Love is in the air

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Love is in the air!

For Valentine’s Day, and many other holiday themes, I like to keep things pretty generic as far as the book that I read go. I usually will engage the kids by asking if anybody celebrated any holidays recently and then chat about their answers before starting the books, but I don’t really, or try not to, read too many holiday specific titles. For Valentine’s Day I chose 3 books about love.

My first book was “Henry in Love” by Peter McCarty I LOVE the illustrations in this! they were simple and the colors are rather muted, but they stand out well on the page and are simply adorable. The text is a bit long so I don’t know that it would work with younger kids, but having it as the first book worked well for my preschoolers. I will admit that I did find a few of the transitions (or lack there of) a bit abrupt or awkward, but that may have just been me.

After our first book, I went right into our second title, “How do I Love You” by Leslie Kimmelman unfortunately our copy is a bit…well loved, but the illustrations are bold and fun and the text has great flow and rhymes. This book is actually in our concept collection as it teaches basic counting skills, but it worked very well for storytime.

After we made it through 2 books, we did our first active rhyme. Actually, I guess I’d call this more of an interactive flannel board. This is yet ANOTHER version of what I like to call a hide-away flannel. I’ve seen a few of these floating around the storytime blogosphere and my preschoolers love it. I’ve done a hat themed one, a lovebug themed one, a school themed one, and I think maybe even one more that has slipped my mind currently. Either way, it’s a great way to refocus any extra enthusiastic kiddos, or kill some extra time if your books go faster than planned or whatever. I also just love how much fun we all have.

For this theme we did “Lovebug” which I originally found on Deb’s Design blog

Lovebug, lovebug, oh so smart
Are you under the ______ heart?

Each time you say the rhyme, the kids get to yell out the color you’ve picked. I find it’s easiest if I explain the game then ask them which color we should pick first, then, we do the rhyme and that way they all know what color to call out in the rhyme. After we finish the rhyme, we remove that color item and see if the object is hidden under and we guessed correctly or if we have to pick a new color. We usually play 2 or 3 rounds of this depending on how quickly they find the item. I always try to trick them a little bit by pretending there’s no hidden item or picking the wrong colors or something. They always find it silly and love to correct me. 😛

After a few rousing rounds of that, we read our final book, “A Kiss like this” by Mary Murphy which is super cute. We read this as an interactive book where I asked them how they thought each animal would kiss. For giraffe I got lots of tall kisses and for the mice I saw lots of teeny tiny kisses, and for fish, fishy faced kisses! 😀

Aside from the 3 books and the hide-away flannel, I also did my valentine card rhyme on the flannel board. I think I’ll need to make new cards next year because I made them from paper last year and they were a bit rough looking after being stored for a year. hah

I originally found the rhyme on Storytime Katie’s blog and made the cards myself.

Six little Valentines were sent to my house,
The first one said, “I love you, From Mouse.”
Five little Valentines in my mailbox,
The second one said, “Be mine, Love Fox.”
Four little Valentines full of love,
The third one said, “You are sweet, From Dove.”
Three little Valentines just for me,
The fourth one said, “Be my honey, Love Bee.”
Two little Valentine’s mailed with care,
The fifth one said, “Here’s a hug, From Bear.”
The last little Valentine, from my friend Jay,
This one said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

I held each card up as we counted and then open them when we got to the second line and had them call out the animal they saw. (I’ll try to get pictures and upload them later)

For our craft, we made silly love bug headbands. I cut long strips of construction paper and then cut out a bunch of construction paper hearts and put those out with some googly eyes and glue sticks and let them go to town.
It’s always fun to watch them make something they can wear after storytime. hah

So next week I’ll finally get to that Dino storytime that has gotten bumped back a few times. RAWR!

 

 

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Talkin’ Turkey

So Thanksgiving was last week and because we were closed one of the days I do my storytime, I decided to save the turkey stuff for this week.

