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

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