Creatures of the Night

For summer reading week three we featured Night Creatures.  This was a great opportunity to do a little vocabulary lesson and talk about the word Nocturnal with my story time friends.  We talked about when we sleep and when nocturnal animals sleep and then we had a nocturnal animal scavenger hunt.

This was a really simple scavenger hunt.  I printed off pictures of nocturnal animals such as owls, bats, lightning bugs, hamsters, etc. and hung them around the story time room.  They were up when the kids came in, but none of them really mentioned seeing them there.  Since all of the animals were nocturnal, we had to turn off the lights to get them to come out.  I had a flashlight and walked around the room shining it on the different pictures.  We had already talked about some animals that were nocturnal, so the kids were able to guess most of them fairly quickly.  I think the lightning bugs were the hardest because they were just green specks on a dark page, but I gave them a few clues and they got it.

Our first book was Little Owl's night by Divya Srinivasan.  I went back and forth over whether I wanted to use this book or not.  I like that the pictures are simple and bold and I was drawn to it because the book features lots of nocturnal animals who are out while little Owl is exploring the night.  I did not care for the fact that there really is not much of a plot or story line in this book.  Basically, little Owl flies around, sees his night time friends, then returns home as the sun is rising to go to bed.  I decided to go with it in the end because the language is simple enough, the pictures are great, and since there were so many different animals shown it mostly made up for the lack of story.

The second book we read was Eric Carle's The lonely firefly.  This is a great night creature book because right now there are tons of lightning bugs flying around at dusk.  The pictures are Carle's signature style with a colorful firefly searching the night for other fireflies.  Along the way he finds lanterns, car lights, other animals and even fire works before finally finding other fireflies - that actually light up in the book!  So, with Eric Carle, fireflies, fireworks, and actual flashing lights, this book was a hit.

Recently there were a few Flannel Friday posts featuring lightning bugs that were perfect for our theme this week.  I got ideas from two other Flannel Friday posts this week.  One was Miss Alison at MiSS ALiSSON iS BLOGGiNG with her Five Little Fireflies with disappearing lights that I thought were super cute.  My other inspiration was Amy at catch the possibilites who posted her version ofTen Flashing Fireflies by Philemon Sturges.  You can read more about my flannel story here, or follow the links to the other blogs.

Since lightning bugs were hard to come by, we simply did songs that are fun.  Carole Peterson's Sticky bubblegum is a fun song for a wide range of ages.  It was suggested to me by a 2nd grade teacher, but much younger kids enjoy it as well.  In this song, you get your (pretend) bubble gum stuck all over to things like your knees, your neighbor's had, your foot to your nose (this one is a bit tricky for all ages), and even your head to the floor.  The tune is catchy and the kids have fun with this one.

Laurie Berkner did her own rendition of The lion sleeps tonight.  I passed out shaker eggs to the kids for this one.  We waved eggs over our heads for the slower verses and shook them really fast for the Weem-oh-weh parts.  The kids seemed to like it this one, but what was even more fun was watching all of the parents/grandparents singing along.

Another favorite song of mine is Sue Schnitzer's All the fish.  We use this one a lot because there are so many animal motions for the kids to do.  Plus, we jump up for the 'splash' part, so the kids have lots of movement.

This week's video was Peggy Rathmann's Good night, Gorilla.  Since there are very few words in this book it would not make the best pick for story time, but the animated version is perfect.  As the zookeeper is putting all the animals to bed, sneaky Gorilla is following around letting all of the animals out of their cages.  This is a really cute one and the kids seemed to enjoy it, not as much as they did Pigeon, but that was going to be hard to top no matter what.  Good night, Gorilla fit well with our theme and one grandma was very excited to inform me that the story is a favorite with her family.  I love being able to show kids their favorite story in a new way!

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