Animal House

This storytime was all about animals. I didn’t get too specific or differentiate between farm or wild or jungle or anything, just animals. I’ve done specific animal storytimes before like a dog storytime or cats, or night animals, and I’ve done an Animal StoryTech before but never just plain old normal animal storytime.

Now normally I try to pick books for my storytime that are new or different because I don’t want them to be bored with the selection since they’ve read that title 8527485 times at home and or in school, but this week I did pick a book that is quite well known. I actually came across a few books that I thought were quite interactive and because of that I thought that it’d be fun to have them help me read the more well known book.

The first book I read was called No Sleep for the Sheep by Karen Beaumont. I quite liked this book and thought it was just the right amount of silliness, rhymes, noises, and repetition. I also liked the fact that you could kind of improvise. for example, as new animals join the sheep it has a line that says “soon the ____ and the sheep, they fell fast asleep” But instead of just reading the two animals, I repeated and had the kids help me list off all the animals to that point. it was a bit of a challenge, but loads of fun! This book might just be one of my new favorites; I could see it working well for a noise or sound themed storytime as well. Both my Monday night and Thursday morning groups giggled and enjoyed it. 🙂

After that book I had three animal themed active rhymes. On both Monday and Thursday, I let the kids help me pick which order I do them in. I listed off the three I brought and let them vote. Now, this can be a very dangerous road to go down if you have a more…enthusiastic crowd that day, but I braved it and it turned out ok.  Here are the three active rhymes I had in tow:


5 little Ducks

5 little ducks went out one day
Over the hills and far away,
Mama duck called quack quack quack,
But only 4 little ducks came wandering back.

4 little ducks went out one day
Over the hills and far away,
Mama duck called quack quack quack,
But only 3 little ducks came wandering back.

3 little ducks went out one day
Over the hills and far away,
Mama duck called quack quack quack,
But only 2 little ducks came wandering back.

2 little ducks went out one day
Over the hills and far away,
Mama duck called quack quack quack,
But only 1 little duck came wandering back.

1 little duck went out one day
Over the hills and far away,
Mama duck called quack quack quack,
But no little ducks came wandering back.

No little ducks went out one day
Over the hills and far away,
Mama duck called quack quack quack,
And 5 little ducks came wandering back.


Five little kittens

Five little kittens standing in a row
(hold up 5 fingers)
They nod their heads up and down, like so
(bend fingers)
They run to the left, they run to the right
(run fingers to the left and then to the right)
They stand up and stretch in the bright sunlight
(stretch fingers out tall)
Along comes a dog looking for some fun
(hold up opposite hand like a puppet)
With a WOOF! and MEOW! See those little kittens run
(bark with dog hand, wiggle kitten hand, then wiggle hand behind back)


There was a little Turtle

There was a little turtle. (make fingers for small)
He lived in a box. (draw out box shape with fingers)
He swam in a puddle. (pretend to swim)
He climbed on the rocks. (pretend to climb)

He snapped at a mosquito. (use hand to pretend to snap like a turtle mouth)
He snapped at a flea.
He snapped at a minnow.
And he snapped at me.

He caught the mosquito. (grab air with hand)
He caught the flea.
He caught the minnow.
But he didn’t catch me. (wave finger no)


With the Kitten rhyme, I actually did 10 little kittens and had them hold up both hands (personal preference) and with the Turtle rhyme, I had them name a random animal and I changed the line from “He snapped at/caught the minnow” to the animal they suggested. This made for great fun a squeals of laughter because we repeated this twice in a row and they picked cow and cat and each time I got to the part with those animals they laughed hysterically and shouted about how a turtle can’t catch a cow or a cat, they’re way too big and fast! (obviously)

The second book I read was Barnyard Song by Rhonda Gowler Greene I quite liked this book as well! Much like the first book, it could easily be used in a noise or sound themed storytime as well as a storytime about being sick. The animals make all sorts of silly noises when they get sick but then everything rights itself again after the farmer makes them some good soup (vegetable, I’m sure). The kids in both sessions of course thought it hilarious to hear me “moo choo!” and “cough-a-doodle-doo” and all sorts of snorts and whistles. After this book we did a second active rhyme.

