Source: mhpbooks.com

Toddler Storytime: The Snowy Day

I share a lot of new books in storytime to highlight what has been recently added to the library’s collection, but this past week I wanted to share a classic with families, many of whom are new parents. With snow on the ground, a good mix of play and stories planned and a small dose of storytime magic, it was time to include Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day (along with Nicola Smee’s Jingle Jingle) in the toddler/baby storytime line up. The clear, colorful images, the kid perspective, the gentle flow of the story, and the wintertime theme made the book a good fit for the slightly older, mostly 20-30 month old, crowd that showed up. The book also includes a few features that demonstrate how books can be both mirrors and windows (or doors) for children. Including books with a variety of characters that reflect diverse families and their experiences helps create an inclusive storytime environment.

  • Snow, which is on the ground here in Homer, is a very relevant concept for Homer kiddos and helps them connect the story with the world around them.
  • The family is African-American, an underrepresented group in children’s books.
  • The young boy lives in an apartment, instead of the stand alone house often found in stories, and represents one of the many types of loving homes.

I talked about the idea of windows and mirrors in storytime and in the December installment of monthly early literacy article I write for a local newspaper. The article is part of a broad outreach effort to connect families with literacy information wherever they are.

Have you seen the animated, digital version of the book on the Ezra Jack Keats site, the animated short video (Amazon Prime) based on the book, or Andrea Davis Pinckney’s new book about Ezra jack Keats and  the creation of The Snowy Day neighborhood, A Poem for Peter?

The storytime line up (approximately 25 minutes)

Early Literacy Tip:

Books can act as windows and mirrors. The variety of stories, characters, and settings found in books can show that your child’s story matters and help your child learn about and appreciate the experiences of others.

Welcome Song: The More We Get (Read) Together

Book: Jingle Jingle by Nicola Smee

Jingle Jingle by Nicola Smee

Source: Amazon.com

Action Song: Bumping Up and Down In My Little Blue Sled

Bumping up and down in my little blue sled
Bumping up and down in my little blue sled
Bumping up and down in my little blue sled
Won’t you be my darling.

Snow’s coming down on my little blue sled
Snow’s coming down on my little blue sled
Snow’s coming down on my little blue sled
Won’t you be my darling.

Waving to my friends on my little blue sled
Waving to my friends on my little blue sled
Waving to my friends on my little blue sled
Won’t you be my darling.
Source: Jbrary

Book: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Source: mhpbooks.com

Source: mhpbooks.com

Bubble Break!

Fingerplay: Three Little Snowmen

Three little snowmen, all in a row.
Each with a hat and a big red bow.
Out came the sun and it shone all day,
One little snowman melted all away.
(two and one little…)

Closing Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

…twirl around
…jump up high

Activity: Indoor Snow Exploration Bins

Summer Reading Outreach Begins!

Tonight was the first of many outreach events I will be doing this Spring to spread the word about our 2014 summer reading program. I talked to lots of familiar young faces and got to meet some new families at the annual activities fair hosted by a local elementary school parent’s association. While the lead up to the annual activities fair is hectic, to say the least, the event itself is loads of fun!

If you’ve ever wanted to practice an elevator pitch, an event like this is just the place to test it out! Families are walking from table to table finding out about every kind of summer program our small community has to offer and many, if not all, have kids under the age of ten in tow. That means I have thirty seconds to a one minute to catch their attention. I always talk to a few families who have never heard about the summer reading program or never participated, so I make sure I am ready to get them hooked on the spot!Activities Fair Set Up

Fortunately for families, the parent’s organization and the school host a math and science night at the same time. Last year my table was in the same space as the math and science activities which was a great, great, great decision. I got to talk to parents while kids investigated and experimented. It was a win for the library too because families left the event associating fun, exploring, and the library.

