Thursday, August 29, 2013

Babies Toddler Lap Time, 8/23/13

Babies Toddler Lap Time, 8/23/13

This was the last toddler story time of the summer, and my last toddler story time ever, and I was glad to see it end. This story time has never gone well, or been well-attended, and this was no exception. We did a babies theme, but the kids only wanted to run laps around  the  room and their parents just wanted to take photos of them running. The kids did like the shaker eggs, but everything else, they pretty much ignored.

Book: Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont

Flannel Board Rhyme: This Little Baby

Book: What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell

Song: Babies on the Bus (based on the book by Karen Katz)

Book: How Do You Make a Baby Smile? by Philemon Sturges

Songs with Shaker Eggs:
Song: Mr. Sun

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

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, August 27, 2013

Baa Buzz Moo Cluck Drop-In Story Time, 8/23/13

 Baa Buzz Moo Cluck Drop-In Story Time, 8/23/13
(There are no books in this picture because I forgot to photograph them before story time, and all of them were checked out instantly after story time was over!)

For my last few story times, I am stepping things up a little bit. It seems that adults are more engaged and less likely to visit with each other when the actual presentation of story time is more elaborate. So, though I have been using mainly tried and true books and songs, and very few props, I have been taking extra time to turn the white board into a mini-display for each session. This week, I decided to focus on animals, and after finding the Have You Any? song mentioned below, I built the entire story time around the four animals named in that song. I put a picture of each animal on the board, along with its verse from the song and used the images as a guideline for moving through story time, pausing now and then to ask the kids to name the next animal or tell me what sound it makes. To my great surprise, at the end of story time, several adults came up to take a picture of the whiteboard, as though it were a museum exhibit! I have at least one more story time planned for this coming Friday that follows this same format - we'll see how long the novelty lasts.

Song: When Sheep Get Up in the Morning 
Traditionally, I sing this with puppets, but we did it with the ukulele since that seems to get everybody excited about story time. This is actually not difficult to play on the ukulele, as I realized when I quickly learned the chords in five minutes, and I think I might prefer to do it this way from now on.

Book: No Sleep for the Sheep by Karen Beaumont
I had so much fun reading this rhythmic book aloud, but no one else was into it. My reading was fine, so I didn't think it was that. It might just be that  they weren't in the mood for animal sounds.

Song with Stick Puppets: Mary Had a Little Lamb
I used my different-colored lamb flannel board pieces  and held them up one at a time for the kids to call out their colors. Then we sang about Mary's lambs, who were white as snow, red as a rose, blue as the sky, and black as night.

Book: From Flower to Honey by Robin Nelson
I was surprised that the kids seemed into this, as it is non-fiction and the illustrations are photos. I read only the first bolded sentence on each page because the group was pretty young and fidgety, but they were with me the entire time.

Song with Puppet: Buzzing Buzzing Bumblebee

Book: Cows Going Past by Bruce Balan
This book seemed like a better story time book when I first discovered it. As I was reading it, I realized this might be more of an easy reader. The kids were not into it at all, which was a disappointment, but there might be ways to make it more interactive and therefore more interesting. I'll have to look at it more carefully - but it was checked out after story time, so it will be a while before I get to that!

Song: Have You Any? 
This is the song that inspired the story time, and I played this on the ukulele as well. The adults happily sang along using the lyrics on the whiteboard. 

Book: Hurry! Hurry! by Eve Bunting
We read this book as a call and response, and that worked very well. I'd do this again, especially as the last book in a  session. 

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.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Upcoming Changes for Story Time Secrets

Summer Reading comes to an end in my library system tomorrow, and school starts on Monday. This seems like a good time to announce some upcoming changes in my personal and professional life that will have an impact on this blog.

As many of my readers may have figured out from my guest post at What to Expect back in July, I am expecting a baby at the end of November. In anticipation of the baby's arrival, and of my upcoming new job as a stay-at-home mom, I have resigned from my position at the library effective Friday, October 4. I have already started cutting back on some of my programs, and when the Fall schedule goes into effect next week, I will be down to just two - Drop-in Story Time on Friday mornings, and Preschool Story Time, which is moving back to Friday afternoons at 4:00. My last day of story time will be one week before I leave, Friday, September 27.

