February 27, 2013

Start to Finish Story Time: Wear a Silly Hat

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This week I continue with my "Start to Finish Story Time," series, where I provide a "start to finish" lesson plan for a sign language story time program for each of the themes covered in my "Story Time with Signs & Rhymes" books. This week's post provides a lesson plan for the theme, "Clothing" (and in particular Hats), using the book, "Wear a Silly Hat." 

I chose this topic for this particular week in honor of Dr. Seuss's upcoming birthday. I recently learned that Dr. Seuss himself loved hats. Given that Dr. Seuss was the author who taught me to read and helped shape my love of rhythm and rhyme, I knew of course that hats played a central role in some of his characters' lives (for example, The Cat in the Hat, oddly, not one of my favorite Dr. Seuss characters/stories), but I did not realize he was a silly hat collector himself.  Like me!!

My mother (and children) continue to be horrified that I go out in public wearing this (or other) hats, but I find hats to be a great ice breaker and conversation starter. I recently attended the ALA Midwinter Conference. On the day of my scheduled book signing, I carried my chicken hat around in a bright, red bag. All morning long people asked what was in the bag and/or why I was carrying it around. It provided a great opportunity for me to hand out book marks and let folks know about my book signing scheduled for later that afternoon. Happily my book signing was a great success, in large part, I believe, thanks to my hat! There was quite a line for most of the two-hour time slot we'd planned--and on the two or three occasions we experienced a brief lull, I popped my hat on my head, and viola! curious book lovers surrounded me once again!

Okay, back to the "Start to Finish Story Time." As I explained in an earlier post, my aim is to build each lesson plan in a pick-and-choose/modular format, meaning that you can apply the elements that work for your environment, age group(s) and personal interests, and skip the rest.

Each lesson plan incorporates ideas that are suitable for infant/toddler, preschool and/or school age audiences, and each program incorporates activities that promote literacy/early literacy and one or more of the six keys skills recommended by the National Research Council for preparing children to become readers when they enter school. Programs can last from 20 - 45 minutes, depending on what you include and who your audience is.

I continue to welcome your feedback on these posts, as I will consider and apply your suggestions and ideas into future lesson plans and posts. I hope you will share your additional ideas/experiences after trying out the lesson plans, allowing others to benefit from your input. Here is this week's offering:

WEAR A SILLY HAT: Sign Language for Clothing


*Include one or more of the following to enrich the learning environment:

-Hats (ideally one that goes with each page spread in the story, though this is not necessary)
-Dolls and/or bears (and clothing that will fit them)
-Dress up clothing
-Magnetic and/or wooden dress up interactive toys such as Color Forms or Woodkins.
-Paper dolls
-Newspaper, plain paper, colored markers, stickers and other basic art supplies

Sing an Opening Song to Practice/Introduce Signs:

*I often open by singing, "This is the way we sign for Hat/Shift/Coat/etc," to the tune of "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush," but any opening song that incorporates the clothing words/signs that are covered in the book will work.

*I find that it is more fun to introduce the signs by singing vs. simply showing the signs and asking participants to sign along/practice with you. (Click here for links to a series of past posts where I delve into the topic of singing and signing).

*Don't feel obligated to introduce/incorporate all of the clothing signs the first time you share this book in a story time. Let your comfort level be your guide.  At a minimum, introduce the sign for hat, and a few other key articles of clothing (shirt, shoes and socks are a fun starting point).  The glossary on pages 31 and 32 of "Wear a Silly Hat" has detailed instructions for how to make each sign, or you can download the glossary from my publisher by clicking here (scroll down past the Star Wars Event info, and choose the glossary for Set 1). You can also refer to an online resource such as ASL University/Lifeprint or Signing Time.

Read (or sing) the "Story Time with Signs & Rhymes" Story: "Wear a Silly Hat," by Dawn Babb Prochovnic, Illustrated by Stephanie Bauer.

*Before you begin reading, invite children (and/or their grown ups) to:

1) Listen for the clothing words in the story and show the appropriate sign when they hear the appropriate word.
2) Sign "hat" each time they hear the word "hat."
3) Chant along with you on the last line of each page (which is a repeat of the first line on each page).

