Friday, January 15, 2010

Storytime Suggestion - Chameleons

This past week our theme for storytime has been reptiles. Out of the books we got from our fabulous Story Collection (resources only available to YS departments in our county's libraries), I liked so many of them that I had to narrow my storytimes down to just chameleons (with "reptile" songs).

Clever Chameleon by Ali Lodge
"In the jungle, one fine day, The creatures all came out to play...
Follow Elephant through the jungle as he searches for his friends in a game of hide-and-seek. All the animals have different ways of hiding and blending in to their natural surroundings, but Chameleon has the cleverest camouflage of them all. He is hidden on every page - see if you can find him too!" (inside jacket flap)

I read this book first because it is the longest. It is written to rhyme, but is not over-the-top. If you plan on incorporating Chameleon hiding on each page, find him first. The most difficult part of using this book during storytime was when I asked the kids if they could find Chameleon, they all wanted to get up and point at the book; with school groups of 20 to 30-some kids, this just doesn't work. I wound up pointing him out for them on most pages, but for a couple pages I was able to ask questions they didn't have to mob the book for (i.e. what animal is the chameleon on?, or who is Elephant squirting?). There are plenty of actions you can have the kids do so they don't get too squirmy and/or bored (i.e. clicking tongue like a parrots beak, standing up as tall as they can, stretching). Kids should enjoy the big and colorful - but not overpowering - illustrations.

Amazon recommends this book for ages 4 - 8.

Leon the Chameleon by Melanie Watt
“Leon the chameleon has a problem. When the other little chameleons turn green, yellow or blue – he turns red, purple or orange! Leon doesn’t turn the opposite color on purpose. He wants to be the same as the other chameleons. Being different makes him feel lonely. Then one day, the little chameleons go exploring and lose their way. Scared and far from home, Leon learns an important lesson. He discovers that what makes him different is also what makes him special.” (inside jacket flap)

I tried to read this book second so I wouldn’t be reading two color-related books in a row. Amazon recommends this book for baby – preschool. This book is very basic when asking the children what color the different chameleons are, but isn’t incredibly short word-wise. When the parents came into the story, I found I had to point them out on each page or else the kids got them confused with the little chameleons. I read this book for all three school groups this week and they all had trouble grasping the concept that the red dot in the distance when the little chameleons get lost is *spoiler* Leon. The pages are all very colorful with very simple illustrations. If you involve the kids by asking them about the colors, it should hold their attention without a problem.

The Icky Sticky Chameleon by Dawn Bentley
“Chameleon, with the help of his icky sticky tongue, “thwoops” through the trees and rivers in search of that special someone. Read and find out how Chameleon finds his new friend!” (back cover)

This book was definitely the most fun to read. In fact, it (“thwoop”ing specifically) got more fun every time I read the book. The chameleon on the cover has oversized googly eyes, and a long, sticky tongue, similar to the sticky hands you can get out of those “egg”–dispensing machines at grocery stores (if anyone knows what I’m talking about and knows the actual name for them, please comment – I’d love to know). Every time the chameleon “THWOOP”ed in the book, I would close it to the front cover, pull the chameleons tongue, and yell “THWOOP!”. (The goofier you look or sound doing this, the more the kids like it.) To go along with the goofy aspect, when I got to the page about chameleons being able to look up and down at the same time, I had the kids first look up, then look down, then I challenged them to try to make one eye look up while the other looked down at the same time. I also gave the kids a chance to be loud in the library by roaring when we got to the lion. With smaller groups of children it would be possible to hold the book and allow them to feel how sticky the tongue is, but I would not recommend this with larger or misbehaved groups, or else your tongue might wind up ripped out. The Icky Sticky Chameleon is written to rhyme and has nice colorful illustrations.

Amazon recommends this book for ages 4 – 8 (after all, it can't be any younger than 4, because the warning on the book's front cover says "Not for children under 3 years"). 

Name Lizzy’s Colors by Dick Punnett
Wow! My first book that doesn’t have a jacket flap or anything on the back cover for me to get my summary from. Here’s my attempt:
Lizzy is a lizard who can change colors to hide from danger, but in this book forgets when she should, without the help of the “audience”. The “audience” must see if they can figure out what color they should tell Lizzy to change to so that she can survive another day.
It might not be as poetic sounding as what might be found already on/in the book, but it’s the truth.

You may have to explain that this book is not as baby-ish as it sounds by the title, and really it isn’t. Even after I explained to one group what they needed to do, they were still confused for the first several pages and decided to yell what color Lizzy already was rather than what color she needed to change to. After the first few pages, they always caught on and were saying the right colors. This book is a good lesson to kids that they don’t necessarily know everything. I was actually surprised they caught on enough to tell Lizzy she needed to change from purple to gray, when the house she’s sitting on really doesn’t look gray. Our copy of the book is older (so much older I can't even find a picture of it online) than the one displayed here, so the pictures are very old looking, but the kids still seemed to enjoy it after they got past the title.

Between the books, I wound up incorporating snakes [in songs]. I used Sally the Swinging Snake off the CD Sally the Swinging Snake, and the Wiggle Song (because snakes like to wiggle - I know it's a stretch) off the Dragon Tales – Dragon Tunes CD. I had also planned on using the wiggle song from the Sally CD with our shaker eggs (hey, snakes lay eggs and wiggle), but two of the groups were too large and with the other one I ran out of time.

I finished all storytimes with the 6.5 minute movie What Can You Do with a Tail Like This?

*[Unfortunately] I will not be counting these books towards the library reading challenge since technically I didn't check them out (at least not on a library card).


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