As my time at the library dwindles down, my posts will become somewhat less frequent, but I do plan to continue blogging about picture books, early literacy, and story time, even after the baby arrives. Details on the types of posts I will be sharing will be announced in October. Until then, expect the usual story time outlines, and occasional Flannel Friday contributions, right up until my last day of story time!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Four Seasons Preschool Story Time, 8/22/13

Four Seasons Preschool Story Time, 8/22/13

Song with ukulele: Seasons of the Year
As I did when I performed this song at Drop-In Story Time, I wrote the words on the wall, and this time I also drew my own little pictures to illustrate each season. The few kids in the group who can read got really excited when they could pick out the words they knew. 

Book: When it Starts to Snow by Phillis Gershator
As shown by the photo above, I planned to read Lemonade in Winter as my Winter book, but when I looked at the group and saw how many three-year-olds and toddler siblings there were, I decided it would be smarter to read just one  longer story, so I swapped Lemonade in Winter for this animal-centric, repetitive tale about where animals go in the snow. All the kids - even the oldest who was probably six - seemed into it.

Book: Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
The illustrations in this book always win kids over, and I love the rhythm of the text when I read it aloud. The kids were into the animals, and they were eager to tell me why a bunny could not live in a nest (too high) or the water (too wet.)

Action Rhyme: We Skate on the Lake
I don't really have a good title for this rhyme yet, but it's one I wrote with the specific intention of encouraging the kids to move around. I didn't have a lot of prescribed movements selected ahead of time. Instead, I asked the kids to show me how they would do a particular motion. We did  the entire  thing once through, and they were so into it, we ended up repeating it a second time.

We skate on the lake
We shovel the snow
We warm up by the fire
We drink hot cocoa
In Winter
In Winter

We hear the raindrops
We stomp in the mud
We water the plants
We watch for the buds
In Spring
In Spring

We run on the beach
We melt in the heat
We eat ice cream cones
We wipe sand from our feet
In Summer
In Summer

We stir apple sauce
We watch the leaves fall
We jump in the leaves
We kick soccer balls
In Fall
In Fall

Book: Water in the Park by Emily Jenkins
This was the longest book I read, and I know it was weird to read it third instead of first, but it worked well. The younger kids were a bit restless, but the older ones - mainly the five-year-olds - were really into the illustrations. I'm going to review this one in the near future because I feel like I have a lot to say about it.

Book: Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley
I have always loved this book, and it was the perfect follow-up to the longer story preceding it. It was also the inspiration for our coloring page, and the only book to be checked out. 

Coloring Page: Color a Tree
I gave the kids a blank tree and some crayons and let them design their own silly leaves. Two girls copied from the book; everybody else went their own artistic way. 

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, August 21, 2013

Daycare Outreach Round-Up, August 7 and 21

Week Five (Wednesday, August 7)

Group 1 @ 10:00 a.m. (Ages 2-3)
Books: Into the Outdoors, Tiny Goes Camping, Maisy Goes Camping
Songs: Sleeping in the Woods in My Little Red Tent, In the Camp All Night Long, Moon Moon Moon, These Are My Glasses, The More We Read Together
Rhyme: Two Little Fireflies 
Notes:  This theme is really tough, because there are so few good read-alouds about camping for any age group, and even fewer in my library's collection. Into the Outdoors was the best book, but the kids also loved Tiny Goes Camping. Seeing that big dog crammed into that small tent made everyone laugh! I had to write two of my own songs, both of which went over much better than I expected.

Group 2 @ 10:30 a.m. (Ages 4-5)
Books:  A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, Stella and Roy Go Camping, Curious George Goes Camping
Songs: Visor, Tee-shirt, Shorts and Shoes
Notes: It's easier to find books for big kids, and both Mr. Magee and Stella and Roy were great successes, sparking lots of conversation and making the kids giggle. The Curious George book was a bit lengthy, and they seemed bored with it, but in the interest of cooperating with their theme, I went with it. The kids begged for another story when I was done, so it couldn't have been that bad.

Group 3 @ 11:00 a.m. (Ages 2-3)
Books: Into the Outdoors, Tiny Goes Camping, Maisy Goes Camping
Songs: Sleeping in the Woods in my Little Red Tent, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Moon Moon Moon, The More We Read Together
Rhyme: Two Little Fireflies 
Notes: These books were just the right length for this group, which skews quite a bit younger (or at least less mature) than the others. They also loved singing Twinkle Twinkle.

