Friday, May 31, 2013

Colors: Blue Drop-In Story Time, 5/31/13

 Colors: Blue Drop-In Story Time, 5/31/13

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake 

Book: Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff
This book is long and the text is somewhat poetic, which can cause it to be a flop. This group was pretty interested, though, and I think it helped that this was the only long book.

Flannel Board Song with Ukulele: Bluebird, Bluebird Through my Window
We sang about each color twice, because I had two birds of each color.

Book: Blue Sky by Audrey Wood
This book has never done well in story time, but today it hit the right notes with this particular group. They oohed and aahed over the illustrations and generally seemed to enjoy it. What might have helped is that  I kept my pace slow and let myself linger over each page a little bit.

Song with Puppet: Flutter Flutter Butterfly
This song is the only song I know that brings complete and utter quiet to the entire room. I think it must be the puppet that just mesmerizes them - but adults and kids alike act like they're under a spell while I'm singing this song. 

Book: Blue Chameleon by Emily Gravett
I need to remember that this book doesn't work. It just doesn't. The plot of the story is not clear, and the kids get distracted easily. Next time I do this theme, I do not want to use this book.

Magic Envelope: Little Boy Blue

We recited the Little Boy Blue nursery rhyme, then made Little Boy Blue in the magic envelope using a horn, a cow, a sheep, a haystack, and corn. Not all the kids understand fully what is happening when we do a magic envelope, but they are really into it nonetheless. I also notice that he adults are more attentive to this part of story time than to any other. 

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun 

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

Song: Hands Up High

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, 5/30/13

 Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 5/30/13

Today's story time started out very small, with just one newly-five-year-old boy and one first grade girl. I was nervous about catering to the abilities of kids at such disparate stages of development, but I was quickly calmed by the fact that both kids were really into everything I was sharing with them. Both could read a little, too, which was great! Halfway through the action song listed below,  three more kids came in, so our total for the day was five.

Discussion: What Can You Do With Water? 
The kids thought this question was tricky, but they came up with swimming, splashing, drinking, washing hands, and using an umbrella to keep the rain away. They also informed me that water is in oceans and rivers.

Name That Fish
I took down the names of all the fish and sea creatures in Marianne Berkes's Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef, then found photos of them to show the kids on the iPad. They recognized the clownfish, the stingray, and the dolphin, as well as the seahorse and the pufferfish. The others we learned together.

Over in the Ocean Action Song
Once we had all our sea creatures named, we sang the song from the Marianne Berkes book - without the book. I had the kids call out the numbers and act out the different creatures' movements  according to the suggestions Berkes provides in the back of her book. All the kids - except the two youngest and quietest - got really into it.

ISH Chant 
I wrote my own chant based on the ING chant on the website for Ling and Ting Not Exactly the Same, which I used at a previous story time. We made the words fish, dish, wish, and squish, and the kids could read all of them but the last one.  

I found this poem on Scholastic's Teacher website, and printed it up for the kids to read. We read the poem twice. The first time we used a call and response format. The second time, we just went straight through the poem. I also asked the kids to identify the two words in the poem that were also in our ISH chant. They found fish, and I helped them find wish.

Bag of Verbs 
We acted out ten verbs in all, based on what the kids chose from my bag. The highlights were wiggle, hop, and shuffle.

Our read-aloud this week was A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer (who is apparently Dr. Seuss's wife!) The kids were great about making predictions and they all said they enjoyed the story. I would have liked to do more to have the kids interact with the text, but I was a bit stumped about how to make that happen.

Write and Draw Activity
I created this write and draw activity. The image is of a fishhook dangling into the water, and the questions beneath the image ask, "What would you use for bait?" and "What kind of fish do you think you would catch?" Some of the kids didn't get it and just colored the page. One boy invented a fish called the "ocean stinger" who had an elaborate backstory, including the fact that he must be caught with chocolate cake filled with strawberry yogurt and blueberries. The first grade girl drew a fish and a crocodile, and a deep-sea diver, but assured me the crocodile was friendly to people.

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, May 30, 2013

Colors: Green Baby Lap Time, 5/30/13

 Colors: Green Baby Lap Time, 5/30/13

Little Garden by Lucy Richards
This sweet little book tells us who makes the various sounds we hear in the garden. The babies were into it. Their adults were not. 

Flannel Board Song: Oh Yellow Flower
Bless those parents who picked up the tune and sang right out! They were a good example for some of our moms who just didn't feel like paying attention today.

Rhyme: Tony Chestnut

Rhyme: One Two

Song: All the Little Babies

Book: In the Tall Tall Grass by Denise Fleming
This book is a bit long for babies, believe it or not. They would have done better had it been half the length.

Song: I’m a Little Green Frog

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

 Song: Go In and Out the Window 

Song: ABCs

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 

Rhyme with Cow Puppet: Hey Diddle Diddle

Song: Row Your Boat

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.

