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 Jayne Gammons
The feathers are gonna fly when you read this rollicking rhyme! To set the mood, you might want to invite your little chicks to come to story time in pajamas and to bring their pillows. For added fun, consider purchasing a bag of feathers from a craft store.
In Chicks Run Wild by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Ward Jenkins, Mama Hen tucks her five chicks beneath the sheets. “Go to sleep, now,” she tweets. As soon as she leaves the room…those chicks run wild! After several attempts to keep her brood in bed, Mama joins the chicks to show them how to sashay and prance. The chicken dance continues until Mama’s plan works. The chicks beg for bedtime, leaving Mama time to “run wild.”
If you’re looking for a book that engages listeners through movement, this story works like a dream. To promote curiosity, randomly put feathers on the floor in the listening area before the children arrive. When you begin story time, activate schema by asking, “Have you ever wanted to stay up past bedtime? Have you ever snuck out of bed or continued to play after your parents left the room?” After confessions (and connections!) have been made, read the story aloud.
Next consider discussing the movement words used throughout the story, such as wiggle, jump, swaying, cartwheels, somersault, leap, sashay (my personal favorite), and prance. Invite students to practice these movements as discussed. You might want to have the children use their new vocabulary and movement knowledge to act like the chicks as you give a repeat reading of the story.
Here’s another movement suggestion. Before story time, find a lively selection of music that you can stop and start easily. As the music plays, invite the children to dance, prance, sashay, and more. When the music stops, the students quickly lie down and pretend to be asleep in their beds. With wings on hips, warn those chicks, “No more games and no more tricks!” This activity allows them to practice self-control, by stopping and starting the silliness.
Of course, a round of the traditional chicken dance also goes right along with this story. Several free versions are available to download. Allow students to take the feathers home as a reminder of the fun.
Jayne Gammons is the mama hen to the chicks gone wild in her first-grade classroom. She is also a blogger and workshop presenter. Look for more of her ideas for integrating the arts with books at her blog, ABCs of Reading: Integrating the ARTS with BOOKS to teach COMPREHENSION strategies. Or if you are interested in kindergarten and first-grade ideas, visit her primary blog, Smart Kids.