Snow snow snow

So last week we had an impromptu break from some of our storytimes due to being closed for that little blizzard that visited the Midwest; thanks, Linus. Because we were closed during the time I’d normally do my Monday session, but not for my Thursday session, I decided to switch out the theme. I hate working hard on planning a theme and craft and sometimes writing up my own rhymes and such to only do it one day, ya know? 😛

Anyhow, so instead of doing Dinosaurs (hence that little chompy dude at the end of my last post) I did ….

wait for it…

SNOW!

Surprise, right? hah

The books I read were:

Snow by Steve Sanfield
Danny’s First Snow by Leonid Gore 
Winter is for Snow by Robert Neubecker

I wasn’t in love with the Sanfield book, but it worked well, the other two though, I quite liked. Danny’s First Snow has adorable, soft illustrations and is imaginative and fun. They talk about seeing animals in the snow and I liked that though the shapes were recognizable, they weren’t too obvious so it was fun for the kids to figure it out. Winter is for Snow was also a fun read. The story follows a brother and sister who have two very different views of snow and winter. One voice is grumpy and pouty while the other reads wonderfully cheerful and excited. It also has a nice little message about trying new things. The brother is convinced that winter is terrible and cold and no fun and wants to stay inside, but the sister knows better; she knows that winters is great for sledding and snowballs and all sorts of fun stuff. Eventually the brother caves and tries it and…has fun! *gasp*

One of the action rhymes I did was a short little rhyme about sledding

Sledding Fun

Climb, climb, climb – up the hill of snow. (mimic climbing)
Jump on our sleds (jump!)
Down we go! Weeee! (pretend to slide)

We did several rounds of this and before each round we decided how we were going to sled down the hill; sometimes we went down slowly, sometimes super fast (usually super fast), sometimes backwards or on our bellies like penguins. It was really fun and a good way to burn off some energy if you have a rowdy group.

I also did I’m a little snowman which I got from a preschool express page that has bunches of great snow rhymes and songs.

I’m a Little Snowman
Tune: “I’m A Little Teapot”

I’m a little snowman
Short and fat,
Here are my buttons,
Here is my hat.
When the sun comes out,
I run away
Before I slowly
Melt away!

Since we had a smaller crowd and it was only one session, I broke out something extra awesome for our craft, MARSHMALLOWS!
We has some left over marshmallows from a previous event so I figured I’d put them to use and we made marshmallow snowmen which the kids loved. Unfortunately I didn’t get and good pictures, but here’s a great example.

I was a tiny bit worried that the kids would try to just eat all the marshmallows, but before we moved to the craft room, I had them pinky promise that they wouldn’t eat the craft. This brought lots of giggles from the crowd, why would one EAT a CRAFT? I have to say, I did not see one single kid eat one single marshmallow! they were so great! I mean, there was nothing really wrong with the marshmallow, I was just a little worried because I had put them out on the craft tables in out usual craft trays which often house crayons and stickers and glue sticks and are touched by lots of little fingers so they aren’t exactly something I’d eat off of.

Overall, it was a pretty good storytime and an excellent craft.

Dinosaurs will have to wait a bit longer because next week is all sorts of mushy but I promise I’ll eventually get to those big lizards.

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Mittens in the Mitten

It’s certainly becoming mitten weather in the Mitten State, what better time to do a mitten storytime?

We got a good dusting of snow recently and I wanted to incorporate that into a storytime theme,  but it’s still mid November so I didn’t want to do anything too wintery and that’s when I decided upon mittens! They’re worn in cold weather and are great for making snowballs! 😉

The books I read were:

One Mitten by Kristine O’Connell George

The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg

The Mitten by Jan Brett

Three Little Kittens by Paul Galdone

 

Ok, I didn’t actually read the last book because for both of my sessions this week, we had a super small turnout of around 10-15 as opposed to our typical 40-50  and the groups were quite subdued. I had to really work to get them to interact at times. It always nice when they all sit quietly while we read, but it rough when you’re trying to do rhymes and fingerplays and you’ve got a tiny group of sleepy eyed kids just staring back. hah. This weather sure has calmed them down.

