Friday, December 30, 2016

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

After 18 months, I have decided to retire this blog feature. Today's round-up will be the last. If you want to keep up-to-date with future reviews of easy readers and beginning chapter books, please browse past round-ups and subscribe to the bloggers who were regularly featured. Most of them review new easy readers and chapter books every month. Thanks, and happy reading in 2017!

Easy Readers

As the year winds down and ALA Youth Media Awards loom on the horizon, there has been lots of activity at the Guessing Geisel blog. Reviews from December include: Duck Duck Porcupine, the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading series, Snail & Worm, Mr. Putter and Tabby Hit the Slopes, the Andy and Sandy series, and What's Up, Chuck?

There were also a good number of reviews from Jean Little Library / Flying Off My Bookshelf, including Women Who Launched the Computer Age, Blip, Birdsong, Animals in Winter, and Ling and Ting Not Exactly the Same.

Great Kids Books reviewed We Are Growing, Provo Library Children's Book Reviews reviewed Juana and Lucas, and Sal's Fiction Addiction reviewed The Toad.

Chapter Books

There were three reviews this month of The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation. See them at Geo Librarian, Mom's Radius, and Becky's Book Reviews.

Other December chapter book reviews included:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Preschool Story Time, 12/14/16 (Christmas Theme)

This was our last session until January, and it was small, but everyone in the audience was a repeat attendee. My husband also came along, so I didn't have to worry about my toddler's usual weekly meltdown, which was a nice change of pace. I liked the plan, but I think I am still planning for those big boisterous groups I used to see in DC, and I still need to make some adjustments to suit this audience's personality a little better. But I expect the story time to grow during the winter months, too, so a lot of what I plan for the future will depend on that. In any case, here is my Christmas story time set list:

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: Christmas Tree! by Wendell and Florence Minor

Flannel Board: Lights Shining Bright on the Christmas Tree
I made a Christmas tree for the flannel board with enough Velcro attached to the front to hold four lines of lights and a star. I added one string of lights per verse of the song, then changed the lyrics to accommodate the star in the last verse. I had to use my homemade hand-held flannel board in order to be able to manage all the moving of the pieces, and this made the transition from verse to verse more awkward than I was expecting.

Song: My House Has a Christmas Tree
I wrote this piggyback song based on Old MacDonald Had a Farm after seeing this video from King County Library System. I changed the words to eliminate references to Santa, since it seemed weird for him to have a tree, and to make the syllables in the lyrics match the tune.

Rhyme: Five Little Snowmen Riding on the Sled

Book: Jingle-Jingle by Nicola Smee

Song with Ukulele: Jingle Bells
This was probably the best activity of the whole story time. This group does well with familiar songs and stories - I think I need to incorporate fewer obscure items into future story times.

Book: Christmas Parade by Sandra Boynton

Song with paper props: Christmas Alphabet 
When I originally used this song at story time, I had an entire whiteboard ledge to spread the letters out on. I thought I could simply show one letter at a time and have it work the same way, but the song goes by too quickly for that to be feasible. This was the flop of the session. I wish I had found this video before the session - it's Makaton sign language, not ASL, but it would have been fun to learn, and I think the kids would have liked it much more than my lame paper prop.

Song with Ukulele: ABCs

Song with puppet: Mr. Sun

Book: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star illustrated by Julia Noonan
This seemed to be the book that held everyone's attention the best. Again, it's a familiar song. We are fans of the familiar in this group.

Song: We Wish You a Merry Christmas
This was my goodbye song. We sang the chorus and then action verses like this:

Let's all do a little clapping
Let's all do a little clapping
Let's all do a little clapping
To spread Christmas cheer! 

In the final verse, we waved.

Story time starts up again the first week in January! I'll be back then with more plans to share.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Preschool Story Time, 12/7/16 (Letter S Theme)

Today's story time attracted lots of repeat attendees, and I think these are the families who will form our core group as the year goes on. Not including me and my two girls, we had two moms and two dads, accompanied by a total of 7 kids. The theme, which existed solely to help me organize, was the letter S. 

To begin with, my own one-year-old freaked out at the thought of being held by someone else, and spent the whole first song of story time shrieking and being carried around by the children's programming coordinator from the church. She was not the only crying child, but she was the loudest and most persistent. This made for a very humbling start to the session - but I think it also made the other parents feel more comfortable about their toddlers' behavior.

In any case, here is the plan I used:

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: Spectacular Spots by Susan Stockdale
This is the second week in a row that I opened with an informational book, and I didn't feel like it was well-received. I think I need to start looking for books that people already know and love and see if that stirs up a little more enthusiasm.

