Groundhogs, shadows, and shapes, Oh My!

Since we are celebrating Groundhog's Day today our story time theme this week was Shadows, although we featured the letter G for Groundhogs.  I was actually able to give a groundhog report to my group this morning.  In neighboring Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of winter.  However, here in the Buckeye State, Buckeye Chuck did not see his shadow and is predicting an early spring.  Give the mild winter we have already had, my bets are that we are experiencing an early spring to be followed by six weeks of winter :)

Anyway, our first shadow book was an illustrated version of Robert Louis Stevenson's My shadow.  I used the version that was illustrated by Penny Dale.  It has lovely illustrations of the boy and his shadow, showing them as they play and how the shadow changes.  It is great for introducing Groundhog's Day to the littler ones as most of them know what a shadow is and we can use the book to talk about how their shadows change, disappear, and are always connected to them.  This book did not go over well with my more wiggly Monday group, but the other groups seemed to enjoy it.

Our second book really had little to do with shadows, but It looked like spilt milk by Charles G. Shaw has lots of shadowy-ish shapes.  This book is always fun in story time because the kids like to guess what each shape is.  Most were easy for them, but there were a few challenging ones.  The great horned owl gave them all trouble, but one boy guessed a crow and another guessed a rocket ship - I liked the rocket ship.  The angel was also difficult.  A few guessed a butterfly which was also a very good guess.  I got them to see the angel by talking about making snow angels.
 For our last story I made up my own.  Groundhog books appropriate for preschoolers are hard to find so I created a flannel story called Groundhog's Shadow.  You can read all about how I made it here, along with the full version of the story.  Basically, little Groundhog is excited for his first Groundhog's Day and it warned by his mother that if he sees his shadow he needs to come back in and go to bed.  So, he pops up, but the shadow that he sees is not his.  So, he tries again (several more times in fact) until he sees his own shadow and then pops back down to sleep for six more weeks.

In addition to our books we also did a shadow activity.  I brought in an overhead projector and cut several different shapes from our dye cut machine.  They guessed what they were and then we all stood up to make our own shadows.  The kids waved to their shadow, had them jump, wiggle, and turn around before we told our shadows good-bye.

Our songs this week were just favorites of mine.  We sang Hap Palmer's Itsy bitsy spider.  This couples the traditional song with a second verse and adds in some spiders that crawl all over the kids.

Because I try to use scarves, bells, or shakers each week we got out the scarves for Johnette Downing's Shake your scarves.  This has simple motions to do with the scarves that the kids can easily follow along.

We ended story time with Tooty ta by Dr. Jean.  It had been awhile since I used this song, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.  It builds a new activity each verse and repeats all of them.  By the end you have your: thumbs up, elbows back, feet apart, knees together, bottoms up, tongue out, eyes shut, and you are turning around.  I have found that it is actually a decent thigh workout.  Younger kids had a little trouble in the middle, but most kept with it, especially when it came to sticking out their tongue.
 Our craft this week was super easy.  I gave all of the kids four dye-cut shapes along with popsicle sticks so that they could make puppets.  I showed them how they could take them home and use a flashlight to make their own shadow puppet story.  Some colored the puppets before taping on the stick.  

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