Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flannel Friday: Dream Big, Read

I don't know if I've ever been this behind in summer reading planning. Traditionally, I have always started brainstorming in March, and I usually have most of my ideas at least in the planning stages by early April. This year, though, it's nearly April and I've only just begun to seriously think about what I want to do, and how. That is what I get for having a Spring wedding. In any case, even though I'll be in New York all weekend for my shower, I didn't want to miss out on the chance to participate in the Flannel Friday Summer Reading Extravaganza, so I've gotten my act together and come up with a few ideas to share. There is a good chance I'll be revisiting many of these on future Flannel Fridays for fine tuning, but here's some of what I'm working on:

Stars Shining Bright

This Christmas song by Nancy Stewart has alternate lyrics that will work for any time of year. I plan to cut out stars in different colors and sing the song either with the flannel board, or using popsicle stick puppets.

Five Astronauts

This is one of the first flannel boards I made, and the very first I shared for Flannel Friday. Since then, I have redone the astronauts using Microsoft paint, instead of my own coloring skills, because they look bolder, and I covered them in Contact paper this time so they will last.


I made a flannel board of this a long time ago, and have never shared it. I'm thinking of redoing it with larger pieces, since it is otherwise hard to do with large groups. I'll be traveling to a number of branches within my system this summer to do a moon-themed story time, so I want to be prepared for groups of all sizes.

One Fuzzy Slipper

When I made my pairs of mittens for this Winter, I immediately started thinking of other things that come in pairs so I could re-use the concept that inspired the song, One Red Mitten, What'll I Do? For Spring, I'm going to use boots, and for a bedtime related song, slippers. I haven't found clipart I like for it yet, but I still think I will.

Five Little Marshmallows

I got the idea for a rhyme about roasting marshmallows after seeing a few campfire crafts on Pinterest. This is still a draft, so I might improve upon it in the future, but here's what I have written:

Five little marshmallows toasting in the fire
They started turning brown as the flames grew higher
One little marshmallow was ready to eat
So someone came along and took that tasty treat!

I could also substitute an animal or person for "someone". My audiences tend to respond better when there is a cute or funny ending, but so far I don't have one. I'll keep thinking.

It's Baby's Bedtime

This is a cumulative song I wrote to the tune of Today is Monday. The idea is to print clipart associated with the various activities kids do to get ready for bed, then add a new one to the flannel board with each new verse. The verses are still a work in progress, but for now they look like this:

It's baby's bedtime
It's baby's bedtime
Time to wear your pj's

It's baby's bedtime
It's baby's bedtime
Time to fluff your pillow
Time to wear your pj's
And time to go to sleep.

(Continue, adding a new verse each time through.)
Time to hug your teddy
Time to pull up the blanket
Time to turn out the light
Time to read a story
Time for hugs and kisses

Five Little Moths

This is another rhyme I wrote. I'm not quite sure how I will make the pieces for it just yet - maybe I won't end up using it - but I love the concept of bugs attracted to a light after dark. And the clip art above might work if I make each one a different color.

Five little moths around the porch light.
until... one little moth says goodnight.

Count down to zero...

No little moths around the porch light.
So let’s turn it off and say goodnight!


I so rarely change my goodbye song, but for the summer, with this theme, it's impossible to resist a goodnight song. I'm learning it for the ukulele, so hopefully I'll be able to play while we sing, but I also thought it might be nice to pause between verses and put the different animals on the flannel board. The recorded version of the song only mentions a few, but I plan to use whatever I have flannel pieces and/or puppets for.

I love this year's theme, so I can't wait to see what everyone else is working on! Sharon is hosting the round-up this week. I will be back home on Monday to check it out!

Baby/Toddler Story Time, 3/27/12

I can't believe it has taken me two days to finally post Tuesday morning's story time! But better late than never. Here it is.

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?

Book: Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes (2011)
I read this story through a few times before story time so I could memorize some of the text and therefore time the page turns with the words. I think it worked okay, but this book isn't as big a hit with toddlers as I expected, even with the big, bright pictures. It just doesn't have the same magic as A Good Day.

Rhyme: Hop Your Bunny
We did this rhyme once with one bunny and then a second time with two bunnies.

Rhyme: Five Eggs and Five Eggs

Book: Wee Little Chick by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by John Butler (2008)
I chose this because it had a lot of farm animals in it, which usually lend themselves to a lot of audience participation. They weren't really into it, though, and this book is longer than they were willing to sit for.