Group 4 @ 11:30 a.m. (Ages 2-3)
Books: Into the Outdoors, Tiny Goes Camping, Bailey Goes Camping
Songs: Sleeping in the Woods in My Little Red Tent, In the Camp All Night Long
Notes: This is the most engaged group, and they were great at calling out colors of the different tents, and acting out the motions of the trees, owls, etc. in the camp. Their favorite book was Tiny Goes Camping.

Week Six (Wednesday, August 21)

Group 1 @ 10:00 a.m.  (Ages 2-3)
Books: Duck Tents, Camping Day, Bailey Goes Camping
Songs: Sleeping in the Woods in My Little Red Tent, Aikendrum (with ukulele), ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep (with ukulele), The More We Read Together, These Are My Glasses 
Notes: Duck Tents was not as well-received as I expected. I think they were confused by the illustrations. Bailey Goes Camping was boring, and I had forgotten about an unfortunate fart joke in Camping Day that (thankfully) only half the kids got. I didn't read the book again at any subsequent session because of the fart joke, as I make it a point not to include things like that in my story times.

Group 2 @ 10:30 a.m. (Ages 4-5)
Books: Jerome Camps Out, Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night, Amelia Bedelia Hits the Trail 
Songs: Aikendrum, Visor Tee Shirt Shorts and Shoes
Notes: Jerome Camps Out was too advanced, but Henry and Mudge was just right. Some of the word play in Amelia Bedelia lost the kids, but they loved hearing her story anyway. This group enjoyed the ukulele, and I had them help me remember what each of Aikendrum's facial features was made of as we added more verses. In the future, I'd like to come up with more foods for the other parts of Aikendrum's body, as this group was disappointed when the song ended.

Group 3 @ 11:00 a.m. (Ages 2-3)
Books: Turtle and Snake Go Camping, Gus Gets Scared, Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night
Songs: Row Row Row Your Boat, Sleeping in the Woods in My Little Red Tent, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Moon Moon Moon 
Notes: This group loves to sing, so that's mostly what we did. I didn't have a third book that was a great length for them, so we did a quick version of Henry and Mudge where I just paraphrased a lot of the text.

Group 4 @ 11:30 a.m. (Ages 2-3)
Books: Duck Tents, Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night, Turtle and Snake Go Camping
Songs: Five Little Ducks, These Are My Glasses
Notes: This group got so into counting the ducks and their tents that we sang Five Little Ducks to give them a chance to count and quack some more. They loved Henry and Mudge, and when story time was over, they wanted even more stories!

Feedback and Reflections

I have done a fair amount of outreach in this job, but few organizations have been so welcoming or accommodating as this day care center. I would have preferred not to be so limited by the pre-selected themes, as some of them were downright difficult, but even with those restrictions I was able to put together programs that engaged the kids, excited their teachers, and entertained me.

To thank me for coming, each class presented me with a card. Some of the teachers asked the kids to tell them what they liked about my story times, and they included those in the card as well. The responses were so sweet, I will share them below (with names removed, of course.)

  • "The sloth book."
  • "I liked her songs."
  • "Her voice."
  • "The music."
  • "The stories."
  • "Sing with Ms. Kathleen." 
  • "The books."
  • "Her voice."
  • "And I read read read, and I look look look."
  • "I like books."
  • "I don't know." 
  • "Sing songs."
  • "Her books."
  • "The books."
  • "I like her cause she reads stories to me."
  • "The songs."
  • "Songs and claps."
  • "Reading books."
  • "Singing songs."
  • "Sing and clap."
  • "I like a song."
  • "Sing songs."
  • "Her reading stories."
  • "Reading stories."
  • "Reading stories." 
  • "The books and songs are what I like." 
  • "I liked the songs."
  • "I like how she reads." 
  • "I like at the end of her songs she said some silly things." 
  • "I like the different books."
  • "I like her songs." 
  • "I like the book about the butterfly."
  • "I like the tug boat story." 
  • "I like the fish book."
  • "I like the books." 
  • "I like the silly books."

There is something really rewarding about knowing how much the kids enjoyed and appreciated my visits. I know it's not always possible for busy librarians to get out of the branch and visit the local childcare centers as I often as I did this past three months, but when it is possible, it is totally worth it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Four Seasons Drop-In Story Time, 8/9/13

Four Seasons Drop-In Story Time, 8/9/13

I thought last week's successful drop-in story time may have been a fluke, but I decided to assume it wasn't and went ahead and planned another in a similar format. This  time, I focused on the four seasons. Instead of trying to make everyone look at our one tiny flannel board, I used the entire whiteboard to introduce the theme. I put up clipart images representing each of the four seasons (which I found free on this website) then wrote the verses to a seasons song by Meish Goldish (which I found here) so the adults, at least, could read them. 

