Since I have slithering, hissing, creeping, crawling, snapping animals on the brain what could be more apropos than a reptile themed storytime?
Let's begin with snapping and gnashing Alligators and Crocodiles!
For older children, this a great book to use for story mapping. You can go through and discuss the beginning, clever trick #1, clever trick #2, clever trick #3, and the ending in which the enormous crocodile is "sizzled like a sausage" when the elephant hurls him into the sun.
I have actually led several "alligator/crocodile" storytimes and I even bought a special alligator puppet which I use to sing 5 Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree (see I guess I really do have a thing about carnage). If you have never heard the song it is so much better than 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed. Probably because the monkeys get eaten! If you are not familiar with this version of 5 Little Monkeys just click on the link above. You do not need puppets or a flannel board. You can just use your hands to do motions and the kids will love that just as much if not more.
My favorite alligator craft was when I made shadow puppets with my storytime kids.This is the site that I got the idea for the alligator shadow puppet, but I thought that their finished puppet looked a little boring (see right). I added big teeth and a bumpy back and tail. One of my coworkers had a remote control desk lamp with a color changing bulb. I covered the windows and put a huge white sheet on one wall. The kids had a blast moving their puppets in front of the light. They were fascinated that they could change the size of the alligator by moving closer or further away from the screen.
On to Lizards!!!
I recently read I Wanna Iguana to several first and second grade classes that came to the library for class tours (advertising our upcoming reptile presentation). What makes this book unique is that is written in a series of letters between Alex and his mother. In his letters Alex highlights all of the reasons he should have a pet iguana and his mother offers her objections and concerns. David Catrow is an amazing artist; I love illustrators that have a unique and recognizable style. Catrows illustrations are so colorful and always seem to express such joy. I highly recommend I Ain't Gonna Paint No More, which is also illustrated by Catrow. It is just such a happy and funny story.
If you enjoy I Wanna Iguana Orloff has written a sequel, I Wanna New Room, in which Alex writes a series of letters protesting that the birth of a new baby sister will require him to share a room with his brother, Ethan.
I have used I Wanna Iguana in my young writers group to as a fun example of letter writing and also writing an argument.
Younger children may have difficulty following the back and forth letters between Alex and his mother. Some simpler books featuring lizards are A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni and The Mixed Up Chameleon by Eric Carle. Both are bold, graphic, and excellent for teaching colors. There are numerous printable templates for both books that are fun for kids to color or paint.
lizard gift tag.I really like the way that you could bend it to make it look like it was walking. The kids colored them and then I had a variety of sequins that they could glue on if they wanted to.
SSSSS is for Snake!
Ophidiophobia: The fear of snakes This is a pretty common fear, but I hope that these picture books are cute enough to help you get past it.
Janell Cannon is also the author and illustrator of Stellaluna, which is another stunning picture book. The colors in this book, the bright and vibrant yellow and the lush green of the jungle are mesmerizing. The story is super cute too. Verdi wants to play, play, play and so he dreads turning green and becoming heavy and lazy like the grown up tree pythons. In the end he discovers that you are never too old to play.
When Mouse learns that Snake and Mice are not supposed to be friends he becomes so afraid that he falls in a hole. Who can help him get out? His friend, Snake, of course! Mouse learns the important lesson that you cannot always listen to gossip.
What makes this book unique is that the book is illustrated in collographs, which are printed collages. Snake's body is a mesh onion bag, the dirt is rumpled pager etc. It is fun trying to figure out the different items and as a added activity you can try painting with different materials. Sponges, paper, potato mashers, nylons, etc.
Snakes are so simple when it comes to crafts and activities. What could be easier than making snakes with playdough or you can make paper chain snakes. Spiral snakes are also incredibly easy and look cool twisting in an open window. Don't allow kids to glue too many decorations on it or it will sag really low. Obviously, I have made this mistake before.
I think that I will leave turtles for another post and I won't get started on amphibians yet (there are a lot of great frog books, though).