Colors: Red Toddler Lap Time, 5/30/13

 Colors: Red Toddler Lap Time, 5/30/13

Book: Little Mouse, Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood
This group didn't seem to understand this book. I think maybe they just weren't quite old enough to get it. There's something about the mouse's face, though, that just gets me every time. 

Song: Four Red Cherries
The kids got into this one, and since it wasn't one we use all the time, we did it three times to give the kids a chance to catch on and participate.

Book: Little Robin Redbreast illustrated by Shari Halpern
The kids were really restless during this book, and no one clapped at the end, or even seemed to notice I had stopped reading.

Rhyme with Stick Puppets: Two Little Red Birds

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

Book: Fire Truck by Peter Sis
One little boy fell instantly in love with this book, and he wound up checking it out at the end of the session. His mom said it would be the first book he ever borrowed from the library! That made my morning, for sure.

Song: Hurry Hurry Drive the Firetruck
The kids always like this one. They did a great job "fighting" the fire.

Rhyme: Ladybug, Ladybug

Rhyme: I’m a Little Ladybug
This was a last-minute addition to story time, so I only did the ladybug verse.

Activities with Foam Butterflies
  • Song: Fly Like a Butterfly
  • Rhyme: Butterflies Up, Butterflies Down
  • Song: There's a Butterfly on My Head
Song: Monkeys on the Bed

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, May 28, 2013

Colors: Brown Drop-In Story Time, 5/28/13

Colors: Brown Drop-In Story Time, 5/28/13

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake

Book: Moo Moo Brown Cow, Have You Any Milk? by Phyllis Gershator, illustrated by Giselle Potter

Rhyme with Puppets: I Went to Visit the Farm

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

Song: Where is Brown Bear?
I wrote a piggyback song on my way into story time, to the tune of Where is Thumbkin? I sang about a different animal from the book for each finger - brown bear, red bird, yellow duck, green frog, and white dog - and we ended with "Where are the animals?" It was the perfect song to follow the book, and I think it would be fun to make a flannel board of it, too, perhaps with all the animals from the book, not just these five.

Magic Envelope:  Make a Painting
I originally learned about Magic Envelope from Sharon at Rain Makes Applesauce, but it took me a long time to work up to trying it. But I'm tired of doing a letter of the day every session, so I've decided to try using magic envelopes instead. This is how I presented my first one:

First, I made an announcement: "I brought something new and different to story time this morning. It's my magic envelope! My magic envelope helps me make things at story time. Today, we're going to use the magic envelope to make a painting. But this is my very first time using the magic envelope, so I need everyone to listen and help me out!"

Then we sang what I called the "Magic Envelope Song," to the tune of London Bridge.

Here's my magic envelope, envelope, envelope
Here's my magic envelope - let's do magic!

I reminded them we'd be making a painting, then started showing them the ingredients. I told them that for the magic to work, we all have to say the name of each item together. So I would say "piece of paper" and ask them to repeat after me. We put in a piece of paper, a paintbrush, a glass of water, and four different kinds of paint - red, blue, green, and yellow. 

After all the ingredients were in the envelope, I asked everyone to help me sing the magic words:


Then I said, "Let's see! Did we make a painting?"

I reached into my envelope and pulled it out. Half the room erupted into spontaneous applause, but I just went on talking.

"Wow, look at that! We did it! And let's see what it's a painting of. Oh, flowers. Here's what used to be the plain piece of paper, and look, the red paint made the petals, the green paint made the stem, and the blue paint made the pot. Give yourselves a hand - you are great magicians!"

Then we sang goodbye  to the magic envelope.

Goodbye, magic envelope, envelope, envelope
Goodbye, magic envelope - see you next time!

I was not overwhelmingly impressed with the nannies' response to the magic envelope, but those who were into it were really into it, which was nice. The kids' ages varied, so not all of  them got what was going on, but they were all very attentive, and involving them by having them repeat the name of each object, and by helping me name the colors was hugely helpful for keeping their attention as well.

Songs: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/ Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: Hands Up High

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun

Song: Monkeys on the Bed

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, May 24, 2013

Colors: Black & White Pajama Story Time, 5/22/13

Colors: Black & White Pajama Story Time, 5/22/13 
*Because of my allergies, which stole my voice, this turned out to be my only story time this week. The colors theme will pick up where it left off next week!

Book: Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
This was a hit with the grandparents who came to story time, and the kids liked it, too. The older the child, the more he/she seemed to like it.

Song with Stick Puppets: Baa Baa Black Sheep
The kids got the biggest kick out of it when I changed the color of my sheep from black to white, then to red, and then to blue.

Book: Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek
This is the perfect story time book for kids up to about age 4. It has a simple, but exciting plot, and a happy ending that is sweet without being too sugary. This was a new one for me, but I'll definitely use it again!

