Spring has sprung!

Sort of.

Well, technically it has, thought I’m still not feeling very springy what with the cold still here. BUT! Snow is melting and the sun is peeking out more and more often so it’s a good sign! I chose to do a spring storytime this week not only because it’s now officially spring, but in hopes that maybe it’ll encourage mother nature to get with the program and show us some April showers and May flowers.  (fingers crossed!)

This week I decided to start my storytime with an action rhyme instead of a book. I usually like to start chatting after our welcome rhyme about things that relate to the week’s theme, but this time I thought that instead of just chatting, I’d do a rhyme to give them some hints about the theme. On Monday I did “Tiny Little Seeds” first, but then on Thursday, I switched it up a bit and did “The Rain” I found the “Tiny Little Seeds” here and modified it ever so slightly for my use. and “The Rain” I have seen in many places with some slightly different versions. The versions I used are below.

 


 

Tiny Little Seeds

Tiny little seeds so small and round, (show how small with your fingers)
Are sleeping quietly under ground. (pretend to sleep)
Down come the raindrops  
sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle.  (sprinkle your fingers like rain)
Out comes the rainbow,  (move arms in arch like a rainbow)
twinkle, twinkle, twinkle.  (twinkle your fingers)
Little brown seeds way down below,  (squat down and make yourself small)
Up through the earth they grow, grow, grow.  (wiggle upwards)
Little green leaves come one by one.  (poke arms and hands out as leaves)
They hold up their heads and look at the sun. (look upwards at the sun) 


The Rain

Pitter patter raindrops falling from the sky (flutter fingers down like rain)
Here is my umbrella (cup one hand over pointer finger from your other hand)
to keep me warm and dry (hold over head)
When the rain is over, the sun begins to glow (make a big circle with arms)
And Little flowers begin to bud (cup hands together)
And  grow and grow and grow! (move arms up and spread hands apart slowly)


After our first rhyme I started in with the books. I had so many good ones to pick from that even after narrowing it down, I still ended up with four! Since the rhyme on Monday transitioned pretty well into the story, I first read “One Little Seed” by Eric Greenstein. It’s a pretty short book, and quite small, but it’s still pretty cute.  It reminds me of an active rhyme and I guess a few of the kids thought so too because I caught them acting out some of the words as I read them and then read “999 Frogs Wake Up” by Ken Kimura next. On Thursday, I reversed the order. I’ve always known that not only do the books and rhymes that you pick make a difference, but the order in which you do them can drastically change the feel and flow and that an order that works for one group might work differently for another. You’d think that that is pretty common sense, but I was surprised at just how drastically it can change things.

 


Five Spring Flowers

5 spring flowers, all in a row. (hold up 5 fingers)
The first one says (hold up 1 finger)
“we need rain to grow” (use fingers to show rain)
The second one says (hold up 2 fingers)
“oh yes, we need water” (nod head yes)
The third one says (hold up 3 fingers)
“it’s getting hotter!” (fan face with hand)
The fourth one says (hold up 4 fingers)
“I see clouds in the sky!” (point up)
The fifth one says (hold up 5 fingers)
“I wonder why!” (shrug shoulders and hold up hands questioningly)
Then…BOOM! went the thunder (add cloud to board)
And CRASH! went the lightning (add lightning bolt)
That springtime storm was very frightening (hug self as if scared)
But the flowers weren’t worried, oh no, no, no! (shake head)
Because the rain helped them to grow, grow, grow! (raise arms as if growing)

via Miss Mary Liberry


After the flannel board, I read“Fran’s Flower” by Lisa Bruce. I really liked this story because it’s cute and silly and the kids really got into it. Fran tries to make a flower grow by giving it her favorite foods like ice cream and pizza, and a cheeseburger. Obviously those things don’t work and the kids were giggling and shaking their heads at Fran’s silliness. In both my Monday and Thursday sessions, the kids all gasped when we got to the last page and saw the giant flower. Very cute read.

The last book I read was “Flowers and Showers A Spring Counting Book” by Rebecca Fjelland DavisThis one was also lots of fun. The kids got pretty into it and helped count out loud and liked taking guesses at what we’d count on the next page. It’s a very engaging read that’s also quick and easy.

When we finished reading we moved on to craft time! I think I have to cave and do a craft with each storytime. I love it, the parents love it, why not? My main reason for not doing a craft every time had been that I didn’t want it to end up as fluff material but I was also concerned that I wouldn’t be able to fit all the reading activities I wanted to do AND a craft into each session and I didn’t want to have to cut the books or rhymes to make room. What I’ve been doing lately though is just planning a regular length storytime and adding the craft to the end and though it does make it longer, it hasn’t seemed to have had a negative impact and we often have people come in after just for the craft which is totally fine too!

I’m looking forward to incorporating other extension activities that aren’t just crafts as well. I’m hoping to be able to do some sensory tubs but that will take some planning and require some supplies that we don’t already have so I just have to wait and see how that pans out.

Top o’ the mornin’

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I’ve always been a big fan of Saint Patrick’s day. I have Irish blood in my family and I’m quite proud of it. In fact, my name, Colleen, is the anglicized form of Cailín which, in Ireland, means “small or young girl”

I remember being called “Colleeny Beany” by my parents when I was young, and today I learned that not only is bean a coordinate term of cailín, but that in Irish it can mean “Fairy Woman”

I’ll have to go and ask my parents if they knew that all those years they had been calling me a “small young fairy woman” 

Someday I hope to actually visit the Emerald Isle and see it for myself, but until then, I’ll just happily keep celebrating my roots. One of my fondest memories is when my brother and I were kids, our mother would always surprise us on the morning of Saint Patrick’s day by making the milk in our cereal and glasses green! How neat!?

Anyhow, ON TO STORYTIME!

I had quite the difficult time planning this storytime even with all my knowledge of and affinity for the holiday I was using as my theme. Turns out, there aren’t many age / length appropriate, picture laden,  Irish or Saint Patrick’s day themed books! 😦 I found a few that were ok but they were, of course, checked out with lots of holds, bummer. We did have a really cool collection of traditional Irish folk and fairy tales, but again, those are often a bit darker or heavier that I’d like for preschoolers and they are usually quite long and wordy with few or no pictures, not great for storytime.

I ended up settling on a short folk tale about a leprechaun that I read and then one book that I thought was a great tie in even though it technically had nothing to do with Saint Patrick’s day or Ireland.

Before I read the folk tale, I asked the kids if they knew what leprechauns were and then we talked a bit about them and a few other Saint Patrick’s Day and Irish folktale themed terms or associations; we covered all the basics like shamrocks and rainbows and pots of gold (magically delicious!) and then I asked if they knew what happens if you catch a leprechaun which led right into the folk tale story.

The book I picked was “Where is the Green Sheep” by Mem Fox. thought that was a clever story considering Ireland is the “Emerald Isle” and heavily associated with Green and they are also well known for their sheep and wool which I of course explained to the kids. Perfect! I also loved the author’s name, Mem, as that’s my mother’s nickname and she’s where I get most of my Irish roots. 🙂

It’s a really cute book with rhymes and opposites and associations that are easy enough for the kids to pick up on and kind of read along with you.

After the folk tale (which didn’t go over super well in my Monday night session) and the book (which was a HUGE hit) we broke out the flannel board and did some counting!

I printed out 5 leprechauns and 1 fairy and laminated them for this activity. ( I need to stop cheating so much and start making them by hand more which also means I need to pick less intricate things to make haha)


Five little leprechauns

Five little leprechauns digging for some gold. (Digging motion)
One slipped down and fell into a hole. (Falling)
The others called for help and a fairy began to scold, (Shaking finger)
Now how many leprechauns digging for gold? (Count)

Four little leprechauns digging for some gold.
(And so on…)

No little leprechauns to dig for gold. (Shrug shoulders.)
All five of them fell down in the hole. (Hold up five fingers, then point down.)
Above them stands the fairy who scolds, (Hands on hips)
“I told you all to stop digging for that gold!” (Shaking finger)

I often have a hard time telling if the kids are excited because they are so good at counting, or bored because it’s too easy because every once in a while you get a group that doesn’t wait until the rhyme sequence is done to start yelling out the number or counting. Either way, I just keep on keepin’ on and praise them for being SO smart!

When we were done with counting, I broke out the rainbow scarves so we could move around and have some fun. My original thought for this was to put on some traditional Irish music and dance around to that but I
1. couldn’t settle on any particular song, and
2. am not much for dancing, especially when it’s not structured.
So I decided against music. turns out my group on Monday was too loud and rowdy anyhow so it would have been hard to hear. I ended up just talking about rainbows and different ways we could make one. We made rainbows on the right, and rainbows on the left, then rainbows on our heads and our feet and eventually I start asking them how else we could do that and at one point, one creative kid suggested making a rainbow on the flannel board and ran up to stick the scarf on it. Unfortunately, as neat as the idea was, the scarves don’t stick and I soon had 25+ small children trying to smush scarves onto a small easel. I tried my best to control the chaos before it got too bad but it wasn’t going well so I proclaimed the best scarf rainbow ever had been made and that it was now time to make a different kind of rainbow in the craft room where I had a hearty supply of paper shamrocks, cotton balls, and little paper coins for them to glue to sheets of paper in the colors of the Irish flag and markers with which to draw whatever they felt the need to get out. The word “craft” to our storytime kids is much like the word “treat” or “park” to my dogs; they drop whatever they’re doing and focus. Sometimes I feel like I should have a craft set up back there behind the room divider JUST IN CASE. Oh no, Joey and Timmy are arguing over who sits where and just won’t stop, that’s ok, CRAFT TIME!  Sally doesn’t want to read that book…or any book and is adamant in voicing that opinion because she’s strong and confident, awesome, CRAFT TIME! No? Not a great idea? oh, ok.

😛

Actually, crafts are something that I’d like to start working in to more of my storytimes. I know that some people do crafts EVERY time, and others are somewhat “anti-craft” and to each their own, but I like them, and I get TONS of positive input from parents each time that I have one. I know that some people think that storytime should be for stories, but I don’t see any reason why crafts should be any less a part of storytime than rhymes or songs or dancing. If nothing else, I believe that a craft that relates to the theme of the books that were read will help a child to retain the concept or simply remember things better by giving them one more thing with which to associate it. Some learn by listening, some by doing. Not to mention that I try to pick crafts that encourage them to draw or write which helps them practice learning their letters and handwriting which will lead to them being able to write confidently and, who knows, maybe even write and/or illustrate a picture book that could some day find it’s way into a storytime. Full circle, ya know?

Anywho, So with my Thursday session, I knew that it would be after Saint Patrick’s day, but I didn’t want to do two completely separate themes so I kept it mostly the same but just focused a bit less on the holiday itself (which I often try to do and just focus more on a concept of said holiday) and tried to talk more about just Ireland in general. Luckily since the holiday had passed, I was able to finally get my grubby paws on a better book about a leprechaun. I, once again, chose a story about a leprechaun that didn’t actually relate to the holiday and was more of a folk tale and instead of  the boring, picture-less version I did on Monday, (sorry kids) I went with “The Leprechaun Under the Bed” by Teresa BatemanI really liked the story since it covered most of the leprechaun basics, shoe makers/cobblers, have gold, are magical, that kind of stuff, but didn’t get too into the whole end of the rainbow, after me lucky charms gimmick. Because of that, I thought it felt like a good folk tale but still had all the awesome fun and pictures of a regular picture book. The kids really dug it. It was still pretty wordy compared to what I usually try to pick out, but that was pretty much how every book I found on the topic was. Unfortunately,because of the length, I had my eyes glued to the pages most of the time and didn’t get to look around as much as I typically like to, but whenever I did, the kids were all quietly engrossed so that was excellent! We changed the order up a bit on Thursday as well and did the five little leprechaun rhyme right after the leprechaun book and then did the sheep book again which went over just as well, if not better than with the first group. We also did the scarves again on Thursday, even knowing how Monday went; I like to flirt with danger, what can I say. This time I lucked out 😉 and the kids managed to come up with some pretty good ideas that didn’t involve storming unstable structures. We made square rainbows, circle rainbows, triangle rainbows, and even rainbows in the shape of stars! They really tested my shape knowledge! I also saw a handful of parents get in on the scarf action. I love when I see the adults getting silly with the kids. 😀

Then, CRAFT TIME!
Again, the craft was a big hit and I loved seeing what they created. It’s so neat to see how different each group can be. The Monday session all seemed to try to stick pretty closely to the example I made even though I stress each time that they can make anything their creative little hearts desire, where as Thursday’s group seemed to get a bit more free form with their interpretations. both equally awesome in their own way. 🙂

Since Spring officially starts today, or tomorrow, I’m not sure, Next week’s theme will be SPRING! YAY! prepare for bunnies and flowers and chicks, Oh my!

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Neither sleet, nor rain, not ice, nor snow

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

– Anonymous                                                       

                                            

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When I woke up Monday morning, I was SURE I heard rain. I was so excited! I love rainy weather and I was especially excited because it’s getting to be the time of year when rain means SPRING! and boy oh boy am I ready for winter to be over!

Unfortunately, I was not hearing rain; much to my dismay, it was only the sound of the melting snow dripping off the roof. But hey! snow doesn’t melt without sun, right?! I’ll take that over no melting snow, I suppose, and just keep being patient for rain. Driving in to work in such nice sunny and, kinda, warm weather made me decide to scrap my original idea for this week’s theme and do something about weather. I poked around all day (luckily my Monday session isn’t until 7pm) trying to decide what to do. I didn’t want to do spring because I had that planned for a couple weeks from now when it actually IS spring, nor did I want to do rain because it wasn’t really raining and there’s still about 358628946 feet of snow on the ground, so I decided to just do “weather” and try to keep it kind of generic. I picked three books, one covered lots of weather and seasons, the other two touched on a couple different things but mainly focused on snow and rain which I thought was appropriate. The books I picked were “If Frogs Made Weather” by Marion Dane Bauer, “Snow” by Manya Stojic, and “Rain” also by Manya Stojic

I loved the pictures in all three books; they were colorful, bold, and captivating and the stories all lend themselves quite well to being read out loud. The Rain book even covers the 5 senses so you can sneakily teach or reinforce those while reading and because it repeats itself a few times, the kids pick up on it and I ended up simply pointing to my eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or wiggling my fingers to signal what sense and they all did a great job of shouting it out.

This week’s theme was a little less focused on teaching and a little more just on enjoying and acknowledging the things around us, though we may have learned a few things in the process 😉 . Monday’s group was a rather large group and we have lots of enthusiastic attendees in this group so noisy, rambunctious activities always go over well with them. We did a lot of noise making and moving around with both a SUPER basic flannel board, as well as an activity. Thursday morning’s group can often be just as rambunctious as Monday, but sometimes they’re much more subdued and I think it’s because it’s so close to nap / lunch / quiet time and their early morning energy is starting to fade, but that’s ok too.

For the flannel board, I printed out a handful of different weather-y clip art pictures and explained to the kids that I was going to put pictures of different kinds of weather up on the felt board and I wanted them to help me act them out. I had wind, sun, rain, and snow. This gave them a chance to get creative since I didn’t tell them HOW to be a snowflake or what noise rain makes, they got to decide on their own and it was really cool to watch and listen. for example, when I put the snow clip art up, one kid took his fingers and wiggled them while moving his arms down to signify falling snow, but another kid jumped up out of his seat and spread his arms and legs to make himself look like a snowflake. I LOVED it! I jumped up too and asked everybody if they would help me make a snowstorm so we all made ourselves look like snowflakes and drifted gently towards the ground until we all ended up giggling on the floor. For sun, some kids made their arms into a circle while others twinkled their fingers like rays. the last one I put up was rain, that one was a BIG hit. after we all got our rain noises out, I said “what if I told you that we could make it rain right in this room?” they all laughed or looked on confused or in disbelief. that’s when I told them that I was going to show them a trick and all they needed to do was be very quiet and use their eyes to watch me and their ears to listen. That’s when we did this…

The storm begins

1. Rub your hands together – wind rustling
2. Snap your fingers – raindrops
3. Hit your thighs with your hands – heavy rain
4. Stomp your feet while you’re hitting your thighs – heavy thunder and heavier rain.

Then the storm quiets
1. Just hit thighs
2. Just snap your fingers
3. Just rub your hands together.
4. Then all stop because the storm is over (and the rainbow appears!)

 

It was a HUGE hit and it worked so well! I was a little nervous that I might be trying this with an age group that was a bit to young, but they were excellent. It didn’t hurt, of course, that the parents joined in as well. It was pretty dynamic with the Monday session since we had a much larger group than on Thursday (thanks, crazy Michigan weather for making my theme relevant yet hindering my attendance) but it worked well even with a smaller group.

