Friday, March 29, 2013

How To Follow My Blog Without Google Reader


Google Reader has entered the three-month sunset period that will end with its retirement on July 1, 2013. As we all scramble to find our next feed reader - or a new, non-RSS alternative - I want to share with my readers all the methods you can use to subscribe to my posts.

  • Email
    Click here or on the "subscribe via email" link in the sidebar to get each of my posts delivered directly to your inbox. With my current blogging schedule, this would be about 4 emails a week, on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
  • Twitter
    Except for a brief lapse for most of this month, due to a technical error I had not realized I made, all my blog posts here and at Story Time Secrets are automatically tweeted, with links, to my Twitter account, @sharingsoda. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll never miss a post! 
  • Facebook
    I update the Facebook page for this blog every time I make a new post. If you like my blog on Facebook, these posts should turn up in your news feed. 
  • Pinterest
    I pin reviews from this blog to my Pinterest board, entitled Books Reviewed (2013). This does not update in  real time, but I try to pin new posts at least once a week. 
  • Goodreads
    I link to all my reviews on my Goodreads account. Again, these updates are done manually and not in real time, but if you are my friend on Goodreads, you will see these links in your recent activity when you log in. 
  • Feedly
    This is by no means the only way to follow RSS feeds, but for now, it's the one I've chosen. Though some blogs I follow look garbled and strangely formatted in Feedly, mine actually looks pretty good, and if you're undecided about where to move your feeds, I'd recommend checking it out. In any case, regardless of which feed reader you use, the link to my feed is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/sharingsoda
For more alternatives to Google Reader, check out this post. Thanks for reading and following this blog! If you missed it, click here to read yesterday's Carnival of Children's Literature. Check back on Sunday for a new Old School post. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 2013 Carnival of Children's Literature


Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Childrens' Literature! There are so many great posts on so many wonderful and diverse topics this month. I hope you will click on every link and share them with your kid-lit loving friends. Look for next month's carnival at City Muse Country Muse.


Early Literacy
  • At Monkey Poop, Amitha reviews The Market Bowl, a picture book set in modern day Cameroon in which a little girl must face the consequences when she puts too high a price on a sloppily prepared soup that she made.
  • Catherine, who blogs at The Cath in the Hat, shares her review of Building Our House, a "delightfully detailed" picture book in which a young girl narrates the building of her brand-new house from start to finish.
  • Nancy from The Busy Mom Bookshelf shares her review of Only One You, a 2006 picture book written and illustrated by Linda Kranz and published by Rising Moon. Nancy says, "This is a book that can be read over and over and should be read over and over as a gentle reminder to your kids and to yourself about how to make one's self and the world a better place."
  • Jennifer from Jean Little Library introduces her brand new blog, In Short, I'm Busy, which is a collection of story time resources. In this post, she shares a recent session of Preschool Interactive, featuring a shark-themed storytime, complete with commentary, early literacy connections, book suggestions, and more.

Fiction
  • Aishwarya at Practically Marzipan presents a reading of "the problem of Susan" in C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, in the context of Alan Garner's fantasy novels, particularly the Brisingamen trilogy.
  • Wendy Mass has a new book coming out in June! Get a sneak peek of Pi in the Sky from Brenda's review at Proseandkahn, where she calls it her favorite book of 2013. 
  • At Original Content, Gail's response to David Levithan's science fiction novel, Every Day, attempts to answer the question:  When Can Changing Points Of View Work Really Well?
  • At Talee's World, author Jacquitta A. McManus blogs as eight-year-old Talee, the main character from her novel, Talee and the Fallen Object. In this post Talee shares photos from her sleepover with her best friend, Cora. 
  • Curious about how to incorporate Common Core Standards into a lesson about Goldilocks? At SpeakWell, ReadWell, Jeanette describes how she used Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs to help her second grade students learn how to retell stories and compare multiple versions of the same story. 
  • After Jeanette has inspired you to connect Golidlocks to the common core, visit Kate at Book Aunt for a long list of Goldilocks retellings, written by everyone from James Marshall to Jan Brett.
  • Here at Secrets & Sharing Soda, I have decided to share my Old School Sunday post about the creepiest children's book I know - 1990 Newbery Honoree Afternoon of the Elves by Janet Taylor Lisle. 
  • Lisa, who blogs at Shelf-employed, shares an enticing book talk about Nan Marino's latest middle grade novel, Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace, which will be published on April 16.
  • Can you lose and still be a champ? Read-Aloud Dad uses Two Cars, a vintage picture book originally published in 1955, as the basis for an interesting philosophical post about competition, individualism and following the rules.
  • Reshama at Stacking Books reviews a beautifully illustrated picture book by Demi entitled The Empty Pot. Set in China, the book tells the story of a young boy who struggles to grow the flowers he must show to the emperor.
  • Wendy from An Education in Books reminds us that "not all interesting girls are sassy and loud." In her review of Eileen Spinelli's When No One is Watching she celebrates the strengths of shy kids and asks us to share our experiences with shy characters. 
  • Are you a reader of children's books and in need of some reading suggestions? At Jen Robinson's Book Page, Jen has pulled together a great list of resources for finding books of all genres. Her links take us everywhere from the Cybils website to weekly round-ups and memes around the kidlitosphere. 
  • Erica also has some great recommendations - for math lovers! At What Do We Do All Day?, she has compiled a list of math chapter books and story collections, which includes The Lemonade War, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Candy Corn Contest. 
  • Still need something more to read? Maybe you share reading interests with one of the characters from TV's Glee! Pat at Read, Write, Repeat has been suggesting books for everyone on the show. This post explains why mean cheerleader Kitty Wilde should read Poison by Bridget Zinn.
  • Are you a fiction writer? You might find inspiration in obituaries, according to Esther Hershenhorn's recent post at Teaching Authors. She provides insight into how reading obituaries has helped her writing, then challenges writers to create obituaries for some of their characters in order to deepen character development.


