Summer is here! While the weather is still a bit cool, but school is finished for the year and everyone is excited about what lies ahead in the months to come. Our summer reading program has begun (a week early this year to coincide with the closing of local schools) and so have the summer storytimes. This week, I decided to celebrate the fun expected in the months ahead.
To get us in the mood, I built a campfire in the library complete with wood from home and flames made of tissue paper. It was a great conversation starter! We discussed the steps to build a campfire and the fun you can have camping in the summer. Of course, kids immediately said aloud their favorite campfire foods, s’mores and hot dogs, when I asked “what do you like to do around a campfire?”
Before we read together, we sang together. I introduced the Rhyme Cube, or Song Cube as I call it, which I adopted from Anne Hicks over at Anne’s Library Life. It’s a valuable early literacy tool that is rewarding and fun for kids.
I demonstrated how the Song Cube works by rolling the cube in front of the kids. When the cube stopped, an image of the letter ‘A’ and some ants, a smiling sun, a spider, etc. was facing up. Below the image was the name of the corresponding familiar rhyme or song.
I made the cube using an empty tissue box which I wrapped in paper. On each side I hot glued a different image and song/rhyme name to the box. I then taped the whole box (not pictured) to help it last a bit longer.
A few kids took turns rolling the cube and we sang the song selected. All of the songs were familiar which made it easy to get the crowd singing along. Each child that rolled the cube smiled broadly as the group sang the song the child chose.It’s a fun way to start storytime and allows families to trickle inn while families already present engaged while they wait.
What is the early literacy value of the Song Cube? Emphasizing the rhyming sounds as we sing the favorite songs builds phonological awareness. It’s also a valuable tool for print awareness. The image on each side relates to the song and becomes a symbol referring to a specific song, much like letters organized in certain combinations in a word or words in the name of a song. I point to the words below each image in the sides of the cube and children see the name of the song.
In addition to camping, summer for kids in our cosmic hamlet means fish, berries, and lots of free play in the long Alaskan days. So, we read a selection of favorite picture books about these pastimes.
Marla Frazee’s A Couple of Boys Have the Week Ever (Harcourt, 2008) is a fun book about summer, grandparents, play, and boys.
Jamberry by Bruce Degan (Harper & Row, 1983) was our second book. The kids love finding the silly additions to the scenes on each page. Toast and berry waterfalls always cause shout outs. The variety of berries familiar to Alaskan kids from summers of picking makes this book a favorite.
Our last book was the wonderful This is Not My Hat, the 2013 Caldecott award winning story by Jon Klassen (candlewick, 2012). It’s a smart, witty story perfect for preschool age kids who love anticipating the tale of the small fish who steals a hat from a very large fish and attempts to hide behind a kelp forest. What happens when the large fish follows the small into the kelp forest? We’ll never know.
Before our craft time, we sang around the campfire!
You put your marshmallow in,
You put your marshmallow out,
You put your marshmallow in,
And you cook it ’till it’s brown.
You do the campfire pokey
and you pop it in your mouth –
That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Yum!
(repeat changing out the different food that can be
cooked over a fire… apples, hotdogs, popcorn, etc.)
Credit: Storytimes with Moxie
Our craft was a paper campfire. The kids enjoyed gluing on the small colored tissue paper squares on to the black cardstock where the flames would be and small sticks where the logs would be. It was a simple craft with simple supplies.