Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review Round-Up: Books for Beginning Readers, November 2016

Here is this month's round-up of reviews of easy readers and beginning chapter books. Enjoy!

Easy Readers

Guessing Geisel featured detailed posts about both Can I Tell You a Secret? and The Thank You Book.

Waking Brain Cells and Sal's Fiction Addiction reviewed Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye. Sal's Fiction Addiction also reviewed The Great Antonio.

Jean Little Library had two "Small Readers" posts: Rabbit & Robot and Ribbit and Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World.

Other reviews were: the Pigsticks and Harold series, reviewed by Books 4 Your Kids, Pig and Pug, reviewed by Provo Library Children's Book Reviews, and Finding Providence, reviewed by Semicolon.

Chapter Books

Redeemed Reader and Orange Marmalade reviewed Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan.

In "Series Thursday" posts, Geo Librarian highlighted Sprout Street Neighbors: Five Stories and Meet the Bobs and Tweets.

Adolescent Audio Adventures reviewed four audiobooks of titles in the Princess in Black series. Books 4 Your Kids also reviewed The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation.

Mom's Radius reviewed Little Shaq, Star of the Week and Bicycling to the Moon.

Other chapter book reviews were Mrs. Moody in the Birthday Jinx, reviewed by Ms. Yingling Reads, Dory Dory Black Sheep, reviewed by Sal's Fiction Addiction, Captain Awesome Meets Super Dude, reviewed by Provo Library Children's Book Reviews, and Bad Kitty Takes the Test, reviewed by Mom Read It.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Preschool Story Time, 11/16/16

Attendance was back down this week. This was partly because my moms group was on a field trip, so none of the members could make it to story time. I'm not sure why others who have previously attended didn't come, but the most likely theory is that it was one of the last reasonably warm days we're going to have. (I hope it's not that they were scared away by how big the audience was last time!) In any case, I enjoyed the story time, and I think the kids did as well. 

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: Hello, Day! by Anita Lobel
The audience agreed with me that rabbits do not make a sound. I'm still not sure what Anita Lobel was thinking. But this was a nice way to break the ice with a new group. Even the oldest child in the room, who was around six, got into making the animal sounds.

Song: When Pigs Get Up in the Morning
I forgot to bring stick puppets so I had to just hold flannel board pieces in my hands. I only had three animals with me, and that felt like too few, so I had everyone use their hands to make a duck for the final verse. Though it was a decision I made on the fly, I liked it a lot, and I want to make better use of "props" we can all make with our hands. Because I have to travel by bus to the story time, and I rely on a friend to transport my supplies, I've become a lot more interested in limiting the number of props I use.

Book: Bear's Day Out by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds
I like this book because it has great rhythmic refrains on every page that the kids can repeat. I was a little nervous that my small audience would be shy about repeating them but that was not the case at all.

Song: Sunny Day
I realize as I'm looking at this plan that I basically only read books and sang songs. I really should have switched this song out for a fingerplay or action rhyme, especially since this group has responded well to action rhymes. The song was fine, but I don't like the hand motions as much as I used to. Blue is the Lake would have been a good alternative.

Song: Mr. Sun

Book: Thank You, Thanksgiving by David Milgrim
I threw in one Thanksgiving book since we're not having story time next week. (This is the perk of doing volunteer story times: no obligation to have story time on days when it is unlikely anyone will show.) This book never seems to read completely clearly on its own, so I did a lot of additional talking about the details in the illustrations. I would have preferred a different book, I think, but it's hard to get holiday books from the public libraries so I made do with what was available.

Song: Thanks a Lot
In the past, I have done this Raffi song as a flannel board, but I needed an action song and decided to use simple motions instead of images. It worked really well. Everyone sang along and did the motions, and it was probably my favorite part of the whole session. Here are the motions we used:

Thanks for the...
...sun in the sky (hands over head in a round shape)
...clouds so high (raise hands in the air and wiggle fingers)
...whispering wind (finger to lips, say "shh")
...birds that sing (flap arms like wings)
...moonlit night (hands over head in a round shape)
...stars so bright (hands up, wiggle fingers) 

Song: Five Little Pumpkins Round
I have never done this as a fingerplay, and probably would not choose to do so again. Still, the kids liked counting the pumpkins/fingers and it filled just enough time to make the session last as long as I wanted it to.

Songs with Ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep
I'm going to take a break from the ukulele for a few weeks, mostly because I was having my friend keep it for me so she could shuttle it back and forth every week, and I was missing having it at home to practice and to use with my own kids. This medley is fine, but I don't need to rely on it to refocus the group like I did when I was doing story time at the library. I'd rather learn something new and interesting and reintroduce it in a month or so.