Non-Fiction

  • If you're looking for an excellent non-fiction book for upper elementary students, Andi from A Wrung Sponge recommends Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, American's First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone, newly published by Candlewick. Andi says, "Stone's fascinating book tells the story supported with archival photos, original period advertizements and political cartoons, as well as the artwork of award-winning artist Ashley Bryan."
  • Jeanne at True Tales & A Cherry On Top celebrates Women's History Month with a post about Heart on Fire - Susan B. Anthony Votes for President. 
  • Julie from Instantly Interruptible reviews Steve Sheinkin's award winning nonfiction title, Bomb: The Race to Build--And Steal--The World's Most Dangerous Weapon. In her review, she explores some of her frustrations with the author's treatment of the Japanese and with his portrayal of the moral and ethical implications of the bomb.
  • Lisa shares a post from Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month, in which author Michelle Markel shares how her picture book biography, Brave Girl, came to be published.
  • Liz at Kid Lit About Politics gets emotional in her post about YALSA Nonfiction Award Finalist We’ve Got A Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson.
  • At The Fourth Musketeer, Margo hosts a guest post from author Annette LeBlanc Cate, who writes about her 2013 book, Look Up! Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard. Cate tells us, "Birding is sort of a natural thing for kids....they like to know the names of things, and they pay attention to stuff most grownups don't have the time of day for... like bugs on the steps, and butterflies, and flowers pushing up through the pavement.... and birds, too."
  • Students struggling with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet might benefit from two apps reviewed by Mary Ann at Great Kid Books. Video previews and screenshots included! 
  • Our Learning Collection shares a post about The 7 Habits of Happy Kids, by Sean Covey, which uses animal stories to teach the lessons first introduced in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in a kid-friendly way.
  • At Wrapped in Foil, Roberta reviews Kadir Nelson's "visually stunning and moving biography" of Nelson Mandela.
  • How much do you know about John Newbery, for whom the Newbery Medal is named? Sarah from Sarah Albee Books has done her research, and she shares her findings in this fascinating blog post about the first children's publisher to actually enjoy kids.


Poetry
  • It's a poetry celebration with Ladybug magazine at Kerry's blog, Picture Books & Pirouettes! Kerry shares two poems from February's issue of Ladybug: "Kangaroo Dance" by Shannon Caster and "Marshmallow Soup", written by Kerry herself!

Illustration
  • At Booktalking, Anastasia Suen spotlights Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. 
  • LH Johnson of Did you ever stop to think & forget to start again? shares an in-depth review of a picture book that makes her "proper happy": Martha and the Bunny Brothers by Clara Vulliamy. She also provides some insight on how she reads picture books without children.

Interviews
  • Tina of Tales from the Rushmore Kid shares some writing advice in the form of a publicity tip of the day from Molly Sardella, a publicist at Penguin Young Readers.

Book Projects
  • Zoe at Playing By the Book hosted an International Edible Book Festival. Now she shares the 61 entries she received from 5 different continents!

The Carnival of Children's Literature is organized monthly by Anastasia Suen. View the archives of past carnivals on her blog.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Drop-In Story Time, 3/26/13

 Drop-In Story Time, 3/26/13

No theme for story time this morning - it's my only story time this week, so I just pulled out whatever I felt like reading. There was also no ukulele. I took it out of the case to find that the hook that holds the strap in place had snapped off. I can't hold it up without the strap, so I left it in the office and went solo into story time.



Book: A Small Surprise by Louise Yates
I had never read this book at story time, and I wondered whether it would work because of where the page turns occur in each sentence. As it turned out, those page turns provided the perfect pauses to keep everyone interested and it got huge applause at the end. 

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Book: Bea at Ballet by Rachel Isadora
I thought they would like this more than they did. There were more preschoolers today than usual, though, and I think the lack of plot may have kept them from engaging with the story.


Rhyme: Dance Your Fingers 

Song: It’s Dancing Time (based on "Warm Up Time" from Action Songs for Preschoolers)

Letter of the Day: N
  • Book: The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood
    I have never included a book as part of the letter of the day, but attempts to flannelize this story this morning proved messy and frustrating, so I just used  the book. I might start trying to work my third book in the letter portion rather than the themed portion of the story time.
  • Flannel Board Rhyme: Let’s Make a Noise
  • Flannel Board Song: Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?
    I never feel like the adults are with me when we sing this song. I want to learn it for the ukulele, and see if that improves the interest level.
Songs (without ukulele): ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/ Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song with Puppet: Flutter Flutter Butterfly 
The room got absolutely silent while I sang this. That is the magic of the butterfly puppet.

Song: Way Up in the Sky

Song: Chickadee 

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.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Down on the Farm Preschool Story Time, 3/22/13

Down on the Farm Preschool Story Time, 3/22/13

This story time has been great the past few weeks, but this particular session was a bit more subdued and it was hard to tell whether the kids were having any fun. I also should have chosen different books - I was trying to get some new ones into my repertoire, but the old favorites would have worked  a lot better.

