Friday, September 28, 2012

Outreach Round-up, 9/19/12 - 9/28/12

I haven't done one of our regular drop-in story times in over a week, which is why there haven't been many blog posts, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. I just sat down to count them up and realized I have read to seven different classes or groups in the last eight weekdays! I've been to the local rec. center and two elementary schools, and I've had three Catholic school classes and one after care group come to me. Every single one of the groups has been lovely, but since I repeated a lot of the same material, it would have been too redundant - not to mention time-consuming -  to post about each of the eight sessions individually. Therefore, I present my first Outreach Round-Up. Depending on how busy my outreach schedule becomes, this might be a regular feature from here on out.

Rec. Center Cooperative Play Program: Wednesday, 9/19

Catholic School Pre-K: Thursday, 9/20

Public School Pre-K: Monday, 9/24

Public School Kindergarten After Care: Thursday, 9/27 

Public School Pre-K: Friday, 9/28 

Catholic School First Grade: Friday, 9/28 

Catholic School Third Grade: Friday, 9/28
  • Book: Apples to Oregon
  • Notes: 100% perfect for this age group. The kids were engaged from beginning to end, and they laughed in all the right places. 

Flannel Friday: Mommy is Asleep

I have been thinking lately about finding more effective ways of using the flannel board. I have grown weary of many of my "five little whatevers" rhymes and songs, and I really wanted to start using the flannel board to tell actual stories, rather than just to fill the time between stories. I started looking for picture books that would make good flannels, and then realized many of the ones I was most excited about would be too much for my very young under-two audiences. So when I was at work last Saturday, I sat down and wrote a few very basic stories of my own, for which I knew I could also make my own flannel board pieces. This post is the second one I made, but I saved the first one for next week since it's for Halloween.

This one is called Mommy is Asleep. (I don't mind if you use this story or create your own version, but if you post my words anywhere, please credit me. Thanks!)

Mommy is asleep.

"Wake up!" says Charlie. 

Mommy is still asleep. 

"Wake up!" says Ella. 

Mommy is still asleep. 

"Wake up!" says Daddy. 

Mommy is still asleep. 

"Woof! Woof! Woof!" says Spot. 

Mommy is awake! 

How I Wrote It: 

I want to thank Cate from Storytiming for her very useful post from last November, entitled Flannelizable, Defined (Finally!). It was the first thing I read when I decided to create my own flannel stories, and I found her advice really helpful. I loved her discussion of using protagonists, concepts, and repetition, and actually managed to work these into each of the stories I came up with.

In terms of the actual content of this particular story, I decided to go with a bedtime theme since I had Pajama Story Time this week, and the concept of Mommy sleeping just sort of popped into my head. I started out thinking Daddy would be the one to wake Mommy up, but it's more fun when it's the dog. My audiences always love a little unexpected twist like that at the end, and asking the kids to bark with me will make it that much more interactive and exciting.

How I Made It:

For sleeping Mommy, awake Mommy and Daddy, I used this paper doll template. For the kids, I used a smaller template (which, I later realized, has six fingers on each hand.)

I used paper doll clothes from this website. For the kids, I shrunk the clothes about 67% using the "format picture" function in Microsoft Word (I had to do some math to do this, and when all was said and done, I made them just a little bit too small. It might be easier to just find a second set of paper dolls with the clothes already properly sized.) 

I colored everything with crayons, except the hair, which I drew freehand on construction paper and then cut out. (I just guessed at how big it would need to be, then cut it down when it came time to glue it to the paper dolls.)

I kept the faces simple - two dots for eyes, no nose, smiling mouth. For the sleeping version of Mommy, I made sure her eyes were closed and her mouth was a little bit different.

I glued everything together, then covered it contact paper to make it more durable.

Add velcro - and voila! Instant flannel board!

It took me over an hour to make the entire family, but I was sitting at the desk answering lots of questions, so the amount of work was probably a lot less than that. I think using paper dolls is a great alternative for people who might not have the budget to buy a lot of felt - or people like me who just find it difficult to cut pieces out of felt.