Song with ukulele: Seasons of the Year
To kick things off, we sang the song that was written on the board. Most of the adults at least tried to sing along, though I think may have played just a bit too fast. In any case, the song got everyone's attention and introduced the overall story time plan.

Book: Summer is Summer by Phillis and David Gershator, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
The text of this book is more like a poem than a story, but they did pretty well sticking with it. I wished that the adults would have picked up on the refrain and repeated it with me, but it was enough for me that they didn't carry on their own conversations while I was reading.

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun 

Book: Kitten's Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes
This is the book they paid the least attention to, possibly because of the smaller illustrations.

Song: Brown Squirrel

Book: Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara
I have used this book with better results in the past, but some of the kids were really glued to it and it got a lot of applause at the end. 

Song: Five Little Snowmen Riding on the Sled 
I had something else planned, but remembered this song at the last minute and used it instead. 

Book: My Spring Robin by Anne Rockwell
They seemed to like this book, though the kids were getting restless by this point. I was glad to follow the story with an old favorite song. 

Song: Chickadee

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

I truly think these past two drop-in story times have gone so well because I have put my foot down about the purpose of story time. It's about books. I have taken away a lot of the puppets and flannel boards and focused more on books, and I think that has minimized everyone's distractions - both kids' and adults'.  I am also more engaged with the material now that I have tried a new structure. I think I was tired of repeating the same old things, and maybe me weariness was rubbing off on the nannies. I'll be off next Friday, but I'm looking forward to trying another new idea in a couple of weeks!

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.

Houses Preschool Story Time, 8/8/13

I think a lot of our story time families are away this month, so this story time was on the small and quiet side again this week. There were 7 kids in all, 5 of whom were over the age of four. Aside from the hello song, we didn't do any singing, but that was fine because they were not at all an active or distracted group.

Book: A House is a House For Me by Mary Ann Hoberman
I read this book to three-year-olds at the rec. center once, with surprisingly great results. I tried to recreate that at this story time, but it didn't have quite  the same effect. One boy loved it, but the other kids seemed indifferent.

Book: This is Our House by Hyewon Yum
This is a new book, and I really like it. It's a simple and gentle story about two generations growing up in the same house. It wouldn't work for a huge group, but for this small, intimate setting it was perfect.

Flannel Board Story: The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood
I used this clipart from as my flannel board pieces, and told the story mostly from memory, with just a few quick hints on the backs of the pieces and on a little piece of paper. The kids were into it, and one kid found the whole story just hilarious. I wanted them to join in with me on some of the repeated bits, but they seemed too shy to be comfortable, so I didn't push it.

Book: Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House by Libby Gleeson
This is another quiet book, but I was correct in thinking it would resonate with this age group. One boy even made a connection to Not a Box, which we read at this story time a few weeks ago.

Book: Moving House by Mark Siegel
This last book ended story time on a silly and surreal level. The oldest boy in the room was especially pleased that he figured out the joke - that "moving house" means moving, and that it refers to an actual "moving house." I would use this again in a rec. center or Pre-K setting.

Coloring Activity: Inside and Outside of a House
I used the outline of a house as my template, then drew lines through the center to separate the outline into the different rooms of a house. I flipped the template around and removed the lines on the  reverse side of the page, then cut the entire house out so the kids could design an interior and exterior. Many of them just did their own thing, which is fine with me, but I'm thinking of re-using this activity with my more advanced beginning readers group at the end of the month.

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 L), 8/7/13

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers (Letter L), 8/7/13

This story time was not attended by most of the regulars, but it was still a good-sized group. Three of the kids were definite beginning readers; the others were mostly preschoolers of varying ages. They were a much quieter group than usual, and there were about 7 kids in all.  

iPad Presentation
I didn't write out sentences for my letter L images this week, and that worked out fine, since most of the kids were pretty young. They seemed to enjoy calling out the names of the different objects, and it broke the ice well enough to make them comfortable participating in the rest of the session. The images included: lamb, lion, licorice, library (which was a photo of our library), light bulb, ladybug, lettuce, Abraham Lincoln, lobster, leaves, and little old lady. 

