Picture books are an art form that can be used with all ages – from very young children to adults. Even though its artwork and themes are sophisticated, Dream is a colorful, multilayered story that has appeal for and can be adapted for use with young children. The How To Make Storytime a Dream guide has ideas for exploring the book with children 7 years and under.
For young children, "explore" is synonymous with "play" since that's how kids at that age learn. Young children have a natural instinct to play and, if you explore a book's themes in the context of play, it's much easier to encourage and build basic literacy skills.
Physical play takes the words on the page and brings them to life for children. A key literacy goal for young children is to help them understand the correlation between the words on a page and the real world around them.
Even young children can relate to the idea of making wishes on stars. Dream is filled with star imagery and you can springboard from that imagery into some physical play.
After you finish reading the book, do a Star Stretch. Have children stand and close their eyes to imagine a black night sky full of beautiful sparkling, bright stars. Ask them to slowly raise one arm over their head to reach and stretch for the stars. Lower that arm and raise the other arm to reach for the stars. Lower the second arm, and then raise both arms and stand on tip toes to reach for those "billion billion sparkling stars. Dream a dream, your very own dream." As children open their eyes and stand flat, have them bring their hands together and bend their arms in an arch over their head. Flip back to the title page and say, "That brings us back to where we started, with the Dream Chest at the end of the rainbow."
Then try some yoga star poses, which improve posture, build strength, flexibility, balance, and mental focus, and help children learn how to follow step-by-step instructions.
To get everyone in the mood, practice "standing tall." To stand tall, you stand straight with your head high, facing forward. Make sure your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are in a straight line, and pull your belly button in. Can everyone stand tall and quiet for 30 seconds?
Now you can move into a Basic Star pose. Stand tall with your feet together and arms comfortably at your sides. Move your legs apart so they are wider than your shoulders. Raise your arms to shoulder level with the palms of your hands facing up. Keep your spine, neck and head straight, but comfortable. How long can you hold this position? Who can hold the position the longest?
Still standing in the Basic Star position, face your palms forward. Open and close your hands to "twinkle" like a star!
For a Tilting Star, stand tall as described above. Move your legs apart so they are wider than your shoulders. Raise your arms to shoulder level with the palms of your hands facing down. Breathe in as you slowly stretch one arm over your head (and turn your palm) and slide your other arm down your leg. SLOWLY tilt your star to the other side. Relax at the end of the stretch. Repeat both sides twice – and don't forget to breathe in and out!
For a Twirling Star, stand tall as described above. Move your legs apart so they are wider than your shoulders. Raise your arms to shoulder level with the palms of your hands facing down. Turn your head to look at one hand. Breathe in and out as you slowly twist your entire spine to watch your hand as it goes behind you and then move back to face forward. Relax. Look at your other hand and breathe in and out as you slowly twist your entire spine to watch your hand as it goes behind you. Move back to face forward and relax. Repeat both sides.
For a Twisting Star, stand tall as described above. Move your legs apart so they are wider than your shoulders. Raise your arms to shoulder level, then go into a "hands up" position (like a bank robbery) with palms facing forward. Bring one of your elbows across your body while you raise the opposite knee toward it. Now bring the other elbow across your body while you raise your other knee toward it. Repeat this 10 times as everyone counts together.
To finish up, everyone can lay on the floor in a star position. Pretend you're a starfish laying on the beach enjoying the hot summer sun. Breathe in and out. There are stars in the sky and there are stars on the beach! Where else can you find stars?