Thursday, October 9, 2014

School Age Storytime: Apples &Pumpkins

A storytime for K-4th grade celebrating the season emphasizing empathy & compassion, with a great (un-common core) non-fiction component showing the many de-composers (animals, insects, molds and slimes) that make up the life cycle of a pumpkin.
Participatory Storytelling/Props:  The Little Red House with No Doors & No Windows, a Chimney On Top & a Star in the Middle (Tip: instantly turn flannel pieces into hanging signs for kids to wear using plastic paper protector sleeves with stiff paper inserts & yarn ribbon to hang around each child's neck, prop: real apple & knife to slice horizontally.)

Book: One Green Apple by Eve Bunting --This beautiful (and beautifully illustrated) story emphasizes understanding and compassion as Farah, a new student from an unnamed country, goes with her class on a field trip to an apple orchard and finds that though she is different and doesn’t know the language, she can be accepted and will find friends here.
Participatory Storytelling/Props: Big Pumpkin – from the book by Erica Silverman -- In this variant on the folktale, “The Great Big Enormous Turnip,” the witch, ghost, skeleton, and vampire are unable to pull up the pumpkin until a tiny bat ignores their derisive laughter and suggests they all work together.  I sing/chant this to a tune from an old Scholastic recording – feel free to contact me if you want to learn the tune.

Non-Fiction Book: Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices* – 577.16 SCHWARTZ – “UnCommon Core” at its best!  -- Told in the first person by the pumpkin, mouse, squirrel, slug, fly, black rot, bread mold, sow bug, Penicillium, earthworm, yeast cell, slime mold, soil, and seed, this is science “on the hoof.”  Wonderful writing & delightfully yucky photographs complete this unforgettable tour through the life cycle of a pumpkin that kids will find completely enGROSSing!
(Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell -- less-detailed version for a younger crowd. Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller makes a great fictional companion story.)

Participatory Storytelling/Props: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything based on the story by Linda Williams

Book: Pumpkins: A Story for a Field by Mary Lyn Ray – A splendid modern environmental myth in which a man, saddened by the thought that the field across from his house is about to be sold, sells everything he has, buys seeds, grows pumpkins, and then sends them all around the world (by planes, trucks, ships, and even flying carpets) to get enough money to buy the field and save it.  (10.14 – omitted in kindergarten, did action song “Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate” instead.)

Other possibilities – no time in a 40 minute program:
  • Bear’s Bargain – Frank Asch (Bear figures out how he can help Bird feel big & Bird helps Bear figure out how to fly In this tale emphasizing creative problem solving)
  • Sophie’s Squash – Pat Zietlow Miller (girl adopts squash as her doll, then sees it start to change until it is reborn the following year – twin squash!)
  • The Perfect Pumpkin Pie – Denys Cazet (a not-too-scary ghost story with a great refrain – good to make the refrain into a poster and chant it together!)
  • Pumpkin Heads – Wendall Minor (quick book celebrating creative pumpkin carving – great lead-in to a craft)

See also the songs & stories in:

*Other great resources for Rotten Pumpkin:
Rotten Pumpkin Curriculum Guide
Rotten Pumpkin Activities
Rotten Pumpkin Play
Ingram review of Rotten Pumpkin
Interview with the creators of Rotten Pumpkin

10/18 Bedm.

Apples & Pumpkins -- combined both because we didn't have time for two separate fall storytimes this year...had used One Green Apple in Back to School program a few weeks before

Storytelling: Little Red House
(Kdg) Book: One Red Apple – Harriet Ziefert
Singable Book(K only): Ten Red Apples – Pat Hutchins (numeracy: 1-10 numerals, one-to-one correspondence, subtraction, animal identification, animal sounds)

(Kdg) Book : Bear’s Bargain – Frank Asch
Book: Pumpkins: A Story for a Field – Mary Lyn Ray
Participatory Storytelling/Props: Big Pumpkin – from the book by Erica Silverman

(Kdg) Book: Pumpkin Circle 635.32 LEVENSON -- didn't keep interest, try Pumpkin Jack next time
(1st-2nd grade) Non-Fiction Book: Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices* – 577.16 SCHWARTZ – “UnCommon Core” at its best!  completely enGROSSing! 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I am interested in more information about the flannel pieces in the participatory storytelling, "The Little Red House" What flannel pieces do you use?

    1. Mine were just standard clip art "boy" "girl" "mother" "farmer" and "grandmother." Puppets would also work well if you have them. You'll also want a flannel tree with apples and a real apple you can cut in half sideways to show "the star in the middle." Enjoy!

    2. Carol, thanks so much for the info. I was feeling a little stumped. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and have incorporated many ideas into my story times. Your ideas have added an extra spark to the programs. Thanks so much.


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