C is for Colleen and that’s good enough for me.

Ok, I lied, C is for Cookie is how Cookie Monster sings it, but I always liked changing it to my name because I thought it was pretty cool.

funny-gif-Cookie-Monster-surprised

 

I was on vacation for last weeks Thursday session and this week’s Monday session so there was some mixin’ up going on. Right before I left we were approached by some people involved in a “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” production who wanted to come in and do a storytime but I wasn’t sure which session they’d attend so it was a little up in the air theme wise this week. They ended up coming and doing the Monday session so their theme was cookies that evening where my co-worker then did rhymes and songs about cookies before they made a paper plate mouse craft to go with “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”. When I came in on Thursday I didn’t have a set plan for theme but then I heard that we had been generously given 4 tickets to the production to give away so I figured I should do something at least mildly cookie related. I ended up going with a theme of The Letter “C”.

I read the books:

The Police Cloud” by Christoph Niemann 

Cat Tale” by Michael Hall

and, of course, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff

The Letter C puzzle flannel which I shamelessly stole from Storytime Katie is what I used to kick off our storytime. I told the kids that I forgot what my theme was for storytime and though I brought a puzzle to remind me, the pieces were all jumbled and I’d need their help to figure it out. Each piece had something that began with the letter C on it which I held up and had them tell me what it was. My puzzle contained

cookies
caterpillar
cat
cow
cupcake
crayons
candy cane

 

c puzzle

I put them up on the board somewhat in the shape of the letter, but not too close so it wouldn’t give it away and then I had them help me move them to their proper places. I was silly about it by putting them in the wrong spots and upside down and it all got some good laughs. I was actually quite surprised at just how well they did. I had a huge group, over 70, so I obviously couldn’t have them come up and help physically so I was worried that it wouldn’t go well with them just vocally helping me but it did! I wish I could have made the puzzle a bit bigger so it’d be easier to see, but unfortunately our printer won’t print on very large paper.  :/

As soon as the puzzle was together they IMMEDIATELY got what I was going for and we figured out what our storytime was about, yay!

I then told them with my hands that we’d be reading a

BOOK

about The Letter “C”

The first book was we did was The Police Cloud. It was a cute book and turned out to be a great book for me to ask the kids questions after and sometimes during and the kids even asked me a few without having me solicit them to! One girl asked how the cloud put the fire out, so we went back and looked at that page and talked about the picture and came up with a few possible scenarios as to how it may have happened. It was a simple story but turned out to be quite engaging.

Between my first and second book I did down around the corner at the bakery shop which I also did during my Money Smart Storytime but it’s fun and the kids like it so why not put it to good use.

Down around the corner at the Bakery Shop

Down around the corner at the Bakery Shop
(tap hands on knees in rhythm or move arms down and over with “down around the corner”)

Were 5 little cookies with sprinkles on top
(hold up 5 fingers then “sprinkle fingers”)

Along came someone with a nickel to pay
(hold up nickel flannel piece and replace cookie on board with nickel)

They bought a little cookie and ate it right away
(pretend to eat cookie)

CONTINUE WITH 4, 3, 2, AND 1

Down around the corner at the Bakery Shop
(tap hands on knees in rhythm or move arms down and over with “down around the corner”)

Were no little cookies with sprinkles on top
(hold arms up and shake head no)

Along came someone with a nickel to pay
But they had to come back another day

 

After our first rhyme, I read our next book, in fact, kids started calling out “Read another book!” after we finished our rhyme. haha. Though I do plan an outline for each storytime so I’m not fumbling around deciding if I should read a book or do a flannel in the middle of the storytime, I do often try to include the kids in the decision making as much as I can so if I know that I can easily switch a book for a flannel or if I have 2 books that would each work equally as well order wise I’ll often ask which they prefer. This time I didn’t even have to. Up next was Cat Tale and let me tell you, I fell in love with that book. it’s such a fun and silly read! The illustrations are big and bold and the words and the way it was written just crack me up. I was a tad bit worried that I’d have trouble reading it as it can get quite twisty at times, but no problem at all! I do think that it’s one of those books that you really have to get into if you want it to come across well, if you just sit there and read the words on the page, it loses the silliness.

