Possum Come A Knockin’ and A Shakin’

Perhaps a few weeks ago would have been the appropriate time to mention this idea. That is, provided it’s a good idea. I say that because plastic eggs were readily available in stores.

Quite a few years ago I made a set of egg shakers. I used three different colors of plastic eggs and put different material in each color: rice in blue, split peas in orange, beans in purple. I made enough to accommodate an entire class with a few to spare.

There’s one book I read at least every other year and always remember to get out the egg shakers to go with it: Possum Come A Knockin’ by Nancy Van Laan. I can’t explain it, but I love this book! I set a rhythm for the eggs and demonstrate how to shake with a nice steady beat. Then the kids join in and I start to read. At one point in the book Pa says “Now hush…now, y’all stop your hollerin’, your fussin’, and your cussin’, ’cause there’s nothing’ that’s a-knockin’ at the door.” Kids love this part because Oh. My. You just said “cussin’.”

We all hush our shakin’ eggs to stillness until we get to the part of the story that says, “Then we all started doin’ as before.” The rhythm starts up again.

I need more go-to books to use with the egg shakers. And I need more ideas similar to the egg shakers. I think that allowing this kind of participation cuts down on distractions during a read-aloud. The students are engaged in the rhythm of the text and it adds to the read-aloud experience. It’s also not a separate activity that requires more time from the lesson.

There are a lot of stories about rain that might be good to try with the shakers and using them more in the way of creating a rainstorm. Two come to mind as I write. Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema. Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad’s Tale by April Pulley Sayre. I think a lot of poetry would be good to use with sound effects.

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