Saturday, November 29, 2014

Third Grade CCD 2014-2015: God Gives Us Gifts (11/10/14)

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Early Literacy in Everyday Places: Church

Taking little kids to church can sometimes be a challenge unto itself, but for some kids finding ways to be involved in the Mass or service cuts down on the behavior problems boredom and having to sit still can sometimes create. The following are suggestions for using literacy activities to engage your child in church!
  • Let babies watch your mouth during responses and hymns. When my daughter was around five or six months old, she suddenly became very interested not just in the sounds I made but in how my mouth would move as I made them. During Mass, whenever there was a congregational response I would turn her around to face me and often she would just fixate on my mouth, watching each subtle motion. While I was mainly doing this for entertainment purposes, it turns out that lip reading is actually a key part of language development! 
  • Provide a kid-friendly copy of readings/books. When I was a kid, my parish provided a children's bulletin every week that included activities related to the readings for that day. I don't like kids to have non-religious books or toys in church because it takes away from the solemn tone of the experience, but having kid-friendly books with bright illustrations and simple vocabulary that show the child what is happening at each point in the Mass help them follow along and give them an understanding of one of the practical applications of reading skills. 
  • Sing along. Singing is a key practice for helping kids acquire early literacy skills, and church is a great place to do it! Older kids who are starting to read will especially enjoy being able to look at the music and follow along, watching as the notes break up the words into their smaller parts. Music also makes it easier to memorize certain prayers and Bible passages, so if you're looking to teach those to your kids, the hymns they hear in church will be helpful in that way as well.  
  • Take time afterwards to read plaques and other displayed pieces of print. Churches are full of little bits of print - the Stations of the Cross in my childhood church featured simple labels explaining what was happening in each wood-carved image. Some churches have lists of donors on the wall, or of past priests and ministers. Taking some quiet time when the Mass or service is over to explore these signs and plaques is a great way to reinforce print awareness and to learn a little something about your church's history.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Moms Club Story Time, 11/9/14

My November story time for my Moms Club was held in one of the local public libraries, which has a Discovery Room. This is an early literacy area for use by children up to age 8 and their caregivers. We did our story time in the first half or our allotted hour and played with the toys during the second half. (Note: It would not be my first choice to hold story time in a room with toys freely available, but there are few free public spaces available, so I make do. Interestingly, Little Miss Muffet (my daughter, then 11 months) was the only child who was distracted by toys the entire time.

Hello Song: Say Hello to Your Toes

Song: If You’d Like to Read a Book

Book: The Grumpalump by Sarah Hayes
This is still one of my favorites. Everyone - two year olds and babies alike - was into it.

Song: Row Row Row Your Boat

Song: Way Up in the Sky

Book: The Bridge is Up by Babs Bell

Song: My Hands Go Up Up Up
I rewrote Here We Go Up Up Up to make it more suitable for the babies who can't stand yet. Here are the new words:

My hands go up, up, up
My hands go down, down, down
My hands go clap, clap, clap
My hands turn round and round

Flannel Board Rhyme: Seven Snazzy Aunties
I love this poem, but I think I am the only one in the world. I might have to retire it from future use.

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Book: Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia
I had hoped for more audience participation on this one. I probably should have put it earlier in the lineup.

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

Songs: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / ABCs

Story Time in the Park (MOMS Club), 10/9/14

I'm a little behind in posting story time plans, but it is still technically Fall, so this one is still fairly timely! After the success of my September story time, I decided to return to the park for one more before the weather got too cold. Unfortunately, the pavilion that we used in September was unexpectedly occupied by a local group of senior citizens who were performing aerobics when we arrived, so with no other options readily available, we decided to move to the tennis court. The group was larger than in September - probably 8 moms and a dozen kids or so - and the tennis court proved to be a tricky place to keep toddlers from running all over the place, but even so, we had a nice time.

