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Flannel Friday: Infographic Story Stretchers


This morning I woke up with a weird idea: replace traditional handouts with a picture book infographic.

So a little background…When I was a new librarian, I was a storytime handout maniac. I made tons of carefully researched handouts with rhymes, booklists, fingerplays, etc. I even put a coloring page on the b-side in the hopes they would end up on a few fridges. But at the end of the day, the handouts would end up scattered all over children’s department and parking lot. Eventually, I stopped making them. I dip into my files sometimes; but to tell you the truth, I’ve never had a single parent ask about them when they weren’t offered.

So what’s a picture book infographic?

Well, since this is my first attempt at such a thing, I don’t want to define it too strictly. Let’s just say, it’s a graphic representation of a picture book or story. The trick is fitting the entire story into a single image. Unlike with a flannel board, where you have several pieces that you use to build the story on a canvas, an infographic uses a single visual representation that kids (and parents) can use to recall and retell the story in their own words.

I think it’s important to note that this is not intended to replace reading the story in any way, shape, or form. I don’t think a story stretcher infographic works on it’s own. It is intended to support the development of narrative skills and memory. It is meant to build on the shared stories and experiences. So read the book. Purchase multiple copies! And build some serious love for your favorite picture books using infographics!

Infographic Show & Tell

I chose a story I knew would fit this format:

little miss

Trapani has written a bunch of books that riff on classic nursery rhymes. I love them. It’s a brilliant idea: take story so familiar that it practically loses all meaning, and ask “then what happened?” For example

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey
Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

In Trapani’s version, Miss Muffet tries to hide from the spider, only to run into a mouse. She flees the mouse, and runs into a frog, a crow a fish, and finally… A MOOSE! Yes, a goddamn moose. How brilliant is that? Very brilliant.

Follow Little Miss Muffet through her ordeal.

Follow Little Miss Muffet through her ordeal.

I had a very little time to slap this experiment together. I did a google image search for game board template and found something awesome: Snappy the Snapping Syllable Turtle. This game is adorable as is, makes a great activity for a passive program. It was also the perfect image for an infographic of LMM. It even had the tree and the pond in the right places; so I hacked it.

Next, I scattered clipart “scary critters” in the order they appeared in the story. Then I found an image of Little Miss Muffet, and made a little game piece out of her.

At the end of storytime I passed them out, and demonstrated how to use it later to retell the story later today or this week. Since this was an experiment, I also asked them to report: “Did you use it? And if so,  was it worthwhile? Was it fun?”

Please feel free to download this Little Miss Muffet handout Little Miss Muffet Infographic. It’s a two-page pdf. Page one is the infographic, and page two is page of 20 Little Misses. Print page one 20x, but page two only once. I printed page one on cardstock, so it would hold up the moving around a bit, but crappy paper would be fine.  I am going to try to come up with more infogenic (did I just invent a word?)

Some that come to mind:

  • Hi, Pizza Man!
  • Pete’s a Pizza
  • Fall is not Easy
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
  • Katie Loves The Kittens
  • Tip Tip Dig Dig
  • Joseph had a Little Overcoat
  • I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More
  • Bark, George
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar

OMG! Like every good storytime book ever. I am going to start on next week’s infographic right away!

Kathryn is hosting the #FFRU at Fun with Friends at Storytime Thanks Kathryn!


8 thoughts on “Flannel Friday: Infographic Story Stretchers

  1. Pingback: We'll Link to That: Spring 2014 | Jbrary

  2. Pingback: Storytime Underground

  3. I LOVE this! What a great way to encourage retelling stories! Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Great idea! I looked at your map of Miss. M’s route and I was confused. In the story she runs into: spider, mouse, crow, fish then moose. When I look at the map it looks like it goes: spider, mouse, frog, moose, crow, fish, am I not following the route correctly. Hey it is Monday so forgive me

    • well, it’s a twisty route in the case of the infographic. if you follow the rocks, you start in the house–>mouse–>frog–>crow (bc she climbs up the tree)–>she goes in the water & runs into the fish–>climbs out of the water & runs into the moose–>runs back home. Like I said in the post) I only had a few minutes to put this together and test it out.

      I did demonstrate/model how to use the infographic immediately following the read-aloud. I think modeling is essential to the infographics being successful. Not to mention, this gives an extra boost to the narrative & hopefully supports the working memory of parents & kids in attendence. Luckily, I didn’t have any reports/complaints/confusion the following week. However, I understand your concern, please feel free to make your own infographic version of LMM or improve on this one. If you do, I only ask that you share your new & improved version.

      It’s also worth mentioning, that I think the best case scenario for using these infographics will inspire children to extend the story beyond the text of the book. Perhaps LMM will run into a sloth, and perhaps the next pizza will be delivered by a donkey or a unicorn. Anyway, the intention of this exercise is not to recite the story to the letter (or plot detail) but rather to internalize the meaning of the story. To bring the story to life and encourage storytimers to discuss what they read/hear/learn in storytime.

  5. Such a fantastic idea! I try to use my crafts at the end of storytime as story stretchers but that’s not always possible. It would be great to have an infographic to hand out in those cases. Thanks for sharing!
    Twitter: @loventhelibrary

    • Thanks! As a general rule we don’t do storytime crafts at my library. We use crafts in most other programs (e.g. book parties, science programs, etc.). And we’re encouraged to develop passive craft activities. So storytimers often have an opportunity to make something at the library, but it’s not directly linked to the storytime content. I’m actually happy with this policy. 1) choosing crafts and gathering supplies takes a lot of time. NTM cleaning up afterwards. I can focus on the content of storytime (e.g. selecting books, activities, songs) 2) Instead of crafting, we offer open play time for babytime and toddler time. And I think open play (ie the child directs the activity) is a wonderful addition to storytime, and provides an equally enriching experience. That said, I think storytime crafts are a great way to build lasting memories of storytime. I am hoping these infographics offer a new way for patrons to take a little piece of storytime home with them. One that supports family literacy & makes “talking about books” a regular practice from an early age.

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