I’m always looking for ways to expand my repertoire, and this idea is one that I had discounted and revisited several times. A digital felt board story is a natural fit for a digital storytime, and I was interested in using the Felt Board iPad app to do it, but I disliked the inexact controls and the difficulty of placing new items on the screen – I thought it would be distracting for the kids and difficult for me. Luckily, when I thought of doing Five Little Monkeys Swingin’ From a Tree, the whole thing came together!
As I sang 5 Little Monkeys, I would move Mr. Crocodile along the ground and mime a big swinging action with my upper body. I kept the iPad turned toward me the whole time, but the kids saw the action up on the projector screen. Since all the pieces are there at the beginning of the song, all I had to do was tap the trash icon (all your pieces will start to gently wiggle) and then tap a monkey to make it disappear. Then I tapped the trash icon again (to turn off the delete feature) so I could manipulate Mr. Crocodile during the next verse without making him disappear, too.
Where I used it: iTots storytime, for an audience age 2-6. August and December 2014.
What I like: The children were absorbed and listening intently, which is the whole point! Also, I can make the background, tree, and other details look different every time, so the song won’t feel as stale as it does with my regular monkey magnets and Mr. Croc hand puppet.
What I don’t like: It requires practice runs – if you tap wildly and make the wrong thing disappear (the leaves on the tree, for example) it derails the song quite a bit. If you know how to handle that, it shouldn’t be a problem.