Book: I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman
A couple of kindergarteners came with younger siblings and they were able to anticipate each rhyming color in this cumulative story. I worried that the ending, which relies heavily on the illustration to make its point, would be too subtle for a read-aloud, and I was pretty much right. It ends on an odd and unsatisfying note and the kids picked up on that.

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake
They got surprisingly into this rhyme - I so wish I knew ten more like it! 

Book: Pip's Trip by Janet Stoeke
This is basically an easy reader in picture book format, and as such, it wasn't as good a read-aloud as I imagined.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out

Nursery Rhyme Flannel Board: To Market, To Market 
I used the farm animal flannel board  pieces I use for Old MacDonald and had the kids help me make silly rhymes with each animal's name to match the pattern and rhythm of "To Market, To Market". While I thought "jiggety jenguin" and "jiggety jelephant" were hilarious, the kids did not.
Book: Dance by the Light of the Moon by Joanne Ryder
This book was a dud, which shocked me. I think the older siblings thought it was babyish, and the little ones took their cues from them. I have had great luck with this one with three-year-olds in the past!

Song: Hat, Coat, Pants, and Shoes
A little girl whose class I regularly visit requested this song - it wound up being the highlight of the session!

Craft: Farmer Finger Puppets
I printed out clip art farmers, had the kids  color and cut them out. Then we taped them to old marker caps and turned them into finger puppets. Sounds easy, but attaching the puppets to marker caps stumped even the parents!

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.

Outreach Round-Up, 2/28/13 - 3/22/13


Catholic School 5th Grade: Thursday, 2/28/13, Thursday, 3/14/13, Thursday, 3/21/13
We finally finished No Talking! The kids reported that they were trying a similar exercise as the kids in the book - the girls weren't talking to the boys and vice versa. They loved the book, but they weren't interested in borrowing other Clements titles, which surprised me.

Catholic School 3rd Grade: Friday, 3/1/13 
Book: The Boy on Fairfield Street 
Notes: The kids got really excited about this, and they saw lots of parallels between Geisel's childhood and his writings as Dr. Seuss.

Psychiatric Institute: Monday, 3/11/13
Books: East Dragon, West DragonMiss Nelson is Missing, Apples to Oregon
Notes: I have never had such an attentive audience as I have when I visit this group. They aren't just well behaved because they're in a structured environment. They truly engage with the books and make intelligent comments and insightful connections. All three books were huge hits, and I can't wait to see  what else they will love on future visits!




 
Catholic School Kindergarten: Friday, 3/15/13
Flannel Board: Quick as a Cricket
Notes: This group loves guessing games, so this was a sure hit. Some of them could even read some of the words, and they tried sounding out many others.

Catholic School First Grade: Friday, 3/15/13
Flannel Board: Quick as a Cricket 
Notes: This group got a little wild, but they loved reading words like "quick", "large" and "shy" and got very excited about guessing the different animals.

Rec. Center Cooperative Play Group: Wednesday, 3/20/13
Books: Brown Rabbit in the City, Find a Cow Now!, Flip, Flap, Fly
Songs: Sing a Happy Song, If You're Happy and You Know It,
Notes: This group loved Find a Cow Now, even though the ending falls somewhat flat. Brown Rabbit is a quieter story,  and they're a very quiet group, so it didn't bring out many comments, but some of the kids laughed at Brown Rabbit on the phone at the start of the story, and they liked his guitar. They also liked naming the animals in Flip, Flap, Fly.

Public School Pre-K: Wednesday, 3/20/13 (Two separate classes)
Poem: Ears Hear
Books: Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, Click Clack Moo
Songs: If You'd Like to Read a Book, Hat Coat Pants and Shoes, Chickadee 
Notes: The first group's session ran short, but the second one ran the right amount of time. (That second group is much more chatty and they ask a lot more questions.) Both groups loved the opportunity to make loud sounds along with the poem, and they laughed themselves silly over the hi-jinks of those bunnies in Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! I also got them involved by having them repeat the refrain with me each time it came up. Click Clack Moo also got a lot of positive responses, even though everyone had heard it before.

Catholic School Pre-K: Thursday, 3/21/13
Poem: Ears Hear 
Books: Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, Too Noisy, Bob
Songs: If You're Happy and You Know It, Shake My Sillies Out, These Are My Glasses
Notes: This group loves to get loud, so the poem with all the noise words was a great choice for them. Too Noisy was kind of a flop, but they loved Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! Bob is hard to read aloud effectively, and this  was not my best performance. The kids did love getting grossed out by Bob eating bugs, however.



Catholic School 3rd Grade: Friday, 3/22/13
Book: Dinothesaurus
The kids got really into this, and we nearly ran out of time!  One boy informed me that he is the class "dino expert" and he had a lot to say about each dinosaur. Some of the kids had strange theories about what happened to the dinosaurs ("They turned into giraffes!") but whether they were dino experts or not, everyone enjoyed hearing the poems and making observations about the paintings.

Down on the Farm Drop-In Story Time, 3/22/13

Down on the Farm Drop-In Story Time, 3/22/13

Book: Who Am I? Farm Animals
The thing I love most about this book is the suggestions for ways the kids can move. Unfortunately, there were so many people at story time on Friday morning, I had to skip that part so none of the kids would hurt themselves!

Rhyme with Stick Puppets: I Went to Visit the Farm One Day


Book: Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
This would have been better as the first book. The rhythm and rhyme are spot-on, though, and the large-sized board book actually made it possible to share with a large group.

Flannel Board Song: The Farmer in the Dell
"The cheese stands alone" is my favorite line from any children's song. I'm always bummed when we get to that part, and I'm the only one who laughs.

