Friday, February 10, 2012

Hugs & Kisses After School Story Time, 2/9/12

Today, I threw out the rule book for my after school story time and started over from scratch. What I've been doing all along is more of a traditional story time format like what I might do on a Pre-K class visit or in a morning preschool story time. But this group is much more diverse, and much less interested in singing and dancing than my morning groups. Plus, they've been in school all day and are much more tired than the wide-awake little ones we see on Tuesday morning. So, with an eye toward re-structuring this as a read-aloud program rather than a story time, I turned today's program into an experiment.

My original plan when I set up my Winter schedule back in November was to read chocolate-themed books and play Bingo with Hershey's kisses. I quickly realized there aren't very many quality children's books on chocolate. So I started brainstorming other ideas. I considered candy, then expanded that to sweet treats. I still couldn't find anything  I considered high enough quality to share at a story time. So I brainstormed some more, this time focusing in on the actual Hershey's kisses I'd be using as Bingo markers. And, well, bingo! It hit me. Kisses and hugs would be the perfect theme for the week before Valentine's Day.

But I didn't want to find a bunch of lame songs and rhymes on an already somewhat borderline cheesy topic. So I gave myself permission to forgo the songs and instead borrowed a suggestion another librarian gave me a few months ago. I decided to set up tables in the story room and let the kids color while I read. They started coloring their Bingo cards (which came from DLTK) whenever they arrived - from about 3:45 - and then at 4:00, I introduced my first book and started to read. Here are the three books I shared:

Book 1: A Hug Goes Around by Laura Krauss Melmed, illustrated by Betsy Lewin (2002)
This book is kind of random, but in a style similar to All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee, it explores concepts like family, friendship, weather, peace, and comfort.

Book 2: Won't You Be My Kissaroo? by Joanne Ryder (2004)
I felt really cheesy reading this book, but it ended up being at the right level for most of the kids who attended this program. It's most appropriate, probably for threes and fours.
Book 3: Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell (2007)
Jules the kitten tries to hug the world and encourages us to do the same. It's not quite as touchy-feely as it sounds, though, and the kids laughed at the kitten's efforts to hug large animals like elephants and giraffes.
When we finished reading all three books,  I transitioned right into the Bingo game. When I printed the cards from DLTK, I selected the Valentine's Day design and chose to have capital letters appear in the squares rather than pictures or numbers. Then when I called out each letter, I also called out a word that started with that letter. I also went around to each table to show the letter so kids who were a little shaky on their letters could have that additional help. Most of the kids also had a parent or caregiver with them to help them place the Hershey's Kiss or Hug on the correct space. (One parent actually played along, and won, and made a big deal out of it, which was weird, but she was the exception.)

Each time a winner called Bingo, that person got to keep the five Hershey's kisses marking the winning squares, and then everyone removed their candies from their board and played with them for the next game. At the end of the second game, we were getting restless, so I decided not to play a third. I invited each child to check with their grownup about how much candy was okay to take home, and everyone took some from the bowls before we cleaned up.

This was a huge success. I always have in mind that I want at least ten kids at a program, and I had exactly that number, and it was probably the least hectic and stressful program I have ever done. For next time, I want to worry less about themes and more about good quality books, and I'll need an activity less complicated than Bingo, but otherwise, the structure and concept worked much better than expected.

Baby/Toddler Lap Time, 2/10/12

Opening Song: Hello, how are you?

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers

Book: Just Like Jasper! by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen (2008)
I chose this book based on the simple text and bold illustrations, but loved the added bonus that Jasper and my kitten puppets looks so much alike!

Rhyme: Two Little Kittens

Song: How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

Book: Black Dog, Red House by Lizi Boyd (1993)
This book teaches colors and talks about daily tasks at the same time. I discovered it by accident this morning, but quickly realized it was perfect and decided to go with a mini-theme of dogs and cats. The only thing I forgot to do was ask the adults to bark with me each time the dog was mentioned. Next time, I'd definitely do that.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out
The iPod gave out almost right away, so this was mostly a cappella.

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: There's a Little Wheel a-Turnin' in my Heart

Flannel Board: I Have Five Kisses
This is adorable! I was nervous, since it was new, and rushed it a bit, which kind of messed up the momentum, but most of the kids seemed to like it anyway, even if the adults seemed puzzled.

Song: Where is Big Toe? (a cappella)

Song: ABCD Medley (sort of)
The iPod gave out in the middle of the ABC's, so then we just sang each of the songs from the medley a cappella.

Song: Chickadee
This was a first - a cappella Chickadee! It wasn't nearly as much fun at all. The calypso beat of the recording is kind of essential.

Goodbye Song: We Wave Goodbye Like This

Flannel Friday: Shadow Guessing Game

Though Groundhog Day is over, I've decided to share my shadow guessing game flannel board anyway, since Shadows might be a possible topic of interest during this summer's Dream Big, Read program.

I made a set of ten items and their shadows, as pictured above. I chose figures with fairly recognizable shapes, but also tried to include a couple of tricky ones (like the cowboy) for some of  the older kids in the group for whom guessing would be very easy. Each of the figures started out as a free coloring page, which I then colored digitally using Paintbrush on my Mac at work. (Microsoft Paint works just as well - I've used that in the past.) I found that some coloring pages couldn't be properly colored this way - they came out all spotty, or with strange edges - but I had the best luck with and

I found that the best way to make the shadows was to staple the coloring page to a sheet of black construction paper and then cut out the figure so that the coloring page and construction paper are cut at the same time. Then, like I do with all flannel boards, I covered each piece in contact paper individually and stuck some Velcro to the back.

The group I did this flannel board with was slightly too old for flannel board activities like this, so it wasn't the greatest experience, but for preschoolers, just putting the shadow on the board and asking them to guess is probably exciting enough, and might spark some interesting discussion. I also think this flannel board could be done with babies and toddlers, with the addition of a rhyme or song to structure the activity in such a way that a verbal guess from a child is not necessary.  I haven't used it, but the rhyme I thought up goes like this:

I'm a shadow.
Look at me!
Do you know
whose shadow I might be?

For toddlers, I would recite the rhyme, point out some key features of the object, and then reveal the actual object. I'd probably stick to only three or four objects each time, and I might also make some simpler ones for everyday things like spoons, balls, cups, books, etc.

I also like the idea of maybe using these with puppets. I did a rhyme called Groundhog, Groundhog at all my lap time programs last week, and used my groundhog and groundhog shadow as popsicle stick puppets. It went over really well, and was very easy to do. I don't know of any other rhymes about shadows, but it might not be too hard to write one to match some of the baby-friendly shadows.

There aren't a lot of great shadow books available at my library, so this flannel board gave me the chance to explore that concept in a way I might not otherwise be able to. An activity like this would also pair well with It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw.

This week's Flannel Friday host is Library Quine.

Also check out the following Flannel Friday related links:
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