5 kids

Last week I shared with you some ideas for school/library visits. Mostly ideas about advertising your visit and making students eager for your arrival. Those ideas came from the New Handbook for Storytellers with Stories, Poems, Magic and More by Caroline Feller Bauer. It was published by the American Library Association way back in 1993. Many of the tools she mentions are outdated and have been replaced with shiny new technology. But her ideas are still there, little sparkling gems hiding under the poster board and chalk boards and paper bag puppets.

Before I plunge into Part 2 I must clarify something. In last week’s post I mentioned that I can’t wait to see one of my books ON THE SHELVES. I do NOT have a contract yet. I’m hoping and praying to get one in 2017. Sorry–I didn’t mean to mislead anyone or misrepresent my current holding pattern.

I am excited about Bauer’s practical suggestions for creating a mood reminiscent of my book, or for tying my book into a class curriculum either directly or with activities that use skills the students are learning in their grade level. Most of these ideas are so LOW-TECH that I actually remember them from my days as a first grade teacher, or better yet, from my days as a student at Ramona Boulevard Elementary School # 93.

They are so low-tech that 21st Century elementary students might just find them unique and tons of fun. I’m basically going to list them with little explanation. If something sparks your interest you can Google it or search for a printed book that tells you more about it. Oh! Don’t forget about searching YouTube, also, for demonstrations.

Here are some of Bauer’s ideas. The key thing to remember is that whatever activities or ideas you choose MUST relate somehow to your book(s), characters, setting, theme or topic. The idea is to make your book memorable by using one or more of these ideas.

  • A Story Apron or Jacket with pockets of different colors or sizes to hold your visuals
  • A large Story Bag for the same purpose
  • A decorated box large enough to hold your book(s) for their dramatic entrance
  • A music box or bric-a-brac that plays music
  • Nesting dolls to represent your book characters
  • Artifacts you’ve gathered from a local thrift store
  • A large map of the country or area that is the setting for your story
  • Rocks you’ve painted with faces, key words or magic words
  • Jigsaw type puzzles created from pages of old picture books laminated and cut
  • Paper bracelets (like hospitals use) with your name & logo, or your book’s title, or a key phrase from your book. You can buy the blank bracelets from local office supply stores or order them plain (or custom printed) online from places like Tyvek for as little as $5 per 100 blanks.
  • Use fun things like Tongue Twisters, Jokes, Proverbs or Riddles to introduce your story or characters, or to give a little break in the middle of your session. There are many books that contain these available online and in hard copy.
  • Use Word Games like Hangman
  • Use props or flashcards to have students create their own Continuous Story one sentence at a time.
  • Demonstrate some old-fashioned String Games like “Rocking the Cradle” or “Spinner.”
  • If it fits your program help students make folded fans.
  • If you know some American Sign Language teach students key words related to your book. If not, ask an ASL Interpreter to teach you the words you need to know.
  • Tell an abbreviated version of your book or story using “Heiroglyphs” – symbols that you make up ahead of time. Teach the students how to read your symbols or use them to make their own stories.
  • Demonstrate and/or teach students to cut out Folded Paper Objects such as people (Remember making those strings of paper dolls holding hands?), animals, pumpkins, spiders, Christmas trees, snowflakes, bats, hearts…
  • Try some Finger Plays or Action Rhymes (like “Bend & Stretch” or “Where Is Thumpkin?”) or stories like “Going on a Bearhunt” or “Ten Little Gypsies” or “Five Little Monkeys.”
  • Songs!! You don’t have to sing well to have fun singing silly songs or story songs with students. Even teach them a new song. If you play guitar or ukele or flutaphone use it with your songs. If not—use a CD or MP3 player and sing along.
  • If your book is nonfiction make giant flashcards with key events or terms related to your book. Make them silly and the kids will remember them forever.
  • Or bring natural objects that are examples discussed in your book.

I think that’s enough ideas for now. Get creative! You don’t want the kids to be the only ones who have fun at your future presentations. You want to have a some of that fun yourself!

If you use some of these ideas PLEASE let me know. Comment here or on my Face Book Author Page. Thanks!


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