I was very excited to have a chance to visit Owen’s preschool classroom last week. They will be visiting a local farm later this month, and since Owen’s favorite animals (and stuffed animals) are sheep, I decided to read a sheep story and share some facts about sheep with his class.
In my classroom, and now in my basement, I kept my teaching puppets in a castle that my husband built for me. So I decided to make a traveling castle to carry my puppets into school.
I always try to bring my puppets out “alive,” already on my hand and ready to interact with children. I love how effective puppets are at capturing children’s interest and attention, and I have fun too!
I started out telling the class how much Owen loves sheep and so I decided to bring my sheep puppet to visit with them. But when I opened up the castle box (from the back) and brought out the puppet they all laughed.
I had a conversation with my puppet, Critter, and he tried to convince me that he was a sheep because he had a furry coat, but then he remembered that it is really called wool – not fur.
Then he told me that he really was a sheep because sheep only have teeth on the bottom, and he opened his mouth to show us.
He also said that sheep have 2 toes on each foot.
Then he shared the fact that sheep can see almost all the way around, and that he could see me, sitting behind him, without even turning his head! I loved how engaged all the children were listening to these facts about sheep. Then he told me that sheep are really good at smelling and he sniffed a few kids. He asked them if they had been eating grass or flowers or clover, because those are his favorite foods and he was really hungry. Then I told him that I was sure he could not be a sheep because sheep have 4 stomachs. Critter insisted that he does have 4 stomachs, and opened up his wooly coat (telling us that sheep get their coats taken off in the springtime) to show his 4 stomachs underneath.
Then Critter told the children that sheep’s favorite game is Follow the Leader. Whenever one sheep starts going somewhere the whole group (flock) follows after him. Then I put Critter back into the castle box, and brought out Roxy Heart.
Roxy talked to me and asked who the children were, and if they were smart. I told her that they were very smart and Roxy noticed what a great job they were doing all sitting on their bottoms. She asked the class if they liked her dress, and told them that her mama had just made it for her. The children noticed that it has sheep on it and Roxy told them it was because she was an expert about sheep and knows more than anyone! She told them that sheep have a special coat and it’s called … and the children shouted out “wool!” She turned around and stared at them and told them that they are really smart! She continued starting to tell the kids facts about sheep that they had just heard from Critter, and she was amazed at all they knew. So it was a review about 2 toes on each foot, teeth only on the bottom, 4 stomachs, etc. Her mouth dropped open, she jumped up and down, and she almost fainted when they knew the facts she was trying to share!
Then she told them that she had something special in her purse and pulled out a small bottle of perfume. She told them that she had perfume because sheep smell good. I stopped her and said “Roxy, sheep live on a farm and they get really dirty! I don’t think they smell good!” Then I pretended to figure out that she meant that sheep are good at smelling. We talked about how they CAN smell well, but they don’t smell good! Then she said she wanted to go to the farm and play the sheep’s favorite game, and all the kids yelled “Follow the Leader!” Roxy went back into the box after being amazed at the smartest preschoolers in the whole world.
I showed the class the book Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox, but instead of reading it, I enlarged the pictures on cardstock and told it as a magnet story. Some of the children noticed that there are many opposites in this book.
It lent itself very well to a magnet story because of the structure of the words. It begins “Here is the blue sheep. And here is the red sheep. Here is the bath sheep, and here is the bed sheep. But where is the green sheep?” So it worked very well to put out the first 4 pictures, and then take them off as I asked the question. This was the pattern throughout the book, and the children quickly chimed in with some of the opposites and asking the question “Where is the green sheep?”
After the story I passed out a sheep stick puppet to each child and we acted out some of the motions – here is the high sheep, and here is the low sheep. Here is the jumping sheep and here is the still sheep. After leading the children this way for a few minutes I chose a child (okay – I shamelessly chose Owen!) to take a turn leading the group with motions. I encouraged him to do 3 motions that we would repeat and follow – using the patterned words from the book “here is the _______ sheep” and then he chose another child to lead. The preschoolers did a wonderful job listening and participating, and did not get upset when we didn’t have time for everyone to have a turn! It was a fun time, I have missed sharing the wonderful combination of puppets and stories with children.