Book: Moo Moo Brown Cow by Jakki Wood
This would be the perfect toddler lap time book, but I didn't have toddler lap time this week, so I tried it here instead. The adults didn't really count with me as they normally do, and  that seemed to keep the kids from being that interested either.

Letter of the Day: M

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

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big
The kids love this rhyme. I might start using it every week. 

Song: Monkeys on the Bed

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.

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 3/21/13


Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 3/21/13 
Poem 
Like I did last week, I skipped the welcome message at the start of the session and just jumped right in with a poem to help them get their wiggles out. I found it totally by accident, as it happened to be on the reverse page of a poem I read earlier in the week at a class visit. The title is Somersaults, and it's by the inimitable Jack Prelutsky. (Find it in Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young.) The text talks about turning somersaults and stretching and bending, and I just read the words and let the kids act them out. 

Read-Along Mad Libs
My husband and I had several discussions about how to improve this story time, and he mentioned Mad Libs. I knew it would be too hard for the kids in this group to name specific parts of speech, so I came up with a generic story where they could plug in colors, articles of clothing, and parts of the body. I did allow them to use "butt" but when one little girl tried to put "vagina" in the story I told her we had to pick something that was more polite to talk about at story time. I was pretty sure she used that word just to get a rise out of me, but it didn't work, and none of  the younger kids or parents in the room even flinched. The entire Mad Libs activity that I created can be downloaded here. I recommend covering the pages with contact paper so they can be erased. By doing that, I made it possible for us to do two versions of the story, which kept the kids engaged that much longer and stretched their brains to think of more words.

Find the Pom-Pom
This idea came from Pinterest. I labeled three cups with words from the same word family - wear, bear, and tear, then hid a red pom-pom under one of them. The kids had to guess  by reading the word, if they could - where the pom-pom was hidden. This game worked fine, and all the kids wanted to take a turn, but there was a lot of cheating and some of  the kids intentionally took a long  time hiding the pom-pom to give their friends time to peek or run around or whatever. This is a good one-on-one activity, but I don't think I'd do it again with a group.

Read-Alouds
I read two short picture books: Chicken Butt by Erica Perl and Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black. Though the kids enjoyed them - and they also enjoyed passing around the chicken who said, "Guess what? Chicken butt!" every time they squeezed him - I felt really uncomfortable promoting all this toilet humor at story time. I know kids think it's funny, and they love the opportunity to talk about butts and poop and all of that, but I don't know if that is really a good reason to encourage it. I'd rather get them hooked on something else than give into what I have always thought is disgusting to talk about. The adults weren't upset when t hey picked up their kids, but I did get a few looks that sent a message similar to "Seriously? I send my kid to story time and you taught him a butt joke?" I don't want to be that adult. So my goal now is to find out what else they think is funny so they can have this much fun again, but I can also feel like I'm teaching something of value.

Writing Activity
We drew on aluminum foil with markers. This has been a successful craft in the past, but they got bored of it quickly and crumpled up the foil and left it on the floor.

This was a much better program than the last two or three, and I think it was because of  the variety of activities and the high level of the kids' involvement. They still have this idea that this is a place to fool around, whereas when the same kids come to preschool story time, they sit silently. I would love for them to at least take turns and sit when they're told to sit, but if there has to be chaos, I'll take the chaos of this session over what has happened previous weeks.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Down on the Farm Baby Lap Time, 3/21/13

 Down on the Farm Baby Lap Time, 3/21/13

Rhyme: Cheek Chin

Book: I Love You a Bushel and a Peck illustrated by Rosemary Wells
I opted not to sing this one, and I have no idea whether people even realized it was a song. My grandma used to sing this to me when I was little, and I always got a kick out of it. Alas, I think these folks just thought it was a poorly written picture book.

Song with Stick Puppets: Baa Baa Black Sheep
I did this song stick puppets and changed the color of the sheep each time through. This particular group of babies LOVED puppets.

Rhyme with Puppet: Dickery, Dickery Dare
This was surprisingly well-received and at least one person in the room besides me seemed to know it. 

Book: Animal Sounds by Aurelius Battaglia
I know these types of books seem lame to adults, but the babies were wide-eyed the whole time.

Song with Puppets: All the Cows Say...

Song: Tony Chestnut

Song: All the Little Babies

Song: ABCs

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: Row Your Boat

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.

Down on the Farm Drop-In Story Time, 3/19/13

 Down on the Farm Drop-In Story Time, 3/19/13

Song with Puppets: When Cows Get Up in the Morning

Book: Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails by Nancy Tafuri
This book has perfect illustrations for large groups, but the guessing game aspect didn't quite catch on.

Song: Over in the Barnyard
The actions to this one didn't seem to click with the kids. I might work on simplifying them for future uses.

Book: Farmyard Beat by Lindsay Craig and Marc Brown
This book is always hit or miss. This week it was miss.



Rhyme with Puppet: Hey Diddle Diddle

Book: Cows in the Kitchen by June Crebbin
I was so glad I had a book to sing, because they were so restless, and this engaged everyone again. Most of the adults sang along, and I saw some kids giggling.

Letter of the Day: L


Song: Hands up High

Song: Chickadee

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, March 18, 2013

It's Raining, It's Pouring Preschool Story Time, 3/15/13

 It's Raining, It's Pouring Preschool Story Time, 3/15/13

Book: ...And Then it Rained / And Then the Sun Came Out by Crescent Dragonwagon
This book is long, and even longer when you read both halves! I would do this again during a class visit, but not at a story time with three year olds in attendance.

