Thursday, February 28, 2013

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Baby Lap Time, 2/28/13

 Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Baby Lap Time, 2/28/13

Rhyme: Cheek Chin


Book: Baby, I Love You by Karma Wilson
The adults always like this one, and I was glad I thought to use it today since we had lots of very tiny babies who were still too small to really participate in very much. Though I offered all three books to the room to possibly check out, this is the only one that went. 

Song: Head and Shoulders

Rhyme: Where Oh Where Are Baby’s Fingers? 

Book: What's On My Head? by Margaret Miller
I sang about each object in the book, to the tune of Mary Wore Her Red Dress. The adults got a lot of laughs out of  the pictures of the baby with a puppy dog on his head.

Song:  All the Little Babies
We had a few bigger babies who like to bounce, so we did once bouncing song. I liked the way some of the moms with tiny babies used this as an opportunity to gently rock them.

Song: Tony Chestnut

Book: Whose Knees Are These?  by Jabari Asim

Song: Where is Big Toe?
I really need to find a more newborn-friendly alternative to this song! It was fine for the 6-8 month olds, but not so much for the little 2 month olds.

Song: Row Your Boat

Songs: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song with Stick Puppets: Mary Had a Little Lamb
We sang about different colored lambs, which were red as a rose, green as  the grass, blue as  the sea, and black as the night. I think I want to start doing more with stick puppets for this group again.


Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It
 
I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Toddler Lap Time, 2/28/13

 Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Toddler Lap Time, 2/28/13

Book: All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang
The kids were so attentive to this book, but not very outwardly responsive. It's longer than what I'd usually read to this group, and I had the sense (real or imagined, I'm not sure) that the parents were wondering when it was going to be over. I showed  the kids my hands, feet, head, etc. to try and make the book more interactive, but it really turned out to be more of  a passive experience for the kids. I think Molly Bang is an author who speaks to kids on a level not fully understood by adults.
 
Song: My Eyes Are Made for Seeing  
The kids were more willing to participate in this song, especially the ones closer to two years old.

Book: Whose Knees Are These? by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
I think I have to give up on this book and Whose Toes Are Those? Kids just don't like them. I've tried them several different times, and as much as I like  the artwork, the kids lose interest after half a page.
 
Song: Where is Big Toe?
 
Book: I Can Do It, Too! by Karen Baicker, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
I like this book a lot more than I expected to, and I think it would have done better earlier in the session. I am going to hang onto it for tomorrow's session and put it earlier in the line-up.

Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers
 
Song: Hands Up High
 
Song: Head and Shoulders
 
Song: I'm a Little Teapot


Songs with Shaker Eggs 
I sing  a clean-up  song after we play with the shaker eggs - "If you have a shaker egg, shaker egg, shaker egg, if you have a shaker egg, bring it up to me." This is hands-down the kids' favorite part of story time, and today they were like a stampede, all trying to be  the first one to make it into the basket with their eggs.


Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider
 
Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Pajama Story Time, 2/27/13

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Pajama Story Time, 2/27/13

Only one of the regulars -  a little girl - showed up to this story time, but we were joined by another family - a preschooler girl and a toddler boy - after the third book. They were a quiet bunch, and they seemed to like the songs better than the stories, but it's hard to know for sure, since they didn't really interact very much.

Book: I am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Book: We've All Got Bellybuttons by David Martin
This book got some nice giggles, but the little girl didn't feel like doing the movements. Her dad did them with me anyway, though! He is always a great participant.

Song: Moon Moon Moon  
This is the little girl's favorite song, and she sang all the words with me the second time through. (This is why I always repeat things - not only do the kids learn it better, but the kids who already know it need time to get warmed up.)

Book: Growing Like Me by Anne Rockwell
When I was weeding our 500s I found  this poor neglected book. I decided to keep it and start using it at story time

Song: Head and Shoulders

Song: Sing a Happy Song

Book: The Greatest Gymnast of All by Stuart J. Murphy
This is a book about opposites - over and under, in and out, up and down.

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Five in the Bed

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song: Goodnight

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It


I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Drop-In Story Time, 2/26/13

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Drop-In Story Time, 2/26/13

Book: Dancing Feet by Lindsay Craig, illustrated by Marc Brown
This book often gets mixed results. Most of the kids were too young to guess at the  animals, though by the end, one preschool girl was willing to call out a few of them. The kids were not very responsive throughout the book, but there was an unusual quietness in the room which suggests they were actually listening.
 
Song: It’s Dancing Time (based on "Warm Up Time" from Action Songs for Preschoolers)
I have been looking for more movement-based songs, which is part of why I chose a bodies and self theme for this week. I heard this song the first time on a CD which my library owns, and found it again on Spotify when I was at home yesterday. I usually can't predict whether a song will go over well or not, and I actually thought this one might not work. It did, though, and I got great participation from the adults as well as the kids.

Book: The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss
I thought the kids would like this more than they did, but it was still okay. It has wonderful rhyming in it, and it's not that long, but they did get restless by the last third of the book. Thankfully, our next song was highly energetic. 

