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:

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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!!

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A Whole BOATLOAD of Tacos.

This week’s storytime theme:

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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?!  😉

Sharing is caring; it can be fun!

AND difficult!

Luckily, today, we had some excellent sharers.

As promised by the hint in the previous post, this storytime was all about sharing, namely with The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister Herbert. I made and performed my first flannel board. Turns out I’m pretty a-ok at making them, if I do say so myself.

We started off, again, with the Welcome Rhyme and then we moved on to the flannel board.

My pride and joy of this flannel is, of course, Rainbow Fish himself.

I made him with a felt base and then used foam stickers, a googly eye, puff paint, and glitter to bring him to life.

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Just look at that self absorbed smirk. Much sparkle. Wow. So Rainbow.

I decided the cover him with regular scales because I thought it would be strange looking once I started to remove the sparkly scales if there weren’t scales beneath. I used these foam stickers that we already had in our craft supplies that were PERFECT scale shapes and adhered them by just peeling off the back and sticking them right on to the felt. Those suckers hold pretty strong! I then made sparkly scales by covering the same foam stickers in glitter and then trimming them down a bit. I did NOT adhere them with their sticky backing because I wanted to be able to remove them, so I ended up just using some bits of scotch tape and it worked quite well. I’m sure that I’ll eventually have to replace the bits of tape with new ones as they get covered in felt, but that’s easy enough.

no scale
BOOM! removable scales!

I also created a bunch of friends for Rainbow Fish; little blue fish, an angel fish that looks like a bee, a gold fish, the starfish to whom he complains, and some weird green dude that I’m not super happy with, but oh well…it works.

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What’s up, Mr. Starfish? My eye placement and crooked mouth made him look somewhat nervous, oops.

I’m quite familiar with the story, but it’s decently long so I decided to go through and type out a bit of a script for myself in case I lost my train of thought.

I mostly ad-libbed the story, but I think that’s ok, they got the point, and then that way, when/if they check out the book, they won’t be bored with it. I obviously thought ahead on that one, right?  heh.

Since the rainbow ribbons were such a hit and so helpful at my last storytime, I figured I’d do something similar with this storytime. I made a bunch of small felt fish that I passed out to all the kids and told them that they would need to use their listening skills and when they heard me say “Rainbow Fish” they could hold up their felt fish and make them swim.
They seemed to really like that idea and excitedly, we practiced making our fish swim.
This is again another way to incorporate Common Core Standards, specifically ELA-Literacy  concepts; including the Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening.

We had quite the handful of younger siblings joining us for this storytime, so, unfortunately, my plan didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped. It started off pretty well with making our fish swim when we heard “Rainbow Fish“, but as I began to tell the story and place my characters on the felt board, a couple of those younger siblings really wanted to help me decorate the flannel board and began bringing up their fish and adding them to the board as well. I tried to get them to take the fish and sit down, but they seemed more interested in playing with the board. These things happen.

Things like this can be frustrating for librarians doing storytime because while the concept might work quite well with the age group for whom they are planned, you always risk having younger kids that are energetic, uninterested, grouchy, whatever, or you might have other children that are in the age group but may have learning disabilities or developmental challenges that might not allow them to be able to follow along as you had hoped and it can all go downhill quite quickly.

That’s pretty much how this storytime went. I got to a point in the story where the little blue fish follows Rainbow Fish, and a handful of toddlers came up and stuck their fish on the board. I improvised and talked about how all the fish followed Rainbow Fish but only the little blue fish caught up to him. I also used a familiar face in our youth department for some added fun; I brought in the big stuffed octopus that we keep at the reference desk. In the story, Rainbow Fish talks to a wise old octopus and I thought it would work really well. Again, I wouldn’t suggest bringing in a toy or stuffed animal for younger kids because they’ll of course all want to play with it and that’s just not fair to tease them, but I thought the age group I have would do well with it. Again, all the younger kids wanted to come grab him. I had to stop several times and suggest we find a place to sit, “Does everybody have a good color circle on the carpet, or should we find a better place to sit?” Things like that work pretty well, but sometimes it’s only a matter of a minute or so before the kids might be back up front again. I was quite worried that it was such a distraction to the older kids who were listening and behaving very well, but the kids themselves seemed to not really mind at all. I was also worried that I was a plane going down and that the parents weren’t going to be happy about my lack of control of the room, but we eventually, after a bit of a reminder about sharing the story with everybody in the room and how to sit on our bottoms, the bottom of our bottoms…the bottom of our bouncy, bouncy bottoms (thanks Miss Meaghan), we got through the story and even the parents let out some “oohs” and “aahs” when I removed the shiny scales and placed them on the other fish so that helped calm my nerves a bit.

After the story, I asked them why they thought Rainbow Fish was so happy. They’re a smart bunch and answered with things like “He did what Mr. Octopus told him to do and shared”. I told them what great listeners they were and asked if they could share in cleaning up and help me swim all the fish back home. They all excitedly swam their little fish up to the front and placed the back in the basket.