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: Hands Up High
I normally have the kids stand up for this one, but since it was a low-key evening story time, we stayed seated and that worked fine.

Book: Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
This book was the only one to get checked out at the end of story time. I wasn't at all crazy about it when it won the Caldecott, but I have to admit it has grown on me the more I have read it to kids.

Moon Moon Moon 
The kids really giggled at the ending of this song, and they don't always, so that was a treat for me!

Book: The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson
This was a nice calm book, and it started winding things down for us. The kids didn't react to it much, but they seemed to like the pictures.

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Monkeys on the Bed
You can never go wrong with this song. Never ever. 

Song: Goodnight
We sang goodnight to black and white animals - a zebra, a cow, and a cat.

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 skipped If You're Happy and You Know It at this story time because I was losing my voice!)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Outreach Round-Up, 4/24/13 - 5/17/13

Wednesday, April 24: Public School Pre-K (Two Separate Sessions)
Books: Ol' Mama Squirrel, Ribbit, She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain
Notes: These books were much shorter than what I normally read to these groups , and the sessions ran really short! Ol' Mama Squirrel was a huge hit, but they didn't love She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain nearly as much as I did.

Thursday, April 25: Catholic School 5th Grade
Poems: "Stuff" by J. Patrick Lewis, "I Tried to Do My Homework" by Jack Prelutsky, "My Brand-New Bathing Suit" by Sandra Brug
Notes: This group was basically done with poetry by this week, and they didn't react strongly to any of the poems.

Friday, April 26: Catholic School Kindergarten & First Grade (Separate Sessions)
Book: Bink & Gollie  
Notes: Both groups loved Bink & Gollie and begged for more! Unfortunately, copies of the second book were checked out and we had not yet received the third. 

Thursday, May 2: Catholic School 5th Grade
I revealed the results of the kids' votes on the poetry I read to them during the past three weeks. The most popular poem was "Adventures of Isabel" by Ogden Nash. Second place was  "How to Change a Frog into a Prince." Third place was "My Brand-New Bathing Suit."

Thursday, May 9: Catholic School 5th Grade
Reader's Theater: Rumpelstiltskin, Private Eye 
Notes: This clever fractured fairy tale made for a great reader's theater experience, especially for those kids who got into character and read with expression. 

Friday, May 10: Catholic School Kindergarten
Book: Millions of Cats
Notes: This was my favorite book in kindergarten, and just as I did way back when, these kids chanted along with me to the refrain. Their teacher thought it was morbid how the cats ate each other up, but the kids didn't bat an eyelash.

Friday, May 10: Catholic School First Grade
Book: Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch
Notes: My focus for this group was to teach them to browse. Often  they come in with a long list of specific books they want, but if none of those are available, they don't really know how to look on their own. To give them some help, I pulled a bunch of first grade friendly books and laid them out like a book fair in the story room. I told the kids to first look and see what was available and then decide what they'd like to take. For the first time, every child found a book that satisfied him/her, and that satisfied the teacher who only lets them check out books on their own level. I read a Mr. Putter and Tabby book because we had a lot of those available, and I was hoping they'd get checked out. Many of them did!

Monday, May 13: Psychiatric Institute
Books: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Critter Sitter, Giant Dance Party, Knit Your Bit 
Notes: This group begged me not to leave even after I read four books. All four stories were big hits!

Tuesday, May 14: Public School After Care 
Poem: Ears Hear 
Books: That is NOT a Good Idea, Giant Dance Party
Flannel Board: Quick as a Cricket
Song: Hat, Coat, Pants and Shoes 
Notes: I love early elementary school kids, so even though this group was large, noisy, and wild, I was in my element. We had a fantastic time. Both books were perfect for the age group, and Ears Hear is the best icebreaker for new groups that I have discovered. I ask the kids to make lots of noise, and they always do so willingly!

Wednesday, May 15: Rec. Center Preschool
Books: Old MacDonald Had a Woodshop, Demolition, A House is a House For Me 
Songs: Sing a Happy Song, If You're Happy and You Know It, Here's My Toolbox
Rhyme: Houses
Notes: This group loves everything. They were especially fond of the toolbox, and of the illustrations in A House is a House For Me. Because this was my last visit for this school year, they presented me with a huge canvas with all their handprints painted on it, and my picture with the kids in the middle. Very cute!

Thursday, May 16: Catholic School Pre-K 
Books: Meet Me at the Art Museum, Katie's Sunday Afternoon, Little Green
Songs: If You'd Like to Read a Book, Shake My Sillies Out, These Are My Glasses, The Artist's Crayons 
Notes: The first two books I read at this session were new to me, though Katie's Picture Show - the first book in the series of which Katie's Sunday Afternoon is a part -  was a favorite of mine as a kid. I wasn't sure how this group would do with more sophisticated books, but they did surprisingly well.  I purposely threw in one very short book as  the last story, but they probably could have sat through a third long book if we'd had the time. 

