I love flannel board stories that have built-in destruction, and so do kids. That’s why Sitting Down to Eat, adapted from the book by Bill Harley, is one of my favorites. I made this flannel years and years ago, as past of a presentation for the McConnell conference, and yet somehow it survives in almost pristine condition, despite the very interactive ending of the story.
The story begins with a boy sitting down to eat. He hears a knock, and opens the door to find an elephant who asks if there is enough for two. The boy replies:
”I’ve got enough for me, yes, that’s true.
If I’ve got enough for me,
I’ve got enough for you.
Come on in!”
The story continues as a tiger, a bear, a lion, a hippo, a rhinoceros, a blue whale, and a crocodile knock on the door and ask to share in the food too.
Each time the boy responds in rhyme and asks them in to eat. Be sure the kids help with the “come on in” part. While I’m telling the story, this part becomes more protracted as the boy, who is obviously getting more and more squished in his own home, needs to think more carefully about each additional animal. Ask the kids “Should he let the (animal) in?” and you will get lots of generous yeses and of course, a few noes from the doubters. Expand the conversation as you tell, including discussions of the size of the animals, what the animals might want to eat and how much each animal needs to eat. It’s also a great time to briefly touch on manners, both good and bad. Finally, one more animal knocks and asks to come in–a teeny caterpillar.
Play up the issue of room as you add the caterpillar to the board, ask will it fit here? No? How about here? Of course, because you all have read The Mitten many times, you know what happens next. There is no room for the caterpillar, and the whole house goes BOOM! Of course, you might have to BOOM! a few times, until the BOOM! is significantly loud and everyone has joined in. At this point, I either pick up and shake the flannel board or gently knock the animals off the board, sending animals everywhere. So much fun!
Since the kids are now BOOM! specialists, we then sing 5 Elephants Went Out to Play, which is a slight adaptation on the Sharon, Lois and Bram version.
1 elephant went out to play/On a spider’s web on day/He had such enormous fun/That he called for another elephant to come.
Repeat with 2,3,4 more elephants. The 5th elephant doesn’t fit, of course, so the verse is
5 elephants went out to play/On a spider’s web one day/There just wasn’t enough room/so they all fell down with an enormous BOOM!