Did you know there was a day dedicated to ninjas? Well, I didn’t either until my friend, Matthew Winner, pointed it out. International Ninja Day is December 5th, and even though it’s a Saturday this year, it doesn’t mean you have to pass by the opportunity to read some ninja stories in December! Over at All the Wonders, you’ll find a whole toolkit to celebrate the day at home, in your classroom, or in your library.
Yesterday, I had 4 Kindergarten classes in the library who wanted to have a storytime and checkout, so it was the perfect opportunity to talk about ninjas. We started by sharing all the things we know about ninjas. Words like sneaky, training, ninja moves, and fighting were of course brought up. Then, we thought about characters we knew who were ninjas. The overwhelming favorites were Ninja Turtles and Lego Ninjago.
This connected us to our read aloud of choice for the day which was Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Scwartz and illustrated by Dan Santat. Since we were already talking about characters, we took some time to talk about Red Riding Hood and what we knew about most Red Riding Hood stories. We held onto these ninja and Red Riding Hood ideas to see how they unfolded in the book. Once the book was complete, students picked out some of their noticings. They were so observant, and there were many memorable moments. I think my favorite was when a student talked about how Ninja Red Riding Hood didn’t need a woodsman to help her. She saved the day with her ninja grandma.
After our quick but rich conversation, we hurried to tables to make our own ninja masks. I printed off an online template and students used crayons to decorate their masks in any way they wanted. Some chose the Ninja Turtle route and colored with their favorite character colors. Others chose to create patterns on their mask like a rainbow ninja.
This was a whirlwind time in the library because all of this along with a checkout happened in 30 minutes, but I guess that goes with the ninja theme. We didn’t have time to finish our masks, so the teachers were gracious to take the masks back to class to finish. As I was in the halls during dismissal, I spotted a student who was proudly carrying her finished mask to take home for the weekend. She stopped me and said, “Mr. Plemmons…I forgot my backpack at home, but I’m carrying my mask home.”
I’m often asked if I do “traditional storytime” because I do so much with technology. The answer is a huge YES! It’s not about print vs digital. It’s about how all of the tools we have available to us come together to help us experience the world. Sometimes it’s an iPad, and sometimes it’s a box of crayons, a paper mask, the power of our imagination, and our curiosities about becoming a ninja. Happy International Ninja Day!