Alligators pop up in so many children's stories because they are TERRIFYINGLY LARGE REPTILES. I live in Florida, and my storytime kids take alligators very seriously. They're constantly turning up in our swimming pools and roadside ditches. On a personal note, I would like to thank all the Crocodylia in the state of Florida. They are the only species standing -- or crawling -- between us and an invasion of pythons who have already eaten everything else that walks and crawls in the Everglades. The pythons are only having trouble swallowing the eight foot gators & crocs whole. Books:
Wide Mouthed Frog.
Snip Snap, What's That by Mara Bergman. Lower your voice to bring the kids and read those terrifying words: "When the alligator came creeping ... creeping ... creeping up the stairs...were the children scared? (Turn page.) YOU BET THEY WERE! And then the next, as the kids are chased through the house by the until the brilliant end..This book is all action, drama, and great pictures. Storytime perfection.
Do Crocs Kiss? by Salina Yoon. Board Book. Nice for audience participation; this was a young group.
The Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman. The classic retold with three tender young gators and a big bad Swamp Boar. The rhyme is right on target, it's nice to include a story where the gators have to worry about their survival, and storytime kids just can't seem to resist a little bigness and badness.
There's an Alligator Under My bed by Mercer Mayer. Even at the end of storytime, this book held them. Moms loved the ending.
Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko
The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett. Duck finds a beeeyoutiful egg. All the other birds make fun of him in fun die cut pages until Duck's big, odd egg hatches, and then out comes....you guessed it.
I'd Really Like to Eat a Child by Sylviane Donnio. Just look at that ferocious gator. This little dude turns up his nose at all his parent's cooking, even chocolate cake. He's determined to eat a child. But how big are baby gators, after all?
Hello! Is This Grandma by Ian Whybrow. This one's a lift the flap AND it has farm animals mooing and quacking in it AND a hungry gator at the end as well! I know at this point I'm supposed to say the kids loved it, but heck, I loved it! Nothing's easier than selling kids on books that you yourself enjoy and want to read again.
Open Very Carefully illustrator Nicola O'byrne by Nick Bromley/
The Selfish Crocodile by Faustin Charles
5 little monkeys swinging from the tree, teasing MR. CROCODILE etc.
Row, row, row your boat (if you see a crocodile, don't forget to SCREAM!)
Alligator, alligator, alligator pie./If I don't get some, I think I'm gonna cry/You can take away the sun/you can take away the sky/but please don't take away my alligator pie. -- Dennis Lee.
The Lady With the Alligator Purse, board book by Westcott.
See you later, alligator, after a while, crocodile, bye, bye, butterfly.
I dumped some pom poms behind a masking tape line on one side of the room and told the kids it was their job to save their eggs from the birds and the other alligators that wanted to eat them by taking them to the safe nest on the other side of the room, on the other side of another masking tape line. I gave them dinosaur grabbers from Oriental Trading (leftovers), and considering they were all three years, they did pretty well. I would have assigned numbers and colors to older alligator children; just working the grabbers was challenge enough this morning. Craft:
I realized I hadn't gotten any craft ready this morning, so we did marble painting: a shoebox lid lined with white paper, marbles in little medicine cups, and paints. This was just the right speed for this bunch. The color experimenting was a lot of fun.
Year before last, I made an Alligator template following this example on pinterest. I asked a kindly volunteer to cut out a few for my very young craftsperson, but I was happy that most kids tackled the cutting job, nice straight lines. I made the cut for the jaw bigger and taped white paper to the inside of the gator, then gave the kids some patterned craft scissors to cut toothy grins, and they drew on the eyeballs. The gators were done, so I passed out the textured paint, made with one part salt, one part flour, and one part liquid. The original recipe called for using water and food coloring, but I used liquid tempera and water. You have to adjust it a little to get the right texture. The salt makes it dry nicely, and the flour makes it textured.
Cute, huh? Will I make them again? Kinda labor intensive, and a little too product not process.
Or: Yes, I really did have little boys running around the room attacking each other with their new alligator puppets. Note the added detail: it’s a rare diamondback alligator w/a slasher tail and a particularly savage set of purple teeth. Teen volunteers cut out the shape from a roll of paper. The original is on page 77 of Creative Crafts for Kids by Gill Dickinson. It’s a book I periodically swipe from circulation and keep behind my desk because it has so many great ideas.