Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Panda Storytime

Pandas are quite possibly some of the cutest creatures on earth.  Their fuzzy, adorable faces and distinctive features make them a perfect candidate for a storytime with young children since they are just so charming.  Little ones and parents alike will enjoy this theme because really, deep down inside, I think everyone gets a little giddy at the sight of such a cute animal.

If You Were a Panda Bear by Wendell and Florence Minor
Yummy Ice Cream by Emma Quay
Giant Pandas by Michelle Levine

The introduction to this theme was easy for me, because I have a panda puppet named Piccolo who makes an appearance at the beginning of every storytime.  My kids are very fond of him, which is why I chose to focus on pandas in the first place.  So I started by letting everyone get a closer look at Piccolo, and explaining that he is a panda bear and that pandas eat bamboo.  Then I flipped through a non-fiction book, Giant Pandas by Michelle Levine, to show photos and read facts about pandas to get the kids excited about the theme.

Me with Piccolo the Panda

I am a Panda- to the tune of You Are My Sunshine, sung while holding your hands in a circle around your eyes to look like a panda bear. (source)
I am a panda
A furry panda
I live in China and eat bamboo
It is a thick grass
That grows in my land
And it is not that easy to chew (shake head)

If You're a Panda and You Know It- to the tune of If You're Happy and You Know It. (source)
If you’re a panda bear and you know it, clap your paws (clap clap)
If you’re a panda bear and you know it, clap your paws (clap clap)
If you’re a panda bear and you know it, then your face will surely show it (hands in circles around eyes)
If you’re a panda bear and you know it, clap your paws (clap clap)
If you're a panda and you know it, stomp your feet... (stomp stomp)
If you're a panda and you know it shout hooray... (Hooray!)

Felt Board Activity
I put together a rhyme and the felt pieces specifically for this storytime, and it was SUCH a hit!  Parents and children alike were smiling and playing along as we counted down our pandas.  Here's the rhyme I made up, as well as the actions to go with it.
Five Fuzzy Panda Bears
Five fuzzy panda bears eating bamboo (pretend to eat)
They chomp, chomp, chomp 
And they chew, chew, chew (use hands to make "chomping" motions)
One playful panda bear tumbles away (remove one panda from board, spin it in loops as the panda tumbles away)
While all the other pandas just eat all day (pretend to eat)
Four fuzzy panda bears eating bamboo...
Three fuzzy panda bears eating bamboo...
Two fuzzy panda bears eating bamboo...
One fuzzy panda bear eating bamboo...
He'll crunch, crunch, crunch And he'll chew, chew, chew
He tumbles off with his friends to play
And now all the panda bears have gone away

Click here for a template you can use if you'd like to make your own panda bear faces.  Simply print the document, then cut out the features and trace them onto felt, flannel, or fleece.  Glue the pieces together using tacky glue or any other glue that will adhere to fabric.

At the end of this storytime, I told all my little panda bears to come see me for a stamp.  I had a small leaf stamp and green ink, so I stamped each of their hands and told them it was a bamboo leaf.  If you have a panda bear stamp, even better!  I didn't have one at the time, but since my panda puppet is a mascot of sorts for my storytime, I have since ordered one on Etsy.

Additional Resources
Panda Stamps- I bought this one and this one.
Panda Whispers by Mary Beth Owens
Panda themed activities and crafts for preschoolers.

I don't feel like I can emphasize enough how much fun this theme was.  Seeing tiny children holding their hands around their eyes to mimic the markings of a panda bear is priceless.  One little guy kept thanking me for his "bamboo" (the stamp I gave as the kids left the storytime room) multiple times as he wandered the children's area of the library with his mom afterwards.  It's also a great way to raise awareness about a rare and endangered animal.  So gather up your little panda bears for a sweet, memorable storytime!

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