Thursday, January 31, 2013

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/31/13

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/31/13

Yes, yes, yes! Finally, a beginning reader story time that worked for both me and the kids! After reflecting on last week's session, I made a few changes. First, I decided to stop using the bulletin board for my welcome message and other items. This meant that I could set myself up on the wooden steps at the back of the room, and the kids therefore could not come up and climb on them. It also opened up a lot more room for the kids to have their space and not be in each other's faces as much. I introduced name tags this time as well and also put out the stools in a semi-circle formation so kids would understand where they were meant to sit. Not everyone got a stool, but no one complained about that at all. Mostly the seats just gave the room some structure.

Opening Rhyme
To get everyone's attention, and get things started, I broke out one of my go-to rhymes, This is Big, Big, Big, which comes from Mel's Desk. Normally, I would not consider this an appropriate school-age rhyme, but as we were going through it, I kept pausing to let the kids fill in the words - big, small, short, tall, etc. I realized that they seemed to enjoy being able to predict what I would say, and doing the motions got everyone into a rhythm of listening and paying attention. I'm definitely going to start with an action rhyme from now on.

Welcome Message 
I used my best teacher writing to write today's message. It was a little long, but I wanted it to sort of map out what we would be doing during the story time so that transitions from one activity to the next wouldn't be surprises. I can't say for sure that this is why things ran so smoothly, but I suspect it was one of a few details that did make a difference. Since the text is a little small in the photo, I'll reproduce the text of the message here.

Hello, everyone! 

Here is what we will do at story time today. First, we will all read a story called At the Pet Store. Second, I will read you a book called Pet Show. Finally, we will play a pet show game. Let's get started! 

Your Friend, 

Miss Katie

One of the girls who has been coming every week piped up at the end of the message to say - "Miss Katie, that's you!" (And I have to say that the way the kids say my name in a chorus at the end of my messages reminds me so much of the way the models on America's Next Top Model say, "Love, Tyra." It cracks me up.)


Read-Along 
During the past few weeks, I found that the books we were reading were too long for choral reading. The less experienced readers got lost, and the more experienced readers zipped ahead of us. So this week, I looked for a printable easy reader that would go with the theme of pets. (I wasn't necessarily married to the idea of using the same theme at this story time as at the others this week, but the picture book I wanted to read was pet-themed, and it just kind of grew from there.) When I didn't find anything I really liked, I went ahead and wrote my own! The end result looks liked this:

The text follows this pattern: "At the pet store, I see a dog. But I don't want to buy a dog." The same thing repeats for cat, fish, and bird, but then the little girl sees a dragon, which she decides to buy. The entire book (which uses clip art from Clker.com and MyCuteGraphics.com that I am free to share) can be downloaded here as a .pdf file.

The kids loved this book, and I did allow them to keep their own personal copies to take home, which was a really big deal for most of them. At the end of the story, the most vocal girl in the group (the one who recognizes my name) called out, "That was crazy!" and I could  tell from the look on her face that this was a compliment.

Discussion 
Briefly, between books, we talked about our pets. Hardly anyone in the group wanted to share,  but I see potential for this portion of the story time in the future. I also love Katie's idea of creating a word cloud with the kids, and I think that would also fit in well at this point in the story time.

Picture Book Read-Aloud
This was the key component missing from my previous sessions. It's not really a story time if we don't share a picture book!  We read Pet Show by Ezra Jack Keats. I tried to get them to talk a little bit about the story, but I didn't really plan any questions so the discussion didn't last long. Now that I know how well this format works, though, I'll prepare better next time.

Pet Show Game
The brown paper bag in the photo above that is labeled "Pet Show" contained six small stick puppets. Each puppet showed the name of an animal on one side, and a picture of that animal on the other side. Four of the animals - cat, dog, bird, and fish - came from At the Pet Store, and two others - turtle and rabbit - were added to make the game last a bit longer. I pulled the animals out one at a time, had the kids call out the word, then showed them the picture. Then I took volunteers to act out various "tricks" these pets might do in a show. The more I think about it, the more I like the way this activity went. All the kids could participate on some level, and most of them had at least one idea to share. It also got them thinking about how to describe animal behavior, and the physical aspect of it kept them from getting wild and out of hand.

Closing Song
Hat, Coat, Pants and Shoes has become the ending song for this story time, just by default. The kids love it, and I enjoy the challenge of coming up with new ways to surprise them at the end of each verse.

Craft 
When the kids came into story time, the nametag they received was a blank "blue ribbon" with a hole punched in it and a string so they could wear it around their neck. At the end of story time, I provided crayons for them to design their ribbon, as prize for doing so well in the pet show. I didn't see that many of them actually coloring it, but some of them got really into it. I would like to see this portion of the story time get a little bit stronger, but quite a few of the parents are really concerned about getting in and out in 30 minutes. I think they might be squeezing this story time in before other after school activities. But everything else went so well, I have no complaints whatsoever! I have found a structure that works, and I'm going to try sticking to it for a few weeks in the hopes that the kids will become accustomed to the routine too.

