Friday, June 24, 2011

One World, Many Stories ... and Hats From Around The World

Have you ever witnessed a child playing with hats? It's fun to see how their moods can change from serious to silly simply by putting on a hat. With a Fireman's hat, children imagine they are racing in a firetruck to get to a fire quickly in order to save the day. Very serious work indeed. However, with a wizard's hat, the mood changes from serious to magical as they wave their imaginary wand in the air and exclaim "Hocus Pocus"! Whimsical mayhem made to order by a little wizard. Of course the same can be said for children of all ages. Hats can have that kind of effect. To help librarians come up with unique story time programs here is one that incorporates, stories, songs, rhymes and culture. In other words it has it all.

In a typical story time programs, a hat is a perfect prop for an inspiring half-hour of reading to the young ones. Hats can also come in handy when working with teens, as a way to draw them out of their shells and let them express themselves without fear of rejection. Hats are wonderful, but they can also teach wonderful lessons on cultures. Just think what a Viking Warrior's hat can do for a story time. My Great-graet-great-grandfather.... was a Warrior is the inspiration for a unique One World, Many Stories Summer reading program. The cover of this book is humorous and inspiring. The Viking's helmet is all it took to generate the idea of hats and what they say about a culture.

The books that were chosen for this program besides the title mentioned earlier, are fun as well as informative. For example, Ann Morris' Hats! Hats! Hats! provide colorful photographs of different people from around the world and their hats. Paul Hoppe's book Hat is an imaginative story of a boy who finds a hat and can envision its unique uses, including doubling as as a boat or a sled. The last book selected, Eileen Spinelli's Do You Have A Hat? is is perfect for setting the mood for festive hat changing, wearing and hopefully giggles. This is where poetry and pandemonium may collide.

Before the poem begins, carefully lay out a sombrero, beret, ushanka, paddy hat, cowboy hat and a fez. (These items are easily found in costume stores or online.) Explain to the audience that hats from around the world are on display and will be used during the action poem/song. Every time a hat is named, a volunteer from the audience needs to model that hat. At the end of the poem, other hats are distributed to those who wanted to model but did not get the opportunity. Once everyone has a hat to wear, invite them to gather around in a circle for a new game. Explain to the audience that when they hear music they must take off their hats and pass it to the person to the right of them. When the music stops they must then wear the hat they are now holding in their hands. Start out slowly with the music, but eventually speed up it up to encourage the hats to be passed faster. Favorite music to use with this game is the Chicken Dance or the Mexican Hat Dance. Adding some spice into the game, on slips of paper write down the names of the hats. When the music stops, the leader will randomly draw a hat's name and the person who is wearing that particular stye will win a small prize. If this program does not generate giggles, it would be very surprising!

The poem/song that can be used is available below. It can be sung to the tune of This Old Man.

This big hat from Mexico
it is called a sombrero
with a wide brim from here to there
Wouldn’t you like one to wear?

This fury hat from Russia
It is called a Ushanka
With flaps over the ears just like so,
Wouldn’t you like one, yes or no?

This flat hat its from France,
it is called a beret, by chance
you see one, it looks like a pie
Would you wear it or should I?

This straw hat from Japan
it is called a paddy hat, it can
be worn for work or play
Would you wear one today?

This sturdy hat from USA
Everyone knows its a cowboy’s hat,they say
it’s worn by brave guys and gals,
Wouldn’t you like to wear one pal?

This tasselled hat from African land
it is called a Fez and
it is short and made of felt that's red
Would you like one on your head?

All these hats from every country
they tell us a wonderful story
of people from here to there
Do You have a hat to share?

Hats can be a children librarians' best tool. They are easy to find and in many cases very economical since they can be used over and over again. Don't be surprised if children ask for a repeat of the games or the entire program. It generates that much enthusiasm. Which should be the ultimate goal for every children's library program.

*the poem published here is written by Lisa Valerio-Nowc.
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