Hello Song: Say Hello to Your Toes

Song:  If You’d Like to Read a Book

Book:  Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall 

Song:  Autumn Leaves
I made a few minor alterations to this song which I assumed was to be sung to the tune of Mary Wore Her Red Dress. I changed orange to red to make the syllables fit the rhythm and I changed "in the wind" to "all around" to preserve the rhyme scheme. I also left out the laying verse because I just didn't like it.

Book: The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri

Song: Brown Squirrel 
I have never felt so ridiculous swooshing my bushy tail. It's a lot harder to look silly in front of mom friends than it is in front of random story time moms!

Book: A Good Day by Kevin Henkes

Song: Five Little Pumpkins Round
I used a homemade handheld flannel board for this song, and changed each pumpkin to a person's face as they were purchased and carried off to bake a pie.

Rhyme: This is Big, Big, Big

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

11+ Kids' Books Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

I had never heard of LeUyen Pham when I first became a librarian, but she quickly became one of my favorite illustrators. I love the unique way she draws faces and the details she puts into every character she depicts. Luckily for young readers, she does the pictures for books at a variety of levels, from board books for babies and toddlers to middle grade novels for tweens. Below is a list of just some of the wonderful books she has illustrated. 


Board Books

  • Pat-a-Cake and All Fall Down by Mary Brigid Barrett
    These two colorful board books provide new spins on well-loved nursery rhymes. Pat-a-Cake explores a little one's sense of touch, while All Fall Down celebrates the joy of play. 
  • Whose Toes are Those? and Whose Knees are These? by Jabari Asim
    These two titles help reinforce knowledge of body parts. Whose Toes Are Those? features a little girl character, and Whose Knees Are These? features a little boy.

Picture Books

  • Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio
    After learning that there are no female presidents, Grace decides to become the first! She starts off by running for class president - which gives the reader an opportunity to learn about the American electoral system.
  • Freckleface Strawberry (and sequels) by Julianne Moore
    This story is about a little girl with freckles who is desperate to make them disappear - until she realizes they are not that important after all.
  • Shoe-La-La by Karen Beaumont
    This rhyming picture book follows four young fashionistas as they search for the perfect pair of shoes. The illustrations are especially fun because parts of them are covered in glitter.
  • God’s Dream by Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams
    In this book, Pham portrays children from all around the world engaged in prayer and reaching out to care for one another.


  • Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder
    This fantasy tale is an homage to the works of Edward Eager. It tells of four kids' who travel using a magical wall and have various adventures.
  • Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things (and sequels) by Lenore Look
    Alvin Ho is afraid of everything, and in this funny series the reader watches him try to conquer his fears. I especially love the way Pham draws Alvin's friend, Flea, who has both an eyepatch and one leg which is shorter than the other. 
  • Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill
    Over the course of one year at Ballard Creek, an Alaskan gold mining community, five-year-old Bo has many adventures with the two men who raise her and their Eskimo friends.
Learn more about LeUyen Pham and her work on her website.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mommy Librarian's Story Time Secret #6: Board Books Are (Usually) Too Small For Story Time!

First I was a children’s librarian. Then I became a mom. As I attend story times with my daughter, I have started to make a list of hints that might be helpful to story time performers and/or story time attendees. Today’s hint is for librarians who perform baby story times: Your board books are too small!

Board books are an essential part of a library’s collection and of a baby’s personal library. They are durable, chewable, and easy for little fingers to grab and hold. However, most board books, unless they are oversized, are inappropriate for story time.

