Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pre-K Class Visit, 6/9

This school always brings us such lovely groups of children. They listen, follow directions, make insightful comments, and make me laugh. Today I had the 12 pre-K students, and we read and sang the following:

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?
I asked if we should start with our hello song, and a few of the boys said no. So then I asked if we should start with the goodbye song, and they laughed hysterically. And then we sang hello.

Book: Building a House by Byron Barton (1981)
I read this book at an earlier story time, and vowed never to do it again, but the school requested it, and I had to suck it  up. I love Byron Barton, but this book is boring litany of the steps involved in building houses. I did what I could to make it exciting, and the kids really loved seeing the insides of the walls, especially the plumbing, and we had a long conversation about the last page, where the family finally moves in. But this is not an exciting read-aloud. It's just blah.

Song: Building a House (by Mary Marshall and Sue Eilers, to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus)
I got this song from The Addison Public Library, via Google, but changed a few things, including the title, to make it match the book. I also had some clip art images for the backhoe, cement mixer, saw, hammer, and paintbrush to prompt each verse.

The backhoe on the lot goes 
Dig, dig, dig, [make digging motions]
Dig, dig, dig, Dig, dig, dig. 
The backhoe on the lot goes 
Dig, dig, dig, 
Building a house.

The cement mixer at the hole goes 
Pour, pour, pour, [make pouring motions]...

The saw on the boards goes
Zzzz, zzzz, zzzz, [make sawing motions]...

The hammer on the nails goes 
Pound, pound, pound, [make pounding motions]...

The paintbrush on the walls goes 
Swish, swish, swish, [pretend to be painting]...

This was a fun way to reinforce the book, and most of the kids enjoyed making the motions. And when we went our to next song, Rum Sum Sum, one of the kids  recognized the pounding motion we made with our hammers as the same motion that starts the song.

Song: Rum Rum Sum
The teachers got excited when I said we'd sing this one. They're big fans!

Book: Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2010)
This book was too long. They liked it, but had trouble following it, and half of them finished the book lying down on the floor. When I suggested getting up and moving around, the teacher seemed very grateful. I should have saved this one for kindergarten instead - it would have been perfect for a slightly older group. The ending got their attention, though, and we spent some time looking at the lollipops on the front and back covers of the book. (I have a detailed review of this book on my book blog, if you'd like to know more. It's one of my very favorites.)

Song: Shake My Sillies Out
A big hit as always. I had the CD player on repeat so we could do it twice without interruption.

Song: Taba Naba by The Wiggles from (It's a Wiggly Wiggly World)
The best part was how much the adults all giggled as they tried to copy my movements. I'm not ashamed to say I practiced for a month before I got it right. And I also don't mind saying I did a pretty darn good job. Haha.

 Book: My Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone, illustrated by Christopher Corr (2006)

Monday's group hated this book, but they liked it today. I asked the kids where they wanted to fly off to at the end of the story, and they were divided into two camps - half of them said North America, since I mentioned last week that that's where we live. The other half wanted to visit llamas. Then we took a vote to see who would and would not be scared of flying on a magic carpet. I said I'd be worried about falling off, but I was informed that all I'd need to do is hold onto the sides. This is what I love about kids.

Goodbye Song: Skinnamarink

Tales for Fours and Fives, 6/9

During the school year, four and five year olds in this neighborhood are typically in school. There are a lot of full-day pre-K and Kindergarten programs, as well as day care centers and other childcare facilities, and we don't see a lot of kids in this age group unless they come as a class. In the summers, however, I'm told that a significant number of kids in this age bracket have been coming to the Tuesday morning Baby/Toddler story time. Since we're already at capacity there, I decided months ago to provide a separate Tales for Fours and Fives story time during the summer months. The public schools are still in session right now, so we had a small turnout today, but I still really enjoyed the new dynamic. My babies and toddlers typically don't have conversations with me, but these kids answered my questions, sang the songs, and engaged with the stories.

Here is how our very first session went:

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?
This hello song is so versatile. I haven't done any really complicated actions yet, but with these older groups, I could really get them moving with this song, if I wanted to.

Book: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal (1981)
I read this to the Pre K and K classes during their visit last week, and they enjoyed it, so I recycled it for this group. Though I wound up with four attendees in all, only two were present for this book, and they seemed almost mesmerized by the illustrations. As I mentioned last week, I remembered this book from Reading Rainbow, and though I probably haven't seen it in twenty years, I can still hear the way the reader said "Kapiti Plain." This is just a book that sticks with kids.

