Monday, March 25, 2013

Down on the Farm Preschool Story Time, 3/22/13

Down on the Farm Preschool Story Time, 3/22/13

This story time has been great the past few weeks, but this particular session was a bit more subdued and it was hard to tell whether the kids were having any fun. I also should have chosen different books - I was trying to get some new ones into my repertoire, but the old favorites would have worked  a lot better.

Book: I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman
A couple of kindergarteners came with younger siblings and they were able to anticipate each rhyming color in this cumulative story. I worried that the ending, which relies heavily on the illustration to make its point, would be too subtle for a read-aloud, and I was pretty much right. It ends on an odd and unsatisfying note and the kids picked up on that.

Rhyme: Blue is the Lake
They got surprisingly into this rhyme - I so wish I knew ten more like it! 

Book: Pip's Trip by Janet Stoeke
This is basically an easy reader in picture book format, and as such, it wasn't as good a read-aloud as I imagined.

Song: Shake My Sillies Out

Nursery Rhyme Flannel Board: To Market, To Market 
I used the farm animal flannel board  pieces I use for Old MacDonald and had the kids help me make silly rhymes with each animal's name to match the pattern and rhythm of "To Market, To Market". While I thought "jiggety jenguin" and "jiggety jelephant" were hilarious, the kids did not.
Book: Dance by the Light of the Moon by Joanne Ryder
This book was a dud, which shocked me. I think the older siblings thought it was babyish, and the little ones took their cues from them. I have had great luck with this one with three-year-olds in the past!

Song: Hat, Coat, Pants, and Shoes
A little girl whose class I regularly visit requested this song - it wound up being the highlight of the session!

Craft: Farmer Finger Puppets
I printed out clip art farmers, had the kids  color and cut them out. Then we taped them to old marker caps and turned them into finger puppets. Sounds easy, but attaching the puppets to marker caps stumped even the parents!

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.

Outreach Round-Up, 2/28/13 - 3/22/13

Catholic School 5th Grade: Thursday, 2/28/13, Thursday, 3/14/13, Thursday, 3/21/13
We finally finished No Talking! The kids reported that they were trying a similar exercise as the kids in the book - the girls weren't talking to the boys and vice versa. They loved the book, but they weren't interested in borrowing other Clements titles, which surprised me.

Catholic School 3rd Grade: Friday, 3/1/13 
Book: The Boy on Fairfield Street 
Notes: The kids got really excited about this, and they saw lots of parallels between Geisel's childhood and his writings as Dr. Seuss.

Psychiatric Institute: Monday, 3/11/13
Books: East Dragon, West DragonMiss Nelson is Missing, Apples to Oregon
Notes: I have never had such an attentive audience as I have when I visit this group. They aren't just well behaved because they're in a structured environment. They truly engage with the books and make intelligent comments and insightful connections. All three books were huge hits, and I can't wait to see  what else they will love on future visits!

Catholic School Kindergarten: Friday, 3/15/13
Flannel Board: Quick as a Cricket
Notes: This group loves guessing games, so this was a sure hit. Some of them could even read some of the words, and they tried sounding out many others.

Catholic School First Grade: Friday, 3/15/13
Flannel Board: Quick as a Cricket 
Notes: This group got a little wild, but they loved reading words like "quick", "large" and "shy" and got very excited about guessing the different animals.

Rec. Center Cooperative Play Group: Wednesday, 3/20/13
Books: Brown Rabbit in the City, Find a Cow Now!, Flip, Flap, Fly
Songs: Sing a Happy Song, If You're Happy and You Know It,
Notes: This group loved Find a Cow Now, even though the ending falls somewhat flat. Brown Rabbit is a quieter story,  and they're a very quiet group, so it didn't bring out many comments, but some of the kids laughed at Brown Rabbit on the phone at the start of the story, and they liked his guitar. They also liked naming the animals in Flip, Flap, Fly.

Public School Pre-K: Wednesday, 3/20/13 (Two separate classes)
Poem: Ears Hear
Books: Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, Click Clack Moo
Songs: If You'd Like to Read a Book, Hat Coat Pants and Shoes, Chickadee 
Notes: The first group's session ran short, but the second one ran the right amount of time. (That second group is much more chatty and they ask a lot more questions.) Both groups loved the opportunity to make loud sounds along with the poem, and they laughed themselves silly over the hi-jinks of those bunnies in Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! I also got them involved by having them repeat the refrain with me each time it came up. Click Clack Moo also got a lot of positive responses, even though everyone had heard it before.

Catholic School Pre-K: Thursday, 3/21/13
Poem: Ears Hear 
Books: Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, Too Noisy, Bob
Songs: If You're Happy and You Know It, Shake My Sillies Out, These Are My Glasses
Notes: This group loves to get loud, so the poem with all the noise words was a great choice for them. Too Noisy was kind of a flop, but they loved Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! Bob is hard to read aloud effectively, and this  was not my best performance. The kids did love getting grossed out by Bob eating bugs, however.

