Camping out at Story Time

This week kicked off our summer reading programming.  We are following the Dream Big: Read theme and decided to pick a different related theme for each week.  Week one was designated camping week to go along with our feature decor, a little campsite.  We set up a small tent (it can maybe fit four small children) and out fitted it with some 'log' seats (boxes covered with wood grain paper), a grill (box spray painted black with a cookie cooling rack taped to the top), and some play food.

Story time is a little different in the summer.  I do my program only once a week and it is for children ages 2-5 instead of 2-3.  We do not require registration so I do not do a craft because I would not know how many to plan for.  Instead of a craft, I end story time with a Scholastic or West Woods iconographic book.  We have a screen in the story time room, so I project the movie onto that.  We do have a movie license at our library, but I believe that these DVDs come with one built in.  I try to keep the video to one that is not much more than 5 minutes as I have found by then some of the littler ones get wiggly (and that is about how long it takes someone to discover they can make shadow puppets on the screen).

The first book that we read was Bailey goes camping by Kevin Henkes.  The pictures in this book are a little small for story time.  They are done in small boxes surround by a large white frame, but they are so cute and the story is great for a camping theme.  Bailey's older brother and sister get to go to scout camp but Bailey is too little to go.  He is very upset over missing the fishing, swimming, hotdog eating, marshmallow roasting, bear hunting, tent sleeping fun.  Luckily, mama has a solution and Bailey gets to have his own 'indoor' camp out!

Our second book was Wendy Orr's The Princess and her Panther.  In this story, two sisters, one dressed up as a princess and the other a panther, head out on a camping adventure.  They are brave (well, the panther tries to be) as they set up camp and settle in for the night, but an array of noises keep them up.  The illustrations in this one are bold and depict some scary shadows on the tent wall.  But, as the children see in the end, the 'scary shadows' were merely some friendly backyard creatures.

In addition to the books we went on a Bear Hunt.  I used a flannel board for this one.  All of the kids 'walked' with their hands on their legs.  At the beginning of each verse we said: 'Going, on a bear hunt.  I'm not afraid.  Gonna catch a big one!'  Then, at each impasse, we said 'Can't go around it, can't go over it.'  Our obstacles were:
Tall grass (rub hands and swish)
Big Tree (climb)
Wide River (swim)
Sticky mud (squish squelch)
Cold Snowstorm (shiver)
Dark Cave (cover eyes)

When we went into the cave I covered my eyes and wandered over to the crowd.  I put my hand out and felt a few kids on the head and talked about how I felt some thing warm and hairy that must be a BEAR!  So we ran quickly back through our obstacles to get away.  I thought for sure the kids would correct me that the 'bear' was just kids, but no one did.

The songs we did were not all that camp-y.  We sang Here comes a bear by The Wiggles.  This was before our bear hunt, but the song also has hopping kangaroos, slithering snakes, and crawling wombats.

I found a new song called Shake your boom boom from the Smart Moves 3 album.  This has very upbeat music and tells kids to 'shake your boom boom' in all different directions.  Our boom booms were shaker eggs.

When we did a search for camp songs on Youtube we came up with the B-Bananas (or Bananas or Bananas unite) song several times, so I used Carole Peterson's version.  She does the song twice with the second verse being a little faster.  The kids always seem to enjoy this song.

Another camp song that came up a lot was Baby Shark.  We did this a few years ago when summer reading was a water theme and the kids seem to enjoy it.  I do it as:
Baby shark, do-do, do-do.  Baby shark, do-do, do-do.  (Touch arms a wrist and open hands for mouth)
Mommy shark, do-do, do-do.  Mommy shark, do-do, do-do.  (Tough arms at elbow and open for mouth)
Daddy shark, do-do, do-do.  Daddy shark, do-do, do-do.  (Use whole arms as mouth)
Swimmer guy, do-do, do-do.  (Swim)
Sees a shark, do-do, do-do.  (Make fin on your back)
Swims away, do-do, do-do.  (Swim)
Swim faster! Do-do, do-do.  (Swim fast)
Got away! Do-do, do-do.  (Wipe brow)
Sad shark, do-do, do-do.  (Make sad face) 
That's the end, do-do, do-do.

Obviously there are lots of variations of this.  With an older crowd the shark may 'get' the swimmer who has to hop away, but I like to keep it tame for the little kids.

We ended with the video Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies.  In this story bats have a night of fun at the beach playing in the waves, having picnics, and sitting around a campfire.  The kids get to see the bats doing very similar things as people (aside from snacking on bugs - ewww) as they play at the beach.  The story is narrated by the author himself which is neat.

As the kids left I gave each of them a few camp themed coloring pages as well as a s'more snack.  The snack was golden graham cereal (actually the knock-off variety) with marshmallows and chocolate chips.  I generally do not do food, but this was perfect for the theme and the kids loved it.

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