I also used the Cat Tale book to ask lots of memory and observational questions, mostly about color since there were so many big blocks of it. “Can you tell me something that you saw that was blue?”  I obviously had certain things in my head that I figured they’d say, but they always surprised me by remembering random or little things that were whatever color. Kids are impressive!

After that it was on to our next active rhyme. I told them that one of my favorite fruits were cherries and then we talked about what color sherries were. I asked them if they’d ever seen purple cherries, or green cherries, or blue cherries which they all giggled no to but then I tried to trick them and asked if they’d ever seen yellow cherries, most of them giggled again and said no, but one kid yelled “YES! I HAVE!” haha. Then I said we were going to pretend to pick some cherries by doing a rhyme; Four Red Cherries. I found it here and changed it a bit and added a couple verses to make it a bit longer for the older kids. The kids helped me out by performing the actions as we said them and counting on their fingers. When we finished one kid asked what we should do with all the cherries and one kid suggested we throw them in the trash but then another shouted “I’ll eat them!” 😛

Four Red Cherries

Four red cherries on the tree,
Two for you and two for me.
So WIGGLE that tree and watch them fall.
One, two, three, four -that is all.

Four red cherries on the tree,
Two for you and two for me.
So CLAP at that tree and watch them fall.
One, two, three, four -that is all.

Four red cherries on the tree,
Two for you and two for me.
So BLOW on that tree and watch them fall.
One, two, three, four -that is all.

OH! I JUST NOW remembered that I had intended to do the other cookie rhyme I really like but totally forgot. bummer. Oh well, here it is in case anybody wants to use it.

Five Big Cookies

Five big cookies sitting in the bowl. (hold up five fingers)
One fell out and started to roll. (roll hands)
It bounced off the table and hit my toe (clap once, and touch toes )
How many cookies now sitting in the bowl? 1-2-3-4 (Count fingers)
Four big cookies sitting in the bowl. (hold up four fingers)
One fell out and started to roll. (roll hands)
It bounced off the table and hit my toe (clap once, and touch toes )
How many cookies sitting in the bowl? 1-2-3 (Count fingers)
Three, big cookies sitting in the bowl. (hold up three fingers)
One fell out and started to roll. (roll hands)
It bounced off the table and hit my toe (clap once, and touch toes )
How many cookies sitting in the bowl? 1-2 (Count fingers)
Two, big cookies sitting in the bowl (hold up two fingers)
One fell out and started to roll. (roll hands)
It bounced off the table and hit my toe (clap once, and touch toes )
How many cookies sitting in the bowl? 1-2-3 (Count fingers)
One big cookie sitting in the bowl. (hold up one fingers)
It fell out and started to roll. (roll hands)
It bounced off the table and hit my toe (clap once, and touch toes )
How many cookies sitting in the bowl? (Hold up one fingers)
No big cookies sitting in the bowl
They all fell out and started to roll (roll hands)
They bounced off the table and they hit my toes (clap once, and touch toes )
So don’t put those cookies back in the bowl (shake finger no) 

Original credit for this goes here, but I changed it up a bit for me.

Now, I quite like the “if you give a…” books so I had fun reading that one, but they aren’t really new and exciting books, but that’s ok!  While I do try to incorporate new and different books into my storytimes, it’s good to bring out an old favorite every once in a while. After we finished reading, I announced that we’d be giving out the tickets and then we headed back to the craft room for our craft. I had intended to do paper plate cookies with chocolate chips, but I couldn’t find the left over chocolate chips so I had to improvise and use sequins instead. It turned out just as fun though. I provided a paper plate, crayons, glue and sequins and let the kids each “bake” their own cookie.

I felt really good about this session even though it was rather last minute. hah. Sometimes you just have those sessions that even though it feels super planned and great, it doesn’t go well, and sometimes you really luck out and go in pretty blind and flustered and things just go fabulously. 🙂

We’re now on a storytime break as we gear up for summer reading. I’ve got lots of fun stuff planned though so stay tuned! 😀

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Lemons are not red….

THEY’RE YELLOW! duh.

It’s not easy to fool my storytimers, they are bunches of smart.

This week’s storytime was all about colors! I’ve done a color storytime before, in fact, it was my very first storytime theme!
I did change this one up a bit, but it also shared some of the same things.

