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
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.
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