This week's host is Storytime Katie. More about Flannel Friday can be found on the official website.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Drop-In Story Time, 9/18/12

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

Donald Crews is one of the few authors or illustrators who holds the attention of the nannies at my story times. I decided to read three of his books in one session, and it worked out very well.

Book: Sail Away by Donald Crews (1995)To make this book interactive, I asked grown ups to say the "putt putt putt" sounds with me.

Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Book: Freight Train by Donald Crews (1978)
When we got the page that says, "Freight train," I asked everyone to make their best train sound. 

Fingerplay: Here is the Engine 

Book: Flying by Donald Crews (1986)
For this book, every time the plane flew over something, we all said, "Whoosh!"

Action Rhyme: The Airplane

Letter of the Day: Letter F
  • Song (with puppet): I’m a Little Green Frog 
  • Song: Hurry, Hurry Drive the Firetruck 
  • Song: (with ukulele and flannel board): Old MacDonald Had a Farm 
  • Song (with flannel board): Ten Little Friends (just like Ten Little Indians, but it ends "ten little friends boys and girls.")
    Note: For this last song, I used the faces shown in my Flannel Friday post for The Doorbell Rang.
Song: ABCs/Twinkle Twinkle / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Song: Bumpin’ Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon

Song: Gray Squirrel

Song: Sing a Happy Song 

Song: Chickadee

Drop-In Story Time, 9/14/12

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

Book: Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli (2003)

Song: Noisy Nora

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake

Book: Splash! by Flora McDonnell

Letter of the Day: Letter E 
Song (with ukulele): ABCs / Twinkle / Baa Baa Black Sheep
Song: Sing a Happy Song
Song: Wheels on the Bus
Song: Chickadee 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cybils 2012

It's that time of year again... time for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (CYBILS) to get underway. These awards are given each year by bloggers for the year's best children's and young adult titles in a variety of categories. Nominations will open on October 1, but before they do, make sure you check out the Cybils blog to find out who is judging in each of the categories this year.

I was a first-round panelist in the Easy Reader and Early Chapter Book Category last year, and I'm very excited to be a panelist in the same category in 2012. Joining me on the panel this year are:

In January, we will hand our short list off to these five judges: 

Our category chair, Terry Doherty, has written up a great post with little biographies of all of us, which is definitely worth checking out. 

I can't wait to see what gets nominated this year in my category as well as the others! Books published between October 16, 2011 and October 15, 2012 are eligible, and anyone is welcome to nominate between October 1 and October 15.

To learn more about Cybils, visit the official FAQ page

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kindergarten Class Visit, 9/12/12 and Pre-K Class Visit, 9/14/12

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

School is back in full swing, and my class visits to Pre-K and K classes have begun.

Wednesday morning's visit to the kindergarten class at our neighborhood Catholic school was my first class visit of the year, and it was so much fun! I repeated most of what I did for National Library Week last year, but I switched out D.W.'s Library Card for We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems. This resulted in the kids calling me "Banana" for the rest of the session, and again when they visited the library as a class on Friday.

I was thrilled to see that some of the Pre-K kids from last year were in this class and remembered all the songs I taught them. It also melted my heart when, during their class visit to the library, they asked when I would be back and came running to me with books they wanted me to read to them. I love kindergarteners!

My Pre-K visit on Friday was not quite as successful, mostly because I forgot how little they really are at the beginning of the year.  I decided to come up with a new repertoire for Pre-K classes since I'll have quite a few in the next month, and I was getting tired of my old stuff, but I might have overdone it slightly. Here's how it looked:

Book: The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore

Poem: "Good Books, Good Times"
I turned this poem into a call and response chant, and tried to keep the rhythm on my knees as I chanted it, but I didn't have it quite as well memorized as I thought, and the kids' motor skills were not up to the task of keeping time. This is a really good idea, and I think it will definitely work if I use it with a K or First Grade class, but it's too hard for kids who are only just turning four.

