Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Imagination Saturday Family Story Time, 7/27/13


This story time has not been a success this summer. As in the past, our families are not interested in organized activities on Saturdays, especially when school is not in session. We did manage to round up a few recruits for this session, but then we made the decision not to offer the story time in August. Three kids came to this one - a girl of about twelve, her sister of about six, and a toddler. I am not going to bother with commentary, because no one paid attention at all the entire session.

Book: King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood and Don Wood

Book: Bark George by Jules Feiffer

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Book: Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

Song: One Little Monster

Song: ABCs

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Moon Moon Moon

Book: George Shrinks by William Joyce
(Note: I would never read this aloud at a story time like this, except that the toddler brought it to me and asked me to read it.)

Song: These Are My Glasses

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, July 27, 2013

Imagination Toddler Lap Time, 7/26/13

Imagination Toddler Lap Time, 7/26/13

I really  think we should have stopped offering this story time at the beginning of the summer, as it is a weekly struggle to get an audience. Two kids and their moms came this week, but they were friends who knew each other, and I could tell they were annoyed at coming to a story time that was basically just like all their normal play dates. When we make changes to our schedule at the end of August, this story time will not continue. 

Book: I'm Going on a Dragon Hunt by Maurice Jones
I wasn't sure how they would like this book, but they seemed really drawn to it, and the little boy got really excited and pointed when the dragon appeared.

Song with Puppet: My Mother's a Dragon
I was afraid the puppet might seem scary, so I let the kids see me put it on my hand and pointed out how silly he looked, rather than scary.  I also allowed both kids to pet the dragon after we sang the song.

Book: My Garden by Kevin Henkes
The kids were not as into this book, but the moms liked it.

Flannel Board Rhyme: My Garden
The kids really liked this. They didn't really know how to count yet, but the fun of it was really just looking at the flowers as I put them up and took them down.  

The kids liked this book, especially the pages about the red crocodile and the pink rabbit. 

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun

Activities with Flowers: 

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, July 26, 2013

Imagination Drop-In Story Time, 7/26/13

Imagination (Fantasy) Drop-In Story Time, 7/26/13

My manager addressed the group at the start of story time asking them to please be quiet during my presentation. They managed to keep themselves under control for both books, but once I brought out the ukulele, they pretty much lost focus. 

Book: King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
This is probably the book I read aloud  the best in my entire repertoire. The kids like the repetition and the illustrations. I love imagining the king's silly, jovial voice.

Flannel Board: Royal Crowns
We sang the usual "The king wore his orange crown all day long" then repeated the song with a slightly different twist as the figures left the board:

The king took off his orange crown, orange crown, orange crown

The king took off his orange crown and went to sleep.

I asked the kids to help me name the colors and to help name the people (king, queen, princess, and prince) as we removed them.

Rhyme: Fierce is the Dragon

Book: The Foggy Foggy Forest by Nick Sharratt
We had a good number of preschoolers at this story time, and they were eager to guess what each shadow represented. One little girl guessed the witch correctly. The ogre doing yoga usually gets a bigger reaction, but this is a tough crowd.

Rhyme: One is a Giant  

Songs with Ukulele: 
  • Fairy Dance
    This was the best of the songs we did today. I probably could have played all six verses I came up with several more times, except that I got sick of it after a while.
  • Do You Know the Muffin Man?
    For future reference, this group does not know the muffin man.
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • You Are My Sunshine
  • ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

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.

Imagination Preschool Story Time, 7/25/13

 Imagination Preschool Story Time, 7/25/13

This was one of the all-time best preschool story times.  There about 9 kids, two of whom were older siblings of preschoolers, and one of whom was a rising first grader. We got so into the three books we did read that we didn't read some of the others I had pulled out, but the kids had a blast.

Book: Dream Friends by You Byun
I have been looking forward to sharing this book, and this group was the perfect audience. They loved the illustrations, which is my favorite part of the story, and they thought the dream friend looked like a polar bear or a cat. I was worried the story itself would be too strange for  them, but they got right into it, and clapped loudly at the end.

Flannel Board Story: Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty
I am so glad I thought to adapt this to the flannel board. It worked so, so well, and I learned that I am actually really good at telling stories if I practice them right before I perform. I didn't memorize the text word for word, but I made sure to hit the important points, and after story time, we looked at the book and some of the kids were able to tell me the story based on what we had done on the flannel board. I think this is my most successful flannel board of all time.

Book: Pretend You’re A Cat by Jean Marzollo and Jerry Pinkney
I hesitated about this one, but since most of the group was four or five years old, they were eager to act out animal movements, and really good at it as well. I asked them to tell me which animal was on each page, then they moved like that animal while I read the text. When it was time to change animals, I let them know they had to look at the book to find out what to do next which kept them engaged in the fun, but also kept the action from getting too chaotic. 

Book: Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
I was surprised by how much they truly loved this book. They picked up on the "not a box" gimmick right away and kept calling out, "But it's not a box, Miss Katie!" They got a kick out of what the rabbit turned his box into, and they were eager to get on with the business of imagining their own boxes.

