Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, in San Francisco, California. Since then, over one hundred countries have joined together for this annual environmental event. This Earth Day, help the little ones in your life appreciate nature and learn about protecting the environment with this roundup of our favorite Earth day resources from Storytime Stuff and beyond!
Here at StorytimeStuff.net:
Bringing Nature Inside for Storytime – bring the best of the outdoors to your classroom or storytime room!
Nature Around the World Storytime – bring a multicultural touch to your Earth Day celebration!
Springtime Fun Storytime – celebrate the sounds, smells, and sights of spring!
Around the Web:
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Earth Day for Kids Website – lots of storytime suggestions and printable resources.
Preschool Earth Day Storytime from Library Village – rhymes, songs, book suggestions, and a supercool recycling craft that easy to make.
Reading for the Earth: Ultimate Earth Day Resource Roundup – a comprehensive roundup of lesson plans, books suggestions, activities, video links and more at the Lee & Low Books blog.
I had a great time last Thursday presenting my brand-new workshop, “Last Minute Lessons” at the 52nd Annual Early Childhood Education Conference. Participants were challenged to come up with creative lesson plans in response to emergency situations – all with limited materials. Check out some of the wildly creative things they did with waterlogged books, paper goods, and the contents of their pockets and purses. One thing’s for certain: if I am ever stranded on a deserted island, I hope it’s with a group of these resourceful early childhood educators!
Celebrate this summery sweet treat in storytime with this action rhyme and a watermelon science project!
Watermelon, watermelon, turn around.
Watermelon, watermelon, touch the ground.
Watermelon, watermelon, stamp your feet.
Watermelon, watermelon, good to eat! (rub tummy)
Try this vinegar-free watermelon eruption project from Learn ~ Play ~ Imagine to demonstrate chemical reactions and promote fine motor skills.
The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.
All day squirrel’s friends ask him to do things, but he is too busy. Squirrel sees the signs of autumn that the others don’t notice, and he knows he has to get ready for winter.
In November by Cynthia Rylant. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace, 2000.
The air grows cold and all of the animals prepare for winter. Animals seek food and shelter, and people gather together to celebrate.
5 Little Squirrels
(to the tune of “Five Little Ducks”)
1 little squirrel went out to play
Up in the branches one autumn day.
He had such enormous fun,
He called for another little squirrel to come.
2 little squirrels…
3 little squirrels…
4 little squirrels…
5 little squirrels went out to play
Up in the branches one chilly day.
They had such enormous fun,
Then all scurried home ‘cause winter had come.
Props needed: squirrel puppet, basket of acorns (enough for each child to have one), green crepe streamers (cut in 2-foot lengths, one per child), red, orange, brown and/or yellow crepe streamers (cut in 2-foot lengths, one per child), spray bottle of water
Pass out the acorns and streamers to the children and ask them to drape the green streamers around their shoulders. Explain that they will play the trees in this story and ask them to stand up and stretch out their arms like branches.
Once upon a time, there was a little squirrel named Sammy. He lived in the forest and his best friends were the trees. In the summertime he would frolic under the green leaves. He would climb up and down the trees and hop from branch to branch. (Use puppet to act this out on the children.)
Sometimes the trees would sway in the wind, and he loved to listen to the rustle of their branches. (Encourage children to sway and make rustling sounds.)
Sometimes it would rain, and Sammy would hide under the leaves. (Spray water over the trees – be careful not to soak anyone too much, or the crepe streamers will run!)
The trees loved Sammy too. He was very kind to them. If one of them had an itchy trunk, he would scratch its bark with his little claws. (Act this out with the puppet.) And he would chitter little songs to them at night.
All summer long, Sammy played under the trees. But soon the air turned colder, and the green leaves of the trees began to change colors. (Have the children take off the green streamers and put on the autumn colors.) Sammy couldn’t believe it! His friends were changing! “You’re all dressed up!” he said. “Are you going to a fancy party?”
Sammy’s friends just laughed at him, rustling their leaves and shaking their branches. Then Sammy saw something that made him very sad – some of his friends were losing their beautiful leaves! (Cue children to take of streamers and wave them through the air.) First one, then the other, lost its leaves. (Go around the room and touch children on the shoulder to cue them when to drop their streamers. Encourage them to drop them from a high height so they will drift down to the ground.)
Soon the leaves were gone, and all Sammy could see were bare branches, waving in the cold wind. “I’m sorry, my friends,” he said. “I wish I could stay and play with you, but I need to gather food for the winter.”
The trees rustled at him. “What’s that?” said Sammy. “You have another surprise for me? What could it be?”
