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 Liesel Schmidt 

In A Greyhound, a Groundhog, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Appelhans, two unlikely friends—a groundhog and a greyhound—exult in the beauty of physical movement. The roly-poly groundhog and the slender greyhound bound and spin across the page. Jenkin’s quick, playful text (“Around and around and around and around. The ground and a hog and some grey and a dog.”) rolls off the tongue. Meanwhile, Appelhans’ kinetic watercolors convey the blur and wonder of their dance.

Explore Different Movement Styles

Use this book in story time to inspire and explore different ways of moving. Before reading the book, if you can, show video clips of greyhounds and groundhogs. Notice how differently they move. Observe the wiry muscles of a greyhound running. Discuss the jiggle and wobble of a groundhog. Then, read the book. Ask, “What do you think the greyhound and the groundhog are feeling?” “How does it feel when you move your body?” “What does it feel like when our bodies are free?”

Stretch Big and Small

Lead the group in a stretching session. Ask children to stretch up tall like a greyhound. Then, ask them to scrunch down small like a groundhog. Try moving through a few yoga poses, like downward dog and child’s pose. Ask children to observe how differently their bodies feel when they are stretched out and when they are squished small.

Leap Like a Greyhound and Wobble Like a Groundhog

Let children explore the ways that groundhogs and greyhounds move. Play a song without lyrics (high-spirited classical music like “Tritsch-Tratsch Polka” by Johann Strauss II works well) and ask children to try moving like each of the animals. Say, “Get long and lean like a greyhound. Practice leaping.” Then, “Let’s get close to the ground like a groundhog. Can you wobble?”

Move as a Team

Tell the group that you would like to try moving all together. This is a great time to use a big stretchy band or a parachute to bring the group together. A stretchy band made of cotton Lycra (the material used to make leggings) works well because the stretchiness makes it more flexible and forgiving than a parachute. You can make small bands, then sew or tie them together for a big band to use in collaborative group activities. Ask your group to take hold of the band to form a circle. Stretch the band out like a greyhound. Tell everyone to come close together at the middle of the circle, squishing up like a groundhog. Sing a song that gets the group moving in a circle. Try “Ring Around the Rosie” (the traditional version):

Ring around the rosie (walk in a circle)
A pocketful of posies
Ashes ashes
We all fall down! (drop to the floor)

Cows are in the meadow,
Eating buttercups,
Thunder, lightning, (pound the floor with hands)
We all stand up! (stand back up)

Other Books to Get Moving

  • Explore ways that other animals move with Move! by Steve Jenkins and From Head to Toe by Eric Carle.
  • Fall in love with another pair of unlikely, exuberant friends with Molly Idle’s Flora and the Flamingo.
  • Build the foundations of body positivity with Brontorina by James Howe and Randy Cecil.
  • Experience the joy of physical movement with Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers.

Liesel Schmidt is a children’s librarian at Denver Public Library’s Central Library. A former preschool teacher, she enjoys exploring the wonders of the world alongside kids of all kinds.

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