Here are the misconceptions I used to have about board books, and why they turned out to be false:
  • “My story time room is small enough that even the people in the back can see small books.”
    Now that I have been that mom in the back of the room, I can tell you that I can see the illustrations, but most of the time I can’t make out what they are. And if I can’t, babies, the very youngest of whom can't see more than 10 inches away from their faces, definitely can't.
  • “Babies don’t look at the pictures so it doesn’t matter how big they are.”
    My daughter has looked at pictures in books from about 6 weeks old. If the book is large enough and the baby is close enough, he or she will absolutely look at the pictures. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it can never happen if the books in use at story time are consistently too small.
  • “Board books are the only baby-friendly books, so I am stuck with them, even if they’re small.”
    When I first started doing baby story time, I had no real concrete idea of which books worked best for babies. After a lot of trial and error, I realized that some board books are just longer picture books printed on cardboard in order to make more sales, and that likewise some picture books have just the right balance of text to illustration to be a perfect choice for baby story time.
Some libraries have a story time collection which includes enough copies of certain board books that every baby/caregiver pairing can have one to look at. In that situation, the problems mentioned above are resolved, and board books can be a great addition to story time. I have never worked in a library where this model of story time was consistently possible, however, and I imagine many other libraries don’t have the budget to support such a thing for every program.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

9 Picture Books About Parades


With Thanksgiving next week, this seems like a good time to think about parades. The following books will help your preschooler get into the marching spirit!

Parade Day
by Bob Barner
This rhyming text takes the reader through the entire year by pointing out the celebrations held in each month.

Hooray Parade
by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Hyewon Yum
When Grandma comes to visit, she brings along a parade of toy animals, which she and her granddaughter use to play a shadow guessing game. 

The Day Ray Got Away
by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Luke LaMarca
A big sunshine-shaped balloon decides to run away on parade day.

Baby Parade
by Rebecca O'Connell, illustrated by Susie Poole
Babies traveling in many different ways and wearing many different colors invite young readers to wave to them as they march by.

A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea
by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
It might sound like great fun, but this book explains in hilarious detail why having a parade for pigs is a poor choice.

In the Forest
by Marie Hall Ets
An exuberant young boy walks through the forest blowing a horn, which attracts a parade of animal companions who begin to follow him.

Christmas Parade
by Sandra Boynton
An animal marching band celebrates Christmas with lots of musical noise and clever rhymes.

by Donald Crews
A beloved children's author shares his visual interpretation of the parade experience.

Knick Knack Paddy Whack
by Steve Songs, illustrated by Christiane Engel
This retelling of This Old Man features a parade of children from all different cultures playing a variety of instruments.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Flannel Friday: What’s On Your Plate?

It’s hard to believe, but I haven’t participated in Flannel Friday since June! Though I have used flannel boards a few times in story times for my mothers groups, I’ve been relying on old favorites and haven’t had much time to come up with new ideas. But with Thanksgiving coming up, I’ve been looking for fun ways to incorporate the holiday into Little Miss Muffet’s playtime, and inspiration struck!

This “flannel board” is a piece of cardboad with felt stapled to either side of it. On it is a set of clipart from which makes up a single place setting. With older kids, setting the table properly could be a flannel board activity unto itself. Preschoolers could help you figure out where each item goes and correct you if you make a mistake. With an almost-toddler, though, I’m lucky to keep the pieces on the board for more than 5 seconds!

Once the table is set, either choose a piece of food or ask a child in your audience to make the choice. Say, “2-4-6-8, tell me what is on your plate!” Call out the name of the food as you set it on the plate, and then sing this song from Sharon, Lois, and Bram. (In the Sharon, Lois, and Bram version, they repeat each meal at the end of every verse, but that seems a bit tedious, so I’d probably skip that part, even with kids who were old enough to remember them all.)

This flannel board works for Thanksgiving because of the food connection, but it could really be used any time of year to accompany food-themed books.

This week's host for Flannel Friday is Linda at Notes from the Story Room. For more about this weekly round-up of story  time ideas visit, the official website.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Learning Activities for Favorite Children's Books: Caps for Sale

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina - a Russian woman - was published in 1938. Though she wrote other books, this is her best-known work. In the story, a peddler carries the caps he sells on his head in a particular order. One day, when he dozes off beneath a tree, a bunch of monkeys snatch the caps, and the peddler must find a way to outsmart them and get them back. Here are four games to play to enrich your child's reading experience with this book.