I focused only on turkeys, not thanksgiving, because:
1. it’s often hard to get my hands on 3 or 4 good read-out-loud books themed for some of the more minor holidays and if I do, I feel bad about taking them out of circ during their prime time.
2. my crowd for my storytimes are often rather culturally diverse and not always celebrating traditional American holidays so I try to go pretty broad with the themes around then.

The books I read were all only about turkeys, not thanksgiving, and were good! I liked them all, some more than others.

10 Turkeys in the Road by Brenda Reeves Sturgis
I’m a Turkey by Jim Arnosky
Gobble Gobble by Cathryn Falwell

I was a bit worried about 10 Turkeys in the Road with my preschool crowd because they sometimes get kinda bored with counting and the book is super repetitive, but they LOVED it! they counted down from 10 with me and shouted out the numbers after each page, it was awesomely interactive for both my Monday night and Thursday morning crews.

Things got a bit outta hand during my Monday session when reading Gobble Gobble though because at one point one of the older kids who was quite talkative noticed and shared with the group that there was a deer on every page and as soon as she did, the kids all shouted out that they found the deer each time I turned the page, haha, oops. I managed to turn it into a goofy bit at the end though when I asked them to find the last deer and then I kept pointing to other random things on the pages and they laughed and giggled “no, you’re silly” until I found the deer. heh. The book went much more smoothly at my Thursday session though.

I thought I’m a Turkey was a fun read, and the kids seemed to enjoy it during both sessions but didn’t have much of a reaction either way.

One thing that both groups LOVED was a shaker rhyme I made up. I like using the shakers, but often run out of ideas on how to use them because I feel like I, and probably the kids as well, get bored with the typical shaker songs so I try to get creative with how I use them. For this theme I wanted to use our egg shakers and somehow incorporate the turkey theme. I didn’t end up getting as elaborate as I’d have liked, but I did manage to wright up a pretty good activity.

I know a turkey and he shakes like this (clap shakers together)
Gobble gobble gobble (shake shakers up and down)
Fast like this! 

I know a turkey and he shakes like this (clap shakers together)
Gobble gobble gobble (shake shakers up and down)
Slow like this! 

I know a turkey and he shakes like this (clap shakers together)
Gobble gobble gobble (shake shakers up and down)
Up like this! 

I know a turkey and he shakes like this (clap shakers together)
Gobble gobble gobble (shake shakers up and down)
Down like this! 

I know a turkey and he shakes like this (clap shakers together)
Gobble gobble gobble (shake shakers up and down)
Around like this! 

I know a turkey and he shakes like this (clap shakers together)
Gobble gobble gobble (shake shakers up and down)
On the ground like this! 

This is a great way to teach opposites and can very easily be modified and added to. I like to end all my shaker activities and as many fingerplays as I can with allowing the kids to make their own suggestions as to how we should shake, or gobble, or whatever. For this one we shook our turkey eggs on our heads, our knees, behind our backs, and more!

The other activity I did was a Turkey version of two little black birds. I made some simple felt turkey finger puppets and used them for the rhyme. I asked the kids to play along by bringing out their turkey hands. I had them hold their thumbs in front of their fingers as if counting to 4 and we talked about how the thumb looks like the neck/head of the turkey, and our four fingers looked like the big feathery tail. The rhyme went like so:

 

Two little turkeys sitting on a hill
One named Jack, the other named Jill.
Gobble away, Jack
Gobble away, Jill
Gobble back, Jack
Gobble back, Jill

Two little turkeys looking at the clouds
One gobbled quiet, the other gobbled LOUD.
Gobble away, quiet
Gobble away, LOUD
Gobble back, quiet
Gobble back, LOUD

Two little turkeys waiting for the snow
One gobbled fast, the other gobbled slow.
Gobble away, fast
Gobble away, slow
Gobble back, fast
Gobble back, slow

This is ALWAYS a crowd favorite. This time, most of the kids just wanted to gobble back and away faster and faster and faster which always ends up with them doing less of the gobbling and more giggling. 🙂

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We’re back on storytime break for now, but we’ve got a really fun program coming up in just over a week called Winter Wonderland and I hope to get some good pictures and updates to post about!

until next time!

 

 

😉

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!

 

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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!

 

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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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