Song with Puppets: All the Pigs

Song: Head and Shoulders

Song: Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands

Flannel Board: Here Stands a Robin
King County Library System has a song called Here Stands A Red Bird, which is meant to be an action song. My group isn't quite coordinated enough to do all the movements, since they're mostly new walkers, so I took the concept and adapted it to a flannel board with just two simple motions. Everyone sang along, and I think if we keep doing this one, all the kids will learn to start flapping. The tune for the song, by the way, is Brown Girl in the Ring.

Rhyme: Wiggle Your Fingers and Toes

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up
I changed the words to this one slightly since I didn't think our large group could move forward and backward without trampling each other. So we did it sitting down and mostly moved our hands.

Song with Puppet: I'm a Little Green Frog

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song: Put Your Finger in the Air

Song with Puppet: You Are My Sunshine

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

6 Tween and Teen Novels About Characters Who Are Speechless

Stuck in NeutralStuck in Neutral
by Terry Trueman
Trapped inside his body by cerebral palsy, Shawn can't communicate even though he can understand everything that happens around him, including the fact that his father might be trying to kill him.
Silent to the BoneSilent to the Bone
by E.L. Konigsburg
After his baby half sister gets hurt and falls into a coma, Branwell stops speaking. Can his best friend Connor get him to break his silence and tell what he knows?
Secrets of the Cicada SummerSecrets of the Cicada Summer
by Andrea Beaty
Lily hasn't spoken since her brother Pete was killed two years ago, but a duplicitous newcomer might just break her silence.
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Something bad happened to Melinda at the end of summer where she called the cops and got all her friends in trouble, but she keeps it a secret to avoid being further ostracized. 
Just ListenJust Listen
by Sarah Dessen
Annabel and Sophie stopped being friends, but Annabel hasn't been able to talk about why until she meets Owen, a boy who is willing to listen.
The Loud Silence of Francine GreenThe Loud Silence of Francine Green
by Karen Cushman
Good girl Francine never speaks out against anything, but when she becomes friends with opinionated Sophie Bowman she sees the impact words can have.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Baby/Toddler Lap Time, 3/23/12

A couple of old favorites, and the usual Spring routine for today. Only one thing changed. At the start of the first book, I asked everyone to make a quiet noise to help us get ready to read. We all said shhhh twice, and then I said, "Let's stay this quiet while we read our story." It worked like a charm. I didn't repeat this technique for the second book, but I definitely will in the future, because this group is so large and loud!

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Rhyme: Dance Your Fingers 

Book: Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker (1994)

Rhyme: Five Eggs and Five Eggs

Book: Bark, George by Jules Feiffer (1999)

Flannel Board Song: All the Pigs

Song: Head and Shoulders

Song: I'm a Little Teapot 

Song with Puppet: Flutter, Flutter Butterfly

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Rhyme: Wiggle Your Fingers and Toes 

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun 

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

After School Read-Aloud & Craft: Gardening Theme, 3/22/12

This was a nice program. The kids loved it, the parents got involved, and I actually read books to an interested group. Plus, the craft came out great! Here's what we did:

The Craft: Cupcake Wrapper Bouquets 

I. Supplies 
  • Colorful cupcake wrappers
  • Buttons in assorted colors
  • Straws in assorted colors
  • Ribbon 
  • White glue
  • Scotch tape
II. Prep 
There was minimal prep needed for this craft, which is honestly part of why I chose it. For an example, I made three flowers - two with the cupcake wrappers left right-side out, and one with the wrappers turned inside-out - then tied them together with a ribbon. The kids instantly understood that they were flowers, and most of them were eager to make one.

III. Process 
Most of the kids had an adult with them, and were old enough, really to do the entire thing on their own. Only one little girl needed my help. I had three nice compliments. One came from a dad who said it was a great idea, another from a mom who said her two-year-old loved it so much they made two, and the third from a little boy who announced, "This library has the best projects!" 

Here's one of my flowers:

The Read-Alouds: Books About Gardens 

Book 1: In the Garden: Who's Been Here? by Lindsay Barrett George (2006)
This book was great for the group I had - mostly preschoolers, and one little girl who might have been in kindergarten. They loved guessing at which animals might have been in the garden,

Book 2: Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (2002)
Another hit. The kids thought it was neat how the rabbits kept outsmarting Mr. McGreely, even if the ending did seem to leave them hanging.