NOTE: "Wear a Silly Hat" can be sung (loosely) to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It." To accomplish this, you must "adjust" the ordinary song so that you don't repeat the opening line twice. I usually "speak" the first line of each stanza, (i.e. "If your socks are springy, wear a groovy hat"), then I sing the second line to the tune of the "third" line in "If You're Happy and You Know It" (i.e. "If you're springy in the socks, you should wear a hat that rocks"), and I continue singing as I continue into the last line, using the melody of the fourth/final line in "If You're Happy and You Know It," (i.e. "If your socks are springy, wear a groovy hat.")--and I invite story time participants to join me in singing that last line. It's also fairly common that I will have a bag of hats with me (one hat for each page spread), and I will put on each hat as a lead in to each page spread.

Sing, Dance, and Sign Along with Some Music:

*Play music that incorporates clothing words. Some fun options to consider include, "When It's Cold Outside" on the Pick Me Up CD by Sign2Me" and "One Shoe" from Signing Time, but any song/music that incorporates words for clothing will work. (Click here for a post about music made for signers.)

*Invite kids and their grown-ups to get up and dance to the music and do the signs for the clothing words they hear in the lyrics (and when they see you signing).

Round Out the Remainder of Your Story Time by Adding Some Quieter/Listening Activities and Some Active/Movement Activities: 

*Choose one or several of the options below to fit your participant age/attention span and program time available.

*In classroom or homeschool settings, these learning activities can be incorporated at different times during the day or even over several days.

*In library settings, different activities can be incorporated for different age groups of participants (i.e. All groups start with the basics above, but for the infant/toddler group, add another song or two and wrap it up; for the preschool group, add another story, some songs and/or music, and a game or a craft; for the school aged group, add a couple more stories, some songs and/or music, a game or two, some fun facts, and a craft).

Read and Sign Along with Additional Stories:

*Two fun stories for incorporating the signs for clothing :

It's Pajama Time and Blue Hat, Green Hat, both by Sandra Boynton. A full list of great clothing-related titles, can be found on "The Almost Librarian's" blog archive.

Sing Songs:

*"I Am Wearing a Hat/Shirt/Coat/ etc," to the tune of "Happy Birthday" (i.e. "I am wearing a hat. I am wearing a hat. Look at me-e. Look at me-e. I am wearing a hat."). You can also sing this melody and incorporate the names and clothing particulars of the children who are participating (i.e. "Kaitlin's shoes are blue. Kaitlin's shoes are blue. Look at Kaitlin. Look Kaitlin. Kaitlin's shoes are blue.").

*"If You're Ready to Go Out, Get Your Coat/Hat/Shoes, etc" sung to tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It." (i.e. "If you're ready to go out, get your coat. If you're ready to go out, get your coat. If you're ready to go out, then give a little shout. If you're ready to go out, get your coat."  In classroom settings, this song can be used as a line-up song, (i.e.  " . . . Robert's ready to go out. He can give a little shout. If you're ready to go out, get your coat.")

*"Do You Know the Sign For Hat/Coat/Shoes, etc?" sung to the tune of "London Bridge." (i.e. "Do you know the sign for "Hat," sign for "Hat," sign for "Hat?" Do you know the sign for "Hat?" Show me "Hat." This song can also be used as a dismissal song, (i.e. "It's Robin's turn to get her coat. Get her coat. Get her coat. It's Robin's turn to get her coat. Robin's coat is (blue/red/brown, etc).").

*"Where is the Hat?" sung to the tune of "The Farmer and the Dell." This activity is very similar to an  activity I use in the SEE THE COLORS story time. I use either a bag of colorful hats, or a bag of mixed clothing (doll clothing or baby/small kid clothing). If I'm using hats, I put a particular hat on my head, then sing and sign the beginning part of the verse, (i.e. "Where is my red hat? Where is my red hat?).  The kids go crazy and point to my head, and then I sing, "Hi Ho the Derry O, I found my red hat!" I repeat this several times based on time/attention available. If I'm using mixed clothing, an alternative that is fun is to ask the children to close their eyes (they will peek...it's okay), then I "hide" an article of clothing under a blanket or behind my back (or some other obvious place). Preschoolers in particular get a giggle out of being able to predict where the hat is "hidden" again and again. Depending on your group, you can also allow different children to participate in hiding the article of clothing within a set boundary and allowing the rest of the kids to sing and sign as they search for the hat/clothing. 