Song: I Can Walk With Two Feet
The tune for this song is Mary Wore Her Red Dress, which I have used many times with flannel boards. Using it this way was much better, and the kids got really into it. We showed how we walk, march, run, and jump with our two feet. 

Book: Whose Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
This poor little book always looks so promising and almost always bombs. The book is probably too small, and the story is repetitive in a way that isn't particularly interesting. Still, that last page, where I had to turn the book to show the girl's full height, got everyone's attention.

Song: Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

Letter of the Day: F

Songs with ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Song: The Wheels on the Bus 

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It
 

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 2/21/13

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 2/21/13

This story time is such a rollercoaster. Some weeks it's just perfect, and I can't believe how wonderful it is. Other weeks - like this past one - it is just a disaster. Here's what happened this week. 

Welcome Message 
I got an idea about what kind of session this was going to be when I finished reading the message and a five-year-old girl told me, "You're not my friend." Rather than engage the comment as unfriendly or obnoxious or whatever she was trying to be, I used it as an opportunity to explain that there are lots of ways to close letters. Then I moved on to what I thought was going to be the most exciting part of story time. 

Read-Along 
I really wanted to use I Like Stars by Margaret Wise Brown, but we don't have enough copies in our system for every child to hold one in his or her hand. So I used our overhead projector to show the pages from the book on the wall. I really thought the kids would love this concept, and I expected it to combat the problem we normally have of kids reading ahead of me during the read-along. But in all my predictions about how things would go, I did not expect the kids to change the word "stars" to "farts." Early elementary school is my favorite age to work with, but I don't like the toilet humor. Furthermore, I don't think the parents like it when their kids come to story time and talk about farts the entire time. I did my best to remain calm. I said things like, "Oh, you're picking up on the "AR" sound. Are there other words that have that sound, too?" But they didn't care to indulge me and kept right on making poop jokes. I eventually just read the rest of the book to them quickly, then shut off the projector and took out my picture book. 

Picture Book Read-Aloud 
I was excited to read Stars, which is one of my favorite picture books, and I thought this group was old enough to actually understand it. Sadly, they were too silly to sit and listen to more than a page at a time. I try not to turn this into a highly academic environment, but I did eventually have to say that if we didn't stop talking about bathroom things, we'd have to go sit with our grown-ups out in the library instead of finishing story time. Thankfully, the next activity was interactive and we were able to get back on track - mostly.

Making a List 
I asked the kids to think of what they would wish for if they could wish upon a star. This is their list. (Answers related to poop were ignored, and they stopped making those comments eventually.)
I think making lists and word clouds is going to work really well with this story time going forward. They seem to focus the best when there is a discussion going on, and not as well when we're sitting and reading. I also had three more kids come in during this activity who were much more engaged and ready to participate than the kids who sat through the stories at the beginning. Perhaps it would be a better idea to do this brainstorming and chatting at the start of story time, and then read to them later when they've settled down. Typically, I start story times right away with a book because the kids' attention spans are short, but this group might need a different approach.

Craft 
I had the kids write their names on construction paper, then gave them some stars to turn their names into constellations. We had several kids try to write "poopy" as their name, but they got over it when I didn't react.  Some of the kids spent more than 30 minutes on their projects. The only issue was that parents kept asking me if their kids could leave. They didn't understand that story time was over, and when the kids weren't done with their crafts and didn't want to leave, the parents were asking me to close the room so they could get their kids to leave willingly. I'll have to work on setting better limits on exactly when we will be "finished." 

I love this story time so much, and I look forward to it as the highlight of  each week. It's been a great challenge for me so far, and it's giving me opportunities to stretch my story time muscles beyond the usual, mostly predictable crowds that attend the other ones. It keeps me on my toes if nothing else, and I can only imagine it will get better the more I do it. Now it's time to head back to the drawing board and figure out what this coming week's will look like!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Outreach Round-Up 2/7/13 - 2/22/13

Catholic School 5th Grade: Thursday, 2/7/13; Thursday 2/14/13; Thursday, 2/21/13
Book: No Talking 
Notes: We're still working our way through this novel, and they're still loving it.


Catholic School Kindergarten & First Grade: Friday, 2/8/13 (Two Separate Sessions)
Book: Eggs 1-2-3, Who Will the Babies Be?
Song: Over in the Meadow 
Notes: This book-song combination was perfect. The kids loved guessing who would hatch from the eggs, and they loved singing along to Over in the Meadow. By the end, some of them were grunting the verses rather than singing, but it was still fun.

Catholic School 3rd Grade: Friday 2/8/13
Book: I Feel Better with a Frog in my Throat 
Notes: The kids liked this book, but claimed it made them nauseous. I would complain, but they are still talking about the book two weeks later, which I think is a positive sign.

Psychiatric Institute School: Monday, 2/11/13
Books: Princess Hyacinth, Owl Moon, Chrysanthemum
Notes: The psychiatric hospital is a new partner for my library, and this was my first visit. I read to a group of about 10 school-age kids. The book that got the biggest applause was Owl Moon, but Chrysanthemum was a close second. These kids were reluctant to respond to me at the beginning, but by the end, they were begging me to stay. They were among the most engaged and attentive group I've ever read to, and I can't wait to go back in March~

Catholic School 3rd Grade: Friday, 2/15/13
Book: The Day-Glo Brothers 
Notes: The class had a lot of questions about day-glo and the girls were interested in being told on every page which brother was which. 