Coloring Page: "It's Not a Box!" (page 4 in the HarperCollins Not a Box Event Kit)
This was the perfect activity for this group. They got really into it, and each child who spoke to me was eager to tell me a long narrative explaining the story of his or her rabbit's boxes. It was one of the best coloring activities we have ever done.

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, July 22, 2013

Daycare Outreach Round-up, July 10 & 17

For July, the theme at the daycare centers was the rainforest. This was not an easy theme for which to find books, but with some help from my Flannel Friday colleagues and a few inter-library loan requests I was able to put together a nice series of story times. I will return to the centers twice more in August, when the theme will be camping.

Week 3 (Wednesday, July 17)

Group 1A @ 10:00 a.m. (Ages 2-3)
Song: These Are My Glasses 
Rhyme: Five Little Parrots 
Books: Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, said the Sloth 
Notes: Normally, I see two classes together at 10:00, but the room we normally use wasn't available until 10:30, so I visited each group in its classroom for 15 minutes. This group has the most receptive kids in it, so they wound up doing a few more activities than their counterparts in the other classroom. 

Group 1B @ 10:15 a.m. (Ages 2-3)
Song: These Are My Glasses 
Books: Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme, If You’re Happy and You Know It 
Notes:  The favorite book in this room was If You're Happy and You Know It. This session seemed to run slightly shorter; I think the clock may have been fast. 

Group 2 @ 10:30 a.m. (Ages 4-5)
Songs: If You’d Like to Read a BookVisor, Tee-shirt, Shorts and Shoes, These Are My Glasses 
Rhyme: Walking through the Rainforest 
Books: The Umbrella, Where’s My Mom?, Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhymes
 Notes: This group is always the most talkative, because they're the oldest, so they had lots to say about the illustrations in each book. The Umbrella was kind of a flop, but they laughed a lot during Where's My Mom?

Group 3 @ 11:00 a.m. (Ages 2-3)
Song: The More We Read Together 
Rhyme: Five Little Parrots 
Books: A Walk in the Rainforest, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, said the Sloth 
Notes: This group is the youngest and busiest, so it's hard to keep their attention. They did well during A Walk in the Rainforest, but everything else we did lost them quickly. 

Group 4 @ 11:30 a.m. (Ages 2-3)
Song: These Are My Glasses 
Books: Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, said the Sloth 
Notes: This group is always very chatty, and this was no exception. They liked If You're Happy and You Know It the best of all the books. They also asked if we could keep reading instead of singing!

Week Four (Wednesday, July 24)

Group 1 @ 10:00 (Ages 2-3)

Songs: Hands Up High, Fly Like a Butterfly,  One Little Finger, Five Little Monkeys, These Are My Glasses,The More We Read Together 
Books: Way Up High in a Tall Green Tree, Jungle Day, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys
Notes: This group got a full 30-minute story time, and they loved everything. They are such a joy to visit because their teachers are enthusiastic and the kids are great at following directions and doing the motions for various songs.

Group 2 @ 10:30 (Ages 4-5)
Songs: Visor, Tee-shirt, Shorts and Shoes, These Are My Glasses 
Books: Welcome to the Green House, Way Up High in a Tall Green Tree, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys 
Notes: I was so surprised by how well these kids responded to Welcome to the Green House. We spent the most time on that book. Ten Naughty Little Monkeys wasn't in my original plans, but I'm glad I decided to read it. They loved it!

Group 3 @ 11:00 (Ages 2-3)
Notes: This group wasn't in their room when I arrived, and they never showed up! 

Group 4 @ 11:30 (Ages 2-3)
Songs: Hands Up High, These Are My Glasses 
Books: Way Up High in a Tall Green Tree, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys, Jungle Day 
Notes: This group's session always gets rushed because the teachers put out the kids' lunches while I'm reading and the kids get nervous they're going to miss lunch. They loved these books, though, and they remembered These Are My Glasses from a previous visit.

My Body Toddler Lap Time, 7/19/13

My Body Toddler Lap Time, 7/19/13

This story time only attracted one child and her dad this past Friday, probably because it was just so unbearably hot. Because there was only one child, I was a bit more free with the structure of the session and we ran just a little short.

Book: Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambeault

Song: Hands up High

Rhyme: Dance Your Fingers

Book: Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? by John Butler

Song: Cuddly Koalas

Songs with Foam Stars: 
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • There's a Star Upon My Head
  • Stars Shining Bright 
    The little girl loved naming the colors and sorting the stars into piles. We actually repeated that activity again after story time.
Song: If You're Happy and You Know It
The little girl's dad told me they have been reading the Jane Cabrera picture book version of this song, so we tried to remember some of the actions the animals do in the book, along with our usual clapping, stomping, and beeping of noses.

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, July 19, 2013

Flannel Friday: Silly Sentence Sort

This summer, I have stepped things up considerably with my Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers by creating several literacy games for us to play after the formal read-aloud portion of the story time is over. This past week, we focused on the letter S, so I created a game using shirts, shorts, and socks that would help us build sentences. I call it the Silly Sentence Sort.

