Friday, January 18, 2013

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/17/13

 Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/17/13

Opening Activity & Welcome Message
When the kids came in, each one got to select two pictures from a selection of clip art flannel board pieces I had laid out on the table. While they waited for everyone to be signed in, the kids started to spontaneously tell stories to each other using their pictures, which was great. Once everyone was settled, we read the welcome message:

Good afternoon! 

Today we will read two stories from Frog and Toad Are Friends. We will look for a button and read some mail. 

From, 

Miss Katie

A couple of the kindergarteners were able to read most of the message, so I let them help me, and only filled in the words they didn't know. Then I circled two of the words - "Frog" and "Toad" and asked the kids to tell me what letter they each started with. We made the "F" and "T" sounds together, then the kids took turns coming up to the flannel boards I had set up to put their picture under the right letter. Some of the pictures started with other consonants, and I had those on hand to match up as well.

Story #1
After I chose Frog and Toad are Friends as my book for this week, I realized it was far too long for us to read the whole thing, so I selected two stories. I read this first one, "The Lost Button"," to the kids. Things started unraveling at this point. No one wanted to listen; everyone complained that someone else was blocking his or her view, and a mom complained when the kids - who insisted on sitting on the wooden steps instead of  the floor - started kicking their feet. Then her child kept raising her hand to tell me her mom didn't like the kicking. It was kind of chaotic, and I tried to regain control, but the kids would not listen. I was thankful when it was time to play a game.

Button Guessing Game 
I have Flannel Friday to thank for this wonderful game. I borrowed it from 1234 More Storytimes. I glued colored buttons to a piece of poster board, then hid each one behind a word and image representing one of the places Toad searches for his button in the story (meadow, river, etc.) I brought in my own little Frog and Toad stuffed animals from home, and each child got to hold frog when it was his or her turn to guess a color and a location. Only one child didn't know his colors (preschool story time might have been a better choice for him) and for the most part, they did okay with taking turns. There was one cheater who peeked to find out what color was hiding behind Frog, and all the other girls immediately freaked out, but otherwise, it was a good game.

Story #2
This second story, "A Letter," was the read-along portion for the day. The younger kids were totally lost the entire time because the kids who can actually read insisted on repeating every word after I said it, or sometimes reading it before I said it. They were offered the chance to have a turn reading, but refused and would not allow me to just read the story. I think the solution for next time might be to choose an easier easy reader where some of the newer readers might know the words, and to also provide more information for the kids on how they are supposed to participate.

Reading Favorite Characters' Mail 
The final activity of  the day was to read some letters from literary characters to their friends. We figured out who the letter was for, based on their names and pictures on envelopes, then guessed who might have written it. I called on some of the kids to open the letters for me, then read them aloud. You can read more about this activity in my Flannel Friday post for this week.

Goodbye Song
To finish things off, we sang my usual goodbye song. The kids left, saying they had enjoyed themselves, and I went off to collapse into a chair at my desk. This story time is fun, but I think it's going to be a few weeks before  I feel like I have it all under control.

Flannel Friday: Letters from Favorite Characters

As part of this week's Read-Along Story Time, a new activity I have just started for beginning readers at my library, I read the story from Frog and Toad Are Friends where Toad never receives mail, and Frog sends him a letter so that his mailbox will not be empty. I really wanted an activity to go with the concept of mail, so I came up with this guessing game. I used it with poster board, not a flannel board, but that was because of time constraints in creating it - it would work basically the same way on the flannel board.

First, I typed up the following set of letters:








Then I took some plain white envelopes, wrote the names of the individual recipients on the front of each one, and attached an accompanying picture to help the kids identify each name. Finally, I mounted the envelopes on poster board so the whole group could see the whole collection at once.

When they were hung on the bulletin board, they looked like this:
(Forgive the blurry image - it was taken from a distance.)


When I pointed to a letter, I asked the kids to tell me who it was for, then to guess who it was from. The child who guessed correctly got to open the letter for me. Then I read the letters to the group.

This is definitely an activity for kids who are familiar with a lot of books already, so it worked well with the Pre-K and K group I had. With younger kids, I might still use the concept, but maybe only with characters from books we have just read, or with books I have heard them talk about. I think it would also be fun to do another set with characters from fairy tales, or to tell a story using letters, and open one at a time to reveal the next part of the story.

I am this week's Flannel Friday host. The round-up placeholder is right here.