Let's Read About Pets! Baby Lap Time, 1/31/13

  Let's Read About Pets! Baby Lap Time, 1/31/13

Today's baby lap time went wonderfully well.  All the grown-ups sang along and participated, and the babies got a big kick out of holding their own foam stars during Twinkle Twinkle. A couple of the moms  really loved the animal sounds book.  Pizza, Pickle, Pumpernickel wasn't the hit I expected, but I might need to practice my delivery.



Rhyme: Cheek Chin

Book: Oink, Moo, Meow by Sterling Publishing Company

Rhyme with Puppets: Two Little Kittens

Song: Tony Chestnut

Song: Head + Shoulders

Book: The Rabbit by John Burningham

Rhyme: Hop Your Bunnies


Rhyme: Clap Your Hands

Rhyme: Where Oh Where are Baby’s Fingers?

Song: All the Little Babies

Rhyme: Pizza, Pickle, Pumpernickel

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun

Song:
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star


Song: There's a Star Upon My Head

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

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.

Let's Read About Pets! Toddler Lap Time, 1/31/13

 Let's Read About Pets! Toddler Lap Time, 1/31/13

We had a hugely successful toddler time this morning! 

Book: Are You a Cow? by Sandra Boynton
The kids loved saying "Nooo" over and over again to the different questions. The parents loved the sweet ending.

Song with Puppet: I’m a Little Green Frog

Book: Oink, Moo, Meow by Sterling Publishing Company
This book is so simple and straightforward, and I love that about it. Some of the kids knew many of the common animal sounds and giggled over the lesser known ones, such as the wolf pup and sea lion.

Song with Puppets: Do You Know the Little Dog?

Book: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Hands Up High 
This was a new one, and it was just right for this age group. We'll be using it again.

Song: Here We Go Up Up Up

Songs with Shaker Eggs:
This is the first time we've used shaker eggs since the new lap time sessions have begun. The kids had a lot of fun, and I think this combination of songs is the best one I've used. I'll probably use these every other week, and work up to switching off with bubbles and the parachute.
Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It 

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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Let's Read About Pets! Pajama Story Time, 1/30/13

 Let's Read About Pets! Pajama Story Time, 1/30/13

Book: Mr Merlin and the Turtle by Seymour Chwast
This is why I like doing themed story times - I find books I never would have known about otherwise. This is an older title, and doesn't look like much from the cover, but the kids got really excited about watching me lift the flaps and show them what Merlin turned his turtle into. It's a nice alternative to Dear Zoo, which sometimes gets old after reading it too many times.

Rhyme: There Was a Little Turtle
I've always heard this presented to kids as a song, but it works much better for me if I do it as a rhyme. So that's what we did. A little boy who normally comes to Read-Along and Preschool story time was out in the library when we started this  rhyme. By the time we finished, he was inside the door.

Book: Jack’s Rabbit by Yvonne Jagtenberg
This was the quietest of all the books, and the least engaging for a toddler, but their attention did come back to the book even they briefly got distracted.

Song: Five Little Rabbits Hopping on the Bed
I revamped Five Little Monkeys - this is the song that brought that little boy who liked the turtle rhyme all the way into the center of the room. He got a kick out of changing monkeys to rabbits.

Book: Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
This book was a little over the two youngest kids' heads, but they got into making the animal sounds anyway. The parents of one of the girls loved it. The other dad didn't think it was funny! Oops!

Song: Do you know the little dog/cat?
This one is just like The Muffin Man, but instead of Drury Lane, we sang the name of our neighborhood. Then we sang that yes, we do know this dog and this cat who live here.

Book: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and Dean Martin
This book never lets me down. It is the only one of the four that got checked out at the end of the session.

Song: Moon Moon Moon 

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Goodnight
We sang goodnight to our dog and cat, and then, for  the heck of it, a frog. 

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Let's Read About Pets! Drop-In Story Time, 1/29/13

 Let's Read About Pets! Drop-In Story Time, 1/29/13
*No handout this week - no one takes them, so they result in lots of scrap paper and I haven't been able to put them on our website in a timely manner to make it worthwhile.

I'm still fighting a cold, so I could barely sing. I left the ukulele at home so that I wouldn't be tempted to overdo it, and used a lot more rhymes than usual. It worked out fine, and everyone was into the cat theme. 

Book: Mama Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming

Rhyme with Puppets: Two Little Kittens
This was a bigger hit than it has ever been. I saw lots of kids using their hands as kittens and trying to say the rhyme with me.

Book: Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle
This got a lot of applause despite the fact that it didn't look like anyone was listening. One girl - she was about three - did answer me every time I asked, "Have you seen my cat?" which was very cute. I kept a post-it note with the name of each type of cat on the back flap of the jacket so I could name what we were looking at.

Song: All the Cats 
We sang about a cat, a tiger, and a lion.

Book: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and Dean Martin

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Letter of the Day: X
This is the trickiest letter, and I'm proud of how I tackled it!
  • One Xylophone (based on One Violin; we used "plink" instead of "zin")
  • Pirate Rex's Four Xs (coming soon to Flannel Friday!)
Song: ABCs

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 

Song: Baa Baa Black Sheep

Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers

 Song: Shake My Sillies Out 

Song: The Itsy Bitsy Spider 

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Outreach Round-Up, 1/16/13 - 1/25/13

Rec. Center Cooperative Play Program: Wednesday, 1/16/13
Books: A Little Bit of Winter, The Hat, Help!
Songs: Good morning, Mr. Hedgehog, how are you?, Five Little Hedgehogs Brown, Sing a Happy Song
Notes: I debuted my hedgehog puppet at this story time and read three hedgehog themed books, all of which were well received despite being somewhat longer than what I normally share with this group.