And the trees gave Sammy delicious acorns to eat. Sammy gave each tree a grateful hug. (Go around with squirrel and basket, collecting acorns from the children.) One tree even offered Sammy a snug little hole where he could pass the winter. (Have squirrel make a “nest” on one child’s head.)
“Thank you, my friends,” whispered Sammy. “I’ll see you in the spring.”
Fingerplays and Songs
Squirrel, squirrel, turn around
Squirrel, squirrel, touch the ground
Squirrel, squirrel, climb a tree
Now shake that bushy tail with me!
Squirrel: An American Sign Language Guessing Rhyme
Introduce the ASL sign for squirrel with this rhyme. Find a video of the sign here.
Make two Vs,
Now bend them like so,
And tap them together.
Now you know
The sign for an animal
That climbs in the trees
And gathers up all the acorns he sees.
Do you know what it is?
Can you guess, boys and girls?
This is the sign that means a….(squirrel!)
Up the tree and down again,
the busy squirrel looks for his friend. (look up and down and all around)
Fall is coming, don’t you know?
We have to prepare for the winter snow. (brrrr, give yourself a hug)
Squirrel knows they buried the acorns when they peaked,
Now they need to find them and stuff them in their cheeks! (puff out cheeks)
What’s in the Bag? A Nature Guessing Game
Collect a variety of fall objects, such as leaves, pine cones, pine needles, mini pumpkins and gourds, acorns, apples, and seeds.
- Place all of the items in a dark colored bag.
- Let each child place their hand in the bag without peaking, and feel the object.
- As each child feels the object, sing the following song to the tune of “Around the Mulberry Bush”:
What is in the nature bag, the nature bag, the nature bag,
What is in the nature bag, that makes us think of fall?
Let the children announce their guesses, then pull the items out of the bag to show the group.
Variation: Create “touch and feel” boxes out of shoe boxes. Create a “flap” at one end of the shoe box that can be lifted a little for the children to place their hand in. At each box, have the children take turns feeling the item, then discuss what they think the item is. When all children have guessed, take the lid off the box and show the item.
Materials: paper plate with a hole in the center; items found outside on a nature walk such as pinecones, acorns, pine needles, seeds; glue; other fun decorating items.
Glue a variety of nature items on the wreath, sprinkle with glitter and add any other items that make you happy and think of autumn!
Super Squirrel Coloring Page
Pieces needed: squirrel coloring page (we like this one), crayons, cotton balls, glue, acorn “hats”.
Color the squirrel as desired. Glue fluffy cotton balls on the tail and acorn “hats” on the page.
We posed this question to our newsletter readers:
With math and science benchmarks playing an ever-more important role in early childhood education, librarians are often expected to incorporate these concepts in conscious way into storytimes. How do you incorporate meaningful math and science concepts into your storytime activities?
“Introduce simple graphing…..when doing colors, have bags of M and M’s available. Have a simple graph with the colors listed available (we have one we found online sometime back). Have participants count the numbers of each color and record on the graph. Or do this in front of the whole group and have small bags for participants to eat. Graph other things….do you like red, yellow, or green apples? Do you like snow or not? What Easter/Halloweencandy is your favorite?” -Barbara S.
“I started a monthly program that is history or science based for kids 7 to 14. We offer programs for babies, preschool kids and teens but there was nothing for the in-between ages. The mummy program has been the biggest hit so far. There was a slideshow of actual mummies and artifacts, an online game that showed how Egyptians embalmed their dead, and the kids got to dissect a mummy that I made. I have kids that talk to me about it months later.” -Elizabeth L.
Kathy and Christine say:
Incorporating math and science into your regular storytimes is easier than you think! Here are some simple ideas:
- Invite children to count the objects placed on the flannelboard. With preschoolers, pose simple math problems, such as, “If I take away one apple, how many will be left?” Use the tangible objects to make the math come alive.
- Graph the objects. Create columns of like objects then count them. Ask the children which object had the most?
- When doing crafts, count how many objects you’re gluing on or how many colors you’re using.
- You have to count your storytime attendees for your statistics, so why not make it part of the program? Invite the kids to count along with you as you count attendees. For family programs, count how many kids and how many adults, then ask the kids to compare the numbers – were there more children or adults? Write the number on a whiteboard or chalkboard so children can connect the written and spoken forms of the numbers.
- In a color storytime, discuss the primary colors and how to mix them to create secondary colors.
- In a weather storytime, practice blowing bubbles or scarves and discuss wind and what makes a windy day. Is it snowing? Talk about what the temperature needs to be to snow.