I opened our storytime with the usual welcome rhyme and then we chatted a bit about colors. The kids were oddly fascinated with the sweater I was wearing today (it’s totally a grandpa sweater and I love it) and I happened to be wearing some brightly colored pants as well so we talked about all the colors I was wearing and then I had them guess what our theme might be. They caught on quick and guessed colors! 😀 It was an excellent though unplanned segue into storytime. 🙂

The first book I read was called and to name but just a few: red yellow green blue by Laurie Rosenwald. It’s a pretty interesting and fun read, a bit different than typical picture books in that it doesn’t have a consistent flow to the rhythm of the words and doesn’t always rhyme, but sometimes it does! It’s also laid out in more of a collage than a picture with words, it’s full of fun textures and a mixture of photos and drawings. I liked it.

We did have a wiggly bunch for both of my sessions. wiggly in different ways though. On Monday the kids were all about music and when we were gonna listen to it, it seems that there was a boombox left out after a previous storytime and they saw it which got them pretty amped up and it was sometimes difficult to rope their attention back in to the books and rhymes. On Thursday though, we had a big group and they were just full of energy and super proud of their color recognition skills. Both groups happily shouted out the colors on the pages as I was reading so this book required some stops and pauses before we could get through it. hah

After that book, we did our first active rhyme.

If You are wearing

If you are wearing  green, jump like you’re on a trampoline
If you are wearing  blue, put your hands on your shoes
If you are wearing  red, put your hands up on your head
If you are wearing  pink, let’s see you try to wink
If you are wearing  black, stand up and quack quack quack
If you are wearing  yellow, wiggle like a bowl of jell-o

In my Monday session we only had 5 kids so it was kinda hard to do this rhyme since a lot of the colors weren’t represented so we did it twice, the first time we followed the directions, the second time we all did everything, even if we weren’t wearing the color mentioned. We’re little rebels. On Thursday though, we had a good size crowd so it was easy to do this rhyme and the kids were all super excited when they realized they were wearing the color called. After getting some wiggles out, we moved on to our next book; Lemons are not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. I saw this book listed in a lot of different color themed storytime blogs so I figured I’d give it a go. the kids liked it and, as always, they enjoy being interactive and helping to read the book with me. It was a bit hard to stay on track with actually reading the book word for word, page by page though since they were all excitedly shouting out their guesses as soon as they thought of it so I pretty much just ad libbed. After that book, we did a flannel board, yay! I didn’t make this flannel board because we already had some pretty awesome HUGE felt crayons in almost every color imaginable so I just used those. Here’s the rhyme:

I Have a Crayon

I have a crayon, I’ll give it to you.
Here is my crayon, my crayon of blue.

I have a crayon, a lovely little fellow.
Here is my crayon, my crayon of yellow.

I have a crayon, it’s here on my head.
Here is my crayon, my crayon of red.

I have a crayon, we can draw a circle.
Here is my crayon, my crayon of purple.

I have a crayon, what do I see?
Here is my crayon, an orange one for me.

I have a crayon, the best ever seen.
Here is my crayon, my crayon of green

Credit: Anne’s Library Life

I TOTALLY biffed that flannel on my Monday session. My crayons were out of order (oops) and I recited the rhymes wrong and had to make them up halfway through when I realized I wasn’t reading the page properly. hah. oh well. it was still fun. On Thursday, though, I nailed it. The kids were WAY too good at guessing though and I didn’t always have time to get through the entire rhyme before they knew what color was next. haha

Then, During my Thursday session, I got out the color scarves and we passed them out and played with them. It wasn’t structured or anything, it was just a fun way to bring more color in to the storytime. In my first color storytime I passed out our ribbon bracelets and then after playing, I let the kids hang on to them until the end of storytime, I did the same this time with the scarves and both times it worked pretty well. I didn’t do the scarves on Monday though since we were already having a bit of a rough time getting through storytime and I decided to cut that part.

We finished our storytimes with our last two books; Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh and Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson. Bear Sees Colors was a new one for me, but I quite like it! good rhymes and flow and the illustrations are very cute and fun! Mouse Paint is of course an old favorite and staple. I used our big book copy both nights and because it’s not only a pretty basic story line but also because I think I’ve read it about 85743 times, I mostly just recite it and ad-lib my way through with lots of dancing and stomping and mixing along the way. It’s probably one of the very few stories I could do entirely from memory in classic storytelling manner. I don’t think I’ll ever NOT love doing that book.