Catholic School Pre-K: Thursday, 1/17/13 
Books: Happy Hector, The Happy Lion, Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Songs: If You’re Happy and You Know It, I’ve Got Something In My Pocket, Sing a Happy Song, You Are My Sunshine
Notes: I decided to do a story time about being happy, and that worked really well. They loved all three books, but Pete the Cat was the biggest hit by far.

Catholic School 5th Grade: Thursday, 1/17/13
For this visit, I asked the kids to create an acrostic poem with their names, listing things they like. Then I gave them a quick handout about the Dewey Decimal System and had them explore the shelves looking for a book about one of the things they listed. Their teacher made things a little confusing by also requiring them to choose a book that would be appropriate for  their kindergarten reading buddies, but even with that added stress, the kids did a great job. (Credit for this activity goes to the other children's librarian at my branch who saved the day when I couldn't get inspired.)

Public School Pre-K: Wednesday, 1/23/13 (Two Classes)
Books: Possum Magic, Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef 
Songs: Hat, Coat, Pants, and Shoes, These Are My Glasses, Taba Naba (first class only)
Notes: Both groups were so involved with these books that we barely had time for any singing. We talked about what we'd do if we were invisible, and made lots of great observations about sea creatures.

Catholic School 5th Grade: Thursday, 1/24/13
I decided I wanted this group to be a bit more invested when they come each week, so I've started reading them a novel: No Talking by Andrew Clements. They were skeptical at first, but I could see them getting more interested as they realized how good it is. The dialogue in particular got the girls all excited, and one of them even told me she thinks I should read audiobooks for a living. (I take no credit for this. Clements writes killer dialogue that makes it is easy to read aloud.) I'm hoping to get some good discussions out of them as  the weeks go on. I expect we'll finish the book by the end of March.

Catholic School Kindergarten: Friday, 1/25/13
Books: Guess Again!, Six Dinner Sid 
Song: Aikendrum
Notes: This group was a little off because they had a substitute teacher and she was not really with it. They did help me come up with a new way to sing Aikendrum, though - let the kids name the foods and body parts, and then I just sing them.

Here We Go! Preschool Story Time, 1/25/13

 Here We Go! Preschool Story Time, 1/25/13
Book: Fast Food by Saxton Freymann, illustrated by Joost Elffers


Song: Shake My Sillies Out 
We had a little argument going on in the front row between a three-year-old boy who refused to sit down and a little girl who is very aware of rules and the importance of following them. The boy's mom basically told him it was fine to stand in the little girl's way, even after I asked that we all sit on our bottoms, so I did this song to get everyone moving while I thought it over. By the end of the song, he was tired enough that he sat. 

Book: The Three Little Rigs by David Gordon
This is a wonderful retelling of the Three Little Pigs using trucks. This was my favorite of the four, and I think it was the kids' favorite too.

Song with Ukulele: Little Red Caboose
This wasn't a huge hit with this group, but they were mesmerized by the ukulele.

Book: Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
I will never stop loving the image of all those animals staring at the kids' bikes right before they get on and ride them. The little girl who loves to enforce rules also raised her hand to tell me it wasn't nice to steal bicycles from the kids without asking. She reminds me a lot of myself as a four year old.

Book: Mitchell's License by Hallie Durand, illustrated by Tony Fucile
I love Tony Fucile's artwork, and the premise of this book so much that I use it at story time even though I think the kids miss most of the humor. It works well for story times where the whole family attends, and there were some moms and grandmas this week that got a kick out of it.

This was a nice, calm story time to end the week. I'd love another session like this - soon!

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.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Here We Go! Toddler Lap Time, 1/25/13

 Here We Go! Toddler Lap Time, 1/25/13 
 
As with last week, the two Toddler Lap Time sessions were quite different. This week, there were two reasons. One was that almost everyone who registered for the Thursday session showed up, so it was a big group, while the Friday group had less than half the expected number. The other was that I let one of the moms from the Thursday session borrow one of the books I read (Truckery Rhymes) so I had to find a replacement. I also have a hard time doing the same story time twice, so I have a feeling they will never be exactly identical. Here is what I shared with Friday's group:

Book: Little Tug by Steven Savage

Song: Row Row Row Your Boat

Book: Flying by Donald Crews

Rhyme: I’m a Little Bumblebee

Book: The Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz

Songs with Paper Plate Steering Wheels: 

Song: Shake My Sillies Out 

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big 

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It
 
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.

Here We Go! Drop-In Story Time, 1/25/13

  Here We Go! Drop-In Story Time, 1/25/13 

Book: Train Man by Andrea Zimmerman, illustrated by David Clemesha
The adults got very excited about this book, and I could see them trying to help their kids see better and pointing out different things in the illustrations. It was a new one for me, and I thought it was just okay, but I wanted to try something other than Freight Train.

