I had to do was walk around behind a piece of cardboard.
I've used The Biggest Thing in the Ocean as a read aloud and it works great. Sheila and Terri worked out a cool way to act it out with kids. Sheila created a big giant squid, using cardboard and blue stuff which looks like felt, but is actually called something like headliner fabric or cartop. "It was easy," she says, but I don't think it would have been for someone as craft-clueless as me.
The squid works kind of like a giant puppet or mask. You just hold it up in front of you and walk around, and you're a squid. You can even have the words written on the back! The story's pretty simple. As Squid, I just brag about how I'm "the biggest thing in the ocean." On the screen behind me we projected a silent video of moving ocean water, which was a nice touch....but it would work fine without that too. Then Terri enters with a Starfish puppet. I brag that I'm bigger than a starfish, and Terri attaches the puppet to the squid. The puppets all have velcro and stick easily. And this whole thing could be done with felt figures instead of puppets just as well..
So now there's a Starfish on the Squid. I was a little worried that the kids would think the Squid ate the Starfish, but it's pretty clear that it's there just to show the comparative size. Now that Terri has shown what to do, she guides four kids from the audience to come up, one at a time, and do the same thing with puppets they had been given. So I say: "I'm even bigger than a Blue Fish. Is there a Blue Fish out there?" And the child with the Blue Fish comes up and attaches it to the Squid. Earlier we had tried having the kids walk across stage with their puppets in front of the Squid, but it was hard for them to figure out where to go. Another time the kids stayed seated and held up their animals while the Squid came up to them. That didn't work great either, since the kids usually forgot to hold up their animals and the rest of the audience couldn't see. Then Brad had the idea of having the kids attach the sea creatures, and that did the trick. Sometimes it just takes us a few tries before we get it right. Soon the Squid has plenty of animals to prove how big he is:
Then he says something like: "I'm even bigger than a Shark, although I'm glad I don't see any sharks around here. They're smaller than me, but they're scary." Terri, meanwhile, has a Shark puppet on her hand and we have a little hide-and-seek-followed-by-chase scene, which adds some action to the tale.
For the conclusion, the Squid brags one more time about being the biggest thing in the ocean...then the Whale appears. We used the screen for the Whale, with the image moving slowly across the screen while the Squid retreats just in front of the jaws, then gets swallowed, as I move it out of sight behind a backdrop with the Squid. So imagine the blue Squid in front of a screen, then the whale above slowly moving across the screen from right to left, towards the Squid, and as it reaches the edge of the screen, the Squid moves in front of the open mouth as if being swallowed.
Then the inside of the Whale's stomach appears on screen, and Squid comes out in front of the screen so it looks (kind of) like he's in the stomach, along with all of the other animals that are attached to him.He realizes where he is, admits that he's smaller than the Whale, and delivers the concluding line: "I'm the biggest thing in this whale!"
The interaction between Squid and screen actually works very nicely, and the kids all seem to get the joke at the end, or at least as well as they do with the book....