Sort the Caps 

Each of the caps in the printable set below has a different three-letter word printed on it.  Ask your child to sort the caps according to different criteria - same first letter, same last letter, same middle sound, rhyming words, etc. Younger children can also sort the caps by color.

Monkey See, Monkey Do Game

The nine cards in this printable document have instructions for making different monkey-like movements. Have your child select one card at a time from the stack of cards (or from a bag or basket), read the instructions, and act them out. 

Monkey, Monkey, Where's My Cap? 

In this game, your child must discover behind which monkey a cap is hidden. The printable game includes 8 monkeys, each labeled with a capital letter, and four caps, one in each of the colors mentioned in the book. The pieces can be cut out and laminated for use on a flannel board or magnet board, used as models for your own felt pieces, or used on a flat table top.

When it is time to guess, say this simple rhyme:

Monkey, monkey, where’s my cap?
I know you took it. Now give it back!

Then ask your child to call out which monkey he thinks has taken the cap. The game ends when the cap has been found. For a bigger challenge, hide multiple hats and ask your child to guess which color hat is hidden where.

Which Cap is Missing?

Using the caps from the games above, play a memory-building game. Show your child an array of caps on a tray or tabletop, then have her hide her eyes while you take one away. When she opens her eyes, ask her to tell you which cap is missing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

14 Kids' Novels Illustrated by Beth & Joe Krush


Beth and Joe Krush are a husband-and-wife team of children's books illustrators, both born in 1918. (Beth Krush died in 2009.) They illustrated a variety of children's novels, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s. Here is a selection of some of their best-known work.

The Borrowers Series


This series by Mary Norton tells about tiny people who live in secret hiding places in a house in England, where they borrow things from humans in order to furnish their own homes. There are five titles in the series:

Books by Beverly Cleary


The Krushes illustrated five works by beloved author Beverly Cleary: her sole historical fiction novel (Emily's Runaway Imagination) and the four titles in her young adult "first love" series:

Other Novels


Miracles on Maple Hill (1956)
by Virginia Sorenson
This Newbery Medal winning novel tells of a young girl's year in Maple Hill with her family as her father deals with post-traumatic stress disorder associated with his experiences as a prisoner of war.

Gone-Away Lake (1957)
by Elizabeth Enright
In this 1958 Newbery Honor book Portia and her cousin Julian discover an abandoned lakeside community and make friends with a pair of elderly siblings who still inhabit two of the rundown houses.The Krushes also illustrated the 1961 sequel, Return to Gone-Away.

All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown (1972)
by Sydney Taylor
This series, about a charming family of five girls and one boy living in early 20th century Manhattan, has had a number of illustrators. The Krushes provided the drawings for just this one volume.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

First Grade CCD 2014-2015: Lesson 6: God Speaks To Us (10/20/14)

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

20 Literacy Activities About Quilts

Winter is on the way! Snuggle up with your beginning readers and try some of these quilt-themed literacy activities collected from my story time archives and other education sites around the web.


Bedtime Stories & Songs

  • Cuddle up in bed with a quilt and sing some lullabies. 
  • Read The Quilt Story. This book was written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by none other than Tomie DePaola. I probably read this book to myself 200 times as a kid, and it still holds up even as an adult!
  • Learn a quilt pattern for each letter of the alphabet in Eight Hands Round by Ann Whitford Paul.
  • Celebrate each season of the year with the poems and quilt-themed illustrations in Pieces by Anna Grossnickle Hines.
  • Imagine what could happen if a quilt were alive in the dreamlike picture book The Quilt by Ann Jonas.


Flannel Board Stories

  • "The Quilt that Grandma Made" is a poem from Highlights High Five magazine that I adapted for the flannel board.  It's one of my favorite story time activities for the letter Q. 
  • On her blog, Miss Mary Liberry created a flannel board for "A Blanket for the Princess" from Storytime Magic. When a princess wants a multi-colored blanket for her bed, a wise old woman suggests a quilt instead.