I did one rhyme (I only did it with one group because the other group was so tough to get to interact) and one flannel board. With the flannel board I actually got a pretty good response and ended up milking it as long as I could by asking them lots of questions about the pieces and really having them think about lots of the details. I found a rhyme online about ten mittens and I used some mini clothespins that we had in the craft room and some yarn and printed out / laminated some mitten clipart and made myself a little mini clothesline for my mittens!

 

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Ten warm mittens

Ten warm mittens, hanging on the line,
One blows away and then there are nine
Nine warm mittens, one without a mate,
A squirrel carries one away and that leaves eight.
Eight warm mittens, just eight not eleven,
One gets buried in the snow and that leaves seven.
Seven warm mittens, which one do you pick?
I’ll pick the red one and that leaves six.
Six warm mittens, put one on to try.
Then you take it from the line and that leaves five.
Five warm mittens, we had ten before!
A fluffy bunny needs one and that leaves four!  
Four warm mittens, two for you and two for me,
I lost one on the ski slope and that leaves three.
Three warm mittens, looking very new,
One falls into the mud and that leaves two.
Two warm mittens, drying in the sun,
A bird comes down and snatches it and that leaves one.
One warm mitten, what good is one?
A little mouse can have a bed, and that leaves none!

 

Originally when I put the mittens on the board, they were in random order, all mixed up, then we did the rhyme and I took them down, one by one. Then, I put one of each pair up with an empty clothespin between them and I asked the kids to help me match my mittens. I had them help by calling out the number of the matching mitten to the one I held up. For example, I held up a blue mitten and the matching mitten was the 3rd mitten on the board so my mitten matched mitten #3. it was kinda tricky, but they caught on pretty fast and it’s excellent practice for counting, matching, and comparing! Yay! Secret math! I made sure to have some mittens that were similar but not the same so that we could discuss. “The blue mitten with zig zag stripes does NOT match the red mitten with zig zag stripes, but what is similar about them? The red mitten with zig zag stripes does NOT match the plain red mitten, but what is similar about them?” Activities like that are always good for building their language skills. THEN, we went a whole step further (which was probably a bit beyond their skill level still, but not too far) since we had the mittens matched up, we counted by TWOS! They’re a smart bunch.

 

The other rhyme I had prepared but only used for one session was a basic fingerplay. I actually had trouble remembering BOTH my rhymes this week, maybe my brain is slowing with the cold weather, but even with a few round of practice, I had to read my sheet much more than normal. boo.

Mitten Finger play
by Lucia Kemp Henry

Here is a mitten, (hold up one hand)
A snug, fuzzy one- (rub palms together)
With a place for my fingers (wiggle 4 fingers)
And a place for my thumb (wiggle thumb)
Here are two mittens, (hold up two hands)
A colorful sight. (hands back and forth)
One for the left hand (hold up left hand)
One for the right. (hold up right hand)
Here are OUR mittens, (hold up two hands)
As soft as can be (stroke the back of one hand)
A warm pair for you (point to the neighbor)
And a warm pair for me (point to yourself)

 

For our craft, I did a very simple design a mitten craft. I printed mitten outlines on colored cardstock and gave them crayons and foam stickers and let them go to town. Again, very open ended craft that gives them the freedom to do whatever they want but is also very simple and easy to prepare for staff, always good.

I enjoyed this theme and wish the crowds were a bit bigger because I always like to feel like I got my money’s worth out of a theme. 😛

 

Soon I’ll be posting about an underwater storytime we did with a craft that I loved but worried would be too much for the kids. Stay tuned!

 

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.

Neither sleet, nor rain, not ice, nor snow

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

– Anonymous                                                       

                                            

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When I woke up Monday morning, I was SURE I heard rain. I was so excited! I love rainy weather and I was especially excited because it’s getting to be the time of year when rain means SPRING! and boy oh boy am I ready for winter to be over!