The third book we read was the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin. We didn’t just read the normal version though, we read the BIG BOOK version

brown bear

These things are seriously the size of a small child, they’re great! 😀 This is the book that we all read aloud together and they LOVED being able to do that! Again, after this book, we did our third and final active rhyme.

In my Monday session I then went right in to our fourth and last book but in my thursday session I ALMOST skipped it because they were quite rowdy and I wasn’t sure they could handle another, but then I remembered that it’s a SUPER interactive book. Well, I don’t know if it’s really supposed to be, but that’s how I read it. If I hadn’t read it the way I did, I think it would have been too awkward for a storytime book.

My fourth and final book was Wiggle Waggle by Johnathan London. I read this book less like the book itself and instead I read the first page as an introduction and then simply turned the pages and had the kids act it out. The book is all about how animals walk or move, and instead of just turning pages and reading “How does the kitten walk? Pish-Posh” (…uh, what?) I would turn the page and say “How does the _____ walk?!” and the kids would show me while I made up my own noises. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought the sounds / descriptors used for the animal walks in this book were…awkward, so I used my own at times. I actually really liked that book because while it’s reading, and the kids are still seeing the words and letters and pictures, they’re also playing and acting and putting 2 and 2 or 3 and 3 together and that kind of multi-sense connection building really cements things and helps them retain much more information than me just saying “the cat walks like this”.

After we finished all our books and rhymes, I released the little animals into the craft room for our craft. On Monday I managed to get my segue out and teach them 3 words in ASL: Lion, Tiger, and Bear.

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In my Thursday session, there was no chance and I simply had to un-cage them so they could run wild.

The reason for my ASL segue is that we were making Lion, Tiger (ok, a cat) or Bear masks!

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I couldn’t find a tiger, ok?

 

These were SUPER basic, just printed on regular paper and I put out scissors, crayons, hole punches and string. the kids went nuts!

 

I haven’t quite gotten next week’s theme nailed down (I keep not getting around to making the flannel I want to use) but either way, I’m SURE I’ll figure something fun out. 🙂

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!

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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!

 

 

 

Sensory Storytime!

Today I teamed up with a co-worker to do a sensory storytime for children with special needs.
Sensory play and activities have been growing in popularity over the recent months / years and can range from simple activities that parents and kids do at home to much more elaborate events held at libraries, daycare centers, schools, or other learning institutions. There is a plethora of material out there and many libraries or library bloggers have already written great stuff about it, but now it’s my turn.

My co worker and I planned our event for a group of up to 15 kids; the aim for these is generally to keep the groups smaller to allow for those who don’t do well in the often 40+ groups of kids coming to typical storytimes. Unfortunately, literally every road surrounding our library is currently under construction and it’s been having an impact on library attendance, including program attendance. 😦 We required registration and while we had 4 families registered, we only had one mother and her son that showed up.

While I wish we had more, my co-worker and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with this family and we got excellent feedback from his mother. The young boy stayed in the storytime room for more than 30 minutes even though the scheduled time was only 30 minutes long, we were in the “go with the flow” mode and just let him play until he was bored.

what we had planned to do was read a couple books, maybe read them more than once, as well as do some singing, moving, and free play time.

Many write-ups I found strongly suggested that we have an outline and a visual representation of it posted so that the parents and children attending could follow along.

Here are the images I used, all credits to the owners.

hello read sing dance play goodbye

 

we printed these out and posted them on our flannel board, we also printed them on sheets of paper to hand out to those attending.

The first book we planned to read was Fuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy by Sandra Boynton

This is a great touchy feely book, but we were running into trouble with how to share that, until, another co-worker came up with the genius idea of buying fabric to match the touchy bits in the book and did an AMAZING job matching them. Once we had the fabric we cut it up into small pieces and compiled them into packets for each child. I had wanted to attach them together on a key ring or something like a sample swatch packet but we didn’t get around to doing so so we just put them into a zippy bag. While one staff member was reading the book, the other staff member would be up front showing the fabric so the kids could follow along.