Book 3: Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni (1960)
This book opened up a discussion about who does and does not love worms. A set of twin girls was split on the decision, and a little boy announced that he definitely doesn't like them.

The Display: More Spring and Garden-Themed Books 

Flannel Friday: Let's Make a Noise by Amy MacDonald

Today's Flannel Friday is yet another rhyme from Stories and Fun for the Very Young. (The others I've posted about are Snazzy Aunties by Nick Sharratt and I Can... by Helen Oxenbury, the art from which I used to accompany my own rhyme.) This one is very, very simple and therefore absolutely perfect for my baby and toddler groups. I think I will probably incorporate it into my Spring baby lap time sessions when they start in a couple of weeks.

The title of the rhyme is "Let's Make a Noise." Amy MacDonald wrote the simple text, and Maureen Roffey did the colorful illustrations, which I then blew up on the copy machine. I won't type up the whole rhyme here, to be respectful of copyright, but if you can't get your hands on the book, you can email me for the full text. For now, though, I'll just list each animal/object/person and the noise it makes.

Dog... WOOF

Train... TOOT TOOT
Cat... MEOW
Sheep... BAA-AA

Truck... BRMM, BRMM

 Baby... WAAAH

There are lots of ways to adapt this concept to flannel board pieces you might already have, and I think these would also be really great pop stick puppets - at least when blown up to a fairly large size. I am already thinking of ways to use individual pieces on their own as puppets. 

Today's Flannel Friday host is Cate. The full Flannel Friday archive is kept by Anne. Next week, don't forget our 2012 Summer Reading "Dream Big, Read" Theme Extravaganza. I'll be in New York, but I hope to post at least a preview of my summer reading flannels ahead of time so I can participate.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

7 Children's Novels About Non-Traditional Families

Between Mom and JoBetween Mom and Jo
by Julie Anne Peters
Nick is strongly affected when his birth mother and her wife, Jo, begin to experience marital strife.
My Mixed-Up Berry Blue SummerMy Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer
by Jennifer Gennari
June struggles against the cruelty of her neighbors, who don't want her mother to marry a woman.
My So-Called FamilyMy So-Called Family
by Courtney Sheinmel
Leah will never know her father, because her mother conceived her with help from a sperm bank, but when she discovers the same donor has also fathered other children, she is desperate to learn more about them.
The Higher Power of LuckyThe Higher Power of Lucky
by Susan Patron
When Lucky's mother dies, her father arranges for his second ex-wife, Brigitte, to take care of Lucky in her hometown of Hard Pan.
Ballet ShoesBallet Shoes
by Noel Streatfeild
Pauline, Petrova, and Posy are adopted by the eccentric Gum (Great Uncle Matthew) and decide on the surname of Fossil before joining a dance academy and rising to stardom and success.
Lock and KeyLock and Key
by Sarah Dessen
When her mother leaves, Ruby is sent to live with her older sister Cora and her husband, whose standard of living is much higher than what Ruby is accustomed to. 
Journey to an 800 NumberJourney to an 800 Number
by E.L. Konigsburg
After his mother gets remarried, Bo joins his father in selling rides on his camel Ahmed at fairs and conventions.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baby/Toddler Lap Time, 3/16/12

Just realized I never posted Friday's 11:00 story time. I'll skip the commentary since it's not fresh in my mind anymore and just save the repertoire for posterity.

Opening Song: Hello, how are you? 

Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers 

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Book: Five Little Chicks by Nancy Tafuri (2006) 

Song with Puppets: All the Pigs Say Oink, Oink, Oink  

Song with Puppet: I'm a Little Green Frog 

Book: Mommy, Where Are You? by Leonid Gore (2009) 

Song: Head and Shoulders 

 Song: I'm a Little Teapot 

Flannel Board Rhyme: This Little Baby 

Song: The Wheels on the Bus 

Rhyme: Wiggle Your Fingers and Toes  

Song: The Itsy Bitsy Spider 

Song with Puppet: You Are My Sunshine 

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

Baby/Toddler Story Time (with Transitions), 3/20/12

I had an appointment that prevented me from doing the second and third story time sessions this morning, but the first one so made up for it by being completely awesome. There are some elements of a great story time that can be controlled - good books, a good mix of songs, a positive, welcoming attitude - but an engaged audience is one of those things that happens when it happens and doesn't when it doesn't. And today was one of those days where everything just came together - and I think this is the first time I felt that magic since I stopped using recorded music. It's working, and people are getting used to it, and everything about today's story time just felt good.