Friday, May 17: Catholic School 3rd Grade & Catholic School 4th Grade (Separate Sessions)
Book: Spot the Plot
Notes: I read each clue, then asked the kids to guess the title of each book. After they guessed, I showed them the actual books, which were hidden under big pieces of paper on two tables. Third grade did very well - the only one they couldn't guess was Tacky the Penguin. Fourth grade hardly guessed any of them correctly - they only knew the ones that had been made into movies. Still, both groups really enjoyed this activity - I'd use it with this age level again.

ABCs: S is for Story Time Preschool Story Time, 5/17/13

 ABCs: S is for Story Time Preschool Story Time, 5/17/13

Book: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
The group was small - a six year old, an almost five-year-old, a three-year-old, and a toddler. The oldest two kids liked this book, but the little ones were distracted.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out 
During this song, for no reason, all the kids took their shoes off. Then they put them back on. 

Book: Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein
This was not the hit I expected it to be, so I cut out the next book and quickly skipped through to the end of the story time. 

Flannel Board: Sarah's Silly Socks
This flannel  board will be featured in an upcoming Flannel Friday post!

Book: Stripes of all Types by Susan Stockdale
The illustrations in this one were very engaging. This was a great last book in a story time filled with fidgety kids! 

Craft: Letter S Snakes

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.

ABCs: L is for Library Drop-In Story Time, 5/17/13

 ABCs: L is for Library Drop-In Story Time, 5/17/13

Book: Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
This was a big hit - to the point that a nanny came up and snatched it before story time was over so she could check it out. Since books don't often get checked out after my story times, this was exciting - even if it was also rude.

Song: Llamas on the Bed
Just like monkeys on the bed - but with llamas! I don't do a lot of piggybacking with this song, because it works so well on its own, but I think it's fun to change things up every once in a while to match a book. The kids responded very well to the change, and sang along - some of them very loudly and with great enthusiasm!

Book: I Took My Frog to the Library by Eric Kimmel
Ordinarily I look to use this book with Pre-K kids to practice retelling a story - which we do with the song that follows. It's just short enough, though, that this mixed age group could appreciate it, too.

Song: I'm Going Down to the Library
Lark, lamb, lion, lizard and leopard all went to the library! Everyone sang along - it was amazing!

Letter of the Day:
  • Rhyme: Blue is the Lake
  • Rhyme with Puppet:  Ladybug, Ladybug
    This rhyme works really well when you ask the kids to make ladybug legs with their fingers and land  their ladybugs on their own arms, heads, knees, etc.
  • Flannel Board Song: Mary Had Some Little Lambs
    Mary had a white lamb, a red lamb, a blue lamb, a green lamb, and a black lamb.One little boy in the front row loved this song and sang it at the top of his lungs!
Songs with ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song with ukulele: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: Mr. Sun 
Mr. Sun is now a required presence at story time - all the kids give him high fives at the end! 

Song: Hands Up High

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.

Flannel Friday: Evolution of a Flannel Board: Vincent's Vests

Adding a letter of the day to my large drop-in story times was something I did to make life easier. Sometimes, though, the activities I do for a certain letter the first time around just don't satisfy me, and I'm left looking for new ideas. That's what happened with the letter V. What follows is the road I took from inspiration to finished product, as I created a flannel board called "Vincent's Vests."

First, I thought I'd just throw together a simple song based on Daddy's Ties. Instead of Daddy, we'd sing about Vincent, and instead of ties, Vincent would wear vests. That concept looked like this:

But would the kids be able to tell where a vest is actually worn? Would they be creeped out by Vincent's lack of arms? What was the point of having sleeves if no one could  tell where the arms went?

I decided to add some arms.

This was an improvement, but still not quite enough. Now it looked like he was wearing a vest with nothing underneath it, which is not really how we wear vests. To make things a little more realistic, I created a tee shirt for Vincent to wear under his  vest.

Better? Definitely. But still...

What if Vincent had a full outfit? Then I could always add to it later on, and with a few different faces and some arms with different skin tones, I'd basically have a full set of flannel board paper dolls. I decided to give it  a shot.

I was all set to go into story time with this version. Just one final problem. Vincent didn't have a neck! In Publisher, I quickly drew a little rectangle, then I printed it out and colored it to match Vincent's face and arms. I stuck it on the flannel board behind Vincent's head and under his tee shirt.

Finally, Vincent was finished!

When I took him to story time, this is how he looked:

And then we sang... 
Vincent wore his yellow vest, yellow vest, yellow vest
Vincent wore his yellow vest all day long. 

 Vincent wore his green vest, green vest, green vest
Vincent wore his green vest all day long.  

  Vincent wore his red vest, red vest, red vest
Vincent wore his red vest all day long. 

