Sasha loves Northwest wildlife. She knows lots of facts about animals and refers to this knowledge in her dramatic play. Sasha often caretakes these creatures (stuffed animals). Today she bottle-feeds a baby bat beneath the tree loft. I invite Sasha (and bat) to join me at the writing center because she’s an experienced player and storyteller. I’d like to share Sasha’s story at circle and invite her friends to act it out- thereby introducing story theater to this year’s class.
*Photo by Mikaela Aguilar, Lewis and Clark Intern
Sasha begins her story with an observed fact: “Baby bat is hanging upside down.” Sure enough the tiny bat is hanging from a branch. Initially Sasha doesn’t have more to offer. She was fluid in her dramatic play, but I’ve asked her to switch gears to dictating and drawing about her beloved bat. I prompt, “Why is bat hanging upside down?” Without hesitation Sasha reveals, “Looking for owls.” She stops and looks over her shoulder as though she too is on the look out for owls. I wonder out loud, “Why is baby bat looking for owls?”
“Because owls like to eat baby bats.” Sasha continues the story, illustrating her knowledge of predator/prey- a favorite preschool theme. A rabbit hops past us and enters Sasha’s story. Sasha’s clear that rabbits are no threat to bats, even baby bats. With a couple of more prompts, Sasha finishes her story, including “fly” chase- the bat game equivalent of people (“running”) chase. I read Sasha’s story out loud to her:
Baby bat is hanging upside down and looking for owls because owls like to eat baby bats. Baby bat just spotted a rabbit and that’s no harm at all. Baby bat flied down to find sister. He found sister. He played with her. They played hopscotch and fly chase.
She smiles and seems satisfied. I invite Sasha to draw bat. At first, she’s hesitant. Together we look at a photo of a hanging bat and she’s ready to take on the challenge. The real-life photo captures Sasha’s interest and she carefully examines the bat, drawing claws tightly clutching to a branch.
Finally, we bring Sasha’s story and drawing to circle and invite her friends to take part in it. We consider how one might hold her body to show she’s a bat or how one might hop around to show he’s a rabbit. We contemplate the feelings a baby might have worrying it could be eaten, and the excitement it might feel swooshing through the air for “fly chase.” And then children act out Sasha’s story, bringing it to life.