Rec. Center Cooperative Play Program: Wednesday, 2/20/13
Books: Ella Sarah Gets Dressed, The Red Shoes, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
Songs: A Hat Goes on My Head, Sing a Happy Song, If You're Happy and You Know It
Notes: This group is so great. The Red Shoes is a quiet, poetic story, but they were completely into it! The kids are also coming out of their shells more in this second half of the year. They actually let me lead a little bit of a discussion about things we wear, and where on our bodies they belong. 

Public School Pre-K:  Wednesday, 2/20/13 (Two Classes)
Books: Birdsongs, A Home For Bird 
Songs: Chickadee, Hat, Coat, Pants, and Shoes, These Are My Glasses
Notes: Birdsongs got them a little wound up, especially in the first class, but they absolutely loved both books and wanted more even when we were out of time!

Catholic School Pre-K: Thursday, 2/21/13
Books: Duck and Goose, What's the Time, Mr. Wolf?, Meet Wild Boars
Songs: Five Little Ducks, Shake My Sillies Out,  These Are My Glasses 
Notes: Duck and Goose was kind of a flop, but the Mr. Wolf book was a surprise hit. They loved laughing at the wild boars and assured me they would never let one come to their house.

Catholic School Kindergarten : Friday, 2/22/13
Books: Birdsongs
Songs: Chickadee, Hat, Coat, Pants and Shoes

Notes: Though their teacher didn't think so and kept interrupting me to yell at the kids, this group was very good this week. They loved guessing the names of the bids and making the sounds, and they followed directions much better than the Pre-K classes earlier in the week.


Catholic School First Grade: Friday, 2/22/13
Book: Yum! Yuck! 
Activity: I gave each child a popsicle stick sign with two sides. One side had a smiley face and said yum; the other said yuck and showed a frown. I asked each kid one at a time to name a food they love, and the kids had to show the correct sign to demonstrate whether they did or did not like that food. The kids got a little crazy, and whenever I tried to rein them back in, the teacher - who is also the one who brought kindergarten - just lost it and started yelling. She was very sarcastic, and that just confused the kids even more. I wish she understood that I have control over the room, even if the kids aren't sitting silently like little robots.
Song: Hat, Coat, Pants, and Shoes
Notes: We did this book as a guessing game. I said one of the foreign phrases, then asked the kids to repeat it. Then we looked at the visual clues to find out what the English phrase might be. After a few guesses, we opened the flap to find out. The kids really liked it,.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Very Talented Eric Carle Preschool Story Time, 2/22/13

 The Very Talented Eric Carle Preschool Story Time, 2/22/13

I had a busy afternoon yesterday, so I ran out of time and forgot to take a photo of my set-up for this story time. I also brought my very hungry caterpillar (shown above), which I bought at the Eric Carle Museum, to work with me, and then forgot to actually bring him to story time.So that was kind of a disappointment. However, despite my forgetfulness, this was one of the best preschool story times ever. The audience for this story time has evolved a lot since September. It used to be a lot of four year olds, but now we're getting a wider age range. Because we used beads this week, I really discouraged folks from bringing in babies who might try to swallow them, so some of the toddlers and babies didn't join us, but we did have a couple of two year olds. The average age was probably three and a half.


Book: The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
The kids all knew this book, so it was easy to get them to call out the names of the animals and make their sounds. One older sibling, who is a first grader, seemed really annoyed with being asked what a cow says, but a kindergarten big sister got really into it, so that was nice.

Flannel Board: Four Colorful Spiders
This is a flannel board rhyme I wrote to use at the spider-themed story time I did on Halloween. I was looking forward to using it again because it's simple and kids are intrigued by bugs. In the past, my preschoolers have not liked flannel boards, but I'm going to start trying to incorporate them more, because this was a huge hit. Even after story time was over, kids were still interested in using the pieces to retell the story.

Book: The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
This book is long and repetitive, but the kids loved guessing what might be bigger than each creature the ladybug refuses to fight. I kind of liked doing my longer book in the middle of the story time. By then, everyone was settled into story time and fully focused, and all the stragglers were finished wandering in.

Song with ukulele: Bugs Around the Town (Tune: The Wheels on the Bus)
I found this song here, then added my own verses, shown below. I asked the kids to do the motions while I played the ukulele. Some of them did. Some of them just listened instead. This group was especially intrigued by the ukulele, and a few of  the kids came up to me afterward for a turn to strum the strings. One little boy also suggested that if a string ever gets broken, I can use yarn to fix it! Too cute.

The ladybug with spots goes wiggle, wiggle wiggle
The firefly at night goes blink blink blink
The bees in the flowers go buzz buzz buzz....
The ants in the grass go march march march...
The spiders on their webs crawl up and down...
The grasshopper’s legs go jump, jump, jump...
The caterpillar in the field goes creep creep creep....

Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
I had big plans for this story earlier in the week, but ran out of time to implement them. I wanted to create a clothesline of the different foods and hang them across the room, but I didn't think it would be as fun to throw it together at the last minute, so I skipped it and decided on a simple craft instead.

Craft: Beaded Pipe Cleaner Caterpillars 
I saw this idea on Pinterest when I was searching for activities related to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I had some dark green pipe cleaner and some pony beads, and the kids got very excited about making patterns. Most kids did make caterpillars, but one little boy made a snake, and a couple of girls made bracelets. Only one mom became overly concerned with doing things the "right" way and I responded to her question by saying, "I make it up as I go along." Once I said that, she was content to do the same thing. I really hate the way some of our customers treat our craft supplies, but this group has done a wonderful job of cleaning up and following  the rules the last few times we have done crafts that I might start incorporating more of these simple activities.

For more ideas to use with a caterpillar theme, check out of my Caterpillars and Butterflies board on Pinterest. I also have a board for Bugs and Spiders 

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Very Talented Eric Carle Toddler Lap Time, 2/22/13

The Very Talented Eric Carle Toddler Lap Time, 2/22/13

Song: Way Up in the Sky

Book: Above Us in the Sky by Eric Carle

Song with Puppets: Did You Ever See?

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun

Song: Moon Moon Moon

Book: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up

Song: Sing a Happy Song

Song: Head and Shoulders

Song: Ring a Round a Rosie

Book: Below Us, Under the Earth and Sea by Eric Carle

Songs with Foam Stars:
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • One Little, Two Little, Three Little Stars
  • There's a Star Upon My Head
Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: Five Little Monkeys 

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

The Very Talented Eric Carle Drop In Story Time, 2/22/13

 
 The Very Talented Eric Carle Drop In Story Time, 2/22/13

Book: Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? by Eric Carle

Song:
Cuddly Koalas

Book:
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Eric Carle

Song:
Old MacDonald

Book:
Today is Monday by Eric Carle

Letter of the Day:
Songs with ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: The Wheels on the Bus 

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up 
 
Song: Head and Shoulders 

Song: I'm a Little Teapot


Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

The Very Talented Eric Carle Baby Lap Time, 2/21/13

 The Very Talented Eric Carle Baby Lap Time, 2/21/13

Rhyme: Cheek Chin

Song with Puppets: When Lions Get Up in the Morning

Book: 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle

Song: Goodnight

Song: Tony Chestnut

Song: Head and Shoulders

Book: With Us, on Earth and Sea by Eric Carle

Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: All the Little Babies

Songs with Shaker Eggs:
Rhyme: Where is Baby’s Belly Button?

Rhyme: Hey Diddle Diddle

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

The Very Talented Eric Carle Toddler Lap Time, 2/21/13

The Very Talented Eric Carle Toddler Lap Time, 2/21/13

Song: Way Up in the Sky

Book: Above Us in the Sky by Eric Carle
 
Song with Puppets: Did You Ever See?

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun
 
Song: Moon Moon Moon
 
Book: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
 
Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up
 
Song: Sing a Happy Song
 
Song: Head and Shoulders
 
Song: Ring a Round a Rosie
 
Book: Below Us, Under the Earth and Sea by Eric Carle
 
Songs with Foam Stars:
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • One Little, Two Little, Three Little Stars
  • There's a Star Upon My Head
Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider
 
Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Caldecott Challenge Post #80 (Final Challenge Post!)

When I signed up to participate in the Caldecott Challenge last January, I don’t think I realized just how many books I was agreeing to read - or how many of them would be so difficult to find. As of today, I have read all but five of the Caldecott Medal and Honor Books from 1938 to 2012, but to accomplish this task, I had to visit at least five different libraries, including the Library of Congress. I still hope to finish the challenge - possibly after another visit to the Library of Congress when I have the chance - but for now, I’m going to declare myself finished with just this one final post of reviews. Starting in March, I will starting posting weekly picture book reviews.


The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Published 2007. Caldecott Medal 2008.

I saw the movie based on this book before I ever got around to reading the book. For the most part, the story is the same, but I will admit that the book’s ending got more of an emotional reaction out of me than anything in the film adaptation. I still don’t really understand everyone’s fascination with Brian Selznick’s style. I guess it’s neat the way he zooms in and out on various aspects of his drawings. I just don’t see it as a very effective storytelling tool. Still, though, this is a hugely popular book with most kids, and they could do worse.

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith. Published 2011. Caldecott Honor 2012. 

I reviewed Grandpa Green when I first read it in late 2011. While it’s not that popular with the kids I know, I still think it’s visually appealing and emotionally satisfying. I still stand by what I said in my initial review, which you can read here.


White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin. Published 1947. Caldecott Medal 1948.

I love the old-fashioned illustrations in this book. The thick clumps of snows on the trees remind me of childhood snow days, and I like the sense of community created by each character’s speculation about and reaction to the wintry weather. Kids are also surprisingly drawn to this book. Whenever I’ve read it at story time, the kids have always pointed out various details that interest them, and they often move closer to me to be able to see the book better.