Book: Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson
A huge hit, as always. They loved Otto and Ernest!
Book: Read It, Don't Eat It! by Ian Schoenherr

Song: These Are My Glasses 

When it came time to sing the goodbye song, all the kids knew it really well, and the teacher told me that she stole it from me after hearing it last year! I was thrilled and told them I hope they'll keep singing it all year long. I'll be visiting this class once a month all year long - I already can't wait to schedule October's date!

Pajama Story Time, 9/11/12 (at another branch) and 9/12/12

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

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big 

Book: Dance By the Light of the Moon by Joanne Ryder, illustrated by Guy Francis

Song: Moon Moon Moon

Rhyme: Dance Your Fingers

Book: Ten Little Sleepyheads by Elizabeth Provost, illustrated by Donald Saaf

Song: Five in the Bed
Book: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson
This was a huge hit with parents at the other branch, and a big hit with a preschool boy at my branch, who kept making adorable owl sounds. 

Rhyme: There's a Wide-Eyed Owl 

Book: Little Donkey Close Your Eyes by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Ashley Wolff
To make this book more interactive, I asked everyone to say "close your eyes" along with me every time it came up.

Song: Goodnight

Preschool Story Time, 9/7/12

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

This story time came at the end of a very difficult week, on the most difficult day of that week, and I have to admit it was kind of a disaster. Three different kids asked the adults with them if they could leave. ("I don't like this." "This is for babies.") The books I chose that seemed so perfect when I pulled them from the shelves went over like lead balloons, and because I had a splitting headache, I didn't do as great a job with the songs as I could have. That said, three or four kids got really into with me and we managed to make it through the story time. I am also pleased to report that the following week, when it was not my turn to do this story time, lots of kids came and things went a lot more smoothly. When it's my turn again, I have no doubt it will improve greatly. In the meantime, here is my numbers-themed story time.

Book: Every Buddy Counts by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by Fiona Dunbar

Rhyme: I Have Ten Fingers

Book: Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh 

Book: Let's Count Goats by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jan Thomas

Flannel Board: The Doorbell Rang
This was very successful. I'll definitely use this one again. 

Song: The Number March 
I printed the document, put it on a music stand, and turned the pages as we sang. 

Book: Monster Musical Chairs by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by Scott Nash

Song: One Little Monster

Drop-In Story Time, 9/7/12

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.

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

Song: Rain, Rain, Go Away (with zoo animal puppets)
I like this adaptation because it gives me a chance to incorporate zoo animals, even if they don't make a particular sound.

Song: Sunny Day

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Book: Garden of Opposites by Nancy Davis

Letter of the Day: Letter D

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

Song: Sing a Happy Song

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Chickadee

Pajama Story Time, 9/5/12

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words.

I didn't have any notes for this story time, and I waited so long to post about it that I can barely remember everything I did. This was during my crazy week working alone in the children's room, so everything is basically just a blur. I know that in addition to reading these books, we sang Laurie Berkner Band's Goodnight and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Tiger Can't Sleep by S.J. Fore, illustrated by R.W. Alley
I thought this story was silly enough that kids wouldn't be scared of it, but I was wrong - a three-year-old spent the entire story time with his fingers in his ears, as though the tiger might make a scary sound at any moment. 

I don't think this is a very good read-aloud.

The Noisy Way to Bed by Ian Whybrow, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeker

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Flannel Friday: The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins

For the first preschool story time of the Fall (which is today, Friday, at 4:00pm), my theme is numbers and counting. As soon as I decided that, I knew I wanted to find a way to include The Doorbell Rang. It's a book I have always liked, but that tends to flop at story time because the illustrations don't lend themselves well to being shared with large groups. It also bothers me that the text doesn't specifically reference the number of cookies Ma has made- the closest we get is when we're told that Victoria and Sam get six each on the first page. As a kid who did not understand the concept of multiplication until at least two years after her classmates, I needed to have things spelled, and this flannel board does just that.

