Friday, July 25, 2014

Flannel Friday--I Spy Forest Animals

Recently, I've been trying to up the ante on the games/activities we do in storytime. For a while I did a lot of games in the vein of Little Mouse, but they weren't always well-received and I felt like there had to be more robust options.  I'm trying one today that I'm calling I Spy, but I won't be spying something actually in the room. I got the idea from The Stillwater Public Library Children's Department blogpost about their forest animals storytime, but I adapted the clues a little bit.  I'm excited about this activity because we'll definitely be doing a lot of talking and critical thinking. I also like this because, like Little Mouse, it's easily adapted to any theme or age group. You could definitely make the clues harder or easier depending on the audience.

Update after storytime: Since we had a smaller group (at least for the summer, about 15), this activity went really well and we were able to talk about the different animals. The rabbit clues stumped them at first--they thought it was a kangaroo. But, I said it lived in America and liked to eat veggies from gardens and they figured it out. I'd thought the porcupine might be hard, so I made a point to talk about one that showed up in Into the Outdoors when we read it. They were able to guess it immediately during the game.  The kids seemed to enjoy the activity and I'll definitely do similar ones in the future. 

Miss Mollie is hosting this week's Flannel Friday roundup and it's her birthday so go say hi! If you're new to Flannel Friday, check it out on Facebook, Pinterest and on the blog.

***Can you tell I don't really love to make flannels? I use real life images whenever possible because I think kids see a lot of cartoon-y images already. I want them to know what a real porcupine looks like! That being said, I do use traditional flannel pieces too. I'll post some eventually : ) 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

All About Animals--Preschool Storytime

This storytime is pretty basic. I tried to keep it simple because we were supposed to have guest readers come (a city official and his wife) and I didn't want to make things extra complicated for them. They didn't end up coming, but we still had a great time. And I was reassured that you don't have to be super creative to have an effective, fun storytime. 

Sooo, our theme was animals! The low-hanging fruit of storytime land. Basically, my go-to theme if I'm not feeling too creative because it is absolutely always fun to act like animals :) 

Intro: Welcome and guidelines

Opening Song: Silly Dance Contest

Theme intro: Animals!

Book: Are You My Mother?*

Theme Song: Down by the Bay (Raffi version on CD) with shakers

Sit down rhyme:
Open, shut them
Open, shut them
Give a little clap, clap, clap
Open, shut them
Open, shut them
Put them in your lap
Creep them, crawl them
Creep them, crawl them
Right up to your chin
Open wide your little mouth...
But do not let them in.

Book: From Head to Toe 

Action Rhyme: Animals on the bus from 1234 More Storytimes

Song: Hip Hop Tooty Ta (I've convinced a lot of grownups to join in the fun on this one by calling it a workout, which it is!)

Sit down rhyme:
If you’re ready for a book, clap your hands!
If you're ready for a book, clap your hands!
If you're ready for a book, listen up,
And take a look. 
If you're ready for a book clap your hands!

Book: The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

Flannel game: Little Mouse

Craft: Adaptable Animal Game

I designed this craft because I refuse to make animal masks in storytime. It is pretty basic but can be used in a variety of ways. Each child got a brown paper bag and a stack of pre-cut pictures of animals from this coloring sheet. They could color the animals and decorate their bag. At home, I suggested that they sing Animals on the Bus, act out the animals like in From Head to Toe, or come up with their own animal game. The parents were enthusiastic about being able to extend storytime at home! Most kids didn't finish coloring all the animals before they left, but planned to finish at home. One girl colored all hers green and one boy took 15 minutes to painstakingly color the toucan. I like crafts that cater to different abilities and artistic desires!

This storytime was a lot of fun and even though it wasn't a super creative theme, I got several compliments from parents who said I'd done a good job of creating a developmentally appropriate learning experience. (Ok they didn't say that exactly, but that's what they meant.) Are You My Mother was a way better read aloud than I'd been expecting. A colleague suggested I include it because the city official's wife enjoyed reading it last time they came to storytime--otherwise I probably wouldn't have picked it. But, I'm glad I did! The kids really got into the plot of the story, which made me realize that I haven't been giving them enough credit for their ability to understand and pay attention. From Head to Toe is a blast every time. And The Pigeon Wants a Puppy went over well once we talked about how to take care of a puppy. My forthcoming flannel friday submission is something I adapted because Little Mouse hasn't gone well in the past. But, I decided to try it one more time and the kids actually really got into it! I turned the flannel board around when I hid the mouse (which I don't usually do), and I think it cut back on the cheating, which made the game more fun.

*Now that I am a newly converted Dr. Who fan, I can't see this book without imagining this creepy little guy...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Reminder to Chill

Mr. Soldier Bear: educating children since 1985
Promoting early literacy in your library--or in your home--can seem daunting. I know we have ECRR2 and the 5 practices that help make it less so, but it's easy to forget that in the face of all the blog posts telling me another thing I could be doing to make my library and my librarianship extra awesome. But, today I had a really epic, really obvious reminder that early literacy can be really simple. Nothing out of the ordinary happened to snap me out of my must-be-a-super-librarian fog. In fact, it was something really normal. A mom and her toddler walked past my desk on their way to find books, when the toddler noticed the stuffed bear standing guard in front of my desk. This bear is dressed like a toy soldier and is just over two feet tall, the perfect height.

The boy toddled up to the bear and smiled and laughed delightedly. His mom instantly knelt down and engaged him in discussion about the bear, even though her son only has a few words and doesn't speak in sentences yet. They discussed what he's wearing, named all his facial features and pointed to their own eyes, ears, nose, etc. I told them that my bear loves hugs so the mom modeled hugging the bear first and the boy immediately hugged the bear too. He thought that was the best and kept laughing and babbling and hugging the bear. Eventually his mom told him that they needed to go get books and they wandered away.

Similar occurrences happen multiple times a day. Even kids who are 6 or 7 will come by and hug the bear for old times sake. This bear has been around for over 20 years and generations of kids have come by to inadvertently share in a learning experience with librarians and their caregivers. They talk and listen. They learn how to hug gently and wait turns. They are amazed by a world in which a bear can be soft and dressed in a cool outfit and be their size. They interact with new and familiar people. They practice new vocabulary. Maybe this isn't mind-blowing, but I think it's wonderful. These interactions are an example of how something as simple as a stuffed bear can facilitate early literacy learning, as well as social learning. As an added bonus, it brings people to my desk, who might not come by just to ask a question. This allows me to ask them about what they're looking for or have already found and allows me to tell them about our programs. So, even though this bear sometimes becomes a punching bag for kids who have been stuck at the library too long, I'm glad he's here. He's a great reminder that even the most mundane things about the library can be beneficial, despite the fact that they aren't new or elaborate. Innovation and development definitely have their place, but so do bears and blocks and crayons. So, it's allllll good! :)