  Vincent wore his blue vest, blue vest, blue vest
Vincent wore his blue vest all day long.  

  Vincent wore his brown vest, brown vest, brown vest
Vincent wore his brown vest all day long. 

The kids were totally fascinated by this flannel board. I think they liked the fact that Vincent was so big that we had to turn the flannel board on its side to play with him. 

Want to make your own version of Vincent's Vests? Here are links to the images I used for his various pieces: 
Some of them - especially the pants - need to be resized in Publisher or Word to make them look as they do in my photos. The pants needed to be widened, then cut very short. The shoes are also a bit large and need to be shrunk down.

This week's Flannel Friday round-up is hosted by Storytime Katie.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

ABCs: B is for Baby Lap Time, 5/16/13

 ABCs: B is for Baby Lap Time, 5/16/13

Book: Old Bear by Kevin Henkes
This is a bit much for a baby audience. I think I'd only use it with toddlers in the future.

Rhyme: Two Little Blackbirds
At least two babies tried to hold up their fingers and do this with me, and that was a surprise, since one was brand new to story time, and this hasn't been a regular rhyme for us lately.
Song: Bumpin’ Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon

Song: Tony Chestnut

Rhyme: One Two

Book: Where is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz
I was surprised this didn't go over better. The parents didn't even seem interested.

Song: All the Little Babies
It's a good thing we do this song every week because I had a coughing fit and lost my singing ability in the middle of it. Thankfully, the moms knew all the words and kept on without me. After two more spoken rhymes, I was okay  to sing again. the

Flannel Board Rhyme:
Hippety Hop Hippety Hay
I like this simple rhyme - we tap our knees on the "hippety-hop" part and clap when all the bunnies are gone.

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Song: Buzzing Buzzing Bumblebee
The babies were even into puppets this morning! Weird day. 

Song: Flutter Flutter Butterfly

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song: ABCs

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, May 14, 2013

ABCs: S is for Story Time Drop-In Story Time, 5/14/13

 ABCs: S is for Story Time Drop-In Story Time, 5/14/13

Book: The Big Sneeze by Ruth Brown
This is a simple story about the ripple effect of one farmer's big sneeze. This book was checked out at the end of story time.

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Book: Senses at the Seashore by Shelley Rotner
I really liked this book, and the kids were really drawn to the photographs. This book was also checked out at the end of the session.

Flannel Board Rhyme: Five Pretty Sandcastles
The adults didn't get this. I don't know why, as I thought the surprise ending was cute, but there was this moment of awkward silence at the end where I could see them all thinking, "huh?"

Book: Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
I was able to borrow a big book version of this book from another branch, and I used the easel to hold it up while I turned the pages. Unfortunately, the adults decided that, since the book was large, and I wasn't holding it, it was fine to pretend like nothing was happening at the front of the room. The kids were really into it, but their grown-ups made it hard for the kids to hear what I was saying.

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

Song: Hands Up High

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

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, May 13, 2013

Concepts: Feelings Preschool Story Time, 5/10/13

Concepts: Feelings Preschool Story Time, 5/10/13
Book: My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer Brown
This book is very poetic and the colors are not easily identifiable for four year olds.The kids unanimously thought gray was black and orange was yellow. They seemed to like the book, but it felt awkward trying to read it aloud.

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It
I usually just sing a bunch of different versions for happy, but because these were preschoolers, we also threw in mad and sad, and they got a kick out of crying boo hoo.

Book: Harriet You'll Drive Me Wild  by Mem Fox, illustrated by Marla Frazee
I asked the kids if they had ever done something to upset their parents, and all said they had. They seemed to like Harriet, and the fact that her mom didn't stay mad for too long. 

Book: Silly Billy by Anthony Browne
There was no real hit of this session, but this book was probably the favorite.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out 

Book: Laugh Out Loud Baby by Tony Johnston 
Well, I like this book because of the phrase "whoopee-doodles!" but I have to admit it's no The Relatives Came. 

*Also show in the photo above is a set of feelings faces I printed from I planned to tell a story I made up based on I Look Like This by Nick Sharratt, but decided  this group would probably not be receptive and saved it for another time. 

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.

Concepts: Opposites Toddler Lap Time, 5/10/13

Concepts: Opposites Toddler Lap Time, 5/10/13

Book: Black? White! Day? Night! by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
I wasn't sure how some of the concepts in this book would work for toddlers, but the lift-the-flap format made it very exciting for all three of the kids who came to this story time. 

Song: Go In and Out the Window 
I modified this from baby story time to suit more active kids. For "in and out" we bent our elbows in and out and for "up and down", we moved our hands up to the ceiling and down to the floor. 

Book: Big Little by Leslie Patricelli
My decision not to repeat the shapes theme from the Thursday Toddler Lap Time was partly informed by how successful the Patricelli opposites books were with the babies. I used both books again, and they were huge hits, even with just a few people in the room.