Song with ukulele: Little Red Caboose
This was a surprise hit. We sang it at normal speed, then very slowly, and very quickly. Thankfully, it only requires me to know two chords and I could switch back and forth quickly enough to make it fun. 

Book: Sail Away! by Donald Crews
I always have good luck with this one, except for the ending. In the past, I have tried changing the last word, "Moored!" to "Home!"  but this time I stayed true to the original text and followed it up with, "They made it home. And that is... the end." I still hate saying "the end" but sometimes it's the only thing that triggers an audience reaction.

Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Books: Cars! Cars! Cars! by Grace Maccarone, illustrated by David A. Carter
I had planned to read Mr. Gumpy's Motor Car, but this book was returned the night before story time, and I made a switch. This turned out to be a much better choice as a third book. There were a lot of babies, so the rhyming text was a plus, and the same kids who were excited about trains lost it over cars, too.

Rhyme: I'm a Windshield Wiper 

Flannel Board Rhyme: One Lonely Bus Driver
I used Auntie Madge and the bus from Seven Snazzy Aunties, and four of the kids from The Doorbell Rang to quickly put together this flannel board set. As usually happens with flannel boards, the kids were into it and the adults seemed confused. 

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

Song: Shake My Sillies Out  

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big 

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It

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.

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/24/13

  Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/24/13

Welcome Message: 
This week's welcome message commented on our weather and the theme of our story time. 

Dear Friends, 

I am glad to see you on such a cold day. We will warm up with a story time about soup. 

From, 

Miss Katie 

The kids read right along with me, and the only words that stumped them were "friends" and "about." 

Activity: What's Cooking? 
Each child was handed a paper bowl containing an assortment of felt letters and a plastic spoon. The idea was for them to fish out a letter, then make the letter sound and name a food beginning with that sound. I expected to have about ten kids when I planned this activity, but with only four, it quickly got out of hand as they pulled out whatever letters they liked and essentially made up their own words, or refused to name any words at all. We did manage to make a list, but they were not into it, and I found myself questioning whether this is even an appropriate activity for story time - maybe it's more like something they'd do at school.

Story
This story time has been running very long, which has annoyed the parents, so I stuck to just one story this week - the "Birthday Soup" story from Little Bear. The kids wouldn't open their books, then decided not to use them. I read the story, and asked them to look for clues in the illustrations that would tell them what each animal had brought for Little Bear's birthday. A couple of them did it, but again, it was too basic for them, and they were bored.

Activity: I Feel Silly So I Jump In My Soup
The final activity was based on the Laurie Berkner song, I Feel Crazy So I Jump In My Soup. I wrote each of the kids' names on a sentence strip, then let them tell me what they would do if they could jump in a big vat of soup. Their answers were very descriptive, and it occurs to me as I write this that they might have done better if they could have written them down themselves. They liked the silly premise, but what they really wanted to instead was write on the dry erase wall. And since I wasn't prepared for that, they sort of lost interest. I was going to read another story from Little Bear, but decided to just let them go color. I wasn't feeling great

Comments
This story time continues to puzzle and surprise me. This week's group was made up of two girls and two boys, all of whom already know how to read above grade level. They were clearly bored by the activities because they were too easy, and I didn't feel like I knew how to make them any more challenging or interesting. (I asked one of the girls as she was leaving what she might like to read in future story times, and she said Magic Tree House - I have no idea how to make that work.) In this story time, more than any other, I feel real pressure from the parents to teach their kids something. Though the parents didn't stay in the room, I still felt as though they were judging the story time, and then the kids started getting wild, I worried they would think I wasn't doing a good job. (I have already had one parent quiz me extensively on the purpose and content of this story time, and I keep waiting for that to happen again.) I think over the next few weeks I have to concentrate on a few things, namely:
  • coming up with ways to include kids who can read, even when the non-readers are present, and vice versa
  • making the story time less academic and more fun, while still focusing on learning and literacy 
  • figuring out how to keep the "read-along" component without boring the kids (the read-along part is the main draw for the parents, but so far, it doesn't really work for the kids, mostly because the stories we read are too long.)
It's a tall order, but I still think it will work once we figure out the bugs.

Here We Go! Baby Lap Time, 1/24/13

 Here We Go! Baby Lap Time, 1/24/13 
I'm still getting a handle on this story time. The regulars so far are very reserved moms who smile shyly from their seats but seem reluctant to participate. Many of them approach me individually and say they love the activities, so I know they're into it, but the vibe during the story time is so far one of awkwardness. This will probably change as their babies get a bit older (many are 2-3 months right now!) and they learn the songs I repeat each week. 

Rhyme: Cheek Chin

Book: Boats by Byron Barton

Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Song: Tony Chestnut

Song: Head and Shoulders, Baby

Song: All the Little Babies

Book:
Red Truck, Yellow Bus by Scholastic Inc.

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Rhyme: I’m a Little Bumblebee

Song: Where is Big Toe?

Rhyme: Mother and Father and Uncle John

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Rhyme: Hey Diddle Diddle 

Song: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

Edited to add: We also read Truck Duck by Michael Rex, but I'm not sure where it fell in the line-up.