Song: Shake Sillies

Book: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema
I asked everyone to say "Kapiti Plain" with me every time it was mentioned, and the kids got very enthusiastic about it and did it every time. One little girl also mooed very loudly the last few times I mentioned the cows.

Song with Ukulele: Rain Rain Go Away Medley
I played It's Raining, It's Pouring interspersed with Itsy Bitsy Spider and Rain Rain Go Away.

Book: Rainbow of My Own by Don Freeman
The kids got so excited about the idea of having their own rainbows. I was glad I chose this one. (We skipped the fourth book in the picture, but one of the kids wound up borrowing it to take home.)

Craft: Paper plate umbrellas
I saw a version of this craft on Pinterest in two places, then adapted it based on the materials available in my craft cabinets. We decorated our plates with old summer reading stickers from the Make a Splash theme, and used bendable colored drinking straws as our handles.


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.

It's Raining, It's Pouring Toddler Lap Time, 3/15/13

  It's Raining, It's Pouring Toddler Lap Time, 3/15/13

This story time was stressful. A preschool parent barged in though she was not registered and I basically spent the entire story time just trying to keep myself from losing my temper.  (This person is a known problem and it had already been a tough day.) In any case, the activities I repeated from the previous day were bigger successes the second  time around, and the kids were very engaged even if they didn't move around as much as I expected.

Book: The Big Storm by Nancy Tafuri

Song: I Like to See the Raindrops Fall

Book: Rain Dance by Kathi Appelt

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Book: Ollie the Stomper by Olivier Dunrea

Song: I Can Walk With Two Feet

Song with Sun Puppet: Mr. Sun

Song with Sun Puppet: You Are My Sunshine

Songs & Rhymes with Foam Flowers:
Song: Hands Up High 





Song: Head and Shoulders 

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.

It's Raining, It's Pouring Drop-In Story Time, 3/15/13

 It's Raining, It's Pouring Drop-In Story Time, 3/15/13

Book: Rainy Day by Patricia Lakin
This book is long, but it rhymes and has a lot of repetition, so I decided to read it at the very beginning of story time. I was surprised by how well it went over, and the cozy library ending inspired me to change my next song from a rainy day song to a book song!

Song: These Are My Glasses

Book: Rabbits and Raindrops by Jim Arnosky
I have had mixed results with this book in the past,  but this time, I helped keep everyone focused by having us count the baby rabbits on several of the pages. It worked like a charm. I had everyone's attention all the way until the end!

Rhyme: Hop Your Bunnies
There was an awesome grandpa in the audience who got really into this rhyme. 

Song: Mr. Sun

Song: You Are My Sunshine

Letter of the Day: K
  • Song: Cuddly Koalas
  • Rhyme: Two Little Kittens
    I forgot my kitten puppets in the closet downstairs, so we just used our hands. Everyone participated, and the adults all said the rhyme along with me.
  • I intended, as the image above shows, to sing I'm a Little Red Kite, but I forgot the words and just decided to skip it.
Songs with ukulele: ABCs/Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/Baa Baa Black Sheep


Song: Hands Up High

Song: The Wheels on the Bus 

Song: Chickadee  

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

We did so much singing at this story time. A grandmother stopped me afterwards and said, "We must have done your whole repertoire. That was great!" I seem to be popular with grandmas, which makes me happy.



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 for Beginning Readers, 3/14/13

 Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 3/14/13

I prepared this story time for this week with the regular attendees in mind, and then most of them didn't come. I changed the structure specifically to make it more fun and less academic, and to hopefully address some of the wiggles and giggles early on in the session so we could have the fun of reading without a lot of interruptions and discussions about poop. It worked fairly well, but it's hard to say how it would have gone if  the regular kids had been there. As it was, two of the regulars who ordinarily do not behave well tried their best to get the other kids to join them in yelling, purposely falling over, and generally wreaking havoc, but the other kids' parents were in the room so they actually did follow directions and participate.

Opening Song
I skipped the welcome message and went instead for a welcome song -  Raffi's "Let's Make Some Noise." I thought this would be a hugely raucous and fun time, but there were only four kids in the room, and three of them were shy newbies. So... they got musical instruments to play, but barely made a sound, and I had to cut out the verses on  the ukulele and instead give them motions to do so they wouldn't just be sitting there looking lost. This would have worked great with a larger group - maybe we'll try it again in a few weeks.

Matching Game 
This week's read-along was a poem I found called Ears Hear. Each line of the poem lists a different sound and who or what makes that sound. To make things more interactive, I created a poster showing images of the different noisy people, animals, and objects, then put all the sound words in a paper bag labeled "Bag of Noises." I pulled out one sound at a time, we made the sound all together, and then we matched the sound  to the object, animal, or person who makes it. The kids who were in  the room from the start were able to do it and seemed to enjoy it, but a group of Pre-K kids who came late was totally lost. I wish I had cut the poem short somehow - like last week's activity, it was too long to hold their attention. I think poetry is a good choice, though, and I have already turned another poem into a printable book for an upcoming session.

Read-Along
When we finished matching everything up, we read the poem all together once through. The kids couldn't remember any of the sound words that went with any of the animals or objects, so I basically wound up reading to them. Again, if the poem had been shorter - and perhaps if the read-along version had also included the pictures, it would have been more of an interactive experience. I'm still having such a hard time finding things that are engaging enough to keep their attention and easy enough for them to read.

