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Hometown Weekly Intern
On the morning of Tuesday, June 25, Westwood Public Library held its daily story time, a segment named “Wiggle and Giggle Storytime.” Indeed, there was much wiggling and giggling during the fun event held by Suzie Canale, a member of the Westwood library staff.
Many children and their parents showed up to listen to stories and participate in activities with others. The sense of community was apparent, as the children often talked to each other and shared props when there were not enough for everyone. Parents chatted in the back, catching up with friends or meeting new parents, as Canale entertained their kids with good, old-fashioned fun.Once everyone was settled, Canale began with “Last Night I Dreamed a Circus,” a book by Maya Gottfried, with eye-popping illustrations by Robert Rahway Zakanitch. This story spoke about a child’s dream about acrobats, clowns, and other thrilling spectacles to be seen at a circus.
“I love puppets,” said Canale while holding five finger puppets on her right hand, “and they’re all different.” Indeed, these puppets resembled five little clowns, with pointed cone hats and pom-pom buttons down their fronts. A staple of “Wiggle and Giggle Storytime” is music, song and rhymes. “These are my friends, these are my five clowns, and this is how this rhyme goes,” she said while pointing to a poster with the words to the rhyme, in case any early readers wanted to join along.
In the method of five little pigs, the children’s game in which all the little pigs (or fingers) go all the way home, Canale put her own twist on the classic game. “Five little clowns all in a row,/ Wearing funny hats and polka-dotted bows/One decided to hop away/ To go back to the circus to laugh and play,” she then asked how many clowns are left, prompting kids to practice with numbers.
Another similar game she played was “five little ice creams in the ice cream shop,” during which she asked for audience participation. She started with five vanilla ice cream cones made of felt on the board, and gradually removed the white to reveal a color after every verse. In this way she helped children with colors.One of the highlights of “Wiggle and Giggle Storytime” is the kids’ use of props to participate in fun activities or games. This particular day, Canale passed out chiffon scarves, often called juggling cloths. These multicolored, nearly-weightless cloths mesmerized the children, who twirled around, watching the fabric float. In keeping with the theme of five and circus food, the children played a little game called “5 Little Kernels Sizzling in a Pot.” The cloths sizzled like popcorn kernels about to pop, and when Canale shouted “Pop!”, the children threw the cloths in the air and watched in awe as they sunk back down to them.
At the end of the story time, Canale brought out a basket of bean bags and asked everyone (including parents) to line up behind the basket. Before, Canale had placed a long straight line of blue tape on the carpet to resemble a tightrope. The kids then walked a tightrope, balancing a beanbag on their heads. At the end of the line, Canale waited with a sticker for all who completed this daunting task.
“When I find great props and great songs, I try to make a theme around it,” Canale said as she put away juggling cloths left on the floor after the event. “Today I found a great tightrope activity, so I wanted to do the circus [as a theme].” It is important to her that she keeps children engaged with fun activities that encourages playing without the added assistance of technology.
For parents looking for a way to keep their young ones entertained and imaginative, Canale says,
“We have a storytime everyday … They’re all at different hours and we [librarians] all have our different styles. I like felt, Lizzie [another host of “Wiggle and Giggle Storytime”] gives me a lot of help with finding great little stories to clip together with other stories, because it helps kids carry away whatever we’re teaching: whether it’s numbers, letters, colors, or whatever it is.”
Even if has been a while since you were four years-old, there is an undeniable charm in storytelling and old-fashioned games. With events like “Wiggle and Giggle Storytime,” one can come to appreciate the little things in life that are often taken for granted - like floating scarves.