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.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Here We Go! Toddler Lap Time, 1/24/13

 Here We Go! Toddler Lap Time, 1/24/13 

As with last week, this lap time and the Friday lap time were pretty different, so they're getting two separate posts.

Rhyme: When I Travel
I wrote this rhyme and used clipart printed out and mounted on construction paper to demonstrate the concepts. (Our color copier is down, so I can't make any color flannel boards right now!)

Book: Little Tug by Steven Savage

Song: Row Row Row Your Boat

Book: Flying by Donald Crews

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Shake My Sillies Out

Song: Sing a Happy Song 

Songs with Steering Wheels: I have never seen a group of children less enthusiastic about a prop than these kids were about the paper plates I handed out for them to use as steering wheels. Normally, they love props, but not this crowd, so we cut it short, did only two songs and quickly collected them. I intended to have them "drive" a bus, a car, and a truck, as shown on the popsicle stick puppets in the photo above, but we skipped that song.
Rhymes: Selections From Truckery Rhymes
This was such a big hit that one of the moms asked if she could borrow the book. Figuring I could find something else for the Friday session, I let her take it.

  • Rumble Rumble Monster Max
  • Three Loud Trucks
  • This is the Way
  • Rock-a-Bye Mixer

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It


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.

Here We Go! Pajama Story Time, 1/23/13

It's been bitterly cold here this week, so only two kids came to this story time. One of their moms seemed annoyed with me that the group was so small, and when it was over, she actually said to me, "That's it?" That didn't make me feel great, but the kids were sweet and the story time itself went fine.



Here We Go! Pajama Story Time, 1/23/13

[No one showed up until 10 minutes after the story time was meant to start, so I didn't take a photo because I didn't think the program was happening.]

Book: Traffic by Betsy and Giulio Maestro
I had this book on hand in case babies and toddlers came, since it's kind of basic and has no real plot, but the mom of the first girl to show up told the little girl she could choose the book, and this is what she picked. *sigh*

Book: The Bus For Us by Suzanne Bloom
This was the favorite of the kids. They liked guessing and the older of the two girls kept saying, "Let's turn the page and find out!" which is something I frequently say during story times she attends, so it was nice to see her picking up on that.

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Book: Mr. Gumpy’s Motor Car by John Burningham
I think Mr. Gumpy's Outing is a more engaging story. The girls spent this entire book sprawled on the floor giggling.

Song: Goodnight
We sang goodnight to a car, a truck, and a bus.

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.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We Love to Read! Preschool Story Time, 1/18/13

 We Love to Read! Preschool Story Time, 1/18/13

With probably 20 kids, this was the biggest preschool story time I have ever seen in this time slot. According to one grandmother, it was also the best ever! 

Book: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
At the part in the story when Harold draws a series of buildings filled  with windows, a little girl raised her hand and said, "I live right there!" When I said, "Where?" she pointed to one of the buildings. That was one of my all-time favorite story time moments. I also laughed to myself when another regular story time goer told me the story made her sleepy. She has said that on at least one other occasion.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out

Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
A few of the older ones in the group, probably closer to five years old, got the biggest smiles on their faces when I read the title of this book.

Song with ukulele: ABCs

Song with ukulele: Aikendrum
I decided on the spur of the moment to play this song, and it was a great decision. The kids loved it! 

Book: The Obstinate Pen by Frank W. Dormer
This book was a hit with most of the kids and surprisingly with parents too. I'm keeping it in mind for future class visits.

Activity in a Bag: What Can You Write With?
Since we read two books about writing implements (and I planned to read more, as the picture above shows), I wanted to do an activity that would promote the fun of writing a story. I gave each child a bag of things to write with - pencil, pen, marker, and crayon - and a sheet of 8 1/2 x 14 paper  folded in half to look like a book. The kids got really into it - and much to my great surprise and happiness, cleaned up after themselves. I wanted to get them to talk to me more about their experience writing and drawing, but there were more kids than anticipated, and a lot of toddlers, so we'll save that for another time.

This was a tough story time week, but ending it with this near-perfect story time felt pretty good.

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.

We Love to Read! Toddler Lap Time, 1/18/13


   We Love to Read! Toddler Lap Time, 1/18/13

This is Friday afternoon's improved lap time session, which was much better than Thursday's. I only wish these books were larger.

Book: Farmyard Rhymes by Clare Beaton
This is one of the only nursery rhyme books I have found useful for story time, and that's because it has a focus. On each page, I pointed out the farm animal, we made the animal sound and then we read the rhyme. A few of the kids knew the animal sounds, the others got excited and pointed at the illustrations.

Song with Stick Puppets: Old MacDonald

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Book: Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray

Song: ABCs

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Sing A Happy Song

Song: Ring a Round a Rosie

Book: It's a Little Book by Lane Smith 

Activities with foam stars:
  • Rhyme: Star Light, Star Bright
  • Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Song: There's a Star Upon My Head

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

Song: The More We Read Together

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.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

We Love to Read! Drop-In Story Time, 1/18/13

We Love to Read! Drop-In Story Time, 1/18/13

Song: If You’d Like To Read a Book 

Book: In the Foggy Foggy Forest by Nick Sharatt

Song: I’m Going Down to the Library (with animal puppets)

Book: Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Flannel Board Song: Who are the characters in your story books?
To the tune of Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?, we sung about favorite characters Spot, Max and Ruby, Thomas the Tank Engine, Pigeon, and Maisy.