Read-Aloud 
I had Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements already checked out from another branch, so I decided to read that. I have no idea if the kids liked it - they were so quiet! This group does tend to get quiet and engrossed during the read-aloud portion, so I think silence is a good sign. I will say - this book is almost as difficult to read aloud as Fox in Socks! 

Goodbye Song
Since the poem took so long, I didn't have a craft or writing activity. To signal that story time was over, we sang Hats, Coats, Pants, and Shoes, which the kids loved.

This was a better story time than last week, so I think I'm headed in a good direction. Next week, I hope to use another easy reader printable on the theme of monsters.

It's Raining, It's Pouring Baby Lap Time, 3/14/13

 It's Raining, It's Pouring Baby Lap Time, 3/14/13

Rhyme: Cheek Chin

Book: Rain Dance by Kathi Appelt

Song with Animal Puppets: Rain Rain Go Away 

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: Tony Chestnut

Song: Head and Shoulders

Book: Split! Splat! by Amy Gibson 
This book was not a hit at the big drop-in story time on Tuesday, but at least one baby giggled through the entire thing at this lap time, so it was worth trying it again.

Song: It’s Raining on Your Head

Song: All the Little Babies

Song: Row Your Boat

Song: I’m a Little Green Frog

Rhyme with Puppet: A Little Frog in a Pond Am I


Song: Sing a Happy Song

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.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's Raining, It's Pouring Toddler Lap Time, 3/14/13

  It's Raining, It's Pouring Toddler Lap Time, 3/14/13

Book: The Big Storm by Nancy Tafuri
This book has yet to be really successful. The illustrations are great, but I think the text is confusing.

Song: I Like to See the Raindrops Fall

Book: Rain Dance by Kathi Appelt
The kids got really into making animal noises with me - it was so much fun!

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Book: Ollie the Stomper by Olivier Dunrea
This is a story with a bit more of a plot, and these toddlers were completely engrossed.

Song: I Can Walk With Two Feet

Songs & Rhymes with Foam Flowers:
  • Song: Oh, Little Flower
    I had planned to do this with the flannel board while  the kids held their flowers, but they were too busy so I just sang the same verse three times and moved onto the next rhyme.
  • Rhyme: Flowers Tall and Small
    I changed the last line of this rhyme (at my husband's suggestion) to "one for everyone."
  • Song: There’s a Little Flower Growing...
    My husband started singing this to the tune of There's a Little Wheel a-Turnin' in My Heart in the car on the way to work this morning, and I ran with it. We put the flower on our heads, knees, arms, backs, and toes.
Song: Hands Up High

Song: Shake My Sillies Out

Song: Sunny Day

Song: Monkeys on the Bed

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.

It's Raining, It's Pouring Drop-In Story Time, 3/12/13

 It's Raining, It's Pouring Drop-In Story Time, 3/12/13

I was planning to do a rain theme this week no matter what, but it was nice to kick it off with an actual rainy day!

Book: Rain by Robert Kalan, illustrated by Donald Crews

Song: I Like to See the Raindrops Fall

Book: The Big Storm by Nancy Tafuri

Song with Animal Puppets: Rain, Rain, Go Away

Book: Split! Splat! by Amy Gibson 
One mom told me she liked this book, but her daughter did not. I think most of the kids were distracted by this point, because even the silly language of the story didn't get their attention.
 
Flannel Board Song: Red Umbrella Keeps Me Dry

Letter of the Day: J
  • Song: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
  • Rhyme: Whoops Johnny
    I was surprised by how much the kids liked this one. I only used one hand (not two, like the lady in the video at this link), and I repeated the rhyme a second time using the name Jenny.
  • Rhyme: Jumbo Jet
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

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, March 12, 2013

Up, Up, and Away! Preschool Story Time, 3/8/13


Up, Up, and Away! Preschool Story Time, 3/8/13

Preschool Story Time has undergone a lot of changes at my  library in the two years I've been here. We've tried it on Friday mornings and Monday afternoons. We've given it different names and age ranges. I am so pleased that this 4:00  time slot on Friday has worked so consistently well. This past week, I had a wonderful group of mostly girls, all of whom were between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 years old. I read three longer books, and the kids were engaged from beginning to end. A mom kind of stumped when she asked whether it was okay to read long books to her daughter. Of course it is! But she, like many other parents, wanted to know what the appropriate level was. I said she should try whatever interests her daughter and not worry too much about levels. She seemed puzzled by that response, but it also did seem to ease her mind. In general, this story time had many more parents in attendance than usual, and I think many of  them were just as into the story time as their kids.

Book: The Kite Festival by Leyla Torres
I was really uncertain about this one, because it's such a long and quiet story, but the kids were engrossed. One of the littlest girls in the group (she's a younger sibling of a four-year-old) even came up after story time to retell the book to me, and she did a perfect job.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out 

Book: Chavela and the Magic Bubble by Monica Brown
I would use this one again. I'd actually like to learn the song in the back of the book so I could sing it for the kids after the story. 

Songs with ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep
I didn't have anything special prepared to play on the ukulele, so we did  these three old favorites, and the kids sang right out. That's the nice thing about four year olds. They know the songs, and most of them like to sing!

Flannel Board: Pete the Clown
This is a balloon-themed flannel board I came up with based on Pete  the Cat. I plan to make a Flannel Friday post about it later this week. 

Song: A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood
I was going to read Princess Hyacinth, but then I found this book and decided it would be a good, shorter alternative. The kids loved it, as did the adults! 