All the clipart you see in these photos is available from, and is in the public domain. I made these pieces at home, where I do not have a flannel board, so I used my kitchen folding table to take the photos. The quality is pretty terrible, but I think they still get across the general way I plan to present this flannel to my preschoolers this afternoon!

Here's the start of the story where Ma has her twelve cookies. Victoria is the red-haired girl, and Sam is the blonde boy. I did my best to match the faces I found to the way they look in the book. I did the best job with these two characters.

Here are Victoria and Sam, now each with their six cookies.

But of course the doorbell rings...
...and in walk two more kids.

The cookies get redistributed, and now everyone has three.

Not for long, though.

Two more boys shows up, and the number decreases to two.

The doorbell rings again, and this time, the group of kids doubles in size.

One cookie each, and not a cookie to spare! 

Thank God, the next time the doorbell rings...'s Grandma with more cookies!

(The only piece missing from the picture is grandma's cookie tray. I'm still figuring out how I'm going to create that piece. I printed out a second sheet of cookies, but it's too big.)

I was initially going to try memorizing the text of the book, but I ran out of time, so now I'll probably just read it straight through and use the flannel board to illustrate the distribution of the cookies. I'm also just really excited to have found these various faces. It's not easy to find free clipart of people online to begin with, and even harder to get a diverse group. I'll be looking for more ways to use these guys in the coming months!

This week's roundup is over at Loons and Quines. For more information on Flannel Friday, check out its official website.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Drop-In Story Time, 9/4/12

There really is nothing better than a three-day weekend. I finally caught up with both my blogs (mostly), and I didn't think about library work at all on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. I came back to work this morning refreshed and ready to go. As far as story time, I stuck with the same routine that I established on Friday - no chairs, room locked until ten minutes before, highly interactive books - and again, it was a success. I have to admit that I think part of the success can also be attributed to my attitude. Only doing one story time a day is so much more manageable than two or three, so I can once again get excited about it and really include all the materials I want to use. Before, I really held back on what I would use in a single story time because my voice wouldn't make it through all the sessions, otherwise. Now I'm actually including what I want to include and that makes me feel more confident in my presentation.

Opening Song (with ukulele): Hello, how are you?

Book: Hurry! Hurry! by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Jeff Mack (2007)
I asked the grown-ups to repeat each statement on each page after me. I paused to point out some of what was happening in the pictures before reading the text. 

Song (with puppets): Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big
I have stopped saying, "Now let's do a rhyme. It's called Big, Big, Big." Now I say, "Show me realllly big" and I stretch out my arms, then jump right into the rest of the rhyme. It works so much better because the adults don't know what's coming so they can't decide right up front not to participate.

Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers
I take the same approach to this rhyme. I say, "Show me how you wiggle your fingers!" Then I start saying the rhyme.

Book: Meeow and the Pots and Pans by Sebastien Braun (2010)
This book isn't especially interactive, but I made it work by having the audience repeat certain phrases such as, "Be careful, Baa!" I wouldn't say this call and response format is doing anything for the overall story - but it keeps the adults engaged enough that they don't prevent the kids from paying attention.

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

Song: Sing a Happy Song

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

Monday, September 3, 2012

Drop-In Story Time, 8/31/12

I have been looking at these drop-in story times from every angle for months now, trying to figure out how to fix them. I was frustrated because adults were telling me what a great job I was doing, but then consistently talking loudly through entire sessions, with obviously not an ounce of respect for what I was trying to do. I also felt like the kids were really getting the short end of the stick because of the adult behavior. Some sessions, we barely got through a book before I just resorted to singing because at least I could drown out the chit-chat with the ukulele and some loud animal sounds. I was not happy.

