I did a group of kindergarteners today and they surprised me.

There were some kids in the bunch that barely looked three and others that looked almost seven!

What a range!

I thought let me see how much of my Picture the Story presentation they can pick up on, and so I went ahead and started it.

Now the first group, I guess they were a bit more advanced, because they were actually getting the concept of inspiration and imagination.

And when it came time to tell Big Red Lollipop, they really got what I was saying.

The second group seemed to be a bit less mature.

I had to go slower with them.

I took my time, enunciating my words. Not overwhelming them.

I noticed two of the kids in the second group were even getting a bit agitated.

I always do Ruler of the Courtyard first. It’s a good introduction to the whole South Asian thing, but…it is a pretty intense story!

I mean the girl confronts, what she thinks is a snake, in the bath house!

The first group was fine with it. I didn’t see any of the kids getting anxious, but definitely in the second group, one kid had his hands pressed against the side of his face, and another kid was slowly withdrawing into his turtleneck jersey. He was pulling his head in, like a turtle, and peeking up at me, with just his eyes showing above the neck hole, and another kid, he was putting his hands over his ears.

I’m thinking he was responding to the noise level.

I’m pretty noisy.

But with kindergarteners,  you kind of have to be.

You need to drown out all their little nonsense talk, kind of scoop them up with the power of storytelling and take them on the ride with you!

Most of the kids were loving it, but at one point, he even went to hide behind his teacher. I thought, “Oh no. That’s not good.”

He wasn’t crying. He was still peeking at me. He was just scared. Even though Big Red Lollipop isn’t at all scary. He was getting nervous when I was talking about how Rubina was chasing me around the living room and dining room.

So even as I was telling the stories, I brought it down a notch and then another. I lowered the volume of my voice, and the effect on him came quickly.

He stopped putting his hands over his ears, and pretty soon, he’d rejoined the group in front of me.

I think this can only happen when you’re so familiar with the program that you can keep it going even as you’re actually watching the audience.

That’s what I do now.

For this audience I had to tone it down a bit.

Other audiences I have to amp it up.

It just depends.

But at the end of this second group, this blond kid at the back announced he wanted to give me a hug!

He weaved through all the other kids listening and wrapped his arms around me. Very carefully, I hugged him back.

And then the other kids started.

I felt mobbed at one point by these tiny little bodies.

Oh it was so cute!

Almost as much fun as it is dealing with teenagers!