Craft: Cloud Sewing Cards 
This DLTK-inspired craft requires too much prep (cutting and punching holes), and it was too hard for the kids. Some of my kindergarteners and first graders happened by the room as we were finishing up, and they expressed interest in it, but by then I was out of clouds.

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.

Up, Up, and Away! Drop-In Story Time, 3/8/13

   Up, Up, and Away! Drop-In Story Time, 3/8/13

Song: Way Up in the Sky
I think this song has the potential to become a part of my opening routine at every story time - at least the morning ones. The adults love it, and I'm surprised by how well the kids can do the motions after even just two times through the song. I think I might stick with it for the Spring.

Book: Balloons Balloons Balloons by Dee Lillegard
This book is a bit lengthy for this group, but they did really well with it. I think it's a good idea to throw in a longer rhyming story like this every now and then, especially now that more threes and fours have been coming to this story time.

Song with Stick Puppets: I’m a Little (Red) Kite

Rhyme with Elephant Puppet: I Asked My Mother for Fifty Cents

Book: Little Cloud by Eric Carle
I like this book more and more each time I read it at story time. The group got a bit restless about halfway through, but we still made it to the end.

Flannel Board Song: Five Astronauts Went Up in Space

Letter of the Day: I
  • Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Flannel Board Song: Three Ice Cream Cones 
    This was a huge success on my last go-round with the letter I, but it was a bit of a flop in this session.
  • Song with Insect Puppets: Did You Ever See A...
    This song was an enormous hit. Even my manager, who only walked by the room for a brief second, commented later that she couldn't believe how well-behaved they were, watching me move the butterfly around the front of the room.
Medley with ukulele: ABCs/ Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: Hands up High

Song: Here We Go Up, Up Up

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.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 3/7/13


 Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 3/7/13

This story time is one of the most rewarding programs I do, but oh, does it have its challenges. After a very successful program last week, this one was chaotic and exasperating. To my credit, I remained calm and managed not to get angry at all the silliness, but I still felt like things were fairly out of control, at least during the actual read-along. There is a part of me that things it would be easier on me if we were to eliminate the read-along portion altogether, but I know it's what the kids love. And based on what I've observed, even when they don't sit in an orderly row and call out words as I wish they would, they do still get something out of it. I think I'm still nervous that to the casual observer it seems like all we do is laugh and make poop jokes, but I am trying to teach myself not to gauge program success based on the kids's behavior. I'm not a traditional classroom teacher, and this isn't school. I still have things to work out, and lessons to learn, but I still eagerly look forward to next week's session, so it can't be all bad.

Welcome Message

 

 I finally figured out how to use our easel, so I used it to prop up the welcome message. The only failure on my part was that I left it up as the kids came in and all of them had read it by the time we sat down to read it together. I think this part of the story time might not be serving me well as an opening activity. It doesn't get them to focus and it doesn't promote good listening. I wonder if they'd like it more if it were an animated powerpoint presentation on an iPad or something. I hate to use too much technology when these kids already have so much of it, but I wonder if something flashier would be more likely to grab their attention.

Making a List 
In previous weeks, making lists has been great. This week, it was a disaster. I asked the kids to tell me what they like to do in the library. All of them said, "Be crazy!" and proceeded to demonstrate. I also have to remember not to use the stools with this group anymore. They flip them over and rock on them like see saws! I think a discussion where everyone participates is still such a valuable part of the story time, I just need to find better topics that actually elicit real answers. (Suggestions are welcome!)

Read-Along
This week, I was inspired by Mary Ann Hoberman's You Read to Me, I'll Read to You. (See the image at the top of this post.) I spent probably 4 hours all together putting together a flannel board of one of the poems from the book, entitled "I Like." I printed out the dialogue in speech bubbles, and used two existing flannel board pieces as the story's characters. I ran out of time to print out any visual cues, though, and I think the kids got out of hand because they had no context for the words they were reading, and most of the words were too hard for them. Interestingly, though, when I told them afterwards where the rhyme came from, they asked me to read it to them again. When I did, they were able to fill in almost every rhyming word. So  they were listening, even when they were crawling under the table and trying to peek at the next piece for the flannel board. I felt so overwhelmed by their behavior that after the program, I felt like it had gone badly, but I realize as I write this that I still got the results I wanted. I think using the flannel board is a good idea, but maybe with a much shorter poem, and without all the Contact paper and Velcro and everything that made me feel like I wasted my time and money.

Read-Aloud
Ling and Ting Not Exactly the Same is a sure-fire hit with this age group, and this wild bunch calmed right down and really seemed to enjoy it. I opened to the table of contents and was informed by one of the girls that her kindergarten teacher had just talked about tables of contents that day and they were able to tell me how to use it and what it was for.

ING Chant


Grace Lin's website has this handy printable guide which includes lots of activities related to Ling and Ting Not Exactly the Same. I printed out one page of the guide - shown in the photo above - and we all  said the chant together. I used stick puppets to show how the "ing" ending looked with the different letters in front of it. The kids got very excited about it, and it was probably the part of the story time they liked best.

Write and Draw Activity
The last thing we did was fill in a handout I created. It was just a table with four boxes. Three of the boxes said "I like..." and one said "I don't like..." I encouraged the kids to write or draw in each box. Most of them did it, but one boy complained it was too much like school, and no one spent as long as they usually do on the activity.  I might try putting together something for them to take home next time.

