Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer School-Age Activity #2: Daytime Pajama Party

I have to admit, as much as I love my babies and toddlers, there is a very special place in my heart for school-age kids, and for the many possible programs for their age group! This week's activity was a Daytime Pajama Party. I expected more walk-in kids, but between the crazy weather over the weekend and July 4th travel plans, I wound up with only two walk-ins, and the difference was made up by 21 kids from a neighborhood camp program.

The first activity was to decorate our own slipper socks. I shopped at Dollar Tree and bought up a huge supply of their kid-sized socks. I also bought 3-D paint at Michael's. The idea was for the kids to lightly decorate the bottoms of their socks with the paint, to make them resistant to slipping and sliding. Here is a step by step list of how I set things up.

First, I pulled out some tables and set them up in an L shape. I put the little paint bottles at the corners of the tables and then laid out pieces of card stock at equal intervals down the table, so that it would be clear where each child's "station" was supposed to be. At each station, I placed a pair of socks and a crayon, and I told the kids to first write their names on their cards using the crayons. I also told them to do everything on their card - not on their clothes, not on the table, not anywhere but on their socks and their card.

They were given free reign to paint their socks, but I did try to emphasize that  this was not a major painting project, and that small dots, dashes, and squiggles were the name of the game. I told the kids they didn't want "soggy socks" and the camp counselors helped out a lot by reminding the kids of that phrase throughout the activity. I really wanted the painting to take a very short time, but things kind of got away from me, and the smaller kids took a lot longer to finish than I expected.

The second half of the program was meant to be a short Pixar film and some popcorn, but the counselors told me they needed to leave earlier than expected, so I wound up showing Night and Day (the short featured on the Toy Story 3 DVD) as they finished painting and cleaning up their stations. We decided to have the kids leave their socks here at the library to dry, and they will pick  them up when they come back in two weeks (except for the two kids who came with their nanny - they took theirs home, card stock and all.)

I was impressed by how little mess the kids made, and the socks came out really cute! I would have liked to have a little more control over the way things transitioned overall, but even without the smooth transitions, the kids had a lot of fun, and the counselors thanked me several times for having them.

Next week's school-age program is playing Wii games, so I won't post about that, but check back for future posts about Star Wars origami and Angry Birds in late July/early August.

Camp Story Time, Ages 4-11, 7/2/12

We don't have as many camps this summer as last, but we do have a few, and this one asked me to do a story time for their group, which ranges in age from 4 to 11. Last summer, this sort of request sent me into a panic - this year, thanks to all the time I spent visiting schools, I was more than ready to meet the challenge. I overplanned, which is normal for me, because I always worry about running short, but I wound up filling 25 minutes with just two books and one song.

Here's the rundown:

Book: Stella Louella's Runaway Book by Lisa Campbell Ernst (1998)
As I did during my second grade class visit for National Library Week, I introduced this book by telling the kids to look for the clues and figure out which book it was that Stella has lost. They all did a great job of not telling the answer until the very end, and even the littlest ones had figured it out by the time I asked them to call out the name of the story.

Book: The Little Old LadyWho Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd (1986)
I have read this book many times, usually to preschoolers, but I knew I needed something more to make it appeal to this wide age range. So, I made the story interactive by having the kids act out each motion. The movements we used are as follows:

CLOMP CLOMP = Stomp your feet
WIGGLE WIGGLE = Do a twist motion with your hips
SHAKE SHAKE = Shake your hands
CLAP CLAP = Clap your hands
NOD NOD = Nod your head
BOO BOO = Open and close hands next to face

The kids got really into this, and they clapped and cheered when we finished. The camp counselors also did an awesome job of joining in and encouraging the kids to participate. I will never read this book sitting down again. (And I also learned that it never hurts to raid the holiday books for stories - this is shelved with our Halloween books, but it's really something that could be read any time, and especially with our nighttime theme this year!)

Dance: Taba Naba (A video I found on YouTube that shows the song and motions is here. The lyrics and origin of the song are on Wikipedia.)
Last summer, I introduced this song is as part of the One World, Many Stories summer reading theme, and used it with the Wiggles recording from their Wiggly Wiggly World album (pictured above). During the past year, I have learned the words and can now sing the entire thing without the music. The advantage of this is that I can now introduce the words and movements separately first, and then sing the song as slowly or as quickly as I would like. I also wrote the words on our dry-erase wall so the older kids could attempt to sound them out with me. I had them read through the words with me, practice the motions a couple of times, and then we put it all together. The kids caught on really fast, and we had a great time doing our sit-down dance.

At the end of story time, the kids signed up for summer reading, while I quickly dashed upstairs to set up for the school-age program, our Daytime Pajama Party, which the camp also attended. Stay tuned for the post about that, coming up next!

Genres in Children's Literature, La Trobe University, Lecture 4: Author and Illustrator Devices

 Genres in Children's Literature is a course taught by David Beagley at Australia's La Trobe University. Lectures from the Spring 2012 semester are available for download on iTunes U. As I listen to the lectures, I am recording my reflections and responses here on my blog. This post focuses on Lecture 4: Author and Illustrator Devices.

Beagley's remarks in this lecture echoed some of the things he's already said, but then applied them all to an Australian picture book called Norton's Hut. The book seems to be out of print and unavailable these days, and it's not familiar to me at all, but Beagley's analysis of it seems like a pretty good blueprint for analyzing and reviewing books with illustrations.

Here's a list of the details Beagley discussed as he went through Norton's Hut:
  • The visual effects of text (conversation bubbles, capital letters, etc.)
  • Endpapers 
  • Symbolism of setting 
  • Framing of the illustrations/story
  • Figurative language (alliteration/metaphor/personifcation/simile)
  • Characters' expressions 
  • Lighting and contrast 
  • Intertextuality
  • Use of cinematic technique in illustrations
I think it would be silly to assume these are the only things to look for in a picture book, but I think this list is a great starting point. If a reader is looking closely enough to notice these elements, there can be no doubt that he or she will start to notice many more. I find it difficult sometimes to think of books as constructions, with deliberate stylistic choices. It's like looking at the man behind the curtain; Oz loses its magic once you see how he works. But I also think that, in great books, seeing how they work is actually another part of the magic. Seeing how authors put together these great reading experiences can be a real treat.

Want to listen along? Click here. Read about David Beagley here. Read my previous lecture responses here.
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