Book to Boogie is a monthly series that pairs picture books with dance and movement activities for preschool story time. The series is curated by Kerry Aradhya of Picture Books & Pirouettes and written by a different guest writer each month. We hope that children’s librarians, as well as classroom teachers and dance educators, will find these activities useful and fun!

by Kerry Aradhya

School’s out, schedules are shifting, and the weather is quickly warming up — a perfect recipe for a little summer chaos. If you’re up for a little chaos yourself, the picture book SPLASH! might be a good one to dive into at the start of your summer program.

"Splash!" by Ann Jonas.

“Splash!” by Ann Jonas.

Written and illustrated by Ann Jonas, SPLASH! is about a little girl spending the day at the pond in her backyard. She watches as a variety of animals come and go — many of them ending up in the pond, either on purpose or by accident, and some of them even entering then exiting then entering the pond again.

My dog and cat climb out.

A dragonfly falls in. SPLASH!

One frog hops out.

How many are in my pond?

Each two-page spread prompts the readers to count how many are in the pond. Since it’s a little hard to keep track of all the action on the pages alone, I thought it would be fun to “act out” the book, which would involve lots of movement and help different kinds of learners practice their counting.

I came up with two ways to approach this, depending on how many kids you have in your group and what your threshold for chaos may be. Both will require you to create a “pond,” perhaps by partitioning off one section of your space or using string to make a very large circle in the center of the room.

Option 1

If you have at least 20 kids in your group, 15 of the kids could role-play all 15 characters from the book:

1 bird
1 dragonfly
1 turtle
1 cat
1 dog
1 girl
2 catfish
3 frogs
4 goldfish

At the beginning of the book, the children playing the fish can stand inside the pond, with the rest of the children standing just outside. The child who plays the bird can stand a little further away. Although the bird is not mentioned in the text until the middle of the book, the illustrations at the beginning of the book show it standing in a birdhouse behind the pond.

Then, as you read the book, the animals and little girl can go into or out of the pond as the text suggests. The fish will stay in the pond the whole time, and the bird will watch for about half the book and then “fly” away, maybe back into the audience.

The children in the audience will be the “counters,” counting how many are in the pond at the end of each two-page spread. I checked, and the answer will always be between 6 and 12 — great numbers for preschoolers.

If the kids really get the hang of it, you could try it again, with the children changing roles or incorporating more of the movement words in the book. For example, the cat “watches the fish,” the dog “chases the cat,” some animals “jump” into the pond, and others “fall” into the pond. If you want to get really creative, you could even come up with costumes!

Option 2

If the first option sounds a little too chaotic, or if you have a smaller group of children, you could simply read the book on its own first and then create your own story (with fewer characters) to narrate and have the kids act out. This option might also work well if the children are really young or not yet proficient at counting to 10.

Whichever option you choose, I hope you and your little ones will have fun exploring SPLASH! If you’re “pond-ering” which picture books to pair with it, consider In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming or Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan and Byron Barton.

Kerry Aradhya.

Kerry Aradhya.

Kerry Aradhya is a children’s writer whose poetry and action rhymes have been published in Highlights High Five, Ladybug, and Stories for Children Magazine. Kerry has also danced with the Houston Grand Opera, the Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble, and several other small dance companies. She shares her passion for picture books and her love of dance at Picture Books & Pirouettes, where she blogs about integrating children’s literature and movement.

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