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big 

Book: Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli 
As I did with the babies, I asked everyone to help make a quiet sound after every quiet page in this book. We didn't quite stick with it until the end, but even with just me making the sound, it seemed to help keep the kids focused.

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

Activities with Foam Stars

Song with Puppet: I'm a Little Green Frog 
I was sick of singing Mr. Sun, so I brought in the frog instead. I could not have imagined his popularity! We stayed in story time an extra ten minutes to pass the frog around and talk about his features. ("Nose?" one little boy kept saying. He wasn't sure the frog actually had one.)

Rhyme: Dance Your Fingers

Song: Hands Up High 

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, 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, May 10, 2013

Concepts: Numbers Drop-In Story Time, 5/10/13

 Concepts: Numbers Drop-In Story Time, 5/10/13

Book: Daisy 123 by Peter Catalanotto
I wanted this to work. I asked  everyone to make a dog sound with me after every page. Only two or three adults actually did it, and therefore none of the kids did. I seemed to be the only one in the room who liked the book at all. 

Song: Numbers Are Our Friends 
I have to start using this song more regularly. All the nannies have forgotten it! Still, it's catchy and the second time through was much more lively than the first.

Book: Four Fur Feet by Margaret Wise Brown
I thought this rhythmic, repetitive book would be a hit. It was a flop. I'm not sure why. Maybe just this group's particular mood today. 

Song: Four Red Cherries
I don't particularly like this song, but everyone else enjoys it, so I use it every now and then. Today it seemed like a perfect opportunity to talk about the number four. 

Book: Five Green and Speckled Frogs by Priscilla Burris
We sang this book, and it was the only one that kept the adults and the kids interested. Everyone wanted to borrow it after story time, but someone grabbed it right after the goodbye song, so anyone else had to place a hold! 

Song: Monkeys on the Bed 
This brought down the house. It's nice to have something so consistent in my repertoire.

Letter of the Day: W
  • Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers
  • Flannel Board Song: Wash the Cars
    I wrote the words to this simple song which can be used as a flannel board and a movement song. The kids seemed to have mixed feelings about it, but if they'd been a tiny bit older, they would have loved it. The three year olds in the room were into it, for sure.
  • Song: Wheels on the Bus
Songs with ukulele: ABC / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: Hands up High 

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun

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, 5/9/13

 Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 5/9/13

This story time attracted two beginning readers, a toddler, a nanny and a mom. The boy beginning reader is almost five and attends school. The girl beginning reader has just turned four, and has never been to school.

Name That Bug 
I put some photos of different interesting insects in a Google Drive presentation, then showed it to the kids on the iPad. Unlike some of the other "Name That" activities we have done, this one wasn't that great for encouraging discussion, especially because there were only two kids in attendance and both were very shy. I don't think I would use this particular set of images again, unless the kids were 6 or 7 and had some real-life experiences with bugs to apply to them.

We read Hey, Little Ant, which is a book I have always liked and never realized my library owned until this week. It was a bit much, philosophically, for the two four year olds who attended this story  time, but they still seemed to enjoy it. Their favorite part was when the ant takes on the large size of the kid. One of the kids, a boy who comes regularly to this  story time, informed me that the ten commandments would keep him from  squishing the ant. That was cute.

Making a List 
We tried to make a list of what we'd bring on a picnic, but only the boy participated. The girl was really too busy to be ready for this kind of story time, and she didn't really participate. 

Bag of Verbs
For this week's bug theme, I rewrote  the verbs on the back of some foam bugs. This activity has never not gone well, but the boy was shy because none of his usual buddies were at story time, and the girl's little sister was in her lap, making it difficult to participate.  So we only did about six movements, and most of  them only I actually did.

I shared a poem from the April 2013 issue of Ladybug magazine called "Family of Ladybugs", which is by Connie Bowsman. Since neither child could read, I had them repeat each line after me, and that worked very well. I'd do that again, even with my regular group of kids.

Drawing Activity
This week, I used an activity created by Little Miss Kindergarten, which is available from Teachers Pay Teachers. It is an empty bug jar. I asked the kids to draw some bugs and then count them. The little girl had to leave before her picture was finished, but the boy drew a beautiful firefly and I helped him label it with his name, the number 1, and the word firefly.

Flannel Friday: Here's My Toolbox

Last week, all of my story times were about construction. I knew this would be a useful theme for me this summer, and I wanted to do a test-run of some of the material to see how it would go over. This toolbox was not in my initial plans, but when inspiration struck on Thursday, I went with it and wound up with one of  the best story time props I have ever used!

Here is the front view of the toolbox.

And here is the back.