I think my introduction and transitions worked especially well today, so I've included them in red italics below.

 I think it's time to get started. Good morning, everybody! (Pause for response.) Do you have your waving hand with you today? Let's sing our hello song. Here we go!

Opening Song: Hello, how are you? 

Great singing! Thank you so much for singing with me! Here's my first book for today. It's called I Love Bugs. 

Book: I Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturges, illustrated by Shari Halpern (2005)
I chose  this book because it wasn't too wordy, and had some nice bold lines in the illustrations. I heard parents saying the names of the different insects (and a spider) to their kids as I turned the pages. The butterfly seemed to be  the favorite.

Now let's do a rhyme about some bugs. It's about some bees who live in a beehive. Can you make a beehive?

Fingerplay: Here is the Beehive 
We haven't done this one in a long, long time - most of these kids probably weren't born yet when I last did it at story time. But I think the fact that I am much more comfortable now than I was last year made this work much better than it did in  the past. I said the rhyme with a lot more expression, and that seemed to really engage all the kids and adults.

Give yourselves a hand! Now, let's read another Spring story. This one is called The Happy Egg.

Book: The Happy Egg by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Crockett Johnson (1949)
This book is an easy reader, and its illustrations are very small, so I was iffy about reading it, but everybody loved it! The ending, where the little bird flies, got a huge round of spontaneous applause. So clearly this book needs to go into my "greatest hits" repertoire.

We have a rhyme to go with this book, too! It's about some eggs that hatch into chicks! Here is how it goes...

Rhyme: Five Eggs and Five Eggs
This is a rhyme I  have seen on several websites before, but this version from Preschool Express worked best for me.

Great job! I brought a Springtime friend with me today, too. (Hold up butterfly puppet.) Oh my goodness! Say hello to my butterfly. Let's sing a butterfly song.

Song with Puppet: Flutter, Flutter Butterfly
There is nothing more exciting to a baby than a puppet flying above their heads. They just kind of stare at it with their eyes wide and mouths open. Adorable. I messed up the words a little bit, swapping the third and fourth lines, but only the most die-hard story time attendees who remember this song from last summer noticed.

Let's say, Bye-bye butterfly! Now let's stand up and do another song. We're going to pretend to be daisies. The tune of  the song is I'm a Little Teapot, but it's called I'm a Little Daisy.

Song: I'm a Little Daisy
I have been planning to  do this song for two weeks, but kept chickening out. And sure enough, the first time through I screwed up the words. But we pressed on undaunted, and the second time through was better. We'll do it a few more times this Spring - by then I'll have it down!

We'll do one more song while we're standing. We'll start by clapping our hands. Ready?

Song: Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands

Let's sit back down and make some animal sounds. I'll put an animal up on my board. Oh, look! The pig! What does the pig say?

Flannel Board Song: All the Pigs 
I just sing "all the pigs", not "all the little pigs", because it fits the rhythm of the song much better. I saw lots of little three year olds singing along with me this morning - it's such an easy song for them to learn, and they get really into it.

Now let's do our rhyme called Wiggle Your Fingers and Toes. Here we go!

Rhyme: Wiggle Your Fingers and Toes
Some of the nannies make this great sound when we get to the wiggling part of this rhyme. I don't even know how to describe it, but it's amazing. And so perfect for the rhyme. I love it when the nannies love something enough to personalize it. 

How about the Wheels on the Bus? Do you know that song? Get your wheels ready! Here we go!

Song: The Wheels on the Bus
There is a mom of twins who stops by the desk every week to tell me what her kids have been doing at home. This week, her daughter wants to sing "The doors on the bus" and "The babies on the bus" over and over again. She doesn't have many words yet, but apparently "waa waa waa" is her favorite!

Great singing! Can you put one finger in the air? That's the name of our next song - Put Your Finger in the Air.  

Song: Put Your Finger in the Air 
This one is now growing on everybody. It's still a little bit hard to remember all the verses, but I feel confident the grown-ups will all have it by May. And the kids are so cute with their little fingers in the air!