How to Set Up
Hang a makeshift clothesline (yarn works great!) between two chairs. On the clothesline hang four clothespins. Beneath the clothesline place four "laundry" baskets. In the first basket, place clipart shirts covered in Contact paper and labeled with the names of different characters, or subjects.  In the second basket, place shorts labeled with different present-tense verbs. Fill the the third basket with left socks, all labeled with various adjectives and the last basket with right socks, labeled with nouns. 

How to Play
On his/her turn, each child comes to the front of the room and chooses one shirt, one pair of shorts, one left sock and one right sock. On his/her own, or with help, the child clips the shirt to the first clothespin, the shorts to the second, etc. When he or she is finished attaching his/her laundry to the clothesline, the whole group tries to read the sentence together. The librarian (or parent, or teacher, or whomever) writes down the sentence, then asks the child to remove his/her words from the clothesline. Play passes to the next child, and continues until everyone has had a turn. At the conclusion of the game, the librarian (or other adult) hands out the papers on which the kids' sentences are written and invites the kids to illustrate them with crayons.

How to Create a Silly Sentence Sort Game 
Begin by selecting the words you want to use. Choose words that will be easy enough for the children to read, but also silly enough to give them the giggles. Also make sure not to get too creative, or you will find yourself pulling out sentence combinations that can't actually form real sentences. For example, I used only present-tense verbs and only plural nouns for the ends of the sentences to avoid any potential agreement problems.

My word lists are below:

Shirts (Subjects)

The dog
The cat
The giant
The princess
The fairy
The bee
The cactus
The car
The baby
Shorts (Verbs)

Left Socks (Adjectives)

Right Socks (Nouns)

jelly beans.

Once you have your words, find clipart images of each article of clothing (I chose the shirt, shorts, and socks because they all began with S, and because they each had large surface areas for printing the words. I think pants, hats, and even underpants would also work, depending on what you can find and what might amuse your group of kids.) Use an image editing program to make your items colorful,  then use Publisher - or another similar program - to type the words onto each of your articles of clothing. (My completed set is available for download here. The font I used is KG Primary Penmanship.)

When you have everything ready (and spell checked), print it out and cover each piece with Contact paper. If you'd like the added bonus of being able to use the pieces on the flannel board, fasten some Velcro to the back of each one.

For baskets, almost anything works. I happened to find four small wicker baskets in assorted colors at a dollar store that worked perfectly. I think small plastic baskets would be even better because they would look more like laundry baskets. I think the appeal of this activity is just as much the idea of doing pretend laundry as it is creating funny sentences.

Today's Flannel Friday host is Meg at Miss Meg's Storytime.

My Body (My Hands) Drop-In Story Time, 7/19/13

My Body (My Hands) Drop-In Story Time, 7/19/13

Book: Hands! by Virginia Kroll
This book is an ideal read-aloud, because the text is tiny, but the illustrations are large and bold and easily seen from a distance. I used the illustrations to generate interest in each page, and asked them to do motions (shaking hands, clapping, etc.) where appropriate to keep them interested. It worked really well, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the book much more than I would have guessed.

Song: Hands Up High
I am convinced we could do this song fifty consecutive times and they'd still love it. This one really is a magic weapon.

Book: Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambeault
As with the first story, I again made this one interactive, asking them to point to each part of the body as we read. It wasn't as successful with this book, but thankfully, this one was shorter!

Rhyme: Dance Your Fingers
I like how excited the kids get during this  rhyme, waiting to see what the next movement is.

Ukulele Sing-Along: 
I decided to skip the magic envelope  today, as people have been telling me all week how much they want to hear more ukulele. (Some people actually left my colleague's story time on Tuesday because there was no ukulele, which is supposedly a compliment to me, but actually seems kind of rude.) I decided since it's so hot and we're all so restless, a sing-along was probably the most productive use of our time anyway, so we sang a bunch of songs with the ukulele right in a row.

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • You Are My Sunshine
  • Aikendrum
  • ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep
Song: The Wheels on the Bus

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.

My Body (My Hair) Preschool Story Time, 7/18/13

I was really excited about this theme, and I've been working on it for weeks, trying to find just the right materials. I wound up writing my own flannel board and action song, and adding a book at the last minute, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. In attendance were 14 kids and 8 adults. The kids ranged in age from two to six. 

Book: Baghead by Jarrett R. Krosoczka
The kids all liked this book, and all of them said they'd never wear a bag to school.

Flannel Board: I’m Going to the Barber 
This is a flannel board I created. I will share it in a future Flannel Friday post.  The kids enjoyed it and it sparked some discussion about the kinds of hairstyles we might like to have someday.

Book: Crazy Hair Day by Barney Saltzberg
The kids were engrossed in this book, but they had very little to say about it.

