Coming from a very tall family, giraffes have always held a special place in my heart. When the Monthly Crafting Book Club, run by Raising Fairies and Knights, selected Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, we had to rush to the library to check it out! This story presents a great lesson on self-esteem and dancing to the beat of your own drum in a fun and colorful package.
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Giraffes Can’t Dance tells the touching story of Gerald, a giraffe who just wants to dance. His long legs and wobbly knees make it hard for him to move like the other animals in the jungle. When he tries to join the Jungle Dance, the other animals laugh at him. After he wanders off, a kindly cricket shares a secret with him: that everyone can dance when they find their music. This story is a beautiful tale of embracing how you are different and having the confidence to do your own thing. The bright and colorful illustrations, and the upbeat rhyming scheme make this a fun read aloud for parents and kids to enjoy together.
Paper Bag Giraffe – Using a brown paper bag, my daughter and I created our own Gerald hand puppets to have a dance party with! Give each child a brown paper bag, and provide them with paint and a circle stamp. We used a variety of colors, as well as a pre-cut foam stamp and a paper towel roll. My daughter always insists on “More colors!”, and I figured a book about learning to be different was the perfect opportunity to let her paint whatever colors she wanted!
Use the paint and stamps to create spots all over the bag. With the flap side up, use glue to attach paper ears near the corners. Have kids draw a face on the flap and fold the bottom two corners of the flap under to create a giraffe head shape. I threaded a pipe cleaner through the top of the bag for the ossicones on his head as well. (Not going to lie, I did not previously know what they were called! You learn something new every day!) My daughter loved dancing around with her version of Gerald!
Learn to dance like Gerald!
Dance Party – The animals in the book dance to different kinds of music, and perform different styles of dance. Use this opportunity to introduce your kids to new music and dance styles. Make a playlist of different types of music and skip around playing little bits of each style, giving them the opportunity to change their dancing style to the music. For older kids, find some videos online of different dance styles (waltz, tango, salsa, to name a few). Learn some new dance moves together!
Letter Match – The spots on a giraffe provide a great opportunity for a matching game with a learning twist! Using this printable giraffe, write out letters for your child on the body and neck of the giraffe. Write out matching letters on a sheet of circle stickers. Have kids match the correct letter spots to the letters on the giraffe’s body. You can adapt this project for your child’s skill level as well.
You can match:
- Capital and lower case letters
- Color word with the right colored sticker
- Math equation with the correct solution
- Shape with shape name
Drawing Music – At a camp I attended when I was younger, they had us listen to a piece of music and talk about how each instrument made us feel, or what it made us picture. This book provides a great opportunity to allow kids to listen to different types of music and draw how the different styles make them feel! Provide kids with some paper and a variety of art supplies. Play a variety of different music styles and have them draw, color, or create based on how the song makes them feel. You may be surprised what they come up with!
Discussion – Gerald gets bullied by the other animals in the story because he dances differently than they do. Take this opportunity to talk to your kids about how everyone is different. What skills do they have that set them apart? You can also use this book to discuss bullying with your kids. How do they think Gerald felt? Have they ever felt that way? What can they do to help someone who may be being bullied?
Giraffes Can’t Dance is a great tale about learning to dance to your own music. It also provides a great opportunity to introduce kids to different types of music and dancing, and opens up a dialogue about bullying and accepting others. Show your kids that it is ok to be different and do your own thing!