Unfortunately, I was not hearing rain; much to my dismay, it was only the sound of the melting snow dripping off the roof. But hey! snow doesn’t melt without sun, right?! I’ll take that over no melting snow, I suppose, and just keep being patient for rain. Driving in to work in such nice sunny and, kinda, warm weather made me decide to scrap my original idea for this week’s theme and do something about weather. I poked around all day (luckily my Monday session isn’t until 7pm) trying to decide what to do. I didn’t want to do spring because I had that planned for a couple weeks from now when it actually IS spring, nor did I want to do rain because it wasn’t really raining and there’s still about 358628946 feet of snow on the ground, so I decided to just do “weather” and try to keep it kind of generic. I picked three books, one covered lots of weather and seasons, the other two touched on a couple different things but mainly focused on snow and rain which I thought was appropriate. The books I picked were “If Frogs Made Weather” by Marion Dane Bauer, “Snow” by Manya Stojic, and “Rain” also by Manya Stojic

I loved the pictures in all three books; they were colorful, bold, and captivating and the stories all lend themselves quite well to being read out loud. The Rain book even covers the 5 senses so you can sneakily teach or reinforce those while reading and because it repeats itself a few times, the kids pick up on it and I ended up simply pointing to my eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or wiggling my fingers to signal what sense and they all did a great job of shouting it out.

This week’s theme was a little less focused on teaching and a little more just on enjoying and acknowledging the things around us, though we may have learned a few things in the process 😉 . Monday’s group was a rather large group and we have lots of enthusiastic attendees in this group so noisy, rambunctious activities always go over well with them. We did a lot of noise making and moving around with both a SUPER basic flannel board, as well as an activity. Thursday morning’s group can often be just as rambunctious as Monday, but sometimes they’re much more subdued and I think it’s because it’s so close to nap / lunch / quiet time and their early morning energy is starting to fade, but that’s ok too.

For the flannel board, I printed out a handful of different weather-y clip art pictures and explained to the kids that I was going to put pictures of different kinds of weather up on the felt board and I wanted them to help me act them out. I had wind, sun, rain, and snow. This gave them a chance to get creative since I didn’t tell them HOW to be a snowflake or what noise rain makes, they got to decide on their own and it was really cool to watch and listen. for example, when I put the snow clip art up, one kid took his fingers and wiggled them while moving his arms down to signify falling snow, but another kid jumped up out of his seat and spread his arms and legs to make himself look like a snowflake. I LOVED it! I jumped up too and asked everybody if they would help me make a snowstorm so we all made ourselves look like snowflakes and drifted gently towards the ground until we all ended up giggling on the floor. For sun, some kids made their arms into a circle while others twinkled their fingers like rays. the last one I put up was rain, that one was a BIG hit. after we all got our rain noises out, I said “what if I told you that we could make it rain right in this room?” they all laughed or looked on confused or in disbelief. that’s when I told them that I was going to show them a trick and all they needed to do was be very quiet and use their eyes to watch me and their ears to listen. That’s when we did this…

The storm begins

1. Rub your hands together – wind rustling
2. Snap your fingers – raindrops
3. Hit your thighs with your hands – heavy rain
4. Stomp your feet while you’re hitting your thighs – heavy thunder and heavier rain.

Then the storm quiets
1. Just hit thighs
2. Just snap your fingers
3. Just rub your hands together.
4. Then all stop because the storm is over (and the rainbow appears!)

 

It was a HUGE hit and it worked so well! I was a little nervous that I might be trying this with an age group that was a bit to young, but they were excellent. It didn’t hurt, of course, that the parents joined in as well. It was pretty dynamic with the Monday session since we had a much larger group than on Thursday (thanks, crazy Michigan weather for making my theme relevant yet hindering my attendance) but it worked well even with a smaller group.

We had so much fun talking about rain and making noise that I thought “Oh! I know another way we can make a rainstorm” So I had them practice their counting and made them time me as I ran to the back and grabbed some of our shakers. I often talk myself out of using the egg shakers because I don’t want to get too redundant, but they’re always a big hit when they are brought out so I should really try to work them in a bit more. So we all grabbed our shakers and made different kids of rain noises. We sprinkled, we poured, and, of course, we STORMED. They LOVED having an excuse to bang on the plastic seats and stomp their feet to make thunder and, hey, why not?

After all was said and done, we cleaned up they rainstorm and I gave them a hint about next week’s theme by saying it would have to do with “Green”

I’m planning to do SOMETHING Irish themed but I’m still at a bit of a loss book-wise. I just can’t find many good picture books. I might just have to buy some for myself and bring them in for storytime. We shall see.

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