What a great job you did! Let me see... I think I have one more springtime friend. I do! My frog. What does a frog say? Ribbit, ribbit, that's right! Let's sing a song about this frog.

Song with Puppet: I'm a Little Green Frog

Say bye-bye, frog! And now I have my sunshine for You Are My Sunshine. 

Song: You Are My Sunshine 
(After the first time through the song) Very nice singing! Let's sing it once more. This time, let's hold up our arms like this. 

We have time for one more song before we say goodbye. Let's sing Twinkle Twinkle.

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 

Beautiful singing. That is the end of our story time. We're going to sing our goodbye song, then [name of other staff member] will do the 10:30 and 11:00 story times.  Now let's sing goodbye!

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This 

Thanks for coming to story time this morning. I hope to see you again next time!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Preschool Story Time, 3/16/12

I planned a story time for preschoolers, but the bulk of the audience was babies and toddlers. Still, if we're calling it Preschool Story Time, I'm determined to make the content suitable for that age group... even if only a few of them come. Not much commentary since I'm behind on posting, but here's what we did:

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?

Song: If You'd Like to Read a Book 

Book: My Garden by Kevin Henkes (2010)

Song: One Seed by the Laurie Berkner Band

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake

Book: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean (2010)

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands

Book: Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine (2003)

Rhyme: Four Little Spiders
For next time, I might only do three spiders. It's awfully long with four, and the kids lost interest. 

Song: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song: Chickadee

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

After School Read-Aloud & Craft: Sea Theme, 3/15/12

I spend more time planning for this program than any other, which is strange considering it gets the smallest number of participants each week. We did finally attract the right age group for this week, though, so it might be that the hard work is paying off!

The Craft: Shiny Sea Scene

This idea was inspired by a post I saw on Pinterest.

I. Supplies 
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Markers (mine were washable, but permanent works better)
  • Foam stickers of sea creatures (I bought some at Michael's)

II. Prep
The only thing I had to do was cut the aluminum foil ahead of time so the kids wouldn't hurt themselves on the sharp edge of the foil roll. 

III. Process 
The basic idea was to create an underwater scene using the foil as the water backdrop and the markers and stickers to add animals, bubbles, seaweed, and whatever else fit the ocean environment. 

My example looked like this: 

Most of the kids got into right away, and I heard some of them talking about how they were including the animals they heard me mention in the stories. 

The Read-Alouds: Books About the Sea 

Book 1: Swimmy by Leo Lionni (1963)
This group of kids was really very quiet, so I have no sense of how they liked this book. It's got beautiful illustrations, though and a couple of girls looked up from their crafts to stare at the book, which seemed like a good sign.

Book 2: Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle (2004)
This book talks a bit about fish mating habits, which might cause some adults to object, but no one seemed fazed by it that this particular program. I like the book because it pays tribute to fatherhood - each fish in the story is a male fish whose job it is to care for their young. The story drags on a bit, and doesn't really have an ending, but the kids still liked seeing the different kinds of fish - the seahorse was by far the favorite.

Book 3:  Cat and Fish by Joan Grant, illustrated by Neil Curtis (2003)
A cat and a fish become best friends despite their very different lifestyles. The striking illustrations were what made me choose this book, and though the kids didn't react much, they did seem interested in at least looking at the book as it was read. 

The Display: More Ocean Books
The display worked so well this week. When I was finished reading, every adult in the room found a book and shared it with the kids under their care. I am still trying to figure out the best format for this program, but putting books on display is an absolute must! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Flannel Friday: This Little Baby

This week's Flannel Friday is another set taken from Stories and Fun for the Very Young. This time, I borrowed five images from "I can" by Helen Oxenbury (pages 50-51) and then wrote my own rhyme to go with them. Here is the end result. (My new phone takes terrible pictures without the flash, and with the flash, there was a glare, so I apologize for the poor quality!)

The first little baby said, “I’m so big!”

The second little baby danced a jig.
(He's actually kicking, but without anything to kick, it looks like a jig!)

The third little baby sat down on the floor.

The fourth little baby crawled to the door.

The fifth little baby learned to run.
All the little babies had so much fun! 

I have been dying for a decent set of flannel board babies for a long time - and these are so perfect! I'm sure I will find more uses for them as time goes on. 

Today's Flannel Friday host is Angela. Have a great weekend!
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