Monday, July 1, 2013

Peter Rabbit Party

I love Peter Rabbit and all the other books Beatrix Potter wrote. I've read them all. In 2010 & 2011 I did a Beatrix Potter Reading Project and read her 23 tales. It was great fun. The first time I shared The Tale of Peter Rabbit in a story time was in 2011 during my United Kingdom themed story time. Despite my love for Peter Rabbit, the book itself does have a few problems from a children's librarian point-of-view. It's a rather long book to share with a group of younger children. It's also small. I overcame the first problem by sharing it with plenty of engagement questions and reading the story with animation. I have my own bigger version of Peter Rabbit. I enlarged it using a superb color copier.

When I found out that this year's summer reading program theme was Dig Into Reading, I knew I had to have a Peter Rabbit Party. It fits the theme on several levels. Rabbits burrow underground and the party allows the kids to dig into Beatrix Potter's Books.

This event is for ages 3-9 and will last about 1.5 hours. I did this event at all four of my library branches with a total attendance of 91. Here's what I did.

As the kids arrived, I invited them to bowl. This is a nod to Squirrel Nutkin and his playing ninepins in his book. After everyone arrives, we dance. I let the kids pick which song. Then we're ready for story time.

I started the story portion of the program by showing the children a picture of Beatrix Potter when she was five years old (from Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear). Then I asked them if they knew Peter Rabbit's story. There's a new Peter Rabbit show on Nick Jr. so most of them said yes.

Now it's time for the flannel board activity. I tell the kids that Miss Potter didn't just write about rabbits. She wrote about all kinds of animals. I place the 11 animals from my Beatrix Potter's Animals set on the board one at a time. I ask the kids to identify the animals. Then I mention the stories that have those animals. The only animal they have trouble identifying is the badger.

After that we do a few rhymes with my mice finger puppets. Then I share a few rhymes from Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes. Then I read The Tale of Peter Rabbit. After reading it, I mention that Peter also appears in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies. He makes a cameo appearance in The Tale of Ginger and Pickles. Peter Rabbit has a new story as well. The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit written by Emma Thompson and illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. Its publication marked the 110 anniversary of the publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Now it's time for a few games. First up is the Peter Rabbit Flower Pot Hunt. A small stuffed rabbit is hidden under 1 of 6 clay flower pots. The kids guess which one.

The second game is a Mr. Jeremy Fisher ring toss game. I have 5 frogs (large bath toys) and 5 rings. Each child gets a turn.

The third game is Peter, Peter, Where's the Gate? Similar to doggy and the bone, one child is Peter and sits in a chair. A gate made of craft sticks is underneath the chair. The rabbit closes his/her eyes. The other children chant "Peter, Peter, Where's the Gate?" several times. One of the children takes the gate. We all put our hands behind our backs. Peter has to guess who has the gate. we continue in this fashion until everyone has had a turn.

Our last game is a lily pad leap across the room. The idea for this game came from here. Basically, you make lily pads out of green construction paper and the kids have to cross the room using only the lily pads.

Now it's time for the craft portion of the program. We made rabbit ears using a template from DLTK. Then we made bunny noses and whiskers. I found the idea on Pinterest and here's a link to blog post.

After all that listening, playing, and crafting, everyone one is ready for some refreshments. I served everything in small plastic flower pots. We had cheddar bunnies (Annie's), bunny grahams (Annie's), bunny tails (marshmallows), carrot cake truffles, and carrot top juice (lemon-lime kool-aid).

Before the kids leave, I give them a packet of coloring sheets from the official Peter Rabbit website and a book list of tales divided into animal categories. I also have a Beatrix Potter book display.

Now I'd like to talk a bit about the evolution of this program. Initially I wanted to share The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Beatrix by Jeanette Winter. I would project The Tale of Peter Rabbit, use the CD for The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, and read Beatrix. During my 1st Peter Rabbit Party, I realized all these books were long. I shared the first two as planned, but even that was too long for the group I had. Projecting Peter Rabbit wasn't much of a success. The children couldn't focus and projection distorted the color of the illustrations. At my second party, I added the flannel board activity and just read The Tale of Peter Rabbit. During my last 2 parties, I added in the finger puppets and Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes. A game I had planned but we never did was Jemima Puddle-duck's egg hunt (simply hiding plastic eggs around the children's section to find).

At one of my branches, I have a fantastic friend and volunteer, Cathy, who always decorates for my events. I mention the theme and she runs with it.

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