Rhyme: This is Big Big Big

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake

Letter of the Day:  V
  • One Violin (I wrote this one. It was inspired by the title of the picture book, Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin)
  • Eating Veggies (We said this rhyme, using the characters from our story books and vegetables. The adults taked through the entire thing, but this was unusual - this rhyme normally works.)
  • The Wheels on the Van
Songs with ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song with ukulele: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It


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.

We Love to Read! Toddler Lap Time, 1/17/13

  We Love to Read! Toddler Lap Time, 1/17/13

*Theoretically, the two toddler lap times I do each week are identical, but Thursday's session didn't feel very successful to me, so it's completely different from what I presented on Friday. Therefore, I'm making two separate posts.


Song: If You’d Like to Read a Book

Book: Book! by Kristine O'Connell George, illustrated by Maggie Smith

Song with Flannel Board: I’m Going Down to the Library
This song worked well with the big drop-in group on Tuesday, but bombed with the smaller group. 

Flannel Board Rhyme: Down Around the Corner 
We did this rhyme with picture books at the "children's bookstore." I won't be using this again - none of the groups seemed to connect with it. 

Book: Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Song: These Are My Glasses

Poem: Letter Parade! from Good For You! by Stephanie Calmenson
This was not a hit.

Song: ABCs

Activities with foam stars:
  • Rhyme: Star Light, Star Bright
  • Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Song: There's a Star Upon My Head

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Song: Ring a Round a Rosie

Song: Head and Shoulders


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.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/17/13

 Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 1/17/13

Opening Activity & Welcome Message
When the kids came in, each one got to select two pictures from a selection of clip art flannel board pieces I had laid out on the table. While they waited for everyone to be signed in, the kids started to spontaneously tell stories to each other using their pictures, which was great. Once everyone was settled, we read the welcome message:

Good afternoon! 

Today we will read two stories from Frog and Toad Are Friends. We will look for a button and read some mail. 

From, 

Miss Katie

A couple of the kindergarteners were able to read most of the message, so I let them help me, and only filled in the words they didn't know. Then I circled two of the words - "Frog" and "Toad" and asked the kids to tell me what letter they each started with. We made the "F" and "T" sounds together, then the kids took turns coming up to the flannel boards I had set up to put their picture under the right letter. Some of the pictures started with other consonants, and I had those on hand to match up as well.

Story #1
After I chose Frog and Toad are Friends as my book for this week, I realized it was far too long for us to read the whole thing, so I selected two stories. I read this first one, "The Lost Button"," to the kids. Things started unraveling at this point. No one wanted to listen; everyone complained that someone else was blocking his or her view, and a mom complained when the kids - who insisted on sitting on the wooden steps instead of  the floor - started kicking their feet. Then her child kept raising her hand to tell me her mom didn't like the kicking. It was kind of chaotic, and I tried to regain control, but the kids would not listen. I was thankful when it was time to play a game.

Button Guessing Game 
I have Flannel Friday to thank for this wonderful game. I borrowed it from 1234 More Storytimes. I glued colored buttons to a piece of poster board, then hid each one behind a word and image representing one of the places Toad searches for his button in the story (meadow, river, etc.) I brought in my own little Frog and Toad stuffed animals from home, and each child got to hold frog when it was his or her turn to guess a color and a location. Only one child didn't know his colors (preschool story time might have been a better choice for him) and for the most part, they did okay with taking turns. There was one cheater who peeked to find out what color was hiding behind Frog, and all the other girls immediately freaked out, but otherwise, it was a good game.

Story #2
This second story, "A Letter," was the read-along portion for the day. The younger kids were totally lost the entire time because the kids who can actually read insisted on repeating every word after I said it, or sometimes reading it before I said it. They were offered the chance to have a turn reading, but refused and would not allow me to just read the story. I think the solution for next time might be to choose an easier easy reader where some of the newer readers might know the words, and to also provide more information for the kids on how they are supposed to participate.

Reading Favorite Characters' Mail 
The final activity of  the day was to read some letters from literary characters to their friends. We figured out who the letter was for, based on their names and pictures on envelopes, then guessed who might have written it. I called on some of the kids to open the letters for me, then read them aloud. You can read more about this activity in my Flannel Friday post for this week.

Goodbye Song
To finish things off, we sang my usual goodbye song. The kids left, saying they had enjoyed themselves, and I went off to collapse into a chair at my desk. This story time is fun, but I think it's going to be a few weeks before  I feel like I have it all under control.

Flannel Friday: Letters from Favorite Characters

As part of this week's Read-Along Story Time, a new activity I have just started for beginning readers at my library, I read the story from Frog and Toad Are Friends where Toad never receives mail, and Frog sends him a letter so that his mailbox will not be empty. I really wanted an activity to go with the concept of mail, so I came up with this guessing game. I used it with poster board, not a flannel board, but that was because of time constraints in creating it - it would work basically the same way on the flannel board.