Book: Tell Me About Your Day Today by Mem Fox, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
I'm not entirely sure the meaning of the illustrations in this book translated to everyone in the audience, but it's a sweet book, with a gentle rhythm and reading it aloud was a pleasure.

Song: Goodnight
Since we sang good morning to the animals at the start of story time, we sang them to sleep at the end. We used the same duck technique as mentioned above.

Song: Chickadee
I'm not completely sold on this as a goodbye song. For some reason, this audience just doesn't seem to love it as much as previous groups. But I'm going to stick with it for now and see if it catches on more.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Preschool Story Time, 11/9/16 (Houses Theme)

This week's story time (the second ever at this location) had triple the attendance of last week's session. (There were six families last week.) There were five moms (including me) from my own mom's group, two families who belong to the church who were repeat attendees from last week, and a bunch of other families who attended today for the first time. Since leaving the library, I haven't done a story time for an audience of this size, and it felt great to be back in my element.

When I was planning this story time, I initially borrowed a bunch of construction books from the library, but then realized that houses made a much more interesting theme, and wound up using books I owned to plan a story time around that topic instead.

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: Stanley the Builder by William Bee
I have always liked the Stanley books, but have had mixed results using them in story time. The bulldozer on the cover of this book won over most of the kids, however, and it was a nice way to introduce the theme.

Song: Builder Stanley Had a Shop
During the planning process, I considered using Old MacDonald Had a Woodshop, but then decided it would be easier to do an abbreviated version as a flannel board. Old MacDonald became "Builder Stanley" and we sang about his saw (which went "zzzt zzzt"), his screwdriver ("squeak squeak"), his hammer ("tap tap"), and his pliers ("pinch pinch.")

Flannel Board: Little Mouse, Little Mouse
I had never done this activity in story time before, and I really didn't like it. There were too many kids for them to take individual guesses, so I had kids calling out random colors, and of course, the first time through, they guessed it on the second try, so I had to surreptitiously hide the mouse again with everyone watching me. I love doing this game one-on-one with my own kid, but in story time, it just seems like a group can't really get anything out of it. I will definitely do more flannel boards for this audience, but not this one.

Book: A House is a House For Me by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Betty Fraser
Because I have to take the bus to story time with two small children, my friend picks up my books the day before and drives them to the church for me. Unfortunately, this means I didn't get a chance to read through this book before my performance, which means I didn't remember until I was in the midst of sharing it at story time that it is super-long. To their credit, the group really stuck with it, and one member of the audience (a grandmother) actually came up to discuss that specific book with me afterwards. So, it wasn't a total failure, but that was a big rookie mistake I will not be making again.

Rhyme: I Want to Build a Little House
This is a rhyme I found the day before story time and spent some time memorizing. It was worth it. The kids did a beautiful job with it, and it's so ingrained in my memory now that I'll be able to pull it out any time I need an extra rhyme.

Book: We Were Tired of Living in a House by Liesel Moak Skorpen, illustrated by Doris Burn
I love reading this book aloud. The text is so pleasing to speak and to hear, and the plot is basic enough to be followed by toddlers, but not boring for adults. This book has been reillustrated but we own the original, with the black and white illustrations, and it was a big hit. I'm disappointed in myself for allowing it to be overshadowed by the length of the previous book; we may revisit this story in a few months to give it its proper due.

Song: We're Climbing Up Our Tree
Using the Farmer in the Dell as my model, I created a piggyback song specifically to accompany this book. I wrote a verse about each of the places the children in the story go to live before returning home.

We're climbing up our tree.
We're climbing up our tree.
Heigh-ho, the derry-oh! 
We're climbing up our tree.

We're splashing in our pond...
We're stomping our cave...
We're swimming in our sea...
We're sleeping in our house...

This was really well-received. I think everyone in the room participated!

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun
I had another book and activity planned here, but realized I was probably going to run overtime if  I didn't skip ahead, so I pulled out the sunshine and sang the song twice through.

Song: Moon Moon Moon
To gear up for the last book, which has a night-time focus, we sang this song. The "pizza pie" line at the end got a big laugh.

Book: The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes
This book was the perfect length for a final story, and also set the tone for winding down and saying goodbye.

Song with Ukulele: ABCs / Twinkle Twinkle Little Star / Baa Baa Black Sheep
The uke was really out of tune. If I'm saving this until the end, I need to retune live in front of the audience. Which I hate. But it must be done.

Goodbye Song: Chickadee
I decided to use this as my goodbye song instead of repeating the same song from the beginning. Story time ended on a weird note mostly because there was some confusion over whether I or a representative of the church was meant to make housekeeping announcements. But we'll get that right next week. I invited the kids up to hug Mr. Sun, but only a handful did so. I'm still not sure whether the group has fully warmed up to me, but it has only been two weeks.