To make my set of tools, I first had to track down useful clipart images. This was not easy, and there was no one set that included the tools I wanted that was also not too sloppily drawn, or too small. In the end, I hunted down coloring pages and clipart images for each tool until I was satisfied with what I found.  I don't have the right to share all of the images themselves, but links for the images at the sites on which they are hosted are listed below:
 I gathered all the images into a document in Publisher (I could also have used Word, I just prefer Publisher) and printed them out in black and white. I often color images in Microsoft Paint before printing them, but the color ink in our copy machine has been very streaky and I haven't been satisfied with how it has looked for flannel board pieces. So I did these the old-fashioned way - with Crayola crayons.

When they were all colored, I covered them with Contact paper and attached Velcro to the back, assuming that though they would be lying in a box most of the time, I might someday want to attach them to the flannel board. At this point I thought that the little boxes hiding in my craft closet were actual flat boxes with lids. I didn't necessarily think they would be the ideal shape for a toolbox, but I had less than 24 hours until preschool story time by then, and I figured any box would be better than none.

What I learned, though, upon examining the boxes in my closet, is that they weren't boxes at all, but they were Colorations Sturdy Cardstock Caddies. At first I was disappointed, but then I realized this was a happy accident. The caddies have compartments, just like real toolboxes, and it would be easy to hang the tools inside them with Velcro if I attached Velcro to the box. So I attached one piece of Velcro for each of the larger tools, and then six pieces in one compartment for the nails and screws.

But how to present the tools to my audience? I was still considering putting the pieces on the flannel board, but decided it would be more fun to have the entire toolbox be self-contained. So I attached Velcro to the front of  the box, to which I fastened the "Miss Katie's Toolbox" sign. Then, I removed that sign and practiced putting up and removing the various tools from the same Velcro. I had to add a few more pieces to accomodate discrepancies in the size of the pieces, but otherwise, from there, I was ready to go!

I think the ideal way to use this toolbox is as a means of generating discussion. The only reason I didn't use it that way is because my preschoolers are notoriously quiet and do not answer my questions. I also thought it would be handy to have a song in case I wanted to take this to my rec. center class visit or use it in one my huge story times where having a discussion is virtually impossible.

In any case, the song I wrote goes to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine, and the lyrics are listed with the appropriate pictures below. (I did not make up a verse about nails or screws. I just used them as visuals to help introduce the hammer and screwdriver.) The kids were also invited to make a motion acting out what each tool does - which most of them did enthusiastically. (Credit for the movements made by the tools goes to Sarah from Read it Again!)

Here’s my toolbox, here’s my toolbox
This is where I keep my tools
Here’s my toolbox, trusty toolbox
Take a look at all my tools.

Here’s my hammer, here’s my hammer
See the hammer pound and pound
Here’s my hammer, trusty hammer
Watch me as I pound and pound.

Here’s my screwdriver, here’s my screwdriver
See the screwdriver twist and twist
Here’s my screwdriver, trusty screwdriver
Watch me as I twist and twist

Here’s my pliers, here’s my pliers
See the pliers pinch and pinch
Here’s my pliers, trusty pliers
Watch me as I pinch and pinch

Here’s my wrench, here’s my wrench
See the wrench turn and turn
Here’s my wrench, trusty wrench
Watch me as I turn and turn.
Here’s a saw, here’s a saw
See the saw go see-saw
Here’s my saw, trusty saw
Watch me as I go see-saw.

I am hoping to do more boxes like this in the future - hopefully using the exact same Velcro-covered box with different labels and items inside. I especially want to do a set of gardening tools to use this summer, with my beginning readers as well as my preschoolers. I think it would also be fun to do a first aid kit or doctor bag, a set of supplies used by a hairdresser, or items needed to care for a pet.

Flannel Friday is hosted this week by Amanda at Trails and Tales. Visit the official Flannel Friday website to learn more about this fun weekly round-up of story time props!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Concepts: Opposites Baby Lap Time, 5/9/13

Concepts: Opposites Baby Lap Time, 5/9/13  

We overbooked a little bit and ended up with a huge group this morning, but despite the chaos, it was one of the best sessions ever! 
Book: Big Little by Leslie Patricelli
I rarely read two books by the same author in a single session, but no one does opposite board books better than Leslie Patricelli! We had a great time with this book - the parents got a lot of laughs and the babies seemed mesmerized. 

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big 
For this one, I encouraged the parents to make the motions where baby could see them instead of trying to have their little infant arms make all the motions  themselves. That seemed to work well.

Song: Go In and Out the Window 
I have always known this song as a complicated song involving large groups and specific instructions. But when I found a version of it online the other day, I was inspired to adapt it for babies. For the first verse ("go in and out the window") we rocked forward and backward with babies (and in my case, a sock monkey) in our laps. For the second, we lifted our babies/monkey up into the air and slowly brought them back down. It was hugely successful, and it's my new favorite baby activity!

Song: Bumpin’ Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon 
I love it when songs accidentally fit the theme. I often use this as a bounce, and the up and down motion made it perfect for this story time! 