I have been wanting to use Maurice Sendak's Pierre for a long time, and when I decided on L as my letter, I thought the lion in the story would tie in nicely. To make the reading of this story interactive, I created a speech bubble which said, "I don't care!" and I help it up for  the kids to read each time Pierre said he didn't care. The kids were not as into this as I thought they would be, but I think that had more to do with their being new to the story time than anything else. 

We acted out The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. Since this was a quieter group than I'm used to, it was not the boisterous activity I was expecting, but they still seemed to enjoy it. I did catch a mom rolling her eyes toward the end when we were repeating the same set of actions for the tenth time, but her son didn't seem to share her annoyance. 

Literacy Game 
We played a matching game where the kids had to tell me whether words did or did not start with the same sound. If the beginning sounds were  the same, we put down a lit-up light bulb.  If they were not the same, we put down a dim lightbulb. We repeated  the game with two variations. The second time we looked for matching ending sounds, and the third time, we listened for rhyming words. This was such a favorite, I wished I'd planned a few more rounds.

Write and Draw Activity
I re-used the bookshelf activity from my Read-Along Story Time on April 11. I changed the original handout title from, "______'s Bookshelf" to "_________'s Library and invited the kids to draw the covers or write the names of the kinds of books they liked reading.  The three oldest kids got into it; the others just colored.

Flannel Friday: A Perfect Nose for Ralph by Jane Breskin Zalben

Since I have started using more flannel boards with my preschoolers and fewer at the large drop-in story times, I've found myself more drawn to adapting picture books and longer stories that the older (and smaller) audiences can appreciate. Last week, we talked about noses at preschool story time, and I wanted to share a book called A Perfect Nose for Ralph by Jane Breskin Zalben. The only copy in my entire library system is a tiny little book, so I was glad to be able to share it on the flannel board to make it more accessible.

The story is pretty simple, so it lends itself well to easy flannel board transitions. Ralph the panda is a beloved stuffed animal who loses his nose in an encounter with the family cat.
Reggie, the little boy who owns Ralph, decides to try and find a suitable replacement nose.

He tries a button...

a wooden peg....

a cherry...

two snaps...

a ball of yarn... 

and a cotton ball.

Finally, he decides to make his own nose for Ralph, which looks almost exactly like the one he lost - the perfect nose for Ralph.

Though I only made pieces that matched Ralph's noses in the book, this concept could be easily adapted for lots of other noses. For a food theme, Ralph could have noses all made out of food. For a colors theme, there could be different colored noses. It might even be fun to use a different animal, or even a person, instead of the panda, depending on your theme, interests, and availability of clipart. This is probably the easiest flannel to make - and one of the most versatile!

This week's Flannel Friday host is Brooke from Reading with Red. For more about Flannel Friday, visit the official site.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I Love Bugs! Toddler Lap Time, 8/2/13

 I Love Bugs! Toddler Lap Time, 8/2/13

This story time has become a source of annoyance more than anything else. Friday afternoon used to be a popular time slot with parents, but it isn't this year, and almost every week, only one or two children have shown up. Thankfully, this story time is winding down and will not be offered after August 23, but in the meantime, I don't really look forward to it or enjoy it that much. In any case, there were three kids at this session, and we read and sang about bugs.

Book: Beetle Bop by Denise Fleming
This book is long and not much happens, and it does not engage toddlers the way I thought it would. Denise Fleming is so hit or miss for me!

Rhyme: Creep Your Beetles (based on Dance Your Fingers)
This was a last-minute addition that popped into my head as I was preparing. It wasn't that much of a hit with the kids, but the grown-ups did it with me twice through.

Rhyme with Puppet: Ladybug, Ladybug

Song with Puppet: Buzzing Buzzing Bumblebee

Book: Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner
This is one of my favorite books, and the kids seemed into it, even though they were mostly climbing the steps and ignoring me.

Rhyme: Two Little Fireflies
I really like  this rhyme. I want to remember it for my larger groups.
Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Book: I Like Bugs by Margaret Wise Brown
This was one book too many, but I was at a loss as to what to do with the kids at this point. Somehow they are all less distracted when there are more kids.