We also had the book Feely Bugs by David A. Carter, but this was a last minute addition and we did not have any support materials to pass out. Turns out that we didn’t need it though since we just had the one boy so he had the privilege of simply reading the book along with us and touching all the pages.  🙂

Aside from reading the books, the rest of the schedule went pretty much out the window and we just followed along with what our attended wanted to do.

I had also set up some sensory bins and some fidget toys in the back of the room for free play time and that’s where we headed next.

As many children’s libraries do, we have a variety of colored scarves, ribbons, and so on, we also have a small collection of fidget toys that we purchased after I experimented with passing out some of our quiet toys during storytime so that kids had something to play with and help focus their attention without being loud or distracting to others. These fidget toys include nubby balls and rings in different colors and resistance levels. I’d like to expand the collection in the future.

 

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some of our quiet fidget toys. not shown are our tactile nubby rings.

 

 

here are some websites that I browsed when deciding what to purchase. Obviously not all the toys listed are suitable for quiet play, but many are and are also excellent for helping to develop many skills from problem solving, to fine or gross motor skills, and strength.

http://funandfunction.com/calm-and-focus/fidgets.html

https://www.therapyshoppe.com/category/educational-toys/1685-sensory-toys

http://www.sensorytoywarehouse.com/

 

I also put out bins with dry pasta shapes, colored rice, beans, sponges or various sizes, and play dough.

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The play was unscripted and undirected and we followed what he wanted to do.  This was my favorite part because he really opened up and we were able to see just what an incredibly intelligent and fun kid he was. He built a volcano from the dough and told us about how lava dries and turns black and that when it touches water it steams because it is hot and the water is cold. At one point he was playing with the rice and letting it fall slowly from his hands and it sounded and looked like rain. During that point I asked if he wanted to make a rainstorm with us. We did the “human rain storm” where you use your hands to simulate the sound of a storm.

 

Our version was obviously not quite as epic or impressive as the video, but it was still fun and with help from our thunder maker, we had a great time. 🙂

 

We also asked him a few random problem solving questions as he played and he continued to show off just how clever he was. His mother told us that he had never handled a sponge before, but when I asked him to take the water from one bin and move it to the other, he took only seconds to grab a sponge and squeeze it over the empty container until the sponge was dry and he had to re-wet it.

 

All in all, I think it was and can be an invaluable experience for kids, parents, and libraries involved. It gives the kids a chance to participate in library activities that they may otherwise avoid due to their individual needs, it gives the parents a chance to network and connect, and it gives the staff at the library a chance to better understand how to meet the needs of their patrons and better serve their community as a whole.

 

For more information on autism and other special needs, check out the sites below.

http://www.autismspeaks.org/

http://www.chadd.org/

http://www.cdc.gov/Features/adhdresources/

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html

http://nationalautismassociation.org/

 

 

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

All you need is love…

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As I’m sure you are aware, this week is Valentine’s Day; and to think I didn’t know what my theme would be. (duh) Love, love, love. Today I donned my heart and soul shirt, some sparkly shoes, and my red cardigan and prepared myself for a festive, love filled storytime.

This session started off, as usual, with our Welcome rhyme; lately, I’ve been trying to engage the kids a bit more during the rhyme by asking them what comes next, or doing it our of order and seeing if they can help me, but today I got myself so confused that we ended up skipping a few parts, oops! Hah It’s still cool to see that there are more and more kids that are remembering more and more of the rhyme; yay, learning!

After the rhyme, it was time to take our seats and read our stories. I like the idea of just promoting valentines day a celebration of love instead of specifically “valentines” so I picked two books about love and one about valentines day.

I started off both sessions with “Bear in Love” by Daniel Pinkwater, then moved on to “When a Dad Says ‘I Love You'” by Douglas WoodThen did a counting rhyme and finished off with “Louanne Pig in the Mysterious Valentine” by Nancy CarlsonI fell in love with “Bear in Love” as soon as I opened it. I wasn’t thrilled about performing all the singing parts, but the story is so cute and the illustrations are wonderful so it’s worth the silly singing. The kids were so proud of themselves for recognizing the long, pointy, orange things that  Bear found, (duh, Bear, carrots!) and had a lot of fun guessing what Bear would wake up and find each morning or who was leaving him these gifts.
The second story is also very sweet, I was a bit worried that some kids wouldn’t connect with it since it is a bit more “father / son” themed, but they seemed to like it and I heard many exclamations of “we play tickle monster!” or “I’d make two stops for cookies” and so on. 🙂
I think they had the most fun with the last book though. It’s a clever book in that it never really does give you the answer, directly, but I heard many gasps as I turned to the last page and they all noticed a pig with a curly tail and green pen. MYSTERIOUS! It’s so fun to watch them put the clues together and figure it out.