Quilts to Make

  • Make a reading quilt. Reading is Fundamental (RIF) provides a list of materials and simple instructions to follow. 
  • Create a story quilt inspired by scenes from a favorite book. Literature Circles Resource Center has instructions and examples. 
  • Download a printable Phonemic Awareness Rhyming Quilt from Lakeshore Learning. (The link is under the Language Arts section in the middle of the page.) 
  • Color a Queen and Quarterback Quilt. (The link to this activity on Pinterest is dead, but the blog it leads to is called Dinosaurs Toys.) Google Images is a great site to search for Queen and Quarterback coloring pages.
  • Make a DIY Ziploc Quilt like the one shown in this post at Pre-K pages and play Swat the Bugs, where each bug is labeled with a different letter and your child must find and swat the letter you name.
  • Print out a Sight Word Quilt (free printable created by Molly K.) and use it to mark off familiar words as you read.

Letter Knowledge

  • Color quilt patterns by letter. Making Learning Fun provides five free printables for the Churn and Dash, Turkey Tracks, Variable Star, Water Wheel, and Weather Vane designs.
  • If you're looking for a long-term project try sewing a Quilted ABC book like this one from Sew Inspired. 
  • Practice writing the letter Q with these free printable letter tracing worksheets from Guru Parents.
  • Glue pictures of items that start with Q around a letter Q (printable available from This Reading Mama.)
  • Use scrapbook paper to create a quilted letter Q. Crystal and Co. has a printable pattern and photos to show you how to make it.



  • Count quilts from 5 down to zero with Quilts Galore. Fill in the names of family members or your child's friends to personalize the rhyme. 
  • Count up everything your child needs at bedtime with Canton Public Library's "Good Night!" 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 Meet Emily Andrus, Youth Librarian

This month's Library Adventure interview profiles Emily Andrus from Queen Creek Branch Library in Queen Creek, Arizona. Learn about Emily here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10 Picture Books For Siblings of New Babies

A common request in libraries I've worked in has always been suggested books for preschool children who are about to become older siblings. Here are ten options that have satisfied many parents.
  • There’s Going to be a Baby
    by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury
    By speculating as to what the new baby will be like as it grows up, a little boy accepts his new role as big brother. 
  • Brand-New Baby Blues
    by Kathi Appelt and Kelly Murphy
    A big sister sings the blues about the ways her newborn brother has changed her life, but soon her resentment turns to love.
  • Pecan Pie Baby
    by Jacqueline Woodson and Sophie Blackall
    As she and her mom await the arrival of the new baby, Gia worries about how their relationship will change when the new addition joins their family.
  • Julius, the Baby of the World
    by Kevin Henkes
    Lilly isn't crazy about new baby brother Julius until a cousin begins to tease him and she comes to his defense. 
  • Peter’s Chair
    by Ezra Jack Keats
    The new baby at Peter's house is using all of his old things, which prompts him to consider running away. 
  • One Special Day
    by Lola M. Schaefer and Jessica Meserve
    Spencer shares a lot in common with various animals - he has the strength of a bear and the speed of a horse! But when his baby sister is born, he also finds that he has a quiet, gentle side just perfect for interacting with a new sibling.   
  • A Baby Sister for Frances
    by Russell and Lillian Hoban
    After her sister Gloria is born, Frances decides to run away and live under the dining room table.
  • That New Animal
    by Emily Jenkins and Pierre Pratt
    Marshmallow and Fudge Fudge, the family pets, don't much like the new baby... at least not until Grandpa tries to hold him. 
  • How To Be a Baby-- By Me, the Big Sister
    by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sue Heap
    A knowledgeable big sister explains everything babies do.  
  • A Friend for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke
    Minerva Louise, a chicken, notices a lot of new things happening around the house, but can't quite connect the dots to figure out that a baby has arrived.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

First Grade CCD 2014-2015: Lesson 5: God Shares His Life With Us (10/6/14)

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