Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Using a Parachute in Storytimes

My first time using the parachute at storytime was scary at first, but quickly turned awesome! At this point, we have a larger parachute (12") but initially at this storytime I was using the library's smaller 6" or 8" parachute. Taking the leap to the bigger 'chute was definitely a good idea, especially for my bigger group. I got ours on Amazon for a little over $20 bucks. Not a bad deal, and it has really held up well!

I use the parachute during the last 5-10 minutes of storytime. Then, we sing our goodbye song and then we do goodbye bubbles, followed by about 20-30 minutes of free play with our toys.

It usually helps to "practice" with kids before you get going. "If You're Happy and You Know It" is a great song to help kids get the feel of using the parachutes (grown-ups, too)!

If You’re Happy and You Know It
lift it high / go way down low / shake it fast / shake it slow / jump up and down! 

Some of my other favorite songs to use:

POP! Goes the Berry
(Begin by walking slowly in a circle with the parachute)
All Around the Strawberry Field
We picked some juicy berries
We took them home and washed them off
and POP! Goes the berries! (lift it way up!)
Other verses: Blueberry/huckleberry/raspberry/blackberry

Popcorn Kernels (Tune of Frere Jacques)  
Popcorn kernels  (x2) - slow shake
In the pot (x2) - slow shake
Shake them shake them shake them! (x2) - fast shake
'till they POP! (x2) - lift up high 

The Hot Dog Song 
5 little hot dogs frying in a pan, (fast shake)
The grease got hot and one went bam (lift way up high)
(Continue singing, counting down each time you go through the song 4,3,2,1)
No little hot dogs frying in a pan, 
The grease got hot and the pan went bam.  

These Are the Colors Over You (Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle)
(Slow shake for entire song, help children point out colors as you sing)
Red and green and yellow and blue, these are the colors over you.
Red like an apple and green like a tree, yellow like the sun and blue like the sea. 
Red and green and yellow and blue, these are the colors over you.  

Oh the city is great (lift up)
and the city is grand (down)
There's a whole lot of people (up)
on a little piece of land (down)
And we live way up (up)
on the 57th floor (down)
and this is what we do (up)
when we go out the door. (down)
We take the elevator up (up)
and the elevator down, (down)
take the elevator up, (up)
take the elevator down (down)
Take the elevator up (up)
and the elevator down (down)
and we turn around. (turn around!) 

What Are the Kids Doing? 
I've experimented many time with having all the children out from underneath holding onto the chute, and then just letting them do whatever they feel comfortable with. Obviously the latter has worked best, and everyone is happiest. 
For children who want to hang onto the parachute, that's great, it really does help develop those fine motor skills by building their little hand muscles. But if a child really loves lying down or walking around under the parachute, I'm not going to stop their fun! 

What's So Scary?
I will say, every now and then I have a kicker (lays under the parachute with feet up and kicks), a non-sharer or the handle (grabby hands!), or a scared little one. But you know what? That's why I have caregivers in the room. Most caregivers are right on the problem, and it only lasts a few seconds. Then it's back to the fun!

Closing: Peek-a-boo!
At the very end, we play peek-a-boo with the parachute. This is the only time I really encourage children to go under and lay down (facing up) underneath. One way to encourage participation at this point is to tell caregivers that their child can lay down right in front of them if they are feeling scared to go all the way underneath. 

However, some children will not want to go underneath at all. That is fine. Just let it be! Maybe they'll join in on the fun once you start and they see how much fun it is to be lying down underneath. Or they'll just walk around the perimeter of the room watching. However they want to experience the parachute, no worries and no pressure!

We lower it down gently, and then lift it way up high saying in a sing-songy voice "peeeeek-ahhh-booooo!" and then repeat about ten times. The last three times, I count down, "Three more times! Ok now, two more times! One last time!" And then at that point, everyone has prepared themselves to say goodbye to the parachute. I don't sing a goodbye song to the parachute, because I find that everyone is perfectly fine with putting it away -- perhaps the counting down? They do know bubbles are around the corner, so maybe that's it! 

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