Fables by Arnold Lobel. Published 1980. Caldecott Medal 1981.

I have always loved Arnold Lobel, but I don’t know that I have ever read this book before. I love his contemporary-feeling fables, and the beautiful pictures with which he illustrates them. My favorites are the ostrich, all dressed up because he is in love and the elephant father whose slipper is on fire. My favorite opening sentence of any of the stories is “All night long, the sleeping Pig dreamed of candy.” That is an absolutely perfect beginning line.

A Very Special House by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Published 1953. Caldecott Honor 1954.

Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak made such a perfect picture book writing team. This book speaks to children on their level and celebrates creativity in an exuberant and empowering way. The text reminds me of the way preschoolers just ramble on and on about whatever is important to them, regardless of their audience and the illustrations are just wonderfully imaginative and full of life. For a book drawn in only four colors, it is surprisingly successful and appealing.


Puss in Boots by Marcia Brown. Published 1952. Caldecott Honor 1953.

I love this story, but I’m not especially fond of this version’s illustrations. They don’t really grab my attention and in some of them, the details are unclear. I do like the look on the cat’s face on the front cover - as though he knows many things we don’t - but not much else spoke to me about this one.

Finders Keepers by Will and Nicolas. Published 1951. Caldecott Medal 1952.

This book is strange and disappointing. I expected the two dogs to learn that it didn’t matter who the bone belonged to, but instead, they gang up on the dog who tries to take it from them! I thought that was an unusual turn to the story, and that it might actually upset kids. I also didn’t really understand the importance of the farmer, the goat, or the barber, who all take something from the dogs and then fail to assist with the bone problem. This was just a weird reading experience I don’t care to repeat.

The Caldecott Challenge was hosted by LibLaura5. View my full list of reviews here. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Very Talented Eric Carle Drop-In Story Time, 2/19/13

 The Very Talented Eric Carle Drop-In Story Time, 2/19/13
 
I have never tried dedicating a week of story times to one particular author or illustrator, but I thought it would be interesting to try with Eric Carle, whose books have such wide appeal, and whose writing has a variety of levels. Today, I focused on his books that deal with colors.

Book: The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
Some of the adults got really into this one, and the polka dotted donkey brought down the house for everyone.

Flannel Board Song: The Artist's Crayons
This was the perfect activity for the preschoolers who came to story time today. They knew all the colors and shouted them right out!

Book: The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle
This book starts out with a few longer pages of text which immediately made the adults lose interest. I got them back when things really started moving along, and the book got a lot of applause at the end.

Song: Stars Shining Bright
I used foam stars to hold up and the kids called out the colors for me.

Book: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle
The adults all joined in with me, so we were one chorus. I think everyone enjoyed this one the most!

Letter of the Day: D
  • Rhyme: Dance Your Fingers
  • Rhyme: Little Duck
    Action rhymes are very hit or miss with these large groups, but every now and then I try a new one. This is a definite keeper!
  • Song with Ukulele: Stomp Like a Dinosaur (based on Fly Like a Butterfly)
    They loved this as well. I'll be adding it to the regular rotation of favorite songs!
Songs with Ukulele: ABCs/ Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: Sing a Happy Song

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It 

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sending You My Love Preschool Story Time, 2/15/13

   Sending You My Love Preschool Story Time, 2/15/13

This was the smallest and quietest preschool group I have ever had, so I really have no idea whether they liked the things I shared with them or not.  There were one baby, two toddlers, three preschoolers, and a first grader, and they smiled a lot, but said absolutely nothing. There aren't many comments below because I am literally the only one who said anything for the full thirty minutes!
 
Book: Love, Mouserella by David Ezra Stein 

Book: Slugs in Love by Susan Pearson

Song with ukulele: Mail Myself to You
I made up some simple hand motions to go with this song. I taught them the motions, then played the song on the ukulele while they did the movements.

I'm gonna wrap myself in paper 
(hug self)
I'm gonna dab myself with glue 
(pound hands)
Put some stamps on top of my head
(pat head)
I'm gonna mail myself to you
(point to self, then others)

Book: A Letter to Amy by Ezra Jack Keats

Game: Delivering the Mail 
The little basket in the photo above had paper letters in it that I made on my computer, and attached to the posterboard were six little mailboxes, each labeled with the name and picture of an animal which matched the names and pictures on the letters. The kids each got a few to deliver. They did it so quietly and so seriously, it didn't look like much fun, so we did our silly song next.

Song: Hat, Coat, Pants and Shoes 

Book: Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett

Song: These Are My Glasses

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Sending You My Love Toddler Lap Time, 2/15/13

Sending You My Love Toddler Lap Time, 2/15/13

This story time also had the generic love theme, and I used three books with love in their titles.

Book: My Love For You All Year Round by Susan L. Roth

Song: Love Grows

Book: I Love Animals by Flora McDonnell
This book was the favorite of the bunch. 

Song with poster: Old MacDonald

Book: I Love Trucks by Philemon Sturges

Song: Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Firetruck
They loved this song!