We ended both sessions with our usual craft. This was another SUPER basic craft. I printed out rainbow coloring pages and then put out crayons and foam shape stickers and let them color and sticker their way into a rainbow.

I really wanna plan some more creative crafts that aren’t just printed paper whatevers, but I haven’t been coming up with good stuff that match my themes. I DO have a nifty Dinosaur theme in the works and I have (finally) started on my hat flannel board I’ve been wanting to make so those two themes will hopefully lend themselves to more exciting crafts. Then again, the kids always have fun and I often see the parents doing their own crafts too so I guess there aren’t any complaints.

Oh! speaking of feedback, I had done a couple ASL words with a few recent storytimes and during my Monday session this week I had one of the parents tell me how much they enjoyed that and hoped I’d continue. I do love the idea and often try to incorporate it when I can so hopefully I can find some good words for dinos or hats.  😉

Until next time!

 

 

                                                                              *chomp chomp chomp*

I’m back!

So we took quite a bit of a storytime break over the holiday season and then I managed to lose my voice a day before we started back up again and was out for an extra week! Boo! But it’s back now. ( well, mostly,I’m still working on hitting some of those high notes on my drives in to work.)

In other news, I’m excited to say that though I’ve been in library work for over 10 years, I’ve hit a new and exciting milestone; it’s officially been 1 whole year of storytimes for me! I was TERRIFIED to start doing storytimes, hello panic attacks, and even though I still get nervous before each one, they’ve become such a rewarding and exciting part of my job. (cheesy? oh well!)

confetti

YAY!

This week’s storytime was all about things that go. Transportation, motors, bikes, cars, horses, you name it!

The books I chose were:

Wake up engines by Denise Dowling Mortensen
Bunnies on the Go, Getting from Place to Place by Rick Walton
The Little School Bus by Margery Cuyler
Good Night Engine by Denise Dowling Mortensen

I read them in that order, the two middle ones were relatively interchangeable, though the school bus one was shorter and easier to skip if the kids were feeling extra antsy, and the two end cap books were perfect for introducing and then wrapping up our theme.

Wake up and Good Night Engines both read more like poems than a story but are fun and filled with excellent image evoking words and lots of onomatopoeia which is always fun for the kids and it gave me lots of chances to have them help me make noise.

I loved Bunnies on the Go because it was a guessing game! each page features a short stanza about the bunnies going somewhere in some mode of transportation and then gives you a hint to the next mode of transportation they use. The last word of each stanza is on the next page and shows a picture of it. I liked the flow, and the kids got to practice rhyming and sounding out words to guess. If you’re really good and look close enough, you’ll find that the answer is actually shown in each illustration. Some of the rhymes are pretty easy, but some are pretty tough! It’s super interactive and a great confidence boost when they make their guesses and also does a pretty good job of touching on common core standards in foundational reading skills. Also, bunnies. 🙂

I admit, I have mixed feelings about I’m a little school bus. The illustrations are super cute, and I like the kinda cheeky writing style (Bus driver Bob needs his coffee!) but I found myself getting kinda tongue tied with some of the rhymes and though the repetition of “I’m a little school bus…..” on each page is good, I felt it was a bit longer than it needed to be maybe? I’m not sure. The kids seemed to like it though so yay! Oh! and it KILLED my hands to hold it up and read it, the pages are more like a board book and the spine wasn’t cracked or anything so it was hard to hold open, so beware! haha.

Aside from the four books we read (and we did get through all 4 books in both sessions!) I did a few extension activities.

On Monday night we had a small crowd that seemed kinda sleepy so I tried really hard to get them to interact more by drawing out the activities a bit more. My Thursday morning crew was big, bright eyed, and bushy tailed though so they certainly didn’t need quite as much encouragement in the interaction department. hah.

I love the idea of teaching sign language words that relate to our theme to the attendees and I found this awesome rhyme activity on the Sunflower Storytime blog.

RHYME – Helicopter; Sign Language Rhyme
Sign “Helicopter” as you say this rhyme:  Right thumb in palm of Left hand. Left hand fingers spread and shake. 