All three books lent themselves rather well to interacting with the kids during the story which is always good. They get to feel more involved and you can sneak in some learning while having a lot of fun.

The rhyme we did was a counting rhyme; I’m not usually thrilled with counting rhymes as they all seem to be too similar and get a bit redundant, but this one was fun! We counted forwards, and backwards, and even did some math with some adding and subtracting! Skills!

First, I had them get out their wiggly little counting fingers and get ready to put them to use. I held up six fingers and asked if anybody could tell me how many were were going to count to, of course they all shouted “SIX!” so we practiced; they’re excellent counters, then, I started the rhyme.

Six Little Valentines

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 took this right from Storytime Katie I didn’t do the flannel the same though, I made regular old valentines day cards and then put the phrases inside with a picture of each animal. I put them up on the flannel board as I read the rhyme, then opened them as I read the part about what they said / who they were from. After each addition to the board, I asked how many valentines I’d opened so far and how many I had left. The kids couldn’t see the cards that weren’t on the board so they had to use their powers of memory AND math to figure it out. They did REALLY well and I think some of the parents were even impressed with them. 🙂 After the rhyme finished, I read the Louanne book since the valentines all tied in to that story and then I asked them if they had anybody they’d like to give a valentine to. Most said things like grandma or papa or mom or dad and so on, but a few were really cute in their answers about certain best friends or siblings, one boy even said he wanted to make a card for his 86 year old neighbor. (cue collective awwwww). After they all got their answers out, we headed back to the craft room to make some cards!

I love watching how free and creative they are with their creations. Yes, my valentine cards were folded, typical cards, but lots of kids chose to fold it differently or not at all.  The craft gave them a chance to practice their writing of letters and words, as well as helped develop and perfect fine motor skills by holding crayons to write or glue sticks to glue. They’re having a ton of fun, but they’re also learning and growing. (sneaky!)

You could certainly feel the love in the room too what with all the sharing and helping I saw going on. You always want to try to have enough “stations” set up for crafts with all the different materials accessible from any part of the room so nobody has to go hunting around for whatever they need, but regardless of how close at hand the different size heart cutouts were, or glue sticks, or all the different color crayons,  kids were happy to ask nicely if they could borrow something or if the person nearest could help by passing them their needed item; I even saw some helping one another fold paper for their cards because some jobs are a bit too big for one set of little hands to handle. We counted little hearts on their cards, I asked them what letters they were writing and what colors they used and they were all thrilled to answer and show me each time they added something new “Look! Now I have 6 hearts on my card!”

This craft went over well with both the girls as well as the boys. I was a bit concerned that the boys would not be super thrilled with the girly frou-frou heart stuff, but I had blue, white, and purple paper for them to use if they didn’t want to use pink or red and most of the kids simply used whatever paper they liked best with little to no regard to “boy colors” or “girl colors” which is always nice to see. Some kids didn’t even use hearts and just opted to decorate with various foam stickers and crayons which is equally awesome. Yay, creativity! 😀

By the end of the craft, I watched many sweet little cards begin their journeys to their lucky recipients and I had also been lucky enough to have garnered quite the collection of adorable little cards. Now to find a place to put them all!

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Sorry, suitors, too slow.

In conclusion:

the-beatles-all-you-need-is-love

love is all, love is all

p.s. Happy 50th to those who reminded us that all you need is love, and love to the parents to made sure I knew that. 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

A Whole BOATLOAD of Tacos.