Friday, November 4, 2016

December Story Time Themes

My list for December includes both holiday and non-holiday story time ideas! Enjoy!


Suggested Books:
  • Fa La La by Leslie Patricelli
  • Christmas Parade by Sandra Boynton
  • Christmas Tree! by Florence Minor and Wendell Minor
  • Jingle Bells by Iza Trapani
  • I'm Not Santa! by Jonathan Allen

Extension Activities:


Suggested Books:
  • How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? by Jane Yolen
  • On the First Night of Hanukkah by Cecily Kaiser
  • The Eight Nights of Chanukah by Leslea Newman
  • Eight Winter Nights by Laura Krauss Melmed
  • The Golem’s Latkes by Eric A. Kimmel
Extension Activities:


Suggested Books:
  • Snow Globe Family by Jane O'Connor
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin 
  • The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel
  • The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming
Extension Activities:


Suggested Books:
  • Stars by Mary Lyn Ray
  • I Like Stars by Margaret Wise Brown
  • This Little Light of Mine by Raffi 
  • The Sun is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch

Extension Activities


Suggested Books:
  • Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • Old Bear by Kevin Henkes
  • Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky  
  • Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson
Extension Activities:


Suggested Books:
  • The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins
  • Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? by George Shannon
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Laura Numeroff
  • Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar? by Bonnie Lass
  • Cookies by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Extension Activities:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Preschool Story Time, 11/2/16

This morning, after a three-year hiatus from regular weekly story times, I made my return to the "story time stage." Every Wednesday for the rest of this school year, I will be presenting a public story time at the local Baptist church. This week's session was small - 10 children (including my own), and 6 adults (including me) - but I expect that number to rise in the weeks to come. Because it was the first session, I used the material I know best, so I would have the chance to get to know this audience without having to also learn new songs, books, etc. I am used to having large, distracted groups, so I was surprised by how attentive these kids were, and how quickly we breezed through everything. I'll be planning more carefully for next week for sure!

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting
Hello, How Are You? used to be my favorite hello song, but I got sick of it, so now I use this one, sung to the tune of If You're Happy and You Know It.

Story time is starting - clap your hands!
Story time is starting - clap your hands!
Story time's begun. 
I hope that you have fun,
Story time is starting - clap your hands!

I sang three verses: clap your hands, stomp your feet, and shout hooray.

Book: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson

Song: Flap Little Owls
I used a bat song and changed some of the verses to make it more suitable for owls. The owls flapped, snatched, swooped, and slept. The kids loved this. (Note to myself for future reference: the transition from Owl Babies to this song was the smoothest and most natural of the session.)

Book: Monkey See, Look at Me! by Lorena Siminovich

Rhyme: Monkeys on the Bed
In the photo at the top of this post you can see a glove with monkey faces attached. I brought it with me thinking I might try it out, but then decided not to add a new prop to my repertoire during the first week. There will be time to try new things in a month or so.

Rhyme: This is Big Big Big
I could tell I was running short so I threw in this rhyme. I haven't done it in many months, and halfway through I realized I might not actually know the words. But automatic pilot kicked in and I got through it twice without issue.

Book: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
All the kids got really into this book and did all the prescribed motions. There wasn't really anything they didn't like, but I would say this was the favorite.

Song: Head and Shoulders, Baby
I was undecided about which movement song I would do here, so I had several jotted down on my plan, but since they were so into From Head to Toe, I went with this one, which required a lot of different movements.We did the following verses:
  • Head and shoulders
  • Knees and ankles
  • Tummy and back
  • Do the twist
  • Turn around 
  • Sit right down

Book: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean
The kids didn't really know this character, and I didn't give my absolute best reading, but it still got applause. I actually think Pete works better in large inattentive crowds. I may not need to rely on him here.

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

Song with Puppet: Mr. Sun
I no longer have access to the Folkmanis sunshine puppet I used to use for this song because it belonged to the library, so I bought a big sunshine cushion from Ikea and held it up to sing the song. The kids loved Mr. Sun, and at the end of every story time, each child got a chance to give him a big hug.

Ukulele Song: Aikendrum
I felt like I was running short, and this is typically a crowd pleaser, so I decided to play it. I found that I was kind of sick of it, though. I think I need to seek out some new material to keep myself interested.

Goodbye Song: Story Time is Over
This is the exact same thing as the hello song, but with these lyrics:

Story time is over - clap your hands!
Story time is over - clap your hands!
Story time is done. 
I hope that you had fun,
Story time is over - clap your hands!

It's really good to be back at story time. I felt a little rusty, but I'm sure that was only obvious to me, and now that I know what an enthusiastic audience I have, I'll be eager to try some new and different things I never could have done with the huge audiences I used to have in DC. Check back next Wednesday for my write-up of session 2!
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