Next, we did a counting rhyme about friends. I talked about how Rainbow Fish made lots of friends by being nice and sharing his scales. I then asked them how many friends he made. He made 5 friends so we started our rhyme with 5.

5 good friends went out to play
on a bright and sunny day
one friend said “I can’t stay”
how many good friends are left to play?

The rhyme continues on until you have no friends left. Basic stuff, but the kids liked it because they caught on very quickly and were able to rhyme along with me and shout out the numbers. We actually did this rhyme twice because they seemed to have so much fun, the second time around, we started with 10! I asked them “Do you think you can count backwards from 10?” many of them said no, but turns out, they can! 😉

after the rhyme, I could tell the wiggles were sneaking up on us, so I asked them if they needed to get some wiggles out, uhm, duh, Miss Colleen. So we stood up, did the chicken pose, and got ready to wiggle.
First, we wiggled our fingers. We wiggled them fast, we wiggled them slow. We wiggled them high, and we wiggled them…low. Then we tried to come up with new ways to wiggle. We wiggled our nose, then we tried to wiggle our ears, that one turned out to be rather hard to do, but darn it if we didn’t try! Then we wiggled our toes and then we wiggled our hair. Once we had wiggled everything we could, we wiggled ourselves back down to the floor, that’s when one creative attendee suggested we try to wiggle the floor, but turns out that doesn’t wiggle (GOOD!)
Towards the end of our wiggle session, one of the younger siblings had squirmed his way up front again and was giggling and wiggling with all his might when Mr. Tentacles caught his eye again. He reached for the toy and when dad came to try to save the octopus, I suggested we use Mr. Tentacles to help practice our sharing. It looked to me like that octopus had some wiggles of his own to get out and he needed some help. The kids were AWESOME at passing him around so that everybody had a chance to give him a hug and a shake before he made his way back up front to sit with me.

Now that we had all of our wiggles out, We learned the Goodbye Rhyme. Many of the kids that were there for this session weren’t at last week’s Thursday session so it was new to them. Again, I provided printed handouts to any of the kids that wanted to follow along and help me read, and to any parents that would like to take them home to practice.  This group was just as good at learning the new words and actions as the first group was.

This storytime didn’t feel quite as successful as the first one, but it certainly didn’t feel like a failure either. I know that not every session is going to be storytime gold, but I hope they at least come close.

I have one more session this week with this theme so I might switch up a few things and see how it goes, Maybe we’ll get our wiggles out first, and maybe I’ll have to make a felt octopus and leave Mr. Tentacles to keep watch at his post on the reference desk. I’ll check back in and let you know how it goes!

UPDATE
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The second session of this storytime was awesome! The group was at LEAST twice as large, but they were excellent listeners.

I changed things up a bit and went with the Welcome Rhyme, then we talked about a time we shared with somebody or somebody we share with at home; they were all so proud to tell me that they share with their younger siblings or cousins. Then, judging from the last session, I figured it would be good if we got our wiggles out before our first story. Hilariously, this group wasn’t very wiggly and didn’t even stand up to wiggle, they all just calmly wiggled in their seats which is totally fine, go with the flow. Because they seemed ready for a story, we didn’t wiggle very long at all. Rainbow Fish flannel went off without a hitch; we did have a few younger siblings in this group, but they were much younger and not old enough to get up and get at the flannel board. I also threw out the swimming fish idea. Again, I think it’s a fun thing to be able to make the story interactive, but I didn’t want to have to handle the very helpful younger kids AND remember my spot in the story AND keep the older kids engaged like last time so I opted for a less interactive, but overall better flannel experience. Some stories and activities are just not meant to be.

After the story we, once again, flexed our memory and counting skills and talk about how many friends Rainbow Fish made by sharing (5) and then got our counting fingers out for the 5 Good Friends rhyme. They were awesome counters, as expected.

After that, I asked them to vote; another story, or more rhymes. I didn’t even get to say “more rhymes” because as soon as I asked if they wanted another story, they all shouted “YES!”
More stories it is!

Our second story, which we didn’t get to last session, was “Mine” by Mathilde Stein.
It’s a cute story and I think the kids enjoyed it.

After the second story, I took a cue from the last session where we shared Mr. Tentacles and this time we shared shaker eggs. I told the kids we were going to practice sharing and that I would pass out these fun shaker eggs, but I didn’t have enough for everybody so we would have to take turns and share. This COULD have gone awry, but they were SO great! Once all the eggs were passed out, we shook them in a couple silly ways, then we found somebody to share with, then shook them again in some other silly ways. It went fabulously. The kids that didn’t have an egg shook their hands and giggled while they waited their turn. Yay!

Again, they were wonderful in helping to clean up and return all the shaker eggs and then we ended our session with the Goodbye Rhyme and said farewell.

I am SO not a morning person, but it sure does help to have such a great group for storytime. 🙂

Now, on to plan next week. Any suggestions?! 😉