This week’s storytime theme:

food_glorious_food_by_cjmlgrto-d49b3q8

There are SO MANY awesome picture books about food that I had a terrible time narrowing it down. After stumbling across what are probably some of my new favorite books,  I knew that I couldn’t not do “Dragons Love Tacos” or “Secret Pizza Party” both by Adam Rubin. They are not only hilarious or wonderfully illustrated, but they’re written in a way that makes for a very natural flow when reading aloud. I wanted to do a flannel board for at least one of them, and I had hoped two, but I was obviously a bit too ambitious and ended up doing only a modified flannel board to go along with the reading of “Dragons Love Tacos”, but I liked it. (see below for photos)

The parents seemed to enjoy the books as well, which is always good; this author / illustrator duo write /draw  in a way that appeals not just to kids, but to anybody with even a mildly decent sense of humor.

Both of the stories have great narratives, but also encourage kids to use their memory and context clues to try to figure out what might happen next as well as give them a chance to talk about and share some of their favorite or least favorite foods which, as we’ve discussed before, builds confidence and camaraderie and as preschoolers, it’s the perfect age to do so.

After the first two books, we did an active rhyme that, I think, is a fun little twist on the typical “Five Little _____” rhymes. This rhyme has a lot of good actions that go along with it; counting, rolling their arms / hands, and at one point they even have to clap then point in one swift action. It’s great practice for coordination, and they were pros.


Five big cookies

Five big cookies sitting in the bowl. (hold up five fingers then make arms into a circle for the bowl)
One fell out and started to roll. (Fold up one finger, and roll hands)
It fell off the table and hit my toe (clap once, and touch toes )
How many cookies sitting in the bowl? 1-2-3-4 (Count fingers)
Four big cookies sitting in the bowl. (hold up four fingers)

Continue to count down until there are no cookies left.

I found the original version in various blogs and, once again, tweaked it a bit to my taste. The kids seemed to have a pretty good time rolling their arms and hands fast and slow and were were excellent clappers and pointers. A lot of times with these “5 Little” rhymes, I’ll do it once as “5 little” and then ask if they can do “10 little” or higher, but today I didn’t since we had some longer books and this rhyme was a bit more involved and longer than the usual ones, but they kept suggesting we do 10 or 50! I chuckled and said that there weren’t any more cookies in the bowl, but that I had stashed some in the cupboard for later. One kid then mumbled “That guy has got to keep better track of his cookies” which got a good laugh out of me.

After the rhyme, we did one last book. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” by Judi BarrettIt’s a bit of a longer book, and the illustrations, while detailed, are not very vibrant and somewhat hard to see for large groups so I wasn’t sure how well it would go over. I warned them before I started that it was kind of long but they all wanted to hear it so we went ahead. Lots of parts garner responses of “EW!” or “YUCK!” and some even get kids to speak up saying “I love ___” or “That sounds good!” which is always fun, but it made for an even LONGER read!

After we finished, I could tell we had run over our usual time and some of the kids had gotten a bit antsy and left but the group that stayed, which was most of them, were still quite interested in telling me all about their favorite foods or what they really hate to eat. Sadly, I had to cut them all a bit short since we were quite past our stop time so we said our goodbyes and they all filed out of the room.

I  really enjoyed this storytime and I’m excited to see what my Thursday session has in store for me!

UPDATE
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Whoo boy, Thursday’s session was a real busy one! There were around 40 people in attendance and they had SO much to share about food they loved! For some reason, this group seemed to want to be much more interactive wwith the stories and books and frequently shouted out things they noticed on the pages or came up to point out the weird pictures during “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”  I decided to switch the order up a bit and do that one first since it’s a bit longer and hoped that would make it easier to pay attention when it was at the beginning of storytime, but different days, different crowds. They still seemed to quite enjoy it, even if they were wriggly.  After that book, I jumped right into “5 Big Cookies” this group LOVED it. They giggled and laughed and rolled like mad!

After burning off some energy, I got back to the books. They were much quieter and more focused for the last two books which is nice because instead of having to make sure everybody can see and hear, it gives me a chance to interact more directly with them; ask the questions about what they see and hear or if they can use context clues in the story to guess what happens next. It’s great practice for them, and always fun to hear the responses.

The Taco Flannel went over quite well and when we were done reading the books and I started asking them about their favorite foods, one kid said “I like the taco board” and pointed to the flannel, so, I pulled it back out and we played a memory game!

