Well, in all my excitement to give reviews for story resources through the grades curriculum, I neglected the poor early childhood teachers (isn’t that always the way it goes?) There are some really great resources for early childhood material. Here are my favorites.
The Wynstones Series, by Margret Meyercourt and Jennifer Aulie — This is by far my favorite resource for early childhood, and some of the material in the books can be used in first and second grade, too. There is a book for each season and two additional books — Gateways, which contains songs, stories and rhymes about birthdays and festivals; and Spindrift, which is primarily a collection of stories. All of the material in these books is golden! The rhymes and verses are ones that have a familiarity to them so they roll right off the tongue, but they’re not the traditional rhymes that we hear in the US. There are no indications given for movements and gestures, but most of the verses and songs suggest movements quite easily. The songs are all in the pentatonic scale and, best of all, there is a section at the beginning of the book that explains the thoughts behind the pentatonic scale. The stories are sweet little ones — perfect for preschoolers, though there are some more complex stories appropriate for kindergarteners. I’ve rarely needed something that I wasn’t able to find in this series of books.
Let Us Form a Ring from the Acorn Hill Children’s Center — This is a great little spiral-bound book that takes some of the material in the Wynstones books and pulls it together in neat little circle stories for kindergarten and preschool. The author has taken the rhymes and songs from Wynstones, built them up around a theme and added little tunes to transition beautifully from one to the other. Circle stories for the entire year are included here in one book, so if you can’t afford to buy all of the Wynstones books, this book, and its sequel called Dancing As We Sing, are great bargains.
Sing Through the Seasons by Marlys Swinger — I’ve reviewed this book before, but it really is so good that it bears repeating. As I mentioned before, it is not completely pentatonic. Most of the songs contain a wide variety of notes, so if you’re a pentatonic purist for early childhood you probably won’t like this book. Personally, I think it is fine to add a song or two that are not pentatonic. I think the more awakening tone of them appeals to the older children in the kindergarten who are getting close to being ready to move on to first grade. Now that it’s spring those first grade ready children are feeling the bounds of kindergarten and are needing something a little more fun and interesting. This is a great time to bring little memory games for them, too. With the kindergarten children I work with I’ve started bringing a little game where I gradually build up a series of claps, snaps and pats and they have to try to remember it and repeat it. They love it and I love watching that light of thinking brighten in those little eyes.