Song: Shake My Sillies Out

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Songs with Foam Hearts
  • H-E-A-R-T
  • There’s a Heart Upon...
Song: ABCs 

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Sending You My Love Drop-In Story Time, 2/15/13

 Sending You My Love Drop-In Story Time, 2/15/13

The problem with Valentine's Day falling on a Thursday is that none of my Valentine's Day repertoire will work for my Friday story times! Thus, this morning's drop-in story time had a love theme instead. This picture was taken after story time in our staff kitchen, which is why the lighting is better than usual!

Book: Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon
This story is pretty short and sweet, but for babies and  toddlers, it is somewhat long, so I wasn't sure how they would like it. I think the preschoolers who were at story time enjoyed it, and I know the adults did, as there was spontaneous thunderous applause after the last line. It's also kind of a tearjerker, but no one really teared up. 

Song with flannel board: Five Little Penguins Riding on a Sled
This song is based on Monkeys on the Bed. I used the flannel board to force myself to slow down and count the penguins.

Book: The Way I Love You by David Bedford
I really like the way I read this one today. My husband pointed out to me once at home that my voice is always the same when I'm reading, and I started noticing it, too. It's not that I was reading without inflection, but that when I read certain recurring phrases that appear in a lot of books, I was always reading them with the same inflection without regard for the context. So today when I read this book, I really thought about how to make it interesting to the kids. And it worked! The kids seemed really interested in the main character and her dog, and  the adults actually were quiet for almost the entire book.

Song: Love My Puppy, Yes I Do
We sang this song about a puppy, and then about a kitty. We did each verse twice, and I sang the first  time through as though the pet was a boy, and the second time with female pronouns.

Book: Grandma Calls Me Gigglepie by J.D. Lester, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
I have read this at story time in the past, but not in a while, so when I found it this morning, I was excited. There was one grandmother I noticed who seemed really pleased by it as she sat with her twin toddler grandsons.

Song with Poster: Old MacDonald
I've found that the adults do better when they have a visual aide to help them know what to sing and when to sing it. Since I wanted to play this on the ukulele, I decided it would be easier to make a poster than  to manipulate flannel board pieces. I tried taping the poster to the whiteboard, but it fell on me twice, so in the end, I asked a nanny to hold it for me. She did a great job, and I actually think people paid better attention when one of their own was up front with me.

Letter of the Day: C

Songs with ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

This was the best drop-in story time I've done in a while. The others have been good, but this one stood out somehow, possibly because of the great participation from the adults. I was also exhausted when it was over, which is always a good sign that a program has gone well!


I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Read-Along Story Time, 2/14/13

 Read-Along Story Time, 2/14/13

Though attendance was down yesterday, owing to the fact that this is a holiday weekend and there is no school today, this was one of the best read-along story times I have done so far. There were eight kids, ranging in age from four to six. Four were in preschool or Pre-K and four were in kindergarten or first grade.

Welcome Message 

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Today we will read two stories about Valentine's Day. We will make a list of Valentine words. We will write messages on hearts. It is time to begin! 

From, 

Miss Katie

The kids who could read knew the phrase "Valentine's Day" so I paused and let them read it. This was not my best welcome message, but they didn't seem to notice.

Read-Along
Today's read-along was a free download from Teachers Pay Teachers, which has a lot of helpful printables, some of which cost money, but many of which are free.  The book is called "Will You Be My Valentine?" and it shows pictures of different animals asking us to be their Valentines. We read it straight through, then we went back through it to decide whether we would or would not want to be valentines with that animal. (They said yes to monster and pig, but no to bee and turtle.)

Picture Book Read-Aloud 
Our read-aloud was The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever  by Brenda A. Ferber, which is  illustrated by Tedd Arnold. It was perfectly age appropriate and the kids really enjoyed it. I thought it was especially hilarious when one of the boys asked me what cooties were. Apparently, cooties are not a thing in kindergarten anymore.

Making a Word Cloud
Storytime Katie makes word clouds with the kids at her Growing Readers story times, and her blog inspired me to try it.  I used the reverse side of my welcome message to write the words. To get things started, we passed around a heart labeled "My Turn" so there would be no problems, as there sometimes are, with certain kids fighting about who is next. As one of the girls was passing the heart to the next child, a boy, she said, "He's my husband!" When I said, "He is? Oh my goodness," the little boy in question said, "Oh, yes, we are falling in love." It was adorable, and so perfect for Valentine's Day. When we were finished, the word cloud looked like this:

Hat, Coat, Pants, and Shoes
This group was an especially good audience for this song. They laughed themselves absolutely silly.

Writing Conversation Hearts
Our final activity was a handout from a blog post at Kinder Alphabet. I put out colored pencils and let the kids decorate their hearts. The ones who know how to write wrote down things like, "Love" and "Mom" and "Happy" and the younger kids colored and drew designs. I talked with everyone as they worked and was surprised by how much they had to say about their work. I definitely want to do more activities like this one in future weeks.

I look forward to this program every week, and this particular session was so much fun. I'm really glad to see some of our early elementary schoolers coming in more regularly and enjoying themselves at a program suited to their abilities.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sending You My Love Baby Lap Time, 2/14/13

Sending You My Love Baby Lap Time, 2/14/13
 (This week's theme is Valentines and mail.) 
A few babies slept through the entire session. Most of the adults were quiet and seemed puzzled by me. We had a lot of first-timers who did not register for next time, so it will probably be a whole different ballgame again next week.

