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 Jill Homan Randall

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 9.36.01 AMWhen I first read Phyllis Root’s book Flip, Flap, Fly, it immediately seemed to be a perfect book for a story time activity, with the potential to involve both adults and young children. Integral to the book is the idea of an adult and a young one interacting and moving together. With David Walker’s playful and joyful illustrations, the book explores many different pairs of animals as they fly, swim, and wiggle together.

Flip, Flap, Fly involves six different animals performing a variety of actions:

  • Flying (bird)
  • Swimming (fish)
  • Wiggling (snake)
  • Sliding (otter)
  • Paddling (duck)
  • Creeping (mouse)

The recurring text includes “so the mama helps the _________ (ex. baby snake) _______ ________ ________ (ex. ziggle zaggle wiggle).” I love the word selection of “helps.”

The story ends not with animals, but with a mother and child kissing. The book exudes joy, love, and comfort. It beautifully draws attention to parent/child relationships in our world.

Movement Activities

Using Flip, Flap, Fly as your springboard for a story time session, you can easily develop a 20-minute set of movement activities.

To get everyone moving and ready to listen to movement directions, try out the song “Love to Clap” by artist Caroline Harrison (available here on iTunes). This is a song with movement directions embedded in the lyrics (“jump up and down…..wiggle your toes….clap your hands…”).

From there, have everyone sit back down so you can read through the story once for the group.

Getting everyone back on their feet again, invite each caregiver and child to explore some of the actions in the book together. This will be an improvisational activity that the whole group can explore in pairs around the room. Music will be helpful. I suggest the song “Halinkata Djoubé” by Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segel from the album Chamber Music. Prompt the group every 30-60 seconds to try out another action from the story. “How can you two fly…swim…wiggle?” Try exploring all six actions from the book.

Now, bringing all of the ideas (text, movement, adult/child pairings) together, put on another piece of music (such as “Oscarine” from the same album by Sissoko and Segel). With everyone still spread out in the space, read through the book once more with the group. But this time, the group will hear the story, hear the music, and move all at the same time. Your words will prompt the pairs to change from flying to swimming to wiggling for the dance. As the story concludes with the parent and child kissing, allow the group to simply free dance with each other as the “ending” of the dance.

As everyone sits down once more, ask each caregiver and child to share aloud their favorite movement from the story. If possible, give each pair in the room a turn to talk.

Other Books to Explore

Looking through the lens of a parent/child pair or caregiver/child pair who are dancing together, consider reading other, similar books to the group:

  • Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning
  • Dancin’ in the Kitchen by Wendy Gelsenliter and Frank Christian with illustrations by Marjorie Priceman
  • Jonathan and His Mommy by Irene Smalls with illustrations by Michael Hays

Flip, Flap, Fly is a perfect addition and easy fit for a library story time. Let’s use it to move together!

HeadShot.JillHomanRandallJill Homan Randall is passionate about the intersection of language and movement. She teaches dance at The Hamlin School in San Francisco and has been a teaching artist for over 17 years. Jill maintains the blog Dancing Words, about children’s books on dance and books that inspire dancing. Her article “What Makes a Good Book about Dance?” was published in the January/February 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Jill also has a chapter on the intersection of language and movement in preschool and kindergarten dance classes in the book Moving Ideas: Multimodality and Embodied Learning in Communities and Schools. Jill’s latest publication is Dance Education Essentials: 55 Objects and Ideas for New Preschool-12th Grade Teaching Artists.

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