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

“Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle. The cow jumped over the moon.”

A cow jumping over the moon? That’s impossible. Or is it? In Cindy Moo, written by Lori Mortensen and illustrated by Jeff Mack, Cindy Moo and her cow companions overhear a fantastic tale of a bovine bouncing over the moon. Inspired by the rhyme, a determined Cindy Moo sets out to prove that the lunar leap can be accomplished. Sure the other cows laugh at her, but Cindy keeps trying. Finally some wet weather and a trick of nature show Cindy a way to triumph.

Invite Cindy Moo into your movement-based story time so your listeners can stretch their thinking and their bodies! Begin by making sure that your listeners are familiar with the traditional nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.” For fun, you can check out the many versions of the rhyme/song on YouTube. This video has the words and a pleasant version of the tune. And this video is vintage Sesame Street!

Next introduce Cindy Moo — the courageous cow that is going to get your listeners using the comprehension strategy known as questioning. Cindy Moo wouldn’t be where she is today (famous) if she hadn’t asked the question “WHY can’t a cow jump to the moon?” Let the questions begin before you even open the book. Just look at the cover. “WHY is the cow jumping? WHAT are the three cows on the back thinking as they look on?” 

Next read the first pages. “WHY is the cow peeking out of the barn? WHAT is the girl reading?” Before too long, you’ll arrive at the main question, “WHY can’t a cow jump to the moon?” Give your listeners time to discuss the issues, just as the cows in the barn do in the book. To really stretch their thinking, insert a question that isn’t in the book. “If a cow wanted to jump over the moon, HOW could it be done?” You might get some pretty creative answers! Finish the story to find out how Cindy Moo finally makes it over the moon.

Now that the children have stretched their thinking, it’s time to get them “moo-ving” so they can stretch their bodies! There are some puddles in the book, so it would be great if you could have some, too. But…well, puddles are wet. So how about some hula hoops instead? Arrange the pretend puddles around an open space. Next put a white paper plate — a moon — inside each puddle. Finally you’ll want to download some hoedown music. (A quick search on the Internet will give you some free options.)

As you play the music, invite the “kiddie cattle” to prance around the space, taking care not to collide into other cows. Encourage them to leap with style over the moons in the puddles just like Cindy and her herd do after a big, barnyard rain. If you have some show cows, you might invite them to leap one at a time over a moon to display their unique styles. Yee haw!

Looking for more practice with leaps and jumps? There’s more barnyard fun in Can’t Sleep Without Sheep. For a peek at this story by Susanna Leonard Hill and Mike Wohnoutka, see the trailer here. Invite students to choose an animal to portray from the following: sheep, horse, chicken, pig, cow, penguin, hippo, buffalo, flamingo, armadillo, and beaver. Line up your cast of characters and recreate the story, stopping to assist with dialogue and movement. Get ready for the stampede!

Jayne Gammons is over the moon excited to share ideas from her primary classroom. She is a general education teacher, 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.

Pin It