Songs with Butterflies: 
Song: ABCs

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Song: Row Row Row Your Boat

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.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain Drop-In Story Time, 8/2/13

 Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain Drop-In Story Time, 8/2/13

This story time has been a source of frustration for the past few weeks, because the adults have been so rude and difficult. In the past, what has sometimes worked is to change the format and structure of the story time so they can't anticipate what comes next and therefore can't figure out when it might be okay for them to talk. (They seem to have the idea that it's okay to talk during books, but they will sing songs. If I'm playing the ukulele, they will be quiet, but if I have a puppet, they talk. It's weird.)

This morning, I ditched the usual themed story time, and instead did something a bit different to change things up and hopefully get us out of our rut.  On the flannel board, I put up four items - a sun, a moon, a sky full of stars, and a raindrop - and as we read books and did activities for each one, I removed that flannel board piece. ("Sun, moon, stars, rain" is a line from "anyone lived in a pretty how town" by e.e. cummings, if you're thinking it sounds familiar.) I was a bit concerned that four books would be pushing it, but it wasn't at all, and this turned out to be one of the all-time best large-group story times I have ever done.

Book: The Sun is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch
I made sure to read this book with a very excited tone, and to stop and point out interesting tidbits in the pictures. I expected to have to scold them for talking, but to my great surprise, no one was saying a word! This book even got applause at the end!

Song with Sun Puppet: Mr. Sun

Song with Ukulele: You Are My Sunshine
I really like playing this song on the ukulele, and it tends to calm the whole room. Some of the kids even started to sing along! 

Song: Moon Moon Moon

Book: The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson
I find it helps to narrate a little bit of what is happening in the pictures between lines of the poem. This was the book I was most nervous about, but keeping a conversational tone helped the kids get into it, I think.

Song with Ukulele: Aikendrum
There was one adorable little boy in the back of the room who spontaneously started to clap during this song, which made my entire morning!

Book: I Like Stars by Margaret Wise Brown
They started to lose it around this time, but I brought them back by asking the group to tell me what color the different stars were on each page. Unfortunately, a couple of little boys right in front took this as an invitation to yell every line of the book back at me, so we kind of rushed through this one and quickly went into the next song.

Song: Stars Shining Bright

Book: Rain by Robert Kalan
This was a good, simple book to end with. The rainbow caught everyone by surprise and caused spontaneous applause. 

Song: I Like to see the Raindrops Fall
The kids always like this song, and most of the motions are easy enough for even a lot of the babies to do.

Some of the success of today's story time is owed to the fact that people are out of town and some of the problem nannies were not there,  but I think there is also something important about keeping books as the central focus. It might seem foolish to read four books in a session when they often don't allow me to get through two, but I actually think showing them that story time is mainly about stories, and is not just a sing-along with an occasional book does command greater respect from the audience. We'll see if a similar approach works next week!

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: Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty

Last week, my preschool story time was all about imagination. In addition to several picture books, I also shared this flannel board adaptation of Jeremy Draws a Monster. In this story, Jeremy, a bored, lonely boy, draws a monster. The monster is rude and demanding, and asks Jeremy to draw him all kinds of things. When the monster takes over Jeremy's bed in the middle of the night, Jeremy finally wises up and sends that monster packing!

Here is Jeremy when he first draws the monster. My Jeremy is a clipart image from The monster is also from mycutegraphics, but I recolored his outline in Microsoft Word to make him look more like a drawing. I made sure to use blue so he would match the monster in the book as much as possible.
I found line drawings on Google Images of each of the drawings the monster requests, and recolored them in Word to match the color scheme used in the book. I tried to use a special text effect to make them look even more like pencil drawings, but some of the lines were too thin, so that didn't work out.

When it came time to show that Jeremy had gone to bed, I used a piece of blue felt as his blanket.

This picture shows the monster with his hat, which is the last item he asks Jeremy to draw, and the bus ticket and suitcase Jeremy draws to get rid of the monster.

This is the bus and the group of kids who appear at the end of the story. As the bus left the flannel board, I prompted the kids to say goodbye to the monster, which they did with great joy.

My preschool group responded really well to this story, and after story time, I brought out the picture book and many of the kids could  retell the entire thing from the book, after only hearing me tell it with the flannel board once. Monsters and ways to catch them figured heavily into the pictures the kids colored, and we had lots of discussion about what else Jeremy could have drawn to get rid of his monster problem. This was probably the most successful flannel board I've ever used with this age group.