Song: At the Hair Salon
I came up with five actions to do at the hair salon - squeezing shampoo, washing hair, combing hair, cutting hair, and drying hair -  and we sang them to the tune of "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush."

Song: Shake My Sillies Out

Book: Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox
This book was the dud, even though the kids were the right age to get the humor. Not sure why.

Book: Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman
This book was a hit with the parents, surprisingly. In fact, two different adults approached me afterward to comment on how much they liked the story time, and the last two books in particular, because they rhymed. One had never been to a story time before (she was an au pair from another country) and she was really intrigued by the entire concept and loved it even more than the child who was with her!

Coloring Page: Finish the Drawing from Education.com
I told the kids this was their chance to draw crazy hair, and they got really into it! Even the kids who normally just stare blankly at their papers got excited, and I saw some great creativity, including a boy whose babysitter helped him draw a car driving over his hair.

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 (Letter S), 7/17/13

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers (Letter S), 7/17/13

Some families have made this story time a regular part of their week, so we have a nice core group of kids, many of whom were back again for this session. We also had some newbies join us for the first time, including one baby and one toddler who were decidedly not old enough to participate. (These adults who insist that 18 month olds are beginning readers are not doing their children any favors, just saying.) All told, there were roughly a dozen kids of varying levels, and three whom I would consider readers.

iPad Presentation
As I did last week, I displayed a series of pictures of things beginning with S, which were accompanied by sentences to encourage the kids to read. The kids who could read did indeed tell me what the sentences said, while the little kids happily called out the name of the object in the picture. At the end of the presentation, as I have also done in past weeks, I displayed the images of those items we would be discussing further at story time. 

Again, I don't have the  right to distribute all of the images I used, but the text I wrote is as follows: 
I hear sounds with my ears.
This cat is sleeping.
I like to wear my yellow shirt.
This is a pair of blue socks.
In summer, I wear shorts.
I can count to six.
Are you afraid of spiders?
Snakes slither and hiss.
You can build a sandcastle.
See how high you can swing!
Slip down the slide!

What could you cut with scissors?

Read-Aloud / Read-Along
I don't ordinarily choose an easy reader as a read-aloud unless  the language is exceptional, but I decided to try We All Sleep from the We Both Read series, because I knew it would prompt the kids to read some of the words on the side of the page designated for the child reader. The text was a bit long, and only one child actually read any words aloud, but some of the little kids picked up the repetition and by the end, they were calling things out as well. The oldest kids in the group, who are rising first and second graders, didn't seem bored, even when the vocabulary might have been too easy for them, which was great to discover, as I have plans to do a session of this story time for rising first through third graders at our main library in a couple of weeks. I'm not sure I'd use this specific book again, but a call and response approach does work, and I'd to explore ways to use that model.

To highlight the word "sounds," I re-used Ears Hear, which was a favorite at my school-age class visits this Spring. This group was a little shy about making noise, but by the end when it was time to scream, they all had the hang of it.

Bag of Verbs
This continues to be the best activity I've ever used with any school-age group. It gets a little wild, but it's a nice way to involve everyone. Only one child routinely refuses to have a turn, and it's because she outright refuses to participate at all, much to the chagrin of the huge family entourage that comes with her to story time each week.

Silly Sentence Sort
I invented this game myself, hoping to create an activity that a mixed age group could easily do together. The concept is based on sorting the laundry. I created four sets of words, each printed on a different article of clothing. On shirts, there were subjects for sentences, such as "The fairy" or "The giant." On the shorts, there were verbs, all in the present tense, such as "steals" or "cooks." The left socks were all adjectives, and then the right socks were all nouns. Each child took a turn selecting one article from each category and clipping it (sometimes with help) to the clothesline.  Then I wrote their sentence for them and handed them the paper so they could later illustrate it. I'm going to try making a Flannel Friday post about this activity either this afternoon or next week, so if you like the idea, stay tuned!

Silly Sentence Illustrations
After every child had a turn creating a silly sentence, I passed around crayons and colored pencils and had the kids draw pictures to accompany their sentences. Only the oldest kids really got into it, but some of the preschoolers whose parents were right there also helped them do theirs. Though the game and illustrations took a long time, and the adults were restless, the kids never lost interest, and they were great about waiting for turns and following instructions.This would have been easier to do with ten kids all on the same level, but even with toddler siblings it was still a success.

Wild for Animals! Toddler Lap Time, 7/12/13

Wild for Animals! Toddler Lap Time, 7/12/13

(I took a photo, but I thought I had posted this story time already, so I have since deleted it. Oops!)

Book: The Day the Goose Got Loose by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Stephen Kellogg
Only two kids came to this session, and from the start it was clear, that neither was interested in listening to stories. We made it through this book, then I threw out my plans and did something else. 

Song: Monkeys on the Bed

Book: If You're Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera
This book is magic! I only wish we had a copy that was larger than a board book. The kids loved doing all the motions, and the one little girl took the book home after enthusiastically "reading" it to her dad.