Song: Tony Chestnut

Book: Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli
As I always do when I read this book, I asked  the adults to make a "shhh" sound following each quiet page. What they also did, unprompted, was make all the loud noises, too! It was great!

Flannel Board: Let’s Make a Noise

Song: Row Row Row Your Boat
Song: ABCs
My new routine when I don't use the ukulele is to tap my knees the first time through, and clap my hands the second time through. 

Rhyme:  One Two

Song: All the Little Babies 

Song with Puppets: Did You Ever See...?

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.

Concepts: Shapes Toddler Lap Time, 5/9/13

 Concepts: Shapes Toddler Lap Time, 5/9/13

Book: Perfect Square by Michael Hall
This theme, overall, was not great for toddlers, and I won't be using any of the same material for the second session tomorrow, but this book, of everything, was the best received. I'm not sure the kids understood it fully, but they were drawn to the illustrations and sat quietly watching me as I read.

Flannel Board: Triangle Tricksters
This flannel board wasn't a huge hit this time, but I was also missing one of the yellow triangles, which made it a bit awkward to rearrange.

Book: What is Round? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
The kids liked the illustrations in this one, but the book asked for too much audience participation on the last page, and even when I just found  the round things in the final picture myself, the whole vibe just felt awkward.

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
I showed the group the yellow star shape, then we sang this song with our usual hand motions.

Book: Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald
This was the most toddler-friendly of the three books, and they seemed to like it. If the shapes theme hadn't otherwise been such a failure, I'd keep this one for tomorrow. 

Activities with Foam Hearts: 
  • Song: H-E-A-R-T (based on Bingo)
  • Rhyme: Hearts Up, Hearts Down
    I wrote this simple action rhyme, and all the kids were really into it! I'll be using it with my other foam shapes in the coming weeks.
  • Song: There’s a Heart Upon My Head...
Song: Hands Up High

Song: Head and Shoulders

Song: Chickadee

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

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, May 8, 2013

Concepts: ABCs Pajama Story Time, 5/8/13

 Concepts: ABCs Pajama Story Time, 5/8/13

Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambeault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
I have never clicked very well with this book, and tonight, the kids didn't either. I don't know what it is, but even when I read it in my absolute best reading voice, it tends to fall flat.

Song: ABCs

Book: LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
I've gotten a lot of mileage out of this book lately. The rhyme scheme was good for this mostly-two-year-old group, but the concept of the book may have gone over their heads.

Flannel Board: Alphabet Soup
Thank you, Lucy at In the Children's Room, for posting this. I was looking for a simple way to use my felt letters, and this was perfect! My word was "sleepy" and thankfully, two kids in the room actually knew their ABCs!

Book: Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Karen Katz
This is not the book I wanted to use. I wanted Sleepy Little Alphabet. And I had it set aside and everything, but it disappeared! So I chose this as a replacement, even though not all of the letters actually corresponded to words that begin with those letters. (X, for example, is for all the things you can play. Ugh.)

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Moon Moon Moon

Song: Monkeys on the Bed  

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, May 7, 2013

Concepts: Colors Drop-In Story Time, 5/7/13

Concepts: Colors Drop-In Story Time, 5/7/13

This week, to prevent myself from getting bored, I'm doing a whole variety of story times, each one on a different preschool concept. This morning, we talked about colors.

Book: A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni
I knew the group would be small today because our little guys don't venture out in the rain very much, and I also suspected there might be some preschoolers in attendance, so I brought in a longer book. The real young ones weren't into it, but a few of the older kids did seem to like having a story with a bit more of a plot.

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake 

Book: Freight Train by Donald Crews
This book never fails! And it was a great lead-in to our next song.

Song with ukulele: Little Red Caboose
As I did previously in my transportation-themed story time in January, I sang this one three times - regular speed, really slow, and then really fast. This time, I asked everyone to clap with me, which made the experience that much more fun, especially when we sang it really quickly!

Book: Spot the Animals by the American Museum of Natural History
I think this would have gone over better with a smaller group, though some of these kids were into it. The snake was the favorite!

Letter of  the Day: V
  • Flannel Board Song: Drive Drive Drive Your Vehicle
    I put a car, a truck, and then a bus on the flannel board and we pretended to drive each one. 
  • Song with Stick Puppet: I’m a Veterinarian
    I always have good luck singing songs with simple stick puppets, so I cut out a clipart image of a veterinarian, colored her in, and used this simple song from Preschool Education, cutting out the second verse, which I didn't like.
  • Flannel Board Song: Vincent Wore His ____ Vest
    Piggyback songs on Mary Wore Her Red Dress are kind of a staple of my story times at this point, but the process for this one got a little more involved than I expected. I will share the entire thing in a future Flannel Friday post.
Songs with ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song with ukulele: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song with Puppet:
Mr. Sun

Song: Monkeys on the Bed

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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