Helicopter goes up
Helicopter goes down
Helicopter turns, turns all around

Helicopter goes left
Helicopter goes right
Helicopter goes up, up, and out of sight (hands behind back)

Watch a video clip of the sign here.

We had a blast flying out helicopters all over the place!

I also did a firetruck activity on Monday night, though we skipped it on Thursday because it is a kinda rowdy activity and we were already reaching maximum rowdiness. All we did was basically pretend we were driving a firetruck!

Oh no! somebody called for a firetruck! Hurry, start the engine! (VROOM VROOM) I then had them bounce up and down in their seats and pretend to steer as I narrated different actions.

We’re coming to an intersection, ring the bell and run the siren! (ding ding ding! weeeooo weeeooo!)
Turn the corner! (lean to the left)
Turn again (lean to the right)
We’re here! Climb the ladder!
Spray the hose!
Phew! fire’s out, good job!
Now back to the station. Everything in reverse!
Roll up the hose (roll our fist over one another)
Down the ladder.
In the truck.
Turn right (lean to the right)
Turn left (lean to the left)
We’re coming to an intersection, make sure to stop! (beep beep)
And back into the station.

you can obviously narrate this however works best for you. It’s a great storytelling tool though, you can have the kids help narrate by having them suggest different actions, or you can do the narrating and let them use their imaginations!

The other activity we did involved egg shakers, yay! I had them all grab a shaker and I pulled out 3 foam circles in red, green, and yellow. We talked about how lots of vehicles see those colors when they’re on the road and asked them if they knew what each one meant. Of COURSE they did because kids are smart and awesome. I then explained that they were gonna shake the shakers based on what color sign I held up. When it was green, we shook FAST. Yellow, shake sloooowwww, and red means FREEZE! lots of fun and giggles with this one, obviously. It was a very silly time and we all loved it. I then had them drive their shakers back home to the bin and we sat down for our last story before our craft. Luckily Goodnight Engines features trains pretty heavily which was a good segue into our craft; Name Trains!

10923779_844124817144_3830984111888428664_n

choo choo!

 

For this super easy craft I put out large pieces of construction paper in a few colors, paper with a train engine printed, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, and little squares of different colors construction paper. This craft, though basic, helps strengthen fine motor skills, spelling, and counting! It also helps meet some of the common core standards for language arts presentation of knowledge and ideas with early literacy. Kids got to color and then cut out their engines, then counted out the letters in their name for the train cars, then practiced spelling and writing by putting a letter on each car, and then create a scene for their train. Again, pretty simple sounding, but lots of little things for them to do and they churned out some pretty amazing trains! WAY better than my example. I also got some pretty good feedback from the parents about liking this craft which is always good. 🙂

 

It felt good to get back in the saddle and I’m ready for more!

 

 

 

Happy birthday, USA!

 

free-patriotic-borders

 

America just celebrated it’s birthday! It’s 238 years old!

As far as nations go, we’re still a wee thing, but to kids, that’s like, FOREVER! I was a bit hesitant to do a fourth of July theme for storytime because we have such a diverse group of patrons that come to storytime and I was worried that they wouldn’t be as interested but then after looking through lists of good fourth of July books and seeing lots of them that weren’t just “hooray for USA”  I stopped and thought, uhm, hello, you have a diverse group of patrons, what a great time to use some really diverse books and take advantage of that unique situation!

Unfortunately I was only able to get my hands on one about a young Chinese girl and her family living in america and how they celebrate, it’s called “Apple Pie, 4th of July” by Janet S Wong. While the book doesn’t delve too deep into cultural differences, it does touch on it; I loved the line where the girl complains that nobody wants Chinese food on 4th of July and her father says “Fireworks are Chinese.” as he hands her a pan of sweet and sour pork. I thought it was a cute story and I really liked the illustration style.

We also read “Fourth of July Mice” by Bethany Roberts, “Hats off for the Fourth of July” by Harriet Ziefert and “Red, White,and  BOOM!” by Lee Wardlaw. All of those titles have pretty good rhythm to them though there were some bits where the rhythm changes and it tripped me up a little while reading out loud, but it just keeps me on my toes.
Fourth of July Mice is full of good noise words and lots of repetition and super cute mice while Red White and Boom has great rhymes and I felt allowed for me to ask lots of types of questions; anything from “What are they eating at their picnic?” to at the very end when I asked them to put their memory to the test and try to remember all the places we visited on our busy fourth of July (beach, park, and parade) . Our version of Hats off for the Fourth of July is a “big book” version so it was fun to see lots of big images and it also has a lot of great guessing prompts; “What do you think comes next?” “Have you seen horses in a parade?”