Rhyme: Cheek Chin

Song: When Lions Get Up in the Morning

Book: My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall

Rhyme with Stick Puppets: Two Little Lovebugs (based on Two Little Blackbirds)

Rhyme with Puppets: I’m a Little Bumblebee

Song: All the Little Babies

Song: Tony Chestnut

Song: Head and Shoulders

Song: Will You Be My Valentine?

Book: All Kinds of Kisses by Nancy Tafuri
Two groups in a row didn't like this one. I have always had good luck with it before, so it must be an off day.

Song: One Little, Two Little, Three Little Kisses

Song: You Are My Sunshine

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Sending You My Love Toddler Lap Time, 2/14/13

  Sending You My Love Toddler Lap Time, 2/14/13
 (This week's theme is Valentines and mail.)

Tough crowd today! They weren't especially antsy, but they also weren't at all engaged. A lot of the regulars also didn't make it, so the newbies were more reluctant to participate.  

Book: Where is Baby’s Valentine? by Karen Katz
This was the best of the three books. I'll need to see if I can find more decent lift-the-flap books for this group, because they really love that element of surprise.

Rhyme: Making Valentines
This was cute, but the kids seemed confused.

Song: Love My Mommy

Book: All Kinds of Kisses by Nancy Tafuri
I have never had this book bomb before, but it did today.

Song: One Little, Two Little, Three Little Kisses

Rhyme: I Can Hug
This one looked better on paper than in practice. A lot of the twos weren't here today, and the younger ones just couldn't do the movements.

Song: Here We Go Up Up Up

Song: Put Your Finger in the Air

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Book: Goose Needs a Hug by Tad Hills
This doesn't work as a group read-aloud because there is dialogue, but the author doesn't specify who is speaking. But it's really cute, and I think three year olds might understand it better. 

Songs with Foam Hearts 
  • H-E-A-R-T (based on Bingo)
  • Will You Be My Valentine? 
  • There’s a Heart Upon...

Song with Puppet:
You Are My Sunshine

Song: Skinnamarink

 
I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sending You My Love Pajama Story Time, 2/13/13

  Sending You My Love Pajama Story Time, 2/13/13
 (This week's theme is Valentines and mail.)

Book: Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
This story is almost too sweet, but this group loved it. They especially enjoyed reaching up to show how big their love was. 

Song: Love Somebody
Yet another song from my mom's Girl Scout repertoire. I changed the words from "Love somebody, yes I do. Love somebody and I won't tell who." to "Love my mommy yes I do. Love my mommy and she loves me, too." I stuck my family finger puppets, plus the puppy, into a brown paper bag marked love, then took them out one at a time, asking the room who has a sister, a brother, a mommy, a daddy, or a puppy. Amazingly, all four of  the kids were only children, but they loved the daddy in the tie.

Book: My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
Always a hit. One little girl in particular got a lot of giggles out of this one. 

Song: Will You Be My Valentine?

Book: Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell
This one was a tad long, but they stuck with it almost to the end. 

Song: Love Grows

Book: Panda Kisses by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Moon Moon Moon 

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

Song: Goodnight
We sang goodnight to three animal finger puppets - duck, frog, and cow.


I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sending You My Love Drop-In Story Time, 2/12/13

 Sending You My Love Drop-In Story Time, 2/12/13
 (This week's theme is Valentines and mail.) 

Book: Secret Valentine by Catherine Stock
This is a good story for toddlers and threes. It has a simple plot and teaches lots of great Valentine vocabulary. The kids liked it, but the adults basically ignored me during the entire thing. 
 
Rhyme with stick puppets: Five Valentines
I used this rhyme last year as well. I printed messages on Valentine hearts and held them up one at a time. They clapped loudly at the end.
 
Book: If You’ll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Fumi Kosaka
This is not Cynthia Rylant's best - it has a lot of forced rhymes that don't really add anything to the story, and the kids were just not into it today.
 
Song: Will You Be My Valentine?
This song is to the tune of The Muffin Man. I learned it when I was in Brownies as a kid and my mom was in charge of our Valentine's Day performance at the nursing home. This morning, we sang it twice using words, then mooed, barked, and roared the next few verses. 

Song: Love Grows
I learned this song from my mom, too. She sings it with her pee wee campers at summer camp. I learned it for the ukulele first thing this morning, and played it three times. Everybody liked it and by the end, they could all sing along.
 
Song: There’s a Little Wheel a-Turnin' in my Heart

Letter of the Day: B
Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Sing a Happy Song
Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Songs with ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep
I forgot to sing this when we finished the letter B, so I had to go back for it later. This song perked everybody up - they love it. 