Play Signing Games:

*Sign Language Memory Game. Have participants stand in a circle. The first person begins by saying, "I'm packing for a big trip, and I'm bringing my ______ (using the sign for the article of clothing they are bringing, such as their "hat"). The second person in the circle continues, "I'm packing for a big trip, and I'm bringing my  ______ and _______" (repeating the sign and word for the first article of clothing and adding a new article of clothing). The third person continues, "I'm packing for a big trip, and I'm bringing my ______, _______, and _______," (repeating the first two articles of clothing and adding a third) and so forth. A new round begins when someone cannot remember the string of clothing words/signs in the correct order.

*Guess the Mystery Person: Use your signs to get kids guessing about who you are thinking about. For example, "I'm thinking of someone who is wearing a blue shirt, brown pants, and green socks. Can you guess who I'm thinking of?" Once someone from the group correctly guesses who the selected mystery person is, the mystery person becomes the new leader.

*Sign Language Wiggle Buster: Have participants stand up. Call out for participants to engage in different movements based on what they are wearing. For example, "If your shoes are blue, put your hand on your head." "If your shirt is white, hop up and down three times." "If you have your coat with you today, spin in a circle." "If you are wearing pants, sit down." Use the signs for the articles of clothing you refer to during the game. This is a great activity to get the wiggles out. This game can be modified into a round of "Simon Says"as an alternative (i.e. "If you're wearing two shoes, Simon Says to jump up and down four times.").

NOTE: Instructions for several other signing games are included in each book in the "Story Time with Signs & Rhymes" series. Instructions for "Concentration," is offered on page 31 of "Wear a Silly Hat."

Fun Facts:

*There are fun facts about ASL included on page 30 in each "Story Time with Signs & Rhymes" book. Older kids particularly enjoy the fun facts, but even preschoolers, and the parents of infants/toddlers enjoy learning about ASL and/or Deaf Culture in addition to learning key signs.

*A fun fact I like to point out during the "Clothing/Hats" theme is that although there are ASL signs for many English words, some words do not have a sign. These words are fingerspelled. Once you learn to sign the alphabet, you can fingerspell any word you want to say in sign language (even if there is an ASL sign for the word). For example, the actual sign for "vest"is V-E-S-T. Also, you can sign V-E-S-T, then sign, "shirt," to let your signing partner know you mean "vest" the next time you sign, "shirt."

Craft Activities:

*Provide appropriate supplies and encourage participants to make their own hat. Here is a wiki on how to make a paper hat like the one pictured here (made by a participant in one of my past story times). Here are similar instructions using a big sheet of regular paper, and a Pinterest board on a plethora of party hats if you really want to go crazy!

*If you want to build a literacy-based learning extension into this activity, you could invite the children to create their own "Wear a Silly Hat" story verse using their hat as the featured hat, and/or you could invite kids to act out a story using their hat as a prop.

Free Play Activities:

*Put out dolls, bears and clothing that fits these "small friends" and let the kids have at it.

*Put out dress-up clothes out that kids can get into themselves. If you're worried about head lice, limit your dress-up props to things that don't need to go over the head, like shoes, gloves, and boots.

*Put out interactive toys that incorporate clothing such as Color Forms,

paper dolls,

or one of my favorites is Woodkins, which is essentially a clothing design toy (that's a little like a puzzle, too).

*You can also put out paper and markers and encourage children to draw their "favorite hat," and then invite them to tell a story about it.

Closing Song:

*I usually close each story time with a song that reviews the clothing signs we've learned during the program. I typically sing this song AFTER I've given instructions for the craft and/or free play activities (if I have these elements planned for the program), but BEFORE I let participants transition to the craft and/or free play activities.  I often sing the same song that I opened the program with, (for example, "We learned the sign for coat/hat/shoes/socks/shirt today" to the tune of "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush"), but any closing song that incorporates words/signs for the clothing signs introduced in the book will work.

This wraps up another "Start to Finish Story Time." I hope this has been helpful, and I look forward to your input and ideas, which I will incorporate into future posts. If you are planning your own Sign Language Story Time event, be sure to check out the great resources my publisher has developed to help you plan your own event (scroll down past the Star Wars Event Info).

If you love the ideas I've shared, but would prefer that I deliver the Sign Language Story Time to your students or patrons, invite me to your school or library, or ask me about Skype visits!

Happy Signing! Dawn

Update 5/1/2014: Here is a link to a YouTube video of me sharing this story with a group of preschoolers.

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