I planned this theme back during a week of uncharacteristically warm weather, to coincide with the start of spring on Monday. I’d planned to point out the library’s budding crocuses and rapidly greening grass, and then we got a blizzard and things are looking wintry again. C’est la vie.
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
Abracadabra, It’s Spring! by Anne Sibley O’Brien
Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi
Opening Song: “So Early in the Morning”
To the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” We use the ASL sign for “hello” in the first verse.
This is the way we wave hello,
Wave hello, wave hello,
This is the way we wave hello
So early in the morning.
Repeat with clap our hands, stomp our feet, jump around.
Discussion & Sign: Weather was on everybody’s mind, so we started our discussion by mentioning how rainy, breezy, and changeable spring can be. We also talked about grass, flowers, and trees budding, and the reappearance of insects like ants, spiders, and bees. Together, we practiced the ASL sign for Spring. My go-to site for learning new signs is ASL University.
Book 1: Tap the Magic Tree. An interactive book about the shifting seasons, featuring a tree that undergoes all sorts of changes. This is a book kids can easily get involved with — blowing kisses to the tree to bring out flowers, or tapping their feet to make apples fall. It’s a fun way to show which changes each season brings, and it begins (and ends) with spring.
Movement Game: “Spring Flowers”
I found this idea on Pre-K Pages, via a circuitous route through Pinterest. The site offers tons of lesson plans featuring crafts and activities for teachers. I adapted this one for my younger group — we had five different colored flowers, and as I called each one I gave them an action to perform. For example, anyone holding a yellow flower had to hop like a bunny, while anyone with a pink flower should tweet like a bird. Originally, I had hoped to collect the flowers in a basket afterwards, but I decided to use them again for our second book (see below).
Fingerplay: “Open, Shut Them”
Book 2: Abracadabra, It’s Spring! This book focuses on the changes that come with spring — flowers blooming, chicks hatching, snow melting, and so on. Each page also features a fold-out picture, which is always a nice surprise. To bring about each change, the reader has to say a magic word, as if they were performing a trick. I had the kids help me with this bit, and we used the flowers from the movement activity as magic wands.
Flannel Activity: Baby Bird, Baby Bird
A great activity from Miss Mary Liberry. I tried this in my baby themed storytime a few weeks ago, and it was an instant hit. It was easy enough to adapt for today’s theme. I made eight different colored eggs, and hid a picture of a baby bird beneath one of them. We repeated the refrain: “Baby bird, baby bird, are you under the _______ egg?” And lifted each egg to check! I also hid a butterfly and a bee beneath two of the other eggs — every good mystery needs a red herring.
Fingerplay: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”
This group loves fingerplays, and this seemed like an obvious fit. I did two verses — the first featuring rain, and the second wind — which connected to our discussion about weather. Our third book was all about bugs, so this was a nice lead-in to that, as well. Here’s the second verse, since I’m not sure it’s common knowledge. I actually tweaked this a bit to make it rhyme better.
The itsy bitsy spider climbed up a willow tree.
WHOOSH went the wind, and made the spider freeze!
Out came the sun, and stopped the icy wind,
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the tree again.
Book 3: Some Bugs. A simple book introducing different types of bugs, beautifully illustrated by Brendan Wenzel (who also wrote They All Saw a Cat, one of my favorite picture books from last year). There’s a nice guide in the back introducing all of the bugs featured, since some of them are less familiar.
Closing Rhyme: “Wave Hi, Wave Low”
The version we use, with the ASL sign for goodbye:
I think it’s time, we’ve got to go,
So wave your elbows, wave your toes!
Wave your knees, wave your lips,
Blow me a kiss with your fingertips!
Wave your ears, wave your hair,
Wave your hips and your derriere.
Wave your fingers way up high,
Wave a hand and say goodbye!
Wrapping Up: It’s official – I love this group. I had a full house again, about 34 people, and they were all fantastic. All three books were well-received, although I think Abracadabra was the favorite. They also enjoyed the movement game and, as I’d hoped, loved the hide-and-seek eggs. I need to remember to incorporate something similar every couple of weeks. After a snow-filled week, the parents were happy to see flowers, leaves, and birds on the pages. I think we’re all ready for spring. Awesome group, awesome theme!