Thursday, April 17, 2008


On Monday I helped a coworker with her Picture Book Bingo program for preschoolers. It was quite fun for all involved and I think it's definitely something I would do again. We're so lucky that we have a marvelous graphic artist who helped us create the Bingo cards. Here's what we did:

We chose three books and scanned in pictures from each of the three books. Some of the pictures were a whole page from the book, some were only part of the page. We used pictures from each of the three books to make up the cards, but each card had only one "Bingo" (three pictures from the same book that were in a row). Our cards were three by three, so it only took three pictures to make a "Bingo".

We planned it so that some of the cards would get a Bingo on the first book we read, some on the second, and some on the third. Each participant got a packet of three Bingo cards and we had numbered them so that we could spread out the number of winners on each book and so we could make sure that everyone would win once. We chose three books that we had in big book format so that the pictures would be easy to see. Then we read each book, making sure to go slowly and point out the pictures on each page. As the kids and grownups saw the pictures on their card, they crossed them off with a crayon.

We told them to raise their hand when they got a "Bingo" and that at the end of the story we'd check their cards. We gave them a sticker once we had checked their cards and at the end everyone could choose a prize (we used leftover prizes from past Summer Reading Clubs).

Our program was for preschoolers (ages 3-5 with an adult) and I think it worked well, but I think it would also work for an early elementary audience. Those kids would be able to follow along and mark off their cards without an adult's help. If you do this program it's important to go through the books slowly and point out pictures that might be on their cards. It took some kids awhile to realize that they had seen one of the pictures and to cross it off. To this end, it's probably wise not to pick pictures that are on pages one after the other. Space them out a little. Also, we had some confusion with pictures that were from different books but were of the same animal. For example, we had a giraffe from Goodnight Gorilla and there was a giraffe in Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing. Some kids were confused because they saw a giraffe, so they crossed off a giraffe. Just make sure to pick books that have different animals or are about completely different subjects.

Since the program was for a potentially wiggly age, we structured it like a storytime. We sang "Shake Your Sillies Out" at the beginning and read two of the books. Then we stood up and did "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" before we continued with the last book. This gave the kids a chance to move around a little bit.

We worried that there might be problems with some kids getting a Bingo on the first card and others not getting it until the second or third cards, but we didn't have any upset kids. We assured everyone at the beginning that everyone would win and if someone thought they won but hadn't actually won, we just reassured them that maybe next time they would win. We numbered the cards so that we could make sure everyone would win once.

All in all, it was a fun program and I'd love to try it again for an older age group (or for this age group again). It's a little bit labor intensive with creating the cards, but once you have a template it's not difficult to swap in pictures from other books. Not only was it a fun preschool program, but it gave us an opportunity to use some of those leftover prizes.