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 Julie Dietzel-Glair

Giant squid is big! So big that he’s fairly certain he’s the biggest thing around. Bigger than clams, jellyfish, and the scary shark. When a whale (who is bigger than squid) comes along, squid still finds a way to make light of the situation.

The large trim size, minimal text, and engaging illustrations in I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry make this a fun read-aloud.

In terms of movement, play with the concept of size in this book by creating bigger and bigger dances as you read. This activity can be done with or without music. Create a dance with only the body parts listed below for each page:

  • Shrimp: fingers
  • Clams: fingers and hands
  • Crab: fingers, hands, and arms
  • Jellyfish: fingers, hands, arms, and head
  • Turtles: fingers, hands, arms, head, and right leg
  • Octopus: fingers, hands, arms, head, right leg, and left leg
  • Shark: whole body

How do sea animals dance? Another idea is to play upbeat dance music (it doesn’t have to be water-related) and dance like each of the animals in the book. Rather than reading the story, talk about each animal before creating each individual dance. For example, the squid has 10 legs. How can we pretend to have that many legs? The crab has pinchers. What can we use to dance with pinchers?

Be sure to have fun with these two songs related to the book:

  • “The Goldfish” by the Laurie Berkner Band. The silly fish try to take a shower, ride bicycles, and brush their teeth before remembering that fish don’t do those types of things. 
  • “Slippery Fish” mimics the book because sea animals are eaten by other, larger sea animals throughout the song. Jbrary has a great version that includes sign language.

Julie Dietzel-Glair is a freelance writer and library consultant. Before entering her freelance career, she worked in Maryland public libraries for 11 years, first as a children’s librarian and then as an assistant children’s services coordinator. She is the author of Books in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Books through Art, Games, Movement, Music, Playacting and Props (ALA Neal-Schuman, 2013), Nonfiction in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Nonfiction Books Through Movement (ALA Editions, 2016), and co-author of Get Real with Storytime: 52 Weeks of Early Literacy Programming with Nonfiction and Poetry (Libraries Unlimited, 2015). She is active in the Association for Library Service to Children and Capitol Choices. You can find out more about Julie at http://www.juliedietzelglair.com or follow her on Twitter @JulieDGWrites.

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