Song: Hands Up High

Song: Here We Go Up, Up, Up 

Activities with Animal Puppets:
We have never used animal puppets before, mostly because I only have about fifteen hand puppets, and there aren't always enough for everyone. With only two kids, though, we could each hold a puppet or even two! This was everyone's favorite part of story time - including mine.
Song with Puppet:  Mr. Sun
The kids were excited to see Mr. Sun, but as soon as I started singing, both took off running for the door. It was so funny I almost couldn't keep singing.

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.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wild for Animals! Drop-In Story Time, 7/12/13

 Wild for Animals! Drop-In Story Time, 7/12/13

Book: Kitty's Cuddles by Jane Cabrera
This book has traditionally  been well-received, and it was fairly well-received today. A little girl in the front row was in one of my Pre-K classes this past school year, and she kept jumping up in front and calling things out, as we often had lots of discussion during read-alouds in her class. It's too bad there weren't a few more kids her age to keep that vibe going. As it was, most of the other kids seemed uncomfortable with her outbursts.

Rhyme with Puppets: Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Where Have You Been?
This was a last-minute addition, but it went over so well! This version of the nursery rhyme sends the cat to the zoo where she sees a monkey, so I kept a monkey puppet hidden behind my back as I interviewed my cat puppet. Then I took the puppets off and showed the kids how to do the entire thing with just their bare hands. Huge success! 

Book: I Love Animals by Flora McDonnell
This book is pretty basic, and I chose it for that reason, as my audiences haven't been the most attentive lately. They weren't that into it, but they were quiet.

Song: Old MacDonald

Book: Are You a Cow? by Sandra Boynton
I knew there was a chance I'd ask the kids questions from this book and they wouldn't answer, and that is exactly what happened. So I just kept saying "noooo" and shaking my head in the silliest way possible. 

Magic Envelope: Cowboy 
We put a hat, boots, spurs, lasso, and horse in the envelope and pulled out a cowboy.

Rhyme: Cowboys All Dressed
I had a small daycare or preschool class, and they liked this rhyme, so we did it twice so they could learn it a little better. 

Song: Hands Up High 

Ukulele Medley: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep

Song: Mr. Sun

Song: Chickadee
We haven't done this song in so long, mostly because the last few times it didn't go over so well. This time, it was great, and a lot of the kids actually sang along!

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.

(Not a) Flannel Friday: Sailing Out to Sea

I have a lot of flannel board songs that focus on colors. I have a lot of flannel board rhymes that promote counting to five, or ten. But I realized recently that I didn't have a single flannel board that asks kids to identify numbers on sight. Thus, I wrote my own piggyback song to the tune of Bumpin' Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon which asks kids to name not the color of an object, but the number printed on it. This song is called Sailing Out to Sea.

I don't take my flannel board to outreach events, usually, so because I was planning to use this song at an offsite daycare visit, I just colored sailboats and mounted them on cardstock so I could hold them up and show the kids. I could also have made them into stick puppets, or created flannel board pieces, and given how successful it was, I might go back and do just that in the near future!

Here's what my set of cards looks like: 
And here's how I presented my song to the two- and three-year-old classes at the daycare.

We're going to sing about some sailboats. Each one has a number on it. Let's see if you know which number... this is!

I held up the first boat and all the kids called out, "One!"

Right! Number one. Let's show number one on our fingers. Good job! Now we'll sing!

Sailing out to sea on my number one sailboat
Sailing out to sea on my number one sailboat
Sailing out to sea on my number one sailboat
Sails blowing in the breeze! 

I held up my hand and waved it around like a sail billowing in the wind.

Does my hand look kind of like a sail to you? Can you do that, too? 

I had a set of five sailboats all together and because I wasn't sure how well they'd be able to identify the numbers, I just sang them in order from one to five. If time had allowed, I might have gone back and mixed them up to sing the song again.   I also made sure to make the ships different colors so they could also be used with groups that might not be ready to identify numbers yet.

Though I didn't take photos of them, I used this same approach earlier in the month with So Many Fish in the Deep Blue Sea and So Many Plants Growing in the Ground, both of which I adapted from Stars Shining Bright by Nancy Stewart.

Flannel Friday is hosted this week by Angie at Mrs. Andre's Library.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Story Time Planning

This post was inspired by Anne's post at So Tomorrow called Putting it All Together: What My Story Time Prep Looks Like and Lisa's post at Libraryland entitled Story Time Prep 101. Each post outlines how these librarians prepare for their story time programs. My approach is somewhat different, so I wanted to write it all out and share it. I actually really recommend writing a post like this - for me, at least, it provided a much clearer sense of why I do what I do each week.

Step 1: Get Organized
Since my library system offers story times 50 weeks out of the year, I plan my story times one week at a time, and though it doesn't always work out, I try to stay one month ahead so that I'm never planning a program at the last minute. To that end, I keep a set of folders and documents on Google Drive that sorts my story times first by month, then by week, and then by individual session.