This year I asked to be in the same space and promised to bring some activities for kids to do, as always. My table and the other activities flowed so nicely together that some kids even thought I was running the marble maze activity! I was honored. I brought some easy activities with me that worked well for young children, often the siblings of those most interested in the marble maze and other hosted stations. I brought my beloved Alphabet Tree, inspired by the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I built it, with the help of family and friends, for an outreach event I was part of last Fall and now I bring it whenever I head out for family events. I’m even planning to bring it to the library for storytime soon. (It lives in my garage because of lack of space at the library.)Alphabet Tree

The tree and the magnetic letters together make a fun tool for strengthening letter knowledge and an opportunity to talk to kids about how magnets work. The black paint on the trunk of the palm-like tree is magnetic and the green is not, so we get to test where the magnetic letters stick and where they don’t. Parents are fascinated by the tree and I always explain how I made it, hopefully inspiring them to think of ways to do something similar at home. Before the activities fair even started, kids were ready to play!

To keep little fingers and minds busy, I also grabbed a roll of butcher paper as I walked out the door at the library. I covered the bench seats in front of my table (a cafeteria table provided by the school) with the paper and pulled out a box of crayons so kids could draw and write while I talked to their parents or caregivers about the summer program. There were some cool creations!Bench Drawing

I always pack a lot into my table spaces and usually bring more than I have room for. This is done on purpose so that I can be a little flexible during set up. And because I staff these events alone, my table can be set up in less than thirty minutes and I can carry everything I bring in a few bags or boxes.
Here’s what I had on hand with me:

  • eye-catching, but inexpensive table cloth
  • new books
  • scissors
  • duct tape
  • prize samples
  • registration forms (we also offer online registration)
  • 100 brochures (I handed out about 75)
  • puppets
  • sign-up prizes (this year I gave out Fizz Boom READ pencils)
  • summer program banner
  • Alpahbet Tree with magnetic wood letters and numbers
  • basket of large LEGO blocks
  • storytime brochures
  • tips for using new media with kids
  • my staff name tag

I’ll post more about my plans for this summer’s program in the coming weeks!

 

 

 

Storytime on the Go: Village Visit

Out at one edge of our service area lies a small village which I visited a couple of times this year. It has a beautiful view of the bay and snow-covered, majestic mountains across the water. There are no stores, traffic lights, or even paved roads. There are schools though- an elementary, middle, and high school. Here, the kids head home from school for lunch in twos or threes on four wheelers or on foot.

My trips to the village are part of Storytime on the Go, a seasonal program designed to provide early literacy experiences, similar to what I offer at the library, to community members living at the outer edges of our large service area and to promote library services and programs. Many of the people with whom I share Storytime on the Go don’t make it to the library, at least during the Winter. Some families don’t come because of the weather, others can’t make the long drive, and some for cultural reasons. I’m sure there are other reasons that I don’t know.

During my visits to the village, I spend about 45 minutes with a small group of about fourteen kids in a K-1 class. They are enthusiastic learners with quick smiles and lots of interesting questions and insights. My storytimes elsewhere are targeted at preschool age kids or toddlers and their families, but here I bring stories for the older kids for a few reasons. Many kids in the village don’t come to the library often, if ever, so I am a new face and bring some different books than they might have at school or at home. There also isn’t a community space to meet with the few preschool age kids in the village. Lastly, I am only fluent in English and since the community speaks English as a second language and many kids don’t start speaking English until they start school, visiting with the Kindergarten and 1st graders is a nice fit.

Timing is Everything
Beyond what books I bring or activities we do, my first consideration is when to visit the school. The village’s school calendar reflects their community holidays which vary from the other school calendars in the district. This year, like last, I showed up after lunch and before recess, a perfect window for sharing storytime. It also allows me to host a family storytime in another part of our service area before I head to the village.

Early Literacy
As with storytimes at the library, the kids and I read, talk, laugh and play easily together. Because of community traditions though, we don’t sing or clap or dance. While some tried and true early literacy practices are hard to part with, cultural considerations are an important part of outreach. Sometimes I change a song into a rhyme, saying the words slowly and dramatically instead of singing them to reap the early literacy benefits.