Catholic School 3rd Grade: Friday, 3/22/13
Book: Dinothesaurus
The kids got really into this, and we nearly ran out of time!  One boy informed me that he is the class "dino expert" and he had a lot to say about each dinosaur. Some of the kids had strange theories about what happened to the dinosaurs ("They turned into giraffes!") but whether they were dino experts or not, everyone enjoyed hearing the poems and making observations about the paintings.

Down on the Farm Drop-In Story Time, 3/22/13

Down on the Farm Drop-In Story Time, 3/22/13

Book: Who Am I? Farm Animals
The thing I love most about this book is the suggestions for ways the kids can move. Unfortunately, there were so many people at story time on Friday morning, I had to skip that part so none of the kids would hurt themselves!

Rhyme with Stick Puppets: I Went to Visit the Farm One Day

Book: Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
This would have been better as the first book. The rhythm and rhyme are spot-on, though, and the large-sized board book actually made it possible to share with a large group.

Flannel Board Song: The Farmer in the Dell
"The cheese stands alone" is my favorite line from any children's song. I'm always bummed when we get to that part, and I'm the only one who laughs.

Book: Moo Moo Brown Cow by Jakki Wood
This would be the perfect toddler lap time book, but I didn't have toddler lap time this week, so I tried it here instead. The adults didn't really count with me as they normally do, and  that seemed to keep the kids from being that interested either.

Letter of the Day: M

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

Song: I'm a Little Teapot

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big
The kids love this rhyme. I might start using it every week. 

Song: Monkeys on the Bed

Song: If You're Happy and You Know It 

I use the same hello and goodbye songs at almost every session. Click here for the tunes and words. For descriptions of each of my story times, click here.

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 3/21/13

Read-Along Story Time for Beginning Readers, 3/21/13 
Like I did last week, I skipped the welcome message at the start of the session and just jumped right in with a poem to help them get their wiggles out. I found it totally by accident, as it happened to be on the reverse page of a poem I read earlier in the week at a class visit. The title is Somersaults, and it's by the inimitable Jack Prelutsky. (Find it in Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young.) The text talks about turning somersaults and stretching and bending, and I just read the words and let the kids act them out. 

Read-Along Mad Libs
My husband and I had several discussions about how to improve this story time, and he mentioned Mad Libs. I knew it would be too hard for the kids in this group to name specific parts of speech, so I came up with a generic story where they could plug in colors, articles of clothing, and parts of the body. I did allow them to use "butt" but when one little girl tried to put "vagina" in the story I told her we had to pick something that was more polite to talk about at story time. I was pretty sure she used that word just to get a rise out of me, but it didn't work, and none of  the younger kids or parents in the room even flinched. The entire Mad Libs activity that I created can be downloaded here. I recommend covering the pages with contact paper so they can be erased. By doing that, I made it possible for us to do two versions of the story, which kept the kids engaged that much longer and stretched their brains to think of more words.

Find the Pom-Pom
This idea came from Pinterest. I labeled three cups with words from the same word family - wear, bear, and tear, then hid a red pom-pom under one of them. The kids had to guess  by reading the word, if they could - where the pom-pom was hidden. This game worked fine, and all the kids wanted to take a turn, but there was a lot of cheating and some of  the kids intentionally took a long  time hiding the pom-pom to give their friends time to peek or run around or whatever. This is a good one-on-one activity, but I don't think I'd do it again with a group.

I read two short picture books: Chicken Butt by Erica Perl and Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black. Though the kids enjoyed them - and they also enjoyed passing around the chicken who said, "Guess what? Chicken butt!" every time they squeezed him - I felt really uncomfortable promoting all this toilet humor at story time. I know kids think it's funny, and they love the opportunity to talk about butts and poop and all of that, but I don't know if that is really a good reason to encourage it. I'd rather get them hooked on something else than give into what I have always thought is disgusting to talk about. The adults weren't upset when t hey picked up their kids, but I did get a few looks that sent a message similar to "Seriously? I send my kid to story time and you taught him a butt joke?" I don't want to be that adult. So my goal now is to find out what else they think is funny so they can have this much fun again, but I can also feel like I'm teaching something of value.

Writing Activity
We drew on aluminum foil with markers. This has been a successful craft in the past, but they got bored of it quickly and crumpled up the foil and left it on the floor.

This was a much better program than the last two or three, and I think it was because of  the variety of activities and the high level of the kids' involvement. They still have this idea that this is a place to fool around, whereas when the same kids come to preschool story time, they sit silently. I would love for them to at least take turns and sit when they're told to sit, but if there has to be chaos, I'll take the chaos of this session over what has happened previous weeks.
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