Since January, I have been using themes for each week, so I indicate those in parentheses in the name of the folder, and if there is a more specific focus for an individual story time I indicate that in the name of the file for the session itself. I make all of these documents for the month before I choose any materials. Once I know how many story times I'm doing, and which themes I'm focusing on, I start filling in the blanks.

Step 2: Choose Books
After I have the framework for each week, I head to the catalog, the shelves, and my past blog posts to track down the books I want to use. I always select books before anything else, because if I can't find enough quality stories for a given theme or age group, I scrap that theme and try something else. For the most part, I try to choose very broad themes so I can take them in many directions. Earlier this year, when I was doing all of the story times at my branch, this was especially important because I needed so many books. Now that I'm down to four story times a week, it is easier to find enough books on less general themes, but I still try not to get too obscure or specific, because often even if there are books, there aren't many extension activities for those themes.

Step 3: Choose Songs and Rhymes 

Finding songs and rhymes has become easier over time, as I have accumulated them over the past two years in my story time wiki.
Typically, I will consult the wiki and my past blog posts first to see what I already have on file for a given theme, or to complement a particular book, and after I've chosen what interests me from those sources, I'll do some searching around for new things. I don't always need new things, but if I remember that particular songs or rhymes were flops, I'll look for replacements. If I can't find replacements, and I have the time, I might even try to write some new material. It is also during this stage of planning that I decide whether to make a new flannel board or stick puppet and make sure I have enough time to put it together.

Step 4: Make a Set List 
Once I have notes in each document for a given theme, I go back in and start listing activities and books in the order I think I would like to use them. If I have a song or rhyme that I don't know well, I'll include the words and tune right there on the sheet so I don't draw a blank when I get in front of my audience.

Once I feel finished with a given set list, I close it and move onto the next one. I don't look at the set list again until it's time to actually set up for story time.

 Step 5: Set Up
I perform story time in two different rooms. The large drop-in story time is held in a conference room, because it frequently attracts over 100 people and that is the only space that can accommodate a group of that size. My other story times, which attract smaller numbers, are held in the actual story time room.

In the conference room, I make sure to set up a handful of chairs around the edges of the room for the adults who refuse to sit on the floor. I also put two tables at the front of the room for me to set things down on as story time goes on. I used to bring in a chair for myself, but I find that no one pays attention if I'm sitting, so I now stand for the large-group story times.

In the story room, I typically sit on the wooden steps at the back of the room, facing the door, and use the steps as a kind of stage. I keep all my props behind me so I can try to intercept kids who want to borrow them before story time starts, or even during story time. I don't provide chairs for adults in this room because the space is so small.

I set up my space 30 to 45 minutes prior to story time, depending on how I find the room when I arrive, and whether there is a program before mine. At this point, I print out my set list, and then inevitably make changes in pencil once it has been printed. Most of the time, I change the order of things, but there are also times where  I will realize I just can't stand a particular song, and I'll swap it out for something else. If I have read a book earlier in the week that was a dud, I might switch that for a better option at this point as well. When I'm happy with the list, I go find all the necessary puppets, flannel board pieces and books in the picture book bin I use for storage, and bring them into the story time space.

Step 6: Take Photos
Once I have everything laid out, I snap a photo on my phone to upload to my blog later on. This has been a great way for me to keep track of story times visually on Pinterest. Often I can just glance quickly at the picture and it will remind me of how that particular story time was received by the kids. Then I can click through and revisit more of the finer details on my blog. After the photo is taken, I change the way things are laid out just a little bit, to minimize the potential for little hands losing a flannel board piece or running off with a book. In the conference room, this means setting everything on the ledge of the whiteboard. In the story room, it means hiding almost everything inside the portable flannel board.
Step 7:  Open the Doors
I open the doors for the large story times ten minutes before the scheduled start time. In the story room, I can typically wait until just about show time. If a story time requires registration, someone else from the staff signs the kids in so that I can get in the story time zone without worrying about paperwork. Because I hate to have them all staring at my expectantly (it reminds me of being asked to speak in class when I didn't know the answer in tenth grade history), I never enter the room myself until I'm ready to start story time.

Step 8: Tune the Ukulele
I typically only use the ukulele for the large groups, and I use that ten minutes between opening the doors and actually starting story time to tune it and make sure I have the chords memorized for whatever song I'm playing. The ukulele is never left unattended in the story time space, so it accompanies me when I enter the story time room.

Step 9: Take a Deep Breath
When I enter the story time room, I take one last moment to look over my materials and make sure nothing is missing. Then I count to three in my head to get myself into the story time zone and say, "Good morning everybody!" I launch into the hello song, and then follow the set list as closely as I can for the next 30 minutes.

Step 10: Review 
After a given story time is over, I post on my blog about what did and did not work. Though this particular story time is done, doing a post-mortem analysis is actually good preparation for the next story time, especially if it's still early in the week and I'm still working with the same theme. Then I click over to the next set list and begin the process all over again!

How do you plan your story times?