I put the check mark and the “no” sign back up on the board and I asked them if they could name something RED that dragons like on their tacos, then something RED that dragons DO NOT like on their tacos and so on until we had put all the ingredients and salsa back up on the board.

I love being able to interact with the kids instead of just expecting them to sit down, be quiet, and listen. I think it makes storytime more fun, less stressful and more free-flowing, and it’s excellent for them.

Here are the things I made for the “Dragons Love Tacos” Flannel board. As I said earlier, I was overly ambitious with the idea and lacked both time and patience to pull it off and had to resort to making things on the computer with clipart and paint and printing them out, but I think it still worked quite well. The kids loved it. 

Great Big Tacos and tiny little baby tacos

Great Big Tacos
and tiny little baby tacos

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These are totally ok for dragons tacos

These are totally ok for dragons tacos

Dragons DO NOT like spicy salsa

Dragons DO NOT like spicy salsa

Buckets of tacos

Buckets of tacos

Pantloads of tacos

Pantloads of tacos

BOATLOADS of tacos

BOATLOADS of tacos

you need approximately this amount of tacos to host a proper Dragon Taco Party.

you need approximately this amount of tacos to host a proper Dragon Taco Party.

I’ll be honest, I have NO IDEA what I want to do for the next theme so it’ll be a surprise to us both when I post next week!

Any suggestions?!  😉

Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!

This week’s storytime theme is a favorite of mine!

Cute-Puppies-puppies-16094619-1280-800PUPPIES! 

Look at those snuggly little faces! Awww…

Ok, So, if you ask me, drafting up a storytime on a topic you love is almost as hard, if not harder than doing one on a topic you aren’t super into. I think I ended up with enough material to do two, maybe even three storytimes!

Aside from my standard “Welcome Welcome” and “Goodbye Goodbye” rhymes, I have another rhyme, (at least) three books, and two sing-along songs. I have to decide which ones to keep and which to save for next time. One of the songs is BINGO because, let’s be honest, it’s kind of required, right? I found a nice youtube video for this one that I’m going to play so we can sing along. I like the idea of the video because it’s a bit more interactive than just singing and clapping along, AND it is a big help for me in keeping track of my spot. (how many claps? what are letters?)

Here’s the video I plan to use:


I picked this one because the song didn’t go too quickly, and the animation is nice and simple so it’s easy for the kids to keep up. I like how it spells out BINGO in nice big, bright, letters and then adds in a little picture of hands clapping when you get to those parts.
There was one other video that I thought about using because I really liked how the singer explained what was coming next for each verse, but it’s a pretty long song and the animation is quite busy so I worried that the kids would lose interest.
If you’re interested, here’s the other video:

Here is the other song:

The Paws on the Dog
(to the tune of wheels on the bus)

The paws on the dog go trot, trot, trot.
Trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot.
The paws on the dog go trot, trot, trot.
All through the town.

The ears on the dog go flop, flop, flop
Flop, flop, flop, flop, flop, flop
The ears on the dog go flop, flop, flop
All through the town

The nose on the dog goes sniff, sniff, sniff
Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff
The nose on the dog goes sniff, sniff, sniff
All through the town

The tongue on the dog goes lick, lick, lick
Lick, lick, lick, lick, lick, lick

The tongue on the dog goes lick, lick, lick
All through the town

The tail on the dog goes wag, wag, wag
Wag, wag, wag, wag, wag, wag

The tail on the dog goes wag, wag, wag
All through the town

The dogs on a walk go woof, woof, woof
Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof
The dogs on a walk go woof, woof, woof
All through the town.

I took this song from here but changed the last bit.