 

We  also did a quick and dirty flannel activity where I threw together a super basic felt birthday cake and 10 birthday candles and we talked about the US having a birthday and then did the birthday flannel board. The rhyme I used was “Ten little candles” and I found it hereI did modify it a tiny bit because I didn’t like one of the words so I changed it to “blow blow blow”. I told the kids that we were going to not just practice our counting, but we were going to count…ready? BACKWARDS! and THEN I made it super crazy because we weren’t just going to count backwards, we were going to count backwards by TWOS. let me tell you, it’s harder than you think! Luckily, I’ve got a smart bunch of kids and we had no trouble. 😉

Here’s my version of the rhyme:

Ten Little Candles

10 little candles on a chocolate cake
BLOW BLOW BLOW!  Now there are 8

8 little candles on candlesticks
BLOW BLOW BLOW!  Now there are 6

6 birthday candles and not one more
BLOW BLOW BLOW!  Now there are 4

4 birthday candles red, white and blue
BLOW BLOW BLOW!  Now there are 2

2 little candles standing one by one
BLOW BLOW BLOW! Now there are none

Here is my SUPER basic birthday cake and candles. I will probably go back and add more details later.

Here is my SUPER basic birthday cake and candles. I will probably go back and add more details later.

This was lots of fun because it was an active rhyme, a flannel, and excellent counting practice; even the kids that aren’t super fond of counting had fun!

For getting our sillies out and moving around, I planned to make fireworks inside! I grabbed our scarves, and we have some neat ribbon bracelets as well so I had everybody pick a scarf or a bracelet and we threw them in the air like fireworks. We practiced using our right hands and our left hands, we made fast fireworks and slow fireworks and also just did some silly stuff, it was lots of fun!

Unfortunately I was quite stumped when it came to a craft because we have been running low-ish on craft supplies and I haven’t gotten around to placing a big restock order and I’ve been trying to kind of use up some random supplies we have laying around so for this week we made “parade wavers”  hah.

For some reason (probably masks?) we have a bunch of paper plates with the middles cut out so I grabbed those and some red white and blue crayons and markers and put those out with some red and blue foam stickers and yarn pieces and had them get creative and then glued them to big popsicle sticks.  It wasn’t my most inspired craft, but it was last minute and easy and I really like giving the kids the chance to just kinda go crazy. There was very little structure to this craft which allowed them to go as big or as basic as they wanted. 🙂

 

Next week is another regular storytime and I REALLY want to do a hat storytime, but there’s a flannel board I want to do with it and I don’t have the supplies to make it yet so I keep having to put it off so I think I might have to do something beachy or summery this week and then the week after is another StoryTech which I’m excited for.

 

4th-july-cake

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’

shamrock-border

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!

Easter bunny rabbit border

AHHH! MONSTERS!

As promised last week, This week’s theme is:

MONSTERS!

I was really looking forward to this one, but also a bit worried; this was my first time doing a craft with storytime so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I planned for a slightly shorter storytime followed by crafting craziness and hoped it would work well.

For this storytime I made another flannel board (I kinda love making them) and I am again, quite proud of how it turned out. It’s a lot less detailed than Rainbow fish, but still pretty cool. We did “Go Away, Big Green Monster” by Ed Emberly . It’s a great read aloud book for a crowd, or for one on one, and it translates perfectly to flannel boards.

pieces of a big green monster

Pieces of a big green monster

big green monster looking kind of scared

Big Green Monster looking kind of scared

GO AWAY, BIG GREEN MONSTER!

GO AWAY, BIG GREEN MONSTER!

The flannel board was a huge hit again and they all had fun guessing what bits of the big green monster were going to go away next and yelled “GO AWAY NOSE” and “GO AWAY EYES”. It’s always fun when we get to one of the last parts and they think the mouth goes away next, but instead, the face goes away! (WHAT?!) so then there are just two, big, yellow eyes and a big, red mouth with chompy teeth sitting on the flannel board and the kids all thought it was pretty funny to see that.