For Friday's session, I decided to really crack down on some of the bad habits that I think were partially to blame for the adult restlessness during story time. As I mentioned on Tuesday, we only offer one session of each story time now, rather than two, so that has dealt with the issue of people staying for multiple sessions, but on Friday, I also took the following steps:
  • I put away all the chairs our closet would hold. The ones I left out were hooked together and pushed all the way to the back of  the room. I guessed (rightly) that the adults wouldn't want to unhook the chairs in order to sit in them, and that they would either sit on the floor closer to the front, where I actually want them to sit, or they would sit in the back and leave room on the floor for people more interested in participating. As it turned out, the most notoriously noisy nannies used the chairs, and the others sat on the floor. Not even every chair was full.
  • I kept the meeting room locked until 10 minutes before story time. This prevented people from sitting in there bored and restless for 30 to 45 minutes prior to story time.  This also ensured that every person had the same chance of getting a chair or a seat near the front. A few nannies were not pleased with me when I said I was trying to make things more fair, but they were the biggest offenders so I didn't feel guilty standing my ground.
  • I made sure to use highly interactive books that would force the adults to participate. I'm going to run out of books like this eventually, at which point I'm not sure what I will do, but if I can teach them to behave better in the meantime, maybe it will be okay.

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?

Flannel Board: Let's Make a Noise 

Book: Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia (2008)

Song: Drive, Drive, Drive Your Car 
We drove safely, then slowly and quickly. 

Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers 

Book: What Shall We Do with the Boo-Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell, illustrated by Ingrid Godon

Letter of the Day: Letter B
I forgot completely to show the kids how to make the letter B in sign language. I just realized it now writing this. I'll have to try to remember from now on!  I did have a capital and lowercase B for the flannel board, and then we sang the following "B" songs.

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

Song: Sing a Happy Song 
This song is fantastic. It's perfect for big groups, and will work just as well in our smaller Toddler sessions later this Fall!

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

Song: Monkeys on the Bed

Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

At the end of story time, an unprecedented thing happened. A huge number of kids came up to me to talk about my puppets. I really think this is directly related to the fact that for the first time ever the grown-ups responsible for them were quiet enough that they could actually see and hear what happened at story time. If this story time is a sign of things to come, we're going to have a very happy Fall.

Pajama Story Time, 8/29/12

Pajama Story Time started catching on toward the end of the summer, so we're going to keep it going this Fall. We changed our time slot from 6:30 to 7 which has made it even easier for a lot of our families to come, and I think we can count on seeing a good group every week. This week was a bit trying, as we had a couple of three-year-olds who were very disruptive and parents who decided they didn't want to do anything about it, but I got them moving around and involved and that seemed to help enough to get us through to the end. In any case, here is the  run-down of activities, all of which matched a pets theme.

Opening Song (with ukulele): Hello, how are you?

Book: Teeny Weeny Bop by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Diane Greenseid (2006)
This was probably the best received book of the story time. Adults and kids alike thought the silliness was funny, and they joined on the very refrains, all of which were modeled after the nursery rhyme that begins "To market, to market." I'll be using this with preschoolers again for sure. 

Rhyme with Puppets: Two Little Kittens 
I had a much older girl in the audience - she was maybe 6 or 7, versus the others who were 3 and under. I thought it would be nice to let her help me out by holding the puppets, but the other kids immediately started crying and screaming and demanding to hold the puppets. *sigh* The pair of misbehaving three-year-olds never really calmed down after that, and the older girl, too, began to fool around and disrupt story time.

Book:  Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag (1928)
Well, this was too long. Wayyyy too long. I could have pulled it off with our normally quiet pajama story time group, but this week it was just not a good idea. I'll save it for class visits where behavior is not an issue.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out 

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up

Flannel Board Song: Mary Had a Little Lamb
I changed the colors of Mary's lamb and sang about fleece that was "red as a rose," "green as the grass," and "black as night." Everyone sang along, which was great because at my morning story times, adults normally don't!

Book: Mary Had a Little Lamp by Jack Lechner, illustrated by Bob Staake
I really wasn't sure how this would go over, but it was surprisingly good. The parents laughed, and the kids seemed to like the illustrations.

Song with Puppets: Goodnight by the Laurie Berkner Band (sung a cappella)
Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This
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