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

1 2 3 Count with Me! Preschool Story Time, 2/8/13

 1 2 3 Count with Me! Preschool Story Time, 2/8/13

This story time looks so promising on paper, but the kids did not enjoy it. Most of them seemed bored, and the ones who weren't bored were out of their seats and in my lap (and too young for this story time.) I think part of it was the books - they were disappointed that I had Chicka Chicka 1-2-3 but not the original, and they didn't even like this Pete the Cat! Eggs 1 2 3 was too hard for them and they couldn't cooperate well enough to sing Over in the Meadow with me. I also read way too many books.  Next week, I have to rethink the structure of this story time, especially if there are going to continue to be so many toddlers.

Book: Chicka Chicka 1-2-3 by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, and Lois Ehlert
This book is nowhere near as great as the original, but apparently Monday is the 100th day of school so the kids got excited about that.

Book: Ten Things I Love About You by Daniel Kirk
I thought this book would work because of its similarities to the Elephant and Piggie books, but I was wrong. Half the kids got up and and walked out of the room! I think part of that is just lack of discipline - the adults tell them they're free to come and go - but they also just didn't connect with the book. I was disappointed.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out

Book: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean and Eric Litwin
I don't understand a group of kids that doesn't enjoy Pete. Only a couple would chant with me, and the rest seemed bored bored bored.

Book: Eggs 1 2 3: Who Will the Babies Be? by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Betsy Thompson
This was probably the book that went over the best, but they got bored halfway through, possibly because one of the little boys who I think is too young to be there kept getting up to say, "Mommy Daddy and my mommy and daddy mommy mommy daddy." And his nanny refused to do anything about it.

Song with ukulele: Over in the Meadow
I played this for kindergarten and first grade today, and I used the poster shown in the photo to help them keep up with me. They loved it more than I expected, but this group sat like stones and said nothing. One mom awkwardly tried to clap along, but even she was looking at me like I don't know what I'm doing. Trust me, ma'am, this stuff works at other times! 

Book: Birdsongs by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
This one I'm taking on class visits, I think, because it's great, and it suffered in this story time by being last. I hadn't really planned to read it, but I thought it might redeem the session somehow. I was wrong.

It's hard to keep kids' attention after school on Friday, but it's still better to have kids who are restless than to not have any preschoolers coming to story time. Friday is the only day these kids are not in other activities, so it's what we've got to work with. Next week, I'll look for more interactive things and maybe only read three books.

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Flannel Friday: Musical Instruments

Since late August, I have been sharing a letter of the day with each of my drop-in story time groups. As of Tuesday, I have made it all the way through the alphabet, and today I started over again. Over the weeks, I learned that some letters are trickier than others, and that sometimes you have to be a little bit inventive to have enough quality material to share. Today, I want to share one of the strategies I used in order to fill in some of the gaps.

When the letter V came up, I instantly thought of the word violin, but I couldn't find very many violin songs or rhymes that would work for story time. Therefore, I wrote my own, inspired in part by Lloyd Moss's Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin. I printed out five copies of a photo of a violin to use on the flannel board, and wrote the following accompanying text.

One violin plays a solo. Zin! 
Two violins play a duet. Zin! Zin! 
Three violins play a trio. Zin! Zin! Zin! 
Four violins play in a quartet. Zin! Zin! Zin! Zin! 
Five violins play in a quintet. Zin! Zin! Zin! Zin! Zin! 

As I placed the violins on the flannel board, I asked everyone to play a pretend violin and make the Zin! sounds with me.

I didn't really think about using this flannel board again until I did either a music theme or the letter V came up again, but then I found myself stumped again for letter X. Pirate Rex's Xs was one good idea, but I needed at least one more. So I thought about words that begin with X, and of course, one of them is xylophone. By changing two words in the text I wrote about the violin, I now had an instant xylophone flannel board.

One xylophone plays a solo. Plink!
Two xylophones play a duet. Plink! Plink!
Three xylophones play a trio. Plink! Plink! Plink!
Four xylophones play in a quartet. Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink!
Five xylophones play in a quintet. Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! 
  
Basically any musical instrument will work with this same pattern, as long as you can come up with a reasonable sound for the instrument to make. Piano, keyboard, triangle, saxophone, and clarinet are just a few of the instruments that come to mind. I also  think it would be fun - especially with preschoolers or early elementary kids - to combine different instruments to make the duos, trios, quartets and quintets. Here's a possible example:

One violin plays a solo. Zin!
One violin and one drum play a duet. Zin! Blam!
One violin, one drum and one saxophone play a trio. Zin! Blam! Doodily doo! 
One violin, one drum, one saxophone and one triangle play a quartet. Zin! Blam! Doodily-doo! Ding! 
One violin, one drum, one saxophone, one triangle, and one trombone play a quintet. Zin! Blam! Doodily-doo! Ding! Baroom!

It would be neat to have a set of sounds and a set of instruments already established so the kids could put them in any order they wanted and change up the combination of sounds. I can also imagine the kids getting silly with different motions associated with each instrument. For little ones, I'd probably stop with a quintet, but there would also be no reason not to continue on with sextet, septet, octet, etc.

I plan to use this idea this April when I focus on a music theme during Jazz Appreciation Month. 

This week, Flannel Friday is hosted by Courtney at Miss Courtney Meets Bobo. For all things Flannel Friday, check out the official website.

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