Wild for Animals! Preschool Story Time, 7/11/13

 Wild for Animals! Preschool Story Time, 7/11/13

I really wanted to ensure a big audience for this week, so I promoted it on our neighborhood list-serv and told several families I saw throughout the week that it would be perfect for their kids. That was all it took - there were 25 kids, and at least a dozen parents in the room by the end, and it was a great story time! 

Book: Where's My Mom? by Julia Donaldson
This book was a new one for me, recommended by our library associate. The kids loved it, though I think I found it funnier than anyone else.

Book: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle 
I have never done this with a preschool audience, but I thought it was a nice alternative to some of the action songs that  this age group tends to dislike. There were some little guys in attendance, and we kind of lost them at this point, but the target age group had a great time. 

Flannel Board Story: Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton
(I used the text found in Philadelphia Chickens because my library doesn't seem to have the book.)
This went over well, but I didn't expect it to, so I overcompensated and babbled too much afterwards and kind of lost everybody. I'll know better when I use this again tomorrow.

Book: What Do You Do with a Kangaroo? by Mercer Mayer
This was the dud of the day. The parents seemed annoyed by the constant  advice to throw the rude animals out of the house, and the kids just didn't get it. 

Song: Visor, Tee Shirt, Shorts, and Shoes
These kids were a little young to think this was funny.

Book: Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
This was maybe one book too many, but some of the kids were into it. Most others were distracted by a mom who couldn't just leave her toddler be and kept having to talk loudly at him to redirect him from the space behind me where he was climbing on the steps, despite it clearly being blocked off by tables. 

Craft: Sticker Collages
I have a huge pad of stickers from Michael's, and I pulled out the jungle stickers and provided green construction paper and crayons. The kids made all kinds of great jungle pictures, and the younger siblings loved putting stickers all over their pages.

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 (Letter P), 7/10/13

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers (Letter P), 7/10/13

I am so pleased with the number of kids who came to today's story time. Most of them were the older siblings of my toddler story time regulars, and others were graduates of preschool story time. There were about five kids who were able to read, and the rest consisted of a baby, five toddler siblings, and a set of twins whose first language is not English.

iPad Presentation
Instead of simply showing the kids labeled objects beginning with p and asking them to call them out, this time I wrote complete sentences to accompany each image. This way the kids who could read got to practice some sight words, while the ones who could not yet read the words were able to call out each image by name. I don't have the right to distribute the images I used, but my text is below:

This is a panda.
Here is a parasol. 
Look at the pumpkin. 
This bird is a parrot.
This bird is a penguin.
Wow! A pirate!
The pilot flies the plane.
This pickle is green.
Here comes the plumber.
Hi there, little pig!
Do you eat pancakes?
Time for pizza!

My favorite comment from a child during this segment of story time was, "The plumber plunges out the toilet and makes it work!" That about sums it up.

On Google Books, I found Phonics Through Poetry by Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz, which contains a poem entitled "The Plumber's Pledge". I told the kids to listen for the "p" sound in each line of the poem and to stand up or sit down each time they heard it. They got a big kick out of trying to keep up with the poem, which really uses quite a few Ps, and we did it twice to get them good and ready to sit and listen to a book. (You can read the poem in the Google Books preview below.)


We read If You Give a Pig a Pancake. I think this book was a little basic for the group, because most of the older kids remembered it as a book they read "when they were little." There were no complaints, however, and since there were so many toddler siblings, it ended up being a book everyone could enjoy.

Sequencing Activity
I used clipart and a kindergarten handwriting font to make a set of sequencing cards for the story. I asked questions to prompt the kids to retell the story. When we started our retelling, I had all the images mixed up on one flannel board, and as we figured out their order, I invited the kids up one at a time to put the images on a second flannel board in order. One little girl was really on the ball, so she was the one who answered me most of the time, but I did allow every child who wanted a turn to come up and place a card on the flannel board.

Bag of Verbs
I will never get over how much fun this is. I love how creative the kids are with their movements, and how enthusiastic they get over it. This portion of story time can get a little wild, and sometimes the parents who stay in the  room look at me like I'm insane, but I have never once had it become so chaotic that I couldn't get the group's attention back again. 

Matching Game
After the success of the watermelon matching game two weeks ago, I decided to make another one for this session. I called it "Opposites Pizza." I made a pizza out of posterboard and then glued little paper peppers to it, each labeled with a word. Then I cut out some green peppers with the opposites of those words printed on them and held them up one at a time. I asked the kids to read the word, then to tell me its opposite, and then to find its opposite on the pizza. I handled turns the same way as with the earlier sequencing activity - I made sure everyone who wanted a chance to put a topping on the pizza had the opportunity.

Write and Draw Activity
I found a coloring page of a blank pizza and gave one to every child, asking them to cover it with toppings beginning with P. Most kids just drew their "p" items, but one girl actually wrote a great list, with words like "pretty" and "pickles."