We Love to Read! Baby Lap Time, 1/17/13

  We Love to Read! Baby Lap Time, 1/17/13


(The picture above shows a flannel board - We're Going Down to the Library - that I didn't end up using.)

Rhyme: Cheek Chin 

Rhyme: Look at this Book

Song: If You’d Like to Read a Book 

Book: It’s a Little Book by Lane Smith

Song: Tony Chestnut

Song:  Head and Shoulders

Song: All the Little Babies

Poem: Letter Parade! from Good For You! by Stephanie Calmenson
I found some clip art of children wearing letters on their shirts and made my own book out of this rhyme. It didn't get a great reaction, but this was a reserved group of moms with babies on the younger side. (I can't share the book I made here because the clipart is copyrighted, but if you want to see a copy, leave a comment and I'll send it to you.)

Song: ABCs

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Where is Big Toe?

Rhyme: Hey Diddle Diddle

Song: The More We Read Together...

This session has made me rethink whether I want to do themed story times for the babies. I think I probably will for some of the easier ones, but I also need to revisit my older story time posts for this age and pull out the greatest hits, and just stick with those. This session was fine, and I received some lovely compliments, but I didn't feel that it was my best.


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.

We Love to Read! Pajama Story Time, 1/16/13

 We Love to Read! Pajama Story Time, 1/16/13

There were only three kids at this story time, but it was wonderful. All were regulars at either this or other story times, and all the grown-ups were happy to sing, clap, and participate. They also loved all of the books and there was just a nice, cozy bedtime atmosphere.

Book: Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Song: Tommy Thumb

Book: Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Two of the three kids were too young to really point out the characters in each "I Spy" picture, but they loved it when I pointed them out.

Song: Nursery Rhyme Rap
For the verses, we sang "To Market, To Market", "Little Bo Peep" and "Horsey, Horsey", and I placed images of a pig, sheep, and horse on the flannel board. 

Book: It's a Little Book by Lane Smith
The kids like the repetiton of the word "no." The adults laughed out loud, especially at the cute ending.

Song: Sing a Happy Song

Song: Goodnight
I put the sheep, pig, and horse on stick puppets and we sang goodnight to them. Halfway through, a little girl suddenly started crying and trying to sing at the same time. From what I could gather,  this was similar to my own reaction to "You Are My Sunshine" when I was around three. I would burst into tears for no reason every  time I heard it. The little girl's grown-up gave her a snuggle and she bounced back, and it was all very sweet.

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.

Caldecott Challenge Post #71

Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola. Published 1975. Caldecott Honor 1976.

I was never crazy about this book as a kid, but I know it’s a favorite among many grown-ups. What struck me during this reading is the involvement of priests and nuns in the story. I also noted that it would be useful in a storytime about Italy or Italian food. I think Big Anthony’s punishment is a bit much at the end of the story, but I think kids find it funny. Personally, I prefer the story of the magic porridge pot, but probably only because that’s the one that was read to me as a preschooler.

The Amazing Bone by William Steig. Published 1976. Caldecott Honor 1977.


I have to say I like this quirky little story better than Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. It’s clever and creative, and even though it doesn’t seem to make much sense at first, I grew to love the talking bone as much as Pearl does. The robbers with their masks, guns, and daggers are plenty scary and seem more violent than a lot of imagery in picture books nowadays, but I think kids would be less troubled by it than their parents. It seemed like a bit of a cop-out that the bone just magically knew the words to get Pearl out of trouble with the fox at the last minute, but if a bone can talk, I suppose it can do anything else it wants, too!

Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman, illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Published 1988. Caldecott Medal 1989.


The story in this one seemed pretty cliched to me, and the repetition of phrases like “the vaudeville stage” got annoying pretty quickly. I tend to like Gammell’s illustration style in general, but I wasn’t overly fond of how the grandpa looks in this story. I think my favorite picture is actually the spread where he and the kids are in the attic looking for his old song and dance clothes. The use of shadow is great throughout the book, but it’s especially evocative in that scene.

The Judge by Margot and Harve Zemach. Published 1969. Caldecott Honor 1970.


This is one of my favorite Caldecott Honors of the entire list. The repetition and gradual accumulation of details about the monster give it a great sense of suspense, but the cartoonish illustrations keep it from becoming scary. Kids will laugh at the ending, and feel satisfied that justice has been served.

See other Caldecott Challenge participants' blogs on the challenge page at LibLaura5. Follow my challenge progress here.

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