This week, for my beginning reader story time at the main library, I created some more flannel board pieces to use with this story. I created a speech bubble for the monster, so the kids could interact with the story and call out the names of  the various things he wants Jeremy to draw. Though I only wound up seeing two kids, this was a  really effective way to tell the story, and both enjoyed it.

This week's Flannel Friday host is K Leigh at Storytime ABC's. Learn more about Flannel Friday at the official site.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Follow Your Nose Preschool Story Time, 8/1/13

Follow Your Nose Preschool Story Time, 8/1/13

Small crowd today - just five kids, including the four-year-old twins who typically don't talk, a six-year-old and her toddler brother, and one other toddler.

Book: Farley Follows His Nose by Lynn Johnston
This is surprisingly well done. I love the For Better or For Worse comic strip,  but I wasn't sure how a picture book would hold up. I couldn't tell whether the kids liked it, but I would try using it again.

Book: Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman
This book was a hit. The false sneezes and eventual havoc gave at least one kid the giggles.

Activity: Bingo the Clown Clothesline
This activity was designed to introduce a little bit of movement into the story time without requiring a lot of singing.  I wanted something with clown noses, and I came across this Colorful Noses Movement Activity with a reindeer rhyme from Mailbox magazine. I changed the reindeer to a clown and put each verse of the rhyme on its own little card. Then I labeled the backs of the cards with colors and strung them up so the kids could easily choose one. Then we did the movements as a group. It sounds a bit complicated, but it was actually a big success.

Flannel Board Story: A Perfect Nose for Ralph by Jane Breskin Zalben
Next week, my Flannel Friday post will  focus on this flannel board. I like the way I told this one. I think I'm better at telling stories without the book in front of me than I realize.

Book: I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems
I think I might need to stop reading Elephant and Piggie books aloud. The kids don't seem to follow the dialogue, and I'm not willing to do silly voices.

Coloring Page: "Color the Elephant" from TwistyNoodle

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.

I Love Bugs! Baby Lap Time, 8/1/13

I Love Bugs! Baby Lap Time, 8/1/13

My co-worker who normally does this story time was under the weather today, so she asked me to cover for her. I was more than happy to do so - it was great to be back at baby lap time!

Book: I Love Bugs by Philemon Sturges, illustrated by Shari Halpern
I especially liked the way I read today. I was in perfect "baby voice." Perhaps having a break from this story time has done me good!

Rhyme with Puppets: I’m a Little Bumblebee
Babies love puppets. Their little eyes were just mesmerized.

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun

Bouncing Song: All the Little Babies

Book: Arabella Miller’s Tiny Caterpillar by Clare Jarrett
I really enjoyed how much the adults enjoyed this book. I thought it might be too lengthy but the sing-song rhyming seemed to appeal to everyone. A nanny even checked it out at the end of  the session.

Songs with Butterfly Puppet: Fly Like a Butterfly / Flutter Flutter Butterfly
I asked the grown-ups to help the babies make butterfly wings, and one little girl did it all on her own and kept it up for the entire first song! Amazing!

Rhyme with Stick Puppets: Two Little Houseflies / Fireflies / Dragonflies
I changed the words to Two Little Blackbirds and did rhymes about three different pairs of "flies."

Song: Tony Chestnut

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.

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers (Letter M), 7/31/13

 Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers (Letter M), 7/31/13

Yesterday I had the pleasure of performing my Read-Along Story Time twice - once at the main library as a special summer program, and once at my own branch as part of our regular weekly schedule. Though I focused on the letter M in both sessions, there were some major differences between the two story times, just based on the age and number of kids. Below are comments on the activities shared in both sessions and how the kids reacted to them. 

Main Library: 
The librarians at the main branch originally expected a camp group to attend this session, but that fell through, so I wound up with just two kids - a girl going into fourth grade, and a boy going into second grade. I spent a few minutes before the official story time chatting with them and getting to know them a little bit, so it was a natural transition into the story time environment.

My Library: 
Many of my regulars didn't make it in yesterday, but some new participants joined in, and there were 11 kids in all by the halfway point in the session. Most of the kids were true beginning readers, with just 3 of the 11 kids being slightly too young to truly participate.

Introducing Today's Letter (M)
Main Library:
Since these kids were older, and because I didn't really want to bring the iPad with me, I opted to have them list M words for me. They did a great job - the fourth grader was especially great, with contributions of lots of names of people and states that started with M. The boy's mom even got involved, which was great to see, and her son seemed to enjoy her participation.