Here is the other rhyme I’m using:

Some Dogs

Some dogs bark
Some dogs growl
Some dogs yip
And some dogs howl

Some can sit
And some can shake

Some roll over
Some swim in the lake

Some are big
Some are small
Some are short
And some are tall

Some run fast
Some run slow

Some ears stand up
Some ears hang low

This rhyme is another Frakensteined creation of mine; I found the first 3 or 4 lines on a handful of websites, but that was all there was, a 3 or 4 line rhyme. I liked it, but felt it could, and should be much longer! Each line has an action, or something you can replicate which is entertaining and good for getting out some energy. We also learn some opposites with things like fast and slow, up (high) and low, short and tall, big and small. This is a great exercise in learning word relation for the kids. I also like the onomatopoeia in the first stanza. Don’t just say “yip” YIP! 🙂

I also considered doing an easy craft, but I didn’t think of it with enough time to actually prepare. I thought making paper plate puppy masks, or using construction paper to make puppy ear headbands would be easy but still fun. I guess I’ll have to save those for another storytime.

The books I’ve chosen are “Harry the Dirty Dog” by Gene Zion, “Bark, George” by Jules Feiffer, and “Puppies, Puppies, Everywhere!” by Cat Urbigkit.
Those are actually ordered by most to fewest words. Not only does it help to pick books with a variety of lengths depending on the time you might have due to all sorts of variables, but it also helps if you are planning say a preschool storytime, but have kids that show up that are much younger or older and have different attention spans.
Luckily, my library hosts a wide range of storytimes with events planned for babies, all the way to preschool, and then even a family storytime, but, if I learned anything from my first Monday night storytime it was that putting an age group on an event doesn’t always mean that will be the age of everybody at said event.

For example, I do a preschool storytime twice a week, Monday and Thursday. For some reason, my Monday group skews wildly towards toddler age with only a couple preschool age children, but my Thursday group has been pretty steadily preschool age. I’m learning to plan accordingly and try to pick books and activities that are either versatile enough for a wide age range, or easily modified on the fly to fit that range.

Tonight, we did have a handful of younger kids that found some left behind egg shakers and decided it was play time, but after we settled that, I was able to get through all 3 books, 2 songs (even though the video for bingo didn’t play, we still sang) and an active rhyme. We also talked about dogs and puppies that we have as pets  and they even told me how a big dog says hello (WOOF) or a little dog says hello (YIP)
We did lots of moving around, got all our puppy wiggles out, and made LOTS of noise!

The kids were enthralled with Harry the Dirty Dog and giggled adorably all the way through Bark, George. Puppies, Puppies, Everywhere! wasn’t as big of a hit, but they still seemed to enjoy it, and it’s a quick read and I like that it has photographs of actual dogs so the kids are able to see that instead of just drawings or cartoons.

After we said goodbye, almost all the parents came up and thanked me and told me how much fun their child had. Awesome! 😀

I can’t wait to see how Thursday turns out!

UPDATE
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The Thursday morning rendition of Puppy storytime wasn’t nearly as busy or high energy as I had expected. It was still an excellent session, lots of sharing about our puppies or puppy toys we have, and they were excellent listeners for the stories, but they didn’t seem to be quite as in to the songs and rhymes as Monday’s group. I DID get the BINGO video to work this time and they were ENTHRALLED with it. All eyes on the screen, singing and clapping along quietly, it was very cute. 🙂

We did the same 3 books, in the same order, and they really seemed to enjoy “Bark, George”; in fact, on of the parents came up and asked to take it home after because her kids seemed to like it so much.

I enjoy that story more and more each time I read it. I found myself making goofy and confused / surprised faces after each incorrect noise and they all laughed and rolled their eyes as they heard all the funny noises come out of George or saw my reactions. “No, DUCKS say quack!” they’d cry; duh, George, sheesh. 😉

We did the “Paws on the Dog” twice because they seemed to be quite set on learning the actions and they had it down after one go round.

Again, we wiggled like puppies and barked and yipped; we had a few VERY enthusiastic barkers,  hopefully they all got their barks out before the car ride home. (sorry mom. )

I quite enjoyed this themes and can’t wait to do it again, maybe I’ll even craft up a stuffed George and all the creatures he swallowed (a la there was an old lady)

Since we had a request in the first session for MOAR FLANNEL BOARDS and Monsters, next week I’m aiming to do another exciting storytime “first” for me and maybe break out some crafts. Monster Mask, anybody?

Peeking Monster

Bonus! Here’s Betty White reading “Harry the Dirty Dog”. I was quite tempted to just play this video and call it a day. 😉 Yay, Betty!