First, I typed up the following set of letters:








Then I took some plain white envelopes, wrote the names of the individual recipients on the front of each one, and attached an accompanying picture to help the kids identify each name. Finally, I mounted the envelopes on poster board so the whole group could see the whole collection at once.

When they were hung on the bulletin board, they looked like this:
(Forgive the blurry image - it was taken from a distance.)


When I pointed to a letter, I asked the kids to tell me who it was for, then to guess who it was from. The child who guessed correctly got to open the letter for me. Then I read the letters to the group.

This is definitely an activity for kids who are familiar with a lot of books already, so it worked well with the Pre-K and K group I had. With younger kids, I might still use the concept, but maybe only with characters from books we have just read, or with books I have heard them talk about. I think it would also be fun to do another set with characters from fairy tales, or to tell a story using letters, and open one at a time to reveal the next part of the story.

I am this week's Flannel Friday host. The round-up placeholder is right here.

We Love to Read! Baby Lap Time, 1/17/13

  We Love to Read! Baby Lap Time, 1/17/13


(The picture above shows a flannel board - We're Going Down to the Library - that I didn't end up using.)

Rhyme: Cheek Chin 

Rhyme: Look at this Book

Song: If You’d Like to Read a Book 

Book: It’s a Little Book by Lane Smith

Song: Tony Chestnut

Song:  Head and Shoulders

Song: All the Little Babies

Poem: Letter Parade! from Good For You! by Stephanie Calmenson
I found some clip art of children wearing letters on their shirts and made my own book out of this rhyme. It didn't get a great reaction, but this was a reserved group of moms with babies on the younger side. (I can't share the book I made here because the clipart is copyrighted, but if you want to see a copy, leave a comment and I'll send it to you.)

Song: ABCs

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Where is Big Toe?

Rhyme: Hey Diddle Diddle

Song: The More We Read Together...

This session has made me rethink whether I want to do themed story times for the babies. I think I probably will for some of the easier ones, but I also need to revisit my older story time posts for this age and pull out the greatest hits, and just stick with those. This session was fine, and I received some lovely compliments, but I didn't feel that it was my best.


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.

We Love to Read! Pajama Story Time, 1/16/13

 We Love to Read! Pajama Story Time, 1/16/13

There were only three kids at this story time, but it was wonderful. All were regulars at either this or other story times, and all the grown-ups were happy to sing, clap, and participate. They also loved all of the books and there was just a nice, cozy bedtime atmosphere.

Book: Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Song: Tommy Thumb

Book: Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Two of the three kids were too young to really point out the characters in each "I Spy" picture, but they loved it when I pointed them out.

Song: Nursery Rhyme Rap
For the verses, we sang "To Market, To Market", "Little Bo Peep" and "Horsey, Horsey", and I placed images of a pig, sheep, and horse on the flannel board. 

Book: It's a Little Book by Lane Smith
The kids like the repetiton of the word "no." The adults laughed out loud, especially at the cute ending.

Song: Sing a Happy Song

Song: Goodnight
I put the sheep, pig, and horse on stick puppets and we sang goodnight to them. Halfway through, a little girl suddenly started crying and trying to sing at the same time. From what I could gather,  this was similar to my own reaction to "You Are My Sunshine" when I was around three. I would burst into tears for no reason every  time I heard it. The little girl's grown-up gave her a snuggle and she bounced back, and it was all very sweet.

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

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.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Flannel Friday Round-Up for January 18, 2013

Welcome, Flannel Friday friends!  This is the round-up for January 18, 2013. If you're new to Flannel Friday and/or want to learn more, check out the official website and Facebook page.

Here are this week's contributions:
See these and past Flannel Friday contributions on Pinterest. Keep in touch with fellow Flannel Friday participants using the #flannelfriday hashtag on Twitter.

Thanks for visiting the round-up. Next week, Sarah will host the special Valentine's Day edition of Flannel Friday. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We Love to Read! Drop-In Story Time, 1/15/13

 We Love to Read! Drop-In Story Time, 1/15/13

Song: If You’d Like to Read a Book

Book: The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore
There was a group of four year olds who loved this book. I was glad I chose a longer book, since they wound up joining story time, but it was too long for almost everyone else, adults included.

Flannel Board Rhyme: Down Around the Corner
I printed out covers of five well-known picture books (shown above) and did "Down around the corner at the children's bookstore" where boys and girls bought the books and took them away.

Book: I Like Books by Anthony Browne

Flannel Board Song (with ukulele): I’m Going Down to the Library
We had the whole family visit the library - Mom, Dad, baby, brother, sister, grandma, and grandpa.

Song: I’m a Little Teapot

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

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Song: The More We Read Together

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.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Outreach Round-Up, 1/3/13 - 1/11/13

Catholic School 5th Grade, 1/3/13 
Short Story: "Your Question for Author Here" by Kate DiCamillo and Jon Scieszka, from Guys Read: Funny Business 
Notes: The teacher liked the story; the class did not. I think it was too long for them, and letters aren't the easiest thing to read aloud.

Catholic School 3rd Grade, 1/4/13
Book: Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
Notes: Several kids called out, "I love this!" when we were about three or four pages into the story. Their interest fizzled by the end, which was too bad, but they loved the meta-fictional approach to the story.