All in all, I think this is a story time I could use again, possibly with a school group of slightly older kids. It's more difficult when the reading levels are so disparate and different kids come each week. Next week, I'm planning to use another poem, but I have visuals to accompany it, and I'm just going to use poster board instead of making another elaborate flannel board. I plan to spend more time going over the words so that they won't be as lost, and hopefully, they will be calmer. (Though with the weather warming up, that seems so unlikely!) I am also looking for professional development resources that might make this program come to life even more. Check back next week for my next adventure!

Up, Up, and Away! Baby Lap Time, 3/7/13

Up, Up, and Away! Baby Lap Time, 3/7/13

This was a lovely group of moms and babies (most of whom were in the 5-8 month range). All the adults sang along with me, and made the motions for every song, and best of all, they did their own  thing. Some held babies on their laps; others laid baby on a blanket or on their knees. They all took everything we did and made it their own. (I don't know if this is related, but I didn't bring a baby prop with me, and that seemed to take off the pressure to do things the "right" way.)  The books were not hugely popular - I think the adults are confused when we read books to babies. The babies loved all the puppets. I'll have to get back into the habit of printing out large clip art images and using them with stick puppets at this program.   

Rhyme: Cheek Chin

Book: Higher Higher by Leslie Patricelli

Rhyme with Cow Puppet: Hey Diddle Diddle

Song with puppet: Mr. Sun

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up

Song: All the Little Babies

Song: Head and Shoulders

Book: What Can You Do in the Wind? by Anna Grossnickle Hines


Song with Stick Puppets: I’m a Little (Red) Kite


Song: Tony Chestnut

Rhyme: Dance Your Fingers


Song: Bumpin’ Up and Down

Song:
Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: If You’re Happy

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, March 8, 2013

Up, Up, and Away! Toddler Lap Time, 3/7/13 & 3/8/13

 Up, Up, and Away! Toddler Lap Time, 3/7/13 & 3/8/13
 
These two sessions were among the best Toddler Lap Times ever! I think it was mostly the fact that I was so well-rested from our snowless snow day on Wednesday, but it was also nice to have so many adults who were excited about story time and ready to participate.  

Book: Higher Higher by Leslie Patricelli
I need another break from this book. I have just read it way too many times.

Flannel Board Song: Five Astronauts Went Up in Space

Song: Five Little Martians (based on Five Little Monsters)

Book: The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins
This book worked well in the smaller group. I tried it once before with the big group (back before I had this blog, apparently) and have shied away from it since because it wasn't well received.

Song with Stick Puppets: I’m a Little (Red) Kite

Book: What Can You Do in the Wind? by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Song: Hands Up High
 
Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up

Song: Shake My Sillies Out (Thursday) / I'm a Little Teapot (Friday) 

Songs with Stars
  • Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 
  • Song: One Little, Two Little, Three Little Stars
  • Song: There's a Star Upon My Head
Rhyme: Way Up High in the Apple Tree 

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.

Why I Love Flannel Friday

I shared my first-ever flannel board in my first-ever Flannel Friday round-up nearly two years ago, on April 29, 2011. Today, in celebration of the upcoming two-year anniversary of Flannel Friday on March 15, the round-up will collect posts on the topic, "What Flannel Friday Means to Me." The list below shares my experiences and expresses my appreciation for this wonderful weekly online event.
  • Flannel Friday provides me with great ideas. The Flannel Friday community brings together the creative minds of children's librarians scattered across the country. When I'm stuck trying to find material to match a particular theme or book, I can pop over to the most recent round-up or the Flannel Friday Pinterest boards and browse until something catches my eye. Often even when I don't wind up using something from the archives, what I see there inspires me to create a similar or related prop. It amazes me how many different approaches there are to story time, and I love the diversity of ideas presented in each round-up.
  • Flannel Friday gives me a sense of community. For almost the first year of Flannel Friday's existence, I was the only children's librarian at my branch. Though I saw other librarians at system-wide meetings and such, there weren't always opportunities for sharing story time ideas At times, I could feel pretty isolated, as though I were on this island where no one else (especially not the adult librarians I worked with!) spoke my language. I also tend to be extremely introverted, and since I was still so new back then, I sometimes found it easier to ask for ideas in an online forum where I could take my time with responding in just the right way. Whether it's commenting on each other's blogs, tweeting on Twitter, or posting on the Facebook page, it's nice to know that I'm never more than a mouse click away from a support network of children's librarians, who, wherever they live, share the same interests and concerns that I have.
  • Flannel Friday encourages me to be creative. When I was in college, I took a lot of creative writing classes, not just because I liked to write, but because I found that having both a deadline and an audience encouraged me to write more consistently. The same rule applies to my experiences with Flannel Friday. I have always had ideas, but knowing I will have an opportunity to share them on a given day makes me much more likely to actually follow through with creating them. I write a lot more rhymes and come up with many more creative ways to tell stories because I know there is a place where such things are needed, wanted, and appreciated. 
  • Flannel Friday teaches me about so much more than flannel boards. Flannel Friday participants know so much about children's librarianship. They know what to do with a parachute, and where to buy Contact paper. They know a million ways to use finger puppets, and just as many school-age friendly action songs and games. I've never posed a question to the group that wasn't thoroughly answered, and even when I take a break from the round-ups, I still learn something new nearly every time I log into Facebook or visit a Flannel Friday post. 
How has Flannel Friday inspired you?  Share your thoughts on your blog, then add them to the round-up, hosted this week by Sharon at Rain Makes Applesauce. Interested in knowing more about Flannel Friday as it enters its third year? Check out the official website, Facebook page, and Pinterest account
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