Flannel Board Song: Ladybug Has One Black Spot 
Instead of making a felt ladybug with detachable spots, I printed the same ladybug six times, each with a different number of spots, then covered it with contact paper and attached Velcro. It worked fine. I also changed the word "pretty" to "lovely" in the lyrics because I thought it sounded better.

Book: Snow by Manya Stojic
I think this book was the hit of the session. I'll have to remember to use Rain by the same author in the spring when I do a spring weather theme.

Rhyme: Five Little Snowmen Riding on a Sled

Song: Shake My Sillies Out 
I did this song differently than I ever have before, with these verses: 
  • Shake my sillies out...
  • Clap my sillies out...
  • Stomp my sillies out... 

This was a last-minute addition and it was not the best. I should have used Hands Up High but didn't think of until I got home.

Book: Mice Squeak, We Speak by Tomie dePaola
I asked everyone to make the animals' sounds as I read, and though they did, I felt a bit like they were humoring me. Again, stories with plot is what this group wants, so I'll be working on finding more of those.

Flannel Board Song: We All Go Traveling By 
Based on last week's success, I repeated this one, singing it this time. Probably the favorite activity of the session.

Song: Mr. Sun

Song: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Book: Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming 
This was too long for a fourth book. I wish I had used this author's Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy, instead.

Goodbye Song: Chickadee 
I am still thinking of replacement goodbye songs. This one is working less well each week.

Preschool Story Time, 11/30/16 (Wheels Theme)

Last week's story time was very small - just two families besides my own - which was too bad, because I liked the plan I used. Hopefully in a few months, I can use it again with a bigger audience. (Note: I am not 100% certain of the order in which I actually performed these. I think I have incorporated all the changes I made on the fly, but it's possible that the windshield wiper rhyme and the traveling flannel board are in the wrong places in the line-up.)

Opening Song: Story Time is Starting

Book: What Do Wheels Do All Day? by April Jones Prince

Song: There's a Little Wheel a Turnin' in My Heart
I usually do the Laurie Berkner version of this song, but I changed it up to make a little more straightforward. These are the verses I used:

  • ...little wheel a-turning
  • ...little drum beating
  • ...two hands clapping
  • ...two feet stomping 

Book: Mr. Gumpy's Motor Car by John Burningham
I am puzzled as to why only my own children seem to love this book. This group generally seems to prefer books with plot, so I tried to give them this simple story, and they didn't really take to it.

Song: Twinkle Twinkle Traffic Light

Rhyme: I'm a Windshield Wiper 
I wish there were more to this rhyme. It feels so awkward when you come to the end of a single stanza and it's just done. I may need to write an additional verse if I want to use it again.

Song: Bumpin' Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon

I did my usual verses:

  • Bumpin' up and down
  • The wheels turn around...
  • Waving to my friends...

Flannel Board Rhyme: We All Go Traveling By
I found this song at the last minute the night before story time and decided to give it a shot. It was the hit of the session and has become a favorite of my three-year-old at home as well. I chanted it for this session because I wanted to break up the singing, but would prefer to sing it.

Book: The Bus for Us by Suzanne Bloom
The guessing game element of this book has always worked really well for me, but it didn't grab this group. Even though the audience was small enough to gather around the book, the kids didn't seem to care much whether the bus ever came. Weird.

Song: The Wheels on the Bus

Book: Duck on a Bike by David Shannon
I wasn't sure the group thought this was funny, but it may have just been the small size of the group inhibiting their reactions overall. With some of the kids who normally come, but miss this session, it would have been a huge hit.

Goodbye Song: Chickadee
This is working less well as a goodbye song as time goes on. I may need to consider a new one for the new year.

Friday, December 2, 2016

January Story Time Themes

My favorite themes for January are related to winter weather (snowmen), the new year (calendar/seasons), Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (friendship), and flu season (sickness.)


Suggested Books:

  • All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle
  • Making a Friend by Alison McGhee
  • Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
  • Pip and Squeak by Ian Schoenherr

Extension Activities:


Suggested Books:

  • Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira
  • Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
  • Little Bitty Friends by Elizabeth McPike
  • How to Grow a Friend by Sara Gillingham
  • Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka 

Extension Activities:


Suggested Books:

  • Snowy Flowy Blowy by Nancy Tafuri
  • A Year with Friends by John Seven and Jana Christy 
  • Parade Day by Bob Barner
  • Calendar by Myra Cohn Livingston
  • Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak

Extension Activities

Get Well Soon 

Suggested Books:

  • Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman
  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
  • Imogene's Antlers by David Small
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Extension Activities

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