Youth Services is preparing to host 1st grade field trips at LEPMPL, and I thought I’d pass along a fun activity that kids this age group invariably loves. It’s a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month and can be an active or passive program.
I read a couple of poems from Jack Prelutsky’s Scranimals (“The Detested Radishark” is deliciously scary!) and then let the kids combine a collection of library toys to create their own silly creatures. I put some hard plastic food and small, soft stuffed animals into a big soup pot. I hold the pot above kids’ heads and ask them to pick one hard toy and one soft toy from the pot. Then I write the names of the toys on a white board and ask them to help me combine the two words into a new word/creature. Sometimes I attempt to draw a picture of the new creature (usually the most hilarious part of a very funny activity overall). If the group isn’t too big and I am sure everyone will get a turn, I let the kids draw it. Or I ask the teachers! The kids love that, too.
There are several things I like about this activity:
- It uses materials you probably already have. You can use a chalkboard or paper and crayons instead of a whiteboard. A paper bag instead of a soup pot. And whatever toys you have at hand, though food tends to lend itself to the silliest result (it’s also nice if you pick things that are fairly easy to spell, like “apple”).
- It encourages kids to sound out letters and words as we make the new animal’s name.
- It highlights our poetry collection, which is sometimes a hard sell.
- Scranimals includes some REALLY challenging vocabulary—words I am sure none of the kids know, like “detested”. But they always get the gist of the poem. I hope some of the classes come away from the visit with the idea that they can enjoy books above assigned or assumed reading levels. Or just the feeling that big words are FUN.