Song: Rum Sum Sum
The two boys knew this song, and though they were shy to sing along at first, they quickly got into it when we repeated the song a second time. I have been doing this with every group this week, and I think it will become a staple for my summer story times.

Book: Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter (2010)
This is the true story of a Colombian man who had so many books, he decided to lend them to children in nearby communities. Traveling by burro, he brings the books to the community of El Tormento where he performs a story time and allows each child to choose a book. Later that night, both Luis and the children read their selected stories. I loved the illustrations in this story, and thought the kids would like to learn about other types of libraries. These guys were especially interested in telling me that a burro is a donkey. The story was a little more simplistic than I remembered from previewing it last week, but it still worked.

Song: Monkeys on the Bed 
I panicked and went back to an old standby. I tend  to do that with small groups - I get spooked about trying anything new in front of a group that might not sing along. As we sang this one, we were joined by one more little boy and his baby sibling - and his face lit up when he realized we were singing about the monkeys. That little smile actually gave me the courage to dance to our next song...

Song: Boots by The Laurie Berkner Band (from Victor Vito)
I like this one because the movements are simple enough that any child who can stand can participate. And the adults aren't too freaked out by the notion of stomping, jumping, dancing, or splashing, so they usually join me.

Book: We All Sing With the Same Voice by J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene, illustrated by Paul Meisel (2000)
I really wanted to make a felt board for this book or find a way to incorporate the song into each story time this summer, but I haven't really brainstormed a way to make that happen, so I just played the CD and turned the pages. The kids stared at the book very earnestly, and no one sang along when I sang the chorus, but I think they enjoyed it. I think. I did, at least, and that's half the battle.

Song: Taba Naba by The Wiggles from (It's a Wiggly Wiggly World)

This song is hard to do right without practice, and I practiced the heck out of it to become even marginally good, but people don't seem to mind. The fun is in the trying. These kids especially loved shaking their hips at the word "Style." And so what if they don't get the correct hand on the correct knee at the correct time? It's still fun to move to the rhythm.

Goodbye Song: Skinnamarink

6 Books About Tough Stuff for Teens

Because I Am Furniture
by Thalia Chaltas
2009 | 352 pages | YA Novel in Verse
Anke's father abuses her brother and sister, but ignores her, which is abuse of another kind. The poetry is beautiful, and the emotions powerful. I also love the title - it's perfect.

by Laurie Halse Anderson
1999 | 208 pages | YA Realistic Fiction
Melinda calls the police after an end of summer party turns wild. Her classmates ostracize her for getting them into trouble, but they don't know the terrible secret she hides. I read this book around the time it was published, which would have been toward the end of my high school career. It's unforgettable.

After the Death of Anna Gonzales
by Terri Fields
2002 | 100 pages | YA Novel in Verse
Told in poems from multiple points of view, this book tells of the aftermath of a teenage girl's suicide. Even those who didn't know Anna mourn her in some way. A thought-provoking and important book that reminds us that we don't always know the secret pains of those we see every day.

by Sarah Dessen
2000 | 256 pages | YA Realistic Fiction
I owned this book for years before finally getting the guts to read it. I was in high school when I bought it, but in graduate school when I finally finished it. Though the story is difficult to read emotionally - it's the story of a girl who is abused by her boyfriend - it's one of Dessen's best books. A definite deviation from her usual stories, but still a great book.

by Jay Asher
2007 | 288 pages | YA Realistic Fiction
I read this book in one afternoon, when I still worked in my small town library and had time every day to read. The premise is that a girl commits suicide, leaving behind a collection of thirteen audiotapes, one for each of thirteen people, explaining why she did it and who she blames. The main character receives one of the tapes, but finds that his is slightly different from the others. This book is really amazing. If you only read one from this list, pick this one.

by Robert Lipsyte
2006 | 240 pages | YA Realistic Fiction
A football hazing ritual goes too far, when the entire team turns on one of the players in an intensely disturbing bullying incident. Most of the team tries to cover it up, but one member, the main character of the novel, wonders if that is the right thing to do, or if he should stand up for the teammate who was violated. I don't like sports, but I love sports books, and this one covers so many important and timely subjects. It's disturbing, but it's so well written.
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