Catholic School 5th Grade, 1/10/13 
Activity: Writing Stories
I gave each of three teams a story starter. (It was the first line of Nim's Island - "In a palm tree, on an island, in the middle of the wide blue sea, was a girl." For two of the teams, I changed the last word to "boy" and "monkey.") I then challenged them to take turns adding sentences to the story to see where their creativity would take them. Aside from an obvious need for more structure, they did a nice job. (Our story room's walls are eraseable, so that's where they wrote.) The results are below. (White marks appear where I Photoshopped out the kids' names.)

 
 

Catholic School Kindergarten, 1/11/13
Books: How to Drive Your Sister Crazy by Diane Z. Shore and George and Martha: Encore by James Marshall
Notes: This group didn't get the humor in the book that I chose, but one of them had checked out the big collection of George and Martha stories, and they all wanted to hear one of those. I chose one we hadn't read before, and the kids liked pointing out how it was the same or different from a previous title we had read together. They asked for more George and Martha for next time, a request I will do my best to honor!


Catholic School First Grade, 1/11/13 
Book: Lentil by Robert McCloskey
Notes: The kids were very excited about the harmonica in this book. They were restless at first, but fell really silent as the plot got going. I always liked this book when I was around their age, and was glad to see it still holds up. I also want to keep this one in mind if I do a preschool music theme. And it would be great if I could get a harmonica!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Welcome to Winter! Preschool Story Time, 1/11/13

Today was one of our better-attended preschool story time sessions - 8 kids in all! Some things, I came up with at the very last minute, but they all worked really well. 

Welcome to Winter! Preschool Story Time, 1/11/13
 Click to download this week's handout. 

Book: Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
I think this is a much better read-aloud than I was expecting, because most of  the kids seemed mesmerized. Only one little girl didn't like it and kept saying so to her mom.

Book and Activity: The Mitten by Jan Brett
For this story, I created a mitten on the floor with blue masking tape, as shown above. (The idea came from Pinterest.) Each of the kids had one of these cards and when their animal was called, they stepped into the mitten. At the end, when the bear sneezes, we all sneezed and jumped out of the mitten.

Song: If You Have a...
We were going to do an actual sequencing activity with the  sequencing cards but I quickly realized these kids would not be up to it. Instead, I sang to the tune of Mary Wore Her Red Dress: "If you have the badger... bring it up to me." That worked really well.

Rhyme: Hedgehog's Hungry
This was another spur of  the moment idea. I tried out my new puppet, and asked the kids what they would feed him. The most popular answer, overwhelmingly, was dirt. (Credit for this idea goes to Miss Tara, who suggested feeding the puppet.)

Song: Hat, Coat, Pants and Shoes 
Only one little girl found this funny, but it was worth it to hear her laugh. 

Book: Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
This is a long one to be the last story of a session like this, but they liked it. And I love the artwork. 


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.

Welcome to Winter! Toddler Lap Time, 1/10/13 & 1/11/13

When I first started doing this story time, it felt like an out of control mess almost all the time. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to approach it in 2013, and these two sessions are proof that I made good decisions. These were great story times, with great groups, and I can't wait to see where we go from here!

 Welcome to Winter! Toddler Lap Time, 1/10/13 & 1/11/13

Song: It's Wintertime, You Know 
I found this song at Mel's Desk and printed out clipart to go with it. (I initially wanted to use photos, but our color copier has been down all week and clipart is best when it has to be black and white.) instead of Melissa's "We will have some snow," I sang "We might have some snow" because that is more accurate for this region. 

Book: Red Sled by Lita Judge
I was very nervous about sharing a mostly wordless book, but this one worked its magic on kids and adults in both sessions. It went over slightly better today than yesterday, possibly because I felt more comfortable with it the second time around.

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

Song: I’m a Little Teapot

Song: Shake My Sillies Out

Song: Sing a Happy Song 

Book: Oh! by Kevin Henkes
This is so awkward to read aloud, but it seemed to go over better today than yesterday. One little guy loved the page where the children "jump jump jump" - he didn't want me to keep going because he was so attached to that page!

Flannel Board Song: A Hat Goes on my Head 
Toddlers really like this one. The parents were great about helping them find the right place to wear a hat, boots, snowpants, gloves, and a scarf. 

Rhyme: Snowflakes Falling Down (Thursday only)
I misread my setlist and basically just forgot this rhyme altogether in today's session. It was a good one yesterday, though - simple enough for this age group for sure. 

Book: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle

Song: Dance Like Snowflakes
For this one, I handed out snowflakes to every child - each child got one yesterday and two today. The parents loved that there was something for the kids to hold onto, and the kids loved crumpling them up and shaking them around. 

Song: There’s a Snowflake on My Head
This song is kind of chaotic, but enough of the kids seemed into it that I'd do something similar again. 

Song: If You Have a Snowflake... 
This is a simple song to the tune of Mary Wore Her Red Dress that I used to help us clean up. (If you have a snowflake... bring it up to me.) Yesterday, I tried to have them bring the snowflakes up by color - today we just all brought them up at once.

Song: One Little Finger
This was an old favorite of mine from when I first started singing all my songs without recordings. It was a hit as always.

Song: If You’re Happy

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.
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