Summer has definitely rejuvenated this story time, and I'm so pleased to have so many parents who are invested in bringing their kids each week. I am hoping for another great experience next Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wild for Animals! Drop-In Story Time, 7/9/13

Wild for Animals! Drop-In Story Time, 7/9/13 

Book: Bark George by Jules Feiffer
Usually, this book holds everyone's attention so well, none of the adults would even dream of talking over me as I read it. Not so this morning. I could barely hear myself, and if not for the few adults in the front who were laughing, I might have assumed no one was listening.

Song with Puppets: When Cows Get Up in the Morning
This song always works well. Though the tune is not familiar, the adults pick up on it fairly quickly and the kids love making the animal sounds.

Book: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
This is another book I specifically chose because it never fails, and it pretty much failed. The kids were happily calling out the names of the animals but I could barely hear them over their chatty adults.

Flannel Board Song with Ukulele: We’re On Our Way to See the Zoo (thanks, Mel!)
I decided at the last minute to play this on the ukulele (the tune is Grandpa's Farm) and I'm glad I did, because this was the only part of the story time that held everyone's attention.  We sang about a polar bear who growled, a lion who roared, a zebra who brayed, a snake who hissed, and a leopard who snarled. All the animal sounds came from Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Book: Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek
I should not have done a third book. The flannel board  was such a  success, and I thought I could go for it, but I knew halfway through the story it was a mistake. I considered scrapping it, but a handful of older preschoolers were really into it, so I made it to the end for their sakes.

Magic Envelope: Pig
The magic envelope portion of story time was rushed today, and I wish I had been able to slow down some more and linger over my discussion of each piece. As it was, I felt like I had to talk quickly to get everything in before they got noisy again. We used a pink crayon, snout, curly tail, mud, and an "oink oink" speech bubble to create a pig. 

Flannel Board Song: P-I-G-G-Y
We did this the exact same way we did B-I-N-G-O last month

Ukulele Medley: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep
Somehow, story time was running long by this point, and we only had time left for the usual goodbye routine. It went by so fast! 

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, July 5, 2013

Play Time!: Toddler Lap Time, 7/5/13

 Play Time!: Toddler Lap Time, 7/5/13

One child was signed up for this session, and he did not show, but four others did, so it was a success! Two were regulars, and one regular came with friends. The kids were engaged, attentive, and energetic, and I could tell that they have really been learning our songs from week to week. The books were both perfect in terms of length and interest level, and the flannel boards were both very well-received.

Book: We Play by Phyllis Hoffman

Flannel Board: Play With Me!
This went over much better this afternoon than this morning, and I didn't even really do anything differently. I think it helped that this was a smaller group, and that the adults are all story time veterans. Some of the moms this morning clearly didn't know what to expect and seemed puzzled!

Book: Let's Play! by Leo Lionni

Flannel Board Song: Three Kites Up in the Sky
This one went over so well, we did it twice. 

Rhyme: Two Little Teddy Bears

Songs with Shaker Eggs:
One regular nanny told me that she was glad to see the shakers back - I hadn't realized how long it had been since we'd last had them out!

Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers
Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun 

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

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.

Play Time!: Drop-In Story Time, 7/5/13

 Play Time!: Drop-In Story Time, 7/5/13 

I was really looking forward to this theme, but after three days off, and with such a small group this morning, I felt really shaky about the story time itself. I think I performed the same as I always do, and the kids were more engaged than normal because there weren't as many climbing all over  each other trying to see, but the parents came instead of the nannies and they did not participate, or seem that impressed with me. It was just a weird feeling. But the kids seemed to have fun, and lots of them came up to see me afterward!

Book: Mahjong All Day Long by Ginnie Lo
This is not a book I would have read to a huge group, but since there were only about 45 kids in the room, I gave it a try. The kids seemed puzzled by the book, but also curious.

Flannel Board: Play With Me!
This flannel board was based on a poem I found in Highlights High Five magazine. The kids got really into naming the animals, but everyone seemed confused by my delivery of the ending. I'll have to think some more about how to improve it.

Book: This is Baseball by Margaret Blackstone
This book was too basic and I could have read something longer.

Song: Baseball Player 
The kids loved this one, as always!

Book: Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka
I like this book and I thought it was a good one for some of the bigger kids who might be learning to ride two-wheelers. It got a lukewarm response, but this was also just a lukewarm group.

Magic Envelope: Sandcastle
I'm starting to run out of magic envelope ideas, but this was a good one suggested by Kathryn in the Flannel Friday Facebook group. The kids helped me by calling out the names of everything, and this portion of story time got the most applause.

Song with Puppet:
Mr. Sun 

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

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Rhyme: Five Little Monkeys
I was losing my singing voice by this point, so we chanted about the monkeys. They didn't like it as much as when we sing it.

Rhyme: Wiggle Fingers

As hectic as it is, I'll be glad to see the big crowds again next week. I feel weird when the groups are small and silent. 

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, July 2, 2013

Five Reasons to Attend Story Time with Your Baby (Guest Post at What to Expect.com)

I don't have another story time on my schedule until Friday morning, but in the meantime, please check out my guest post at What to Expect.com's Word of Mom blog, entitled "Why I Will Take My Baby to Story Time and You Should Too."

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