Choosing books
I look for books that reflect the kids’ experiences and interests and spend time talking about aspects of the stories that might relate to their daily lives, not unlike any storytime experience really. We do have a Russian language collection of books and movies for all ages at our library, but I read English language stories because of my limited knowledge of Russian. For example, I might ask, “How do you say (___) in Russian?” or “Do you have a garden in the summer?” The kids loving teaching me new words!

Before each visit, I check in with the teacher to find out what kids might be interested in, what they’re learning about in school, and what holidays are coming up. For my last trip to the village, I brought folk tales with me. These kids are huge fans and loved sharing in the telling of the stories they already knew and anticipating “what happens next?” for others. Since this is the second year I have visited the school, the kids and I know each other pretty well so the conversation flows easily. We read:

Snap! by Marcia Vaughn Photo credit: Amazon.com

Snap! by Marcia Vaughn
Photo credit: Amazon.com

Snap! by Marcia Vaughan and Sascha Hutchinson (Scholastic, 1996)

I also read Snap! at the library as part of an Alligator & Crocodile storytime with preschoolers. It is truly a magical story with just the right amount of repeated text, a trickster element, new kinds of animals to learn about (from Australia), onomatopoeia, interesting illustrations of torn paper collages, and more. Be prepared to have so much fun with this tale that you’ll lose track of time!

by Janet Stevens Photo credit: shop.carlemuseum.org

Three Billy Goats Gruff by Janet Stevens
Photo credit: shop.carlemuseum.org

Three Billy Goats Gruff (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987)

This is a classic Norwegian tale by Janet Stevens about three goats trying to cross a bridge to greener pastures and an ugly troll who wants to eat them instead of let them pass. There is lots to enjoy about a tale like this one: the concept of size, interpreting the illustrations and finding the hidden features (rock faces), and repetition. Since this is a familiar story, it was easy for the kids to help me tell it as turned the pages.

Take Care, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas Photo credit: indiebound.org

Take Care, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas
Photo credit: indiebound.org

Take Care, Good Knight (Dutton Children’s Books, 2006)

This a silly little story by Shelley Moore Thomas and Paul Meisel, follows the antics of three little dragons who are good-hearted and responsible, but can’t read. So, when they try to care for the old wizard’s cats, they make lots of mistakes. Their friend, the knight, comes to their rescue and helps them decipher the care instructions and learn to read. We had a good laugh about the play on words!

Success

I know the trip to the village is worth it because the kids and I have such a great time together, but there are other signs of success. I was invited back for a second year. I see families I met through the storytimes at the library on occasion and I can great many of the kids by name. The school will again be taking a field trip to town with a stop at the library later this Spring!

Toddlers: Colors

Welcome Song: Hello Everybody

Action Song: Open Shut Them
Open shut them, open shut them
Give a little clap, clap, clap
Open Shut them, open shut them
Lay them in your lap, lap, lap

Creep them, crawl them
Creep them, crawl them
Right up to your chin, chin, chin (where is your chin?)
Open wide your little mouth
But do not let them in

Shake them, shake them
Shake them, shake them
Shake them just like this this this

Roll them, roll them
Roll them, roll them
And blow a little kiss!
Muach! (blow kiss with hand)

Action Song: Red, Red is the Color I See (with felt pieces)
Red, Red is the color I see,
If you’re wearing red, show it to me!
Stand up, turn around,
And sit back down on the ground!
(repeat with different colors)

There are other verses to this color song, but I have found that for toddlers who are concentrating hard on figuring out colors, the repetition is easier to follow.

Action Song: Green Says Go!
Green Says, “Go!” (march fast in place)
Go! Go! Go!
Yellow says, “Slow.” (march slow)
Slow… slow… slow…
And Red says, “Stop!” (freeze stop)
GO! GO! GO! (march fast)
Slow… slow… slow (march slow)
STOP!!! (stop)

Credit: Sturdy for Common Things

If You’re Ready for a Story
wave your hands in the air!
… sit down please

Book: Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma DoddDogsColorfulDay

One of the many things I like about this book is that the main character is a dog called “Dog.” Kids can relate. Ask any toