StoryTech

Right now I’m up on Michigan’s gorgeous Mackinac Island on “vacation”. I decided I wanted to attend a library conference even though neither of my jobs were able to send me officially so I’m taking a “busman’s holiday”. Because of that, I’ve written this entry up ahead of time and have scheduled it to post while I’m away. I’m planning to update again after my return with not only a post about the conference, but also maybe a guest post from the co-worker that will be doing my storytime while I’m away. In the meantime, enjoy this probably disjointed entry about some of my feelings about and plans for tech in storytime! 😀

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I’ve been in the process of developing a “techy” storytime; it’s been given it the working title of “Storytime Plus” and I plan to run it much like a regular storytime but with added bonus of storytelling apps or digital books. This, I have found, is a difficult process. Maybe I’m over-thinking it, maybe I’m just not doing it “right” because even though there seems to be a plethora of resources out there I am certainly feeling challenged.

As I said, I’m still working on it and it’s not yet ready for the masses, but it’s something I wanted to start writing about. For now, my thoughts will probably be rather scattered as there is just so much through which I have to sift and there will probably be more as time goes on! One thing I do know is that the eBook debate is still a hot button topic in many circles but I think that regardless of one’s personal convictions the fact that tech is currently and will continue to be a large part of our lives is simply not up for debate.

Though I am a twenty something willingly living in a tech-soaked world, I am not a user of eBooks (gasp, shock!), I am, however, an advocate. I believe firmly in access for all and if access is preferred or only available via electronic format, so be it; it’s not my job to tell them how to access their knowledge, it’s simply to provide said access and to hopefully do so as efficiently as possible.

That being said, I don’t want this to just turn into “hey kids! look at the screen!” I want this to be just as interactive as any other storytime, if not more so, all while using tech. I’ve come across a few felt board apps in the apple store and I think that these are great tools! I think they not only give those of us that are creating and performing storytimes the chance to make flannel boards that we many not have been able to by traditional means, but it’s something that can be taken home and made available for kids to use for themselves.  Literacy isn’t only strengthened by hearing stories, but by being able to create them and I feel like this is an excellent way for them to do so.

I’ve talked about how playing is learning and apps like this not only help facilitate playing to learn, but any simple search on the internet will show you that like it or not, tech literacy is incredibly important and I think that any effort we can make to help bridge or stop the digital divide is worth it. I hope that using technologically based tools will kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, in that it will help develop their tech literacy as well as covering all the basics we do in a standard storytime.  Fellow library blogger, Anne Hicks, sums up pretty much exactly how I feel in her post on her blog here.

Now, I’m, by far, not the first person to have this idea so luckily there are lots of great ideas out there, it’s just finding what works well for you and your group. I’m looking forward to testing things and seeing how they work, but I’m also quite worried about how it will be received; it’s like starting fresh with storytime and goodness knows that stressed me out!

Have any of you had any experience on either end with tech in a storytime type setting?

Would you like to share your feedback?

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Insert clever night animal blog title here.

night_eyes

 

Ya, much like the title of this blog, this storytime, to me, at least, felt a little… flat.

I had wanted to do an owl storytime originally but as I was pulling books for it, I found myself unimpressed with many of the titles I managed to get my hands on. I did end up with one that I liked though “I’m Not Scared!” by Jonathan Allen  which is about an owl who takes his stuffed toy for a walk in the woods at night. This author has a handful of super cute Owl books but only this one really fit with the theme of night time. Aside from that title, I also read “Bats Around the Clock” by Kathi Applet. I LOVED this book! it has excellent rhythm, rhymes, and energy and even though the kids didn’t get any of the references to stars of a bygone era, I and I think a few parents, were quite amused. The book is actually written to help kids learn to tell time, but I thought it fit well with our theme.

I also read a book with very interesting and striking illustrations called  “Nightsong” by Ari Berk . In this book we follow a young bat as he ventures out on his own into the dark. They allude to how bats use sound to see at night and I touched on the topic but I didn’t have the time, nor did I think the kids had the attention span to be able to go into great detail about it; neat concept though none-the-less.

The “Night in the Country” by Cynthia Rylant  was also a cute and gentle read.The illustrations are pretty and the story talks about different noises you hear in the country at night. some animal noises, some not; I liked it.

The kids seemed to enjoy the stories I picked and sat quietly for them. I also did a couple different night animal noise active rhymes and flannel board. The rhyme I did was one I’d seen online and doctored up a tiny bit to flow better for me.

 

Wide Eyed Owl

 

There’s a wide-eyed owl (circle your eyes with your hands)
With a pointed nose (make a beak with your fingers)
Two pointed ears (make ears with your fingers)
And claws for toes (wiggle your “claws”)

He lives in the trees (point way up)
When he looks at you (point to children)
He flaps his wings (flap your wings)
And says, “Whoo! Whoo!” (say “whoo”)

That’s the wide-eyed owl (circle your eyes with your hands)
With a pointed nose (make a beak with your fingers)
Two pointed ears (make ears with your fingers)
And claws for toes (wiggle your “claws”)

Credit: Wilmette Public Library

 

We did the rhyme a couple times but it didn’t catch on too well aside from the part where they got to hoot like an owl, they excelled at that aspect and it was somewhat difficult to reign them back in. haha

I also did a counting flannel board with cute little owls with googly eyes.

These aren’t them, but look how cute they are! I just might have to remake mine to look more like this. 🙂

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Five Hooting Owls

Five hooting owls sitting in a tree
One flew away, how many do you see?
one, two, three, four!

Four hooting owls sitting in a tree
One flew away, how many do you see?
one, two, three!


Three hooting owls sitting in a tree
One flew away, how many do you see?
one, two!


Two hooting owls sitting in a tree
One flew away, how many do you see?
one!


One hooting owl sitting in a tree
They flew away, how many do you see?
None!


No more owls sitting in the tree
Now those branches are as empty as can be!

I think if I did the theme over again, I’d pick a wider range of animals to cover but it could have been worse, I suppose.

Next week I’ll have a co-worker filling in for me during my Thursday storytime as I’ll be out of town at a conference and I have a couple special guests visiting for my monday storytime that I’ll tell you all about.

Until then, I’ll be back next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel!  (sorta)  😉

 

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Funny Bunny Storytime

Little Peter Cottontail, Hopping down the cotton trail, Hippety hoppity Easter’s on it’s way!

Easter is right around the corner so it’s a great time to do an “Easter” themed storytime. As I’ve said before, I try to steer clear of getting too immersed in most holidays because of religious or cultural reasons, but that being said, I do think it’s good to acknowledge the holiday and maybe expose people to it who may have not heard of said holiday before. Yay learning!

With Easter, I’ve decided to focus on, what else, BUNNIES! I love bunnies and have had them as pets for many many years; you can see a picture of me and my current bunny, Ginger, on my About Me page. 🙂

 

I changed the format up a bit for this storytime, I have had crafts that I’ve done that I thought would have been cute for them to have during storytime, but it’s been too difficult for me to figure out how to make that work, but today while I was setting up, a co-worker said something to me about doing the craft first and I thought “you know, that might actually work for this particular craft!” So, I tried it! I had them come in as usual and we all sat down and chatted for a bit but then I told them that we were going to go make something that we could use during storytime, they seemed pretty thrilled about that. We made Bunny Noses!

 

bunny nose

 

I had them make their noses and then I passed out our egg shakers; I talked about Easter eggs and how the Easter bunny hides eggs, and then we practiced hopping around the room with our eggs in one hand and noses in the other using this rhyme:

 

Hip hip hippety hop Hippety hippety hop
We’ll hop and hop around the room
Until it’s time to STOP!

Hip hip hippety hop Hippety hippety hop
hippetyhippetyhippetyhippety
Hippety hippety hop
We’ll hop and hop around the room
Until it’s time to STOP!

It’s a pretty fun rhyme because you can improvise however you want; it can be as long or as short as you want and all you have to do is ad a few hippity hops here and there or change up the order before you shout STOP! It reminds me of a combination of Simon says and red light green light. You basically say random versions of hop or hippity hop and the kids jump around like goofballs and then freeze when you say stop. Not only is it a fun way to transition from one activity to the next, but it helps get out some pent up energy,and also helps kids to learn. I also thought that this would be a fun little game to play either at the end or if the kids seemed a bit wiggly during the stories but luckily, we didn’t need to use it. There are lots of books and website that talk about the concept of play to learn, one site I enjoy is Help My Kid LearnI stumbled across it while looking for reading related activities that are both fun and educational and have found a wealth of information there. “One of the ways children learn is through play. A child who is playing is refining learning skills that continue to develop during childhood and beyond.

“Pretend play” is important for developing your child’s language skills. Children make up their own games, but playing games with others helps their concentration and social skills. Play can also help to show what children know and understand.”

So hopping around like bunnies isn’t just fun, it’s helping them develop their listening skills, balance and motor skills, as well as social skills, but it also super fun, I mean, do we really need an excuses to make noise and look even more adorable? NOPE.  🙂

After we got our hops out, I had them hop the eggs back to the bucket and we sat down for our first story. I started both sessions off with “Looking for Easter” by Dori Chaconas. I loved this book because not only does it have super adorable illustrations, but it’s an excellent non-religious Easter story that still has a great message and ending.

Speaking of great messages and endings, one of the other books I read was a great take on the classic story “Little Bunny Foo Foo: Told and Sung by the Good Fairy” by Paul Brett Johnson. I wasn’t actually too thrilled about the illustration style, personally, but it’s a great book; very colorful and eye catching and I like the way it was written.  The kids really liked seeing the trouble that Little Bunny Foo Foo kept getting into and laughed surprisingly hard at the end….even though I’m pretty sure they’re too young to catch the pun. 😉

We also practiced our counting with “10 Easter Egg Hunters: a Holiday Counting Book” by Janet Schulman which was fun but kind of difficult to read because it’s small and hard to see for a large group and it’s also super tempting for the kids to run up and point out where the eggs are on each page. I did have trouble with that in both of my sessions, but all in all, worth it since the kids really liked it.

And last, but not least, we read“A Boy and his Bunny” by Sean BryanSUCH a cute book. The only thing I don’t like about it is the pacing. The story wants to be read quickly, but then you don’t have a chance to show the kids the pictures for very long but if you take the time to do so, you kind of lose the rhythm of the story. It has a companion book as well that I was almost tempted to read with it, but alligators don’t have much to do with Easter, so I passed. 😛

Aside from the 4 books we read, we put out bunny noses to good use with a couple other rhymes. I saw a super cute rhyme online that I thought would be fun for the kids to act out, but it was only one stanza:

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
Flicked his floppy little ears
And then he gave a jump!

So I took that and ran with it and made up a few more actions that bunnies do and then also used it as a way to let the kids suggest different activities with some fill in the blank verses.

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
Twitched his little nose
And then he gave a jump!

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
Wiggled his fluffy tail And then he gave a jump!

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
Stomped his great big feet And then he gave a jump!

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
(encourage kids to shout out jump)
And then he gave a jump!

 I think that my groups really like being able to make up parts to the rhymes and activities more than just listening to them and doing the actions as they hear them. Half the time it ends up being a yelling mess of suggested actions, but that’s ok, it’s still fun. I also like to make up super random or weird actions because the kids think it’s hilarious. For example, in this rhyme we hopped, and twitched, and wiggled as bunnies are wont to do, but then I also had them swim and skip and do other things that bunnies totally don’t do, or that kids don’t think bunnies do (I’ve seen some bunnies do some pretty silly things) and those always get some good giggles in response.

Not only did I change things up a bit with the craft, but I also catered my welcome and closing rhymes to the theme. I like to do that sometimes just to mix things up, though I do also like having a constant in my storytimes so I don’t change it with every theme.

For this week I modified some rhymes I saw online to fit what I needed. My welcome rhyme was:

Bunny Bunny

Bunny Bunny, hop real low
Bunny Bunny, say hello
Bunny Bunny, hope up high
Bunny Bunny, touch the sky
Bunny Bunny, wiggle your nose
Bunny Bunny, stomp your toes
Bunny Bunny, hop around
Bunny Bunny, please sit down.

And for my goodbye rhyme I used:

I saw a Little Rabbit

I saw a little rabbit go hop hop hop
I saw his great big ears go flop flop flop
I saw his little nose go twitch twitch twitch
I saw his furry paw for itch itch itch
I wished the little rabbit would sit and stay
but that little rabbit had to hop away.

I ended up giving out all 4 of my books this week so I think that’s a good sign that they liked them and I saw lots of hopping with whiskers and cute little noses after as well so I’m counting this one as a success.

 

Now, next week. I’m thinking I still want to stick with spring-ish themes for a while because mother nature still seems to be confused as to what season it is, but after doing bunnies/easter, rain/weather, and flowers, I have some ideas brewing, but I’m not entirely sure where else to take it.
Guess it will be another surprise!

 

hoppy_easter_grande

Royal Reading

So in my Thursday morning session I have a little girl who doesn’t just turn around and round during our welcome rhyme, she turns around and round “LIKE  A PRINCESS!” she doesn’t just jump on her two shoes, she jumps “LIKE A PRINCESS!”

It’s kind of amazing.

It seems as though all her goals and hopes are for everything to be princess related, including the books we read in storytime. I’ve been wary of doing a princess themed storytime since it may very well be a bit too girly for the dudes, but I think I finally managed to find a way for her to get her princess fix.

I’ve decided to have a Royal Storytime!

I had SO MANY books to wade through; princes, princesses, kings, queens, dragons, knights, sheesh!

I finally settled on 4 books though:

“King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub” by Audrey Wood
“Princess Dinosaur” by Jill Kastner
“Night Knight” by Owen Davey
and “Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose” by Nancy Gow.

 

I started both sessions off with “Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose”. This was a new book for me, but I fell in love with it right away. It has a great rhythm to it and it’s a fun story with a great message. The ending is super cute too,

“So if one fine day, you should happen to meet
a guy with a schnoz and a gal with big feet,
don’t jump to conclusions, try not to be mean….
…for you might have bumped into
a king and a queen!”

The kids in both groups seemed to quite enjoy it  and I think the parents liked it too, in fact, I feel like I had a lot of parent interaction with this theme this week. I saw parents doing the welcome rhyme, parents answered me when I sat down and said hello and asked the kids how they were, and parents made the craft! Actually, parents often make crafts, and I don’t blame them.

In the first session on Monday night, I read “King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub” as my second book. It’s a fun read because you ask a question at the end of each page:  “Oh who knows what to do?!” and the kids are all “uhm, I don’t know” or shout out silly ideas, it’s fun. 🙂 For my Thursday group I had planned on keeping the same schedule, but somebody asked if it was time to read the dinosaur book yet so I figured, sure, why not. On both Monday and Thursday I asked the kids if they thought that a Dinosaur could be a Princess and they all thought “no way!” so then we read the book and some of them were then convinced that she was a princess, while others still thought no way.  I took that opportunity to sneak in some “you can be whatever you want to be” type messages because, hey, encouragement right? 🙂  After the first two books, it was Rhyme Time! I found a cute rhyme online in a few different places that I used as the base for this one.

Here is the Castle

Here is the castle tall and wide. (Lift arms for tall and wide)
Lets open the doors to see what’s inside (open doors)
Here is the Queen from her throne she’ll wave (royal wave)
Here is the King he is very brave (puff chest bravely)
Here is the Prince with his feathered cap (take off hat, bow)
Here are his boots which go tap, tap, tap (tap feet)
Here is the Princess with her golden crown (place crown on head)
Here is her lovely blue ball gown (curtsy)
Here is the dragon, listen to him roar (roar)
Here are his wings to help him soar (soar)
So many wonderful things in this land (spread arms wide)
Being a Royal sure is grand!

Monday’s group only did it once, which is fine, but Thursday’s group did it twice with me; once to get the hang of it, and then the second time we did it REALLY FAST which elicited many giggles and squeals.

Once we got all that out of our systems, we sat back down for more books; on Monday we did Princess dinosaur as our last book, but on Thursday we did king Bidgood and then we had time for Night Knight which we didn’t do on Monday.

Monday I tried to play a song that we could dance with our ribbons to, but it kinda bombed, so I skipped it on Thursday and just gave them the ribbons to use during our action rhyme and to hold on to if they wanted. I think I’ll save the music and dancing for another type of storytime that I have brewing up and stick to books, rhymes, and crafts for the time being.

I originally thought it would be neat to do King Bidgood as a flannel, but didn’t have time to make one but I think it’d work well so I might make one anyway and just use it later down the line or offer it up for another age group.

The craft we did were paper plate crowns. I had a volunteer (yay!) cut up a bunch of paper plates ahead of time so I wouldn’t have to explain how to do it or monitor small children using scissors.  I’ve seen the idea for paper plate crowns and similar crafts all over the internet, but I think this site has an excellent example and is the one I used for my craft.

I had a couple parents comment on how creative this craft was and I know the kids really liked it so I might try using the plates again for other crafts because there are SO many!

Unfortunately, and I was super disappointed about this, but what can you do, my princess fan didn’t make it to storytime this week! 😦 😦 😦  Luckily, though, there were a couple girls that happened to be wearing princess dresses so yay!

 

Next week we have a break from storytime, but the week after is getting close to Easter so I am getting excited for bunnies bunnies bunnies!

I might need to plan a game with eggs too, should be fun! 😀

 

Easter bunny rabbit border

 

 

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MLA Spring Institute 2014

This past week I attended the MLA   2014 Spring Institute. It was my first time going since I’ve not previously worked specifically in a youth department at a library but I was really excited to see what it was all about.

I was hoping and planning to go both Thursday and Friday but was unable to make it work due to scheduling but was still able to make it out for the full day on Friday. It was an early and LONG day for me as it was almost a 2 hour drive and registration started at 8am. Yikes! I had a hard time deciding which sessions to attend as they all looked really interesting, but I finally nailed down my schedule:

10:30 am – Early Brain Development 

11:30 am – lunch with speaker – Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, 2013 Mitten
Award Author

1:45 pm – Makerspaces kid style

3:00 pm – iKids: Adding Tablets and Apps to Your Programs for Young Children

Let me just start by saying that I was 3 pages of notes in by the end of the first session. hah.

I haven’t yet actually looked back through and organized all my notes yet, but I hope to do that soon and will update if I end up writing anything decent.

The lunch with the speaker was great; I felt like a kid again listening to her stories about travelling around the world and writing about nature and animals as I caught myself thinking “I wanna do that when I grow up!”  🙂

I’m a staunch animal advocate and firm believer in their ability to help people and people’s responsibility to help them so some of her titles especially“Dogs on Duty” and “Saving Audie”  really touched a nerve with me. I really enjoyed her presentation and had hoped to speak a bit with her during her book signing, but I had to hurry on to my next session.

The two afternoon sessions that I attended were also pretty great. I have been planning on starting similar things in the near future but am not quite 100% done brewing them up so it was really helpful to hear what some others had done and what worked or didn’t work. The makerspace session actually really clarified things for me; I have some basic experience with makerspaces and I was having a hard time figuring out how exactly I could take the concept and sort of scale it down both literally and figuratively so that it would work for kids, but this presentation made me realize that I was still dreaming a bit too big and that baby steps are ok and that I don’t need to make everything mind-blowing right from the get-go.

The iKids session was also neat, but I was already familiar with many of the things they talked about so I didn’t learn too much new info, but it’s still good to hear what people are using and how they work for them.  They also talked about some good books that have information on research involving screen time and children.

The one I think I took the most from was the Early Brain Development session with Sally Keller, Noah’s Ark Preschool Director, and Stephen Williams, Retired Neuroscientist.

The presentation was quite science heavy, but they did an excellent job of presenting it in a way that was very accessible and easy to understand. I was excited to hear them talk about some of the things I’ve done in my storytimes that I’ve mentioned here in my blog like giving kids something to hold while you read to them, or the importance of having varied activities during storytime. Now I had some hard science to back all that stuff up! I loved learning that the more senses involved in an activity, the harder the brain works, therefore the stronger the connections become and the better the reception and retention of knowledge! Movement increases oxygen intake which also strengthens the brain and fun isn’t just fun, it’s a positive experience which releases healthy happy chemicals that also helps the brain to develop! Yay!

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find their powerpoint online, but I was able to find some other excellent information here.

 

All in all, I quite enjoyed the conference and think I was able to take a lot of good info away from it; I’m also looking forward to my next conference coming up at the end of April. I’ll be attending the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference. Unfortunately neither of the libraries for whom I work are small OR rural so they won’t be sending me and I’ll have to pay my own way and use vacation time but that’s ok, it just shows I’m committed, right?  😉 and being that it’s on Mackinac Island is an added bonus; I visit the island just about every year but it’ll be my first time staying at the Grand Hotel so even if the conference falls flat, I’m sure I’ll have some good updates about the beautiful hotel and island so stay tuned!