We had so much fun talking about rain and making noise that I thought “Oh! I know another way we can make a rainstorm” So I had them practice their counting and made them time me as I ran to the back and grabbed some of our shakers. I often talk myself out of using the egg shakers because I don’t want to get too redundant, but they’re always a big hit when they are brought out so I should really try to work them in a bit more. So we all grabbed our shakers and made different kids of rain noises. We sprinkled, we poured, and, of course, we STORMED. They LOVED having an excuse to bang on the plastic seats and stomp their feet to make thunder and, hey, why not?

After all was said and done, we cleaned up they rainstorm and I gave them a hint about next week’s theme by saying it would have to do with “Green”

I’m planning to do SOMETHING Irish themed but I’m still at a bit of a loss book-wise. I just can’t find many good picture books. I might just have to buy some for myself and bring them in for storytime. We shall see.

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*YAWN* is it bedtime yet?

After a loud and rowdy theme last week, and a small oops in the printed schedule which listed “pajama storytime” as happening during one of my preschool sessions, I thought it’d be a good idea to tone it down a bit and do a Bedtime Storytime.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t find many activities or rhymes about sleeping and bedtime that I was all that in to. Sure, there’s the 10 in the bed and monkeys jumping on beds and stuff like that, but I get tired of doing number and counting rhymes all the time and I think the kids do to. Variety is the spice of life, right? I did find one rhyme that I remember from my childhood (or at least a very similar version) and it’s is a little longer than some and has lots of good rhymes and actions and is cute to boot!

Teddy Bear Teddy Bear

Teddy bear teddy bear, look around
Teddy bear teddy bear, touch the ground
Teddy bear teddy bear, shut the door
Teddy bear teddy bear, reach up high
Teddy bear teddy bear, touch the sky
Teddy bear teddy bear, shut the door
Teddy bear teddy bear, count to four
Teddy bear teddy bear, touch your nose
Teddy bear teddy bear, touch your toes
Teddy bear teddy bear, climb in bed
Teddy bear teddy bear, rest your head
Teddy bear teddy bear, pull the covers to your chin
Teddy bear teddy bear, I’ll tuck you in
Teddy bear teddy bear, make a wish
Teddy bear teddy bear, goodnight kiss
Teddy bear teddy bear, turn off the light
Teddy bear teddy bear, say good night

I love that rhyme and remember saying it often with my mother. there are about 5847935 versions of it out there and each one is just as cute. I think the kids quite enjoyed it as they got to pretend to do all sorts of things and who doesn’t love seeing a room full of preschoolers blow kisses to you or one another. (awww)

Aside from that rhyme though, I basically just read books, and LOTS of them! There are probably twice as many picture books about bedtime and sleeping as there are versions of “teddy bear teddy bear” so it’s hard to narrow it down. I wish I A: was more confident in my singing voice, or B: could just sing better because so many of them have singing in them and I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’ve tried, trust me, it doesn’t end well. For better or for worse, leaving out any song books sure does narrow it down a bit, but even after that, it was still hard to pick!

I ended up with 5 books and thought that we would probably only read 3 or 4 tops and that I would let the kids help me decide which ones we read, but they were voracious! In my Monday session, we read all 5 books! 2 of them were a bit shorter so they were quick, but still! sheesh! On Thursday we only read 4 since one little girl really wanted to take one of the books home on Monday and since I knew we had another copy, I let her (even if we didn’t I still would have, you can’t say no!) Sadly, I wasn’t able to find our other copy though so Thursday’s session was shorted a book, but that’s ok because there seemed to be something in the air that day; they didn’t want to do anything but read those 4 books, even the rhyme didn’t sound all that interesting to them though they did like it once we did it.

Ultimately, I wasn’t super happy with this theme. I thought it would be cute, but it just didn’t seem to hit home very well. Maybe I picked the wrong books, or maybe the stars just weren’t aligned properly. I did have a couple kids that were really into it and a parent that complimented me on it, but I dunno. I may revisit “sleeping” or “bedtime” at some point down the road, but it seems like it’ll need a bit of an overhaul; maybe I should have done 10 in the bed or monkeys, but that’s what happens when you step outside the norm, you learn! If nothing else, I learned that this was not what I would call a wildly successful storytime. Oh well, onward and upward, right?

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do for next week, I was thinking spring, but I think I want to save that for a couple weeks from now. Saint Patrick’s day is in two weeks and I’ve already got that planned out (basically). Either way, I’m getting antsy for warmer weather and thunderstorms.

Ooh! maybe I will do something spring-y after all…

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zzzzzzz