Date: March 5, 2014
Who: Rabbit Wranglers
Ages: 0-5 years old and Parents
Facebook Feedback: 54 likes, 2 shares
“We had so much fun!! Can’t wait for the next one! Thank you”
– Michelle, parent
It was a time to put on my storytelling shoes and least fur-attracting attire for this new monthly event with local rabbit rescue and foster nonprofit, Rabbit Wranglers. I have been a foster for this organization for over a year now, taking care of unexpected litters and abandoned bunnies, when a request was sent out for storytellers to help educate (and entertain) young children and parents at The White Rabbit Cafe and Patisserie in Greensburg, PA. With a quick mention of my experience with children, I was selected to be the official storyteller!
I was lucky. I have done rabbit education programs before in libraries and know the general audience demographic and key rules to follow when making an event with animals.
- Cordon off a specific area for the event
- Prepare a space for your audience and inform local guests of the upcoming event and the animals involved to avoid allergic reactions
- Make sure all animals are out of sight until the storytelling portion of the program ends
What I was not expecting was the atmosphere to be so different than that of a library: servers bouncing in front of you while presenting the story, parents holding conversations in the front row, and a noise level that our hearing-sensitive outreach coordinator had difficulty partitioning. Some of these shocks were in part due to our time of arrival; we were not able to give our guests due time to understand what was to begin and some parents may not have understood the full span of the event.
Here is the plan that I developed for the program and my thoughts on how I will adjust it for future events:
- Introduce organization and program goals: This I left up to the Program Coordinator.
- Songs and fingerplays: “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “Chubby Little Snowman,” “Little Bunny,” “Five Little Bunnies,” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” This order of songs and fingerplays worked like a charm, especially when the children ended with “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” There was an awe-inspiring hush that fell over the cafe during that one song that I could not have created doing anything else. I may want to consider starting with a different song, one that allows parents to interact with their infants.
- Storytelling: Zomo the Rabbit by Gerald McDermott with introduction by myself. This West-African tale had plenty of wiggle room for 3-4 year olds to get out their energy and required a lot of big movements on my part. It worked for the busy environment, even when I had to theatre-speak to be heard for the listeners in the back. For next month, I am considering doing an Easter-themed story.
- Picture Books: Brave Squish Rabbit by Katherine Battersby and Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons by Il Sung Na. Next time, I will only do one picture book to make more time for rabbit interaction after the program.
- Nonfiction Book: Rabbits, Rabbits, & More Rabbits! by Gail Gibbons. Due to time constraints, I had to summarize a lot of pages. Next time I will just do a quiz session with colored pictures.
- Rabbit Care: I meant to split into groups, but found that the environment was not conducive to this. Instead, the different rabbits were brought out and I went over the basic ways to approach a tame rabbit and where they like to be pet with whoever approached me. Mostly, parents just wanted their children to have pictures taken with the rabbits. Next time, we should have a picture session during the storytime at a separate part of the cafe!
All in all, it was a complete success, with the organization bringing in record donations and the cafe even getting local media coverage. Greensburg residents, be sure to watch out for some adorable rabbit faces in the local newspapers! We were a hit.
I cannot wait until next month!