This was the kids' favorite part to see; just some eyes and some teeth, pretty silly

This was the kids’ favorite part to see; just some eyes and some teeth, pretty silly.

It was also a big hit for me. Flannel face for EVERYTHING!

It was also a big hit for me.
Flannel face for EVERYTHING!

Hours of amusement.  Honestly.

Hours of amusement.
Honestly.

I also had a couple other books lined up in case they were feeling extra bookish, and turns out, they were! In both sessions we read all three books, did the monster dance, AND made monster masks! Whew! I even had one boy in my Thursday session ask, after three books, if there were more books!

After the big green monster it was time for “Go to Bed, Monster!” by Natasha Wing. I LOVED reading this book! You get to say a bunch of silly, growly words as the monster, and you get to get all huffy and do some eye rolling as Lucy. It’s a cute story, and the kids were HOOKED. I looked around and they were all glued to the book, silent and still. I ended the book and they all just sort of sat there, looking sleepy, which was perfect because my plan was to read that book, then talk about waking up and doing some dancing. Next up was the “Monster Stomp”

“Monster Dance”

If you want to be a monster, here’s your chance.
‘Cause everybody’s doing the monster dance.

You just stomp your feet and wave your arms around. (Stomp, wave arms.)
Stretch ‘em up high, (Stretch arms.) then put them on the ground. ( hands on the floor.)
Now you’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)
That’s right!
Now You’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)

If you want to be a monster, here’s your chance.
‘Cause everybody’s doing the monster dance.
Show off your teeth then chomp them down (chomp teeth)
Then roar real loud and spin around (roar and spin)
Now you’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)
That’s right!
Now You’re doing the monster stomp. (Stomp feet.)

If you want to be a monster, here’s your chance.
‘Cause everybody’s doing the monster dance.

This was cute to watch, and the parents seemed to get a good chuckle out of it as well, no doubt some of it at my expense, but that’s fine. (hey, I don’t spin as well as I used to )

After roaring, and spinning, and chomping, we read one more book: “Monster Hug” by David Stein. I like the illustrations in the book, but it is kind of quick and might have a difficult time holding their attention if they aren’t feeling it, my groups both did ok though.

After the books and monster stomping, it was time to go crazy and make some sweet monster masks!

The premise for this was quite basic; I put out paper plates and large popsicle sticks / tongue depressors and a few different crafty supplies (crayons, markers, foam shape stickers, pipe cleaners, and pom poms) I gave them glue and told them to go wild!

It might just look like lots of fun, and it totally is, but it’s also a wonderful way to learn!
Not only are crafts often awesome sensory play, but you can often integrate many of the common core standards as well. for example, while the children were creating, I walked around and talked with many of them about what shapes they were putting on their monster if they were using the foam stickers, or if their monster was two or three dimensional; dimensions are still a concept that is typically beyond their learning level and comprehension as far as preschool goes, but not by too much and some children will pick up on it. Talking about  shapes and dimensions introduces Geometry which is part of the common core standards. You are also giving them the chance to exercise their language skills by asking them to talk about their monster and how they’ve decided to decorate it, this covers most of the Anchor Standards of Speaking and Listening’s  Comprehension and Collaboration as well as Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas.

RAWR!

RAWR!

Ooohhh, scary!

Ooohhh, scary!

Not only did the kids have a riot making the masks, but lots of parents talked to me about the craft, why we do them, and how much they liked it. This gave me a great opportunity to tell them why I chose the crafts and books and inform them that not only are they fun activities, but they are interactive, not just as far as common core standards go, but also present the kids with a chance to practice social skills with other people their age or adults. It’s a great way to build relationships and strengthen self confidence.

And, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want an excuse to have some fun crafting?

As Much as I’d love to do another craft next week, I think I should mix it up a bit and try something else. Maybe TWO flannel board stories?!

Then again, I don’t know, that sounds like a lot of work, and working hard always makes me pretty hungry.

download

om nom nom nom

makes for an excellent Rabbit of Caerbannog sweater.

Turns out, it also makes for an excellent Rabbit of Caerbannog sweater.