My Library: 
I did my usual iPad presentation, though we didn't read the sentences as a group. I let the kids call out the words and I read the sentences, trying to break the ice for some of the newcomers by asking questions and chatting about each word. The sentences are below:

If you want to buy something, you will need money.
The sun comes up in the morning.
What does a magnet do?
Have you ever played with a marble?
What do you like to eat with your macaroni?
This muffin looks delicious!
I need to wear mittens when it is cold outside.
Look at this silly monkey!
Get ready to climb the mountain!
Who sends you mail?

Main Library: 
I presented Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty as a flannel board. My Flannel Friday post tomorrow will show the whole thing in depth, but the basic gist is that I put the dialogue up on the flannel board for all of us to read together. I also made sure to have copies of the book and its sequel on hands so the kids could look at them afterward if they wanted.

My Library: 
I did not share this story with the kids at my own branch, as I know many of them often attend preschool story time with their siblings and had just heard the story last week. I also just kind of got burned out on telling it after sharing it twice in less than a week. Instead, for this story time, the opening story was "The Club," which is the first part of Arnold Lobel's book, Grasshopper on the Road. To make it more interactive, I held up signs and word bubbles when I wanted the kids to read a part of the story. Not every child could read the signs, but at least two could, and that was enough to keep things moving.

Bag of Verbs
Main Library:
Since these kids were older, I didn't bother with the bag of verbs with them. They might have been into it, but I decided we were on such a  roll, we didn't need to stop and let out our wiggles.

My Library: 
This was one of the better games of Bag of Verbs we have had. Every child participated, except the one little girl who never does, and for the most part, we didn't have any behavior that was too wild or too out of control.

Read Aloud: Penny and her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Main Library:
I asked the kids one question at the end of each chapter, which I hoped would prompt them to think about the book a little bit. Since they were pretty savvy readers, they answered me right away, with thoughtful and smart responses. Here are my questions:
  • Chapter 1: Did Penny do the right thing? What does that look on her face mean?
  • Chapter 2: Why couldn't Penny stop thinking about the marble?
  • Chapter 3: What should Penny do to make herself feel better?
  • Chapter 4: What was different about getting to keep the marble the second  time?
My Library:
We read the same book at my library's session, and I asked most of the same questions. These kids were not as sophisticated as my morning duo, but with a little prompting, they still discussed the book with me somewhat. One little boy who is always a handful kept getting upset because other kids wanted a turn to talk, but I kept him pretty well in check and made sure to give positive attention to each child who had a comment.

Literacy Game: Monkey Match
Main Library: 
I had a set of monkey faces, each with different words on them, and we sorted them by category. First, we divided them into words starting with M and words ending with M. Then we separated words with three letters from words with four letters. Finally, we used thumbs up and thumbs down signals to indicate whether words did or did not have the letter A in them.  Though this was a really basic activity for these older kids, they were great sports about participating, and there were a couple of words (mast, specifically) that the kids weren't too familiar with, so it was a nice chance to work in some new vocabulary.

My Library: 
This activity was a bit more challenging for the crowd at my branch, but I think it was more interesting for them because it was tricky. The kids who were truly beginning readers did really well, both at sounding out the words and finding their correct categories. The thumbs up / thumbs down approach works especially well.We skipped the starts and ends with M category, just because they seemed like they were getting bored.

Main Library: 
I did a second read-along activity with this group, because the coloring sheet would have been too basic, and they were doing so well with everything. We read "The Club" from Grasshopper on the Road, using the same set of signs I mentioned above. These kids reacted much more strongly to the message of the story than the younger crowd at my branch.

My Library:
We didn't do another read-along at my branch.

Coloring Page 
Main Library: 
I didn't provide a coloring page for this group.

My Library:
We colored muffins. I told the kids they could decorate their muffins with things beginning with M, but most preferred to keep things realistic and draw on actual edible toppings. I used to worry more about these coloring activities having a clear literacy component, but honestly, just letting them color and tell stories about their pictures is sometimes an educational experience unto itself.

Visor, Tee-shirt, Shorts and Shoes
Main Library:
I felt awkward just ending story time, so I offered the opportunity to sing a silly song, and both kids were all for it. I particularly cracked up the second grader, but both kids enjoyed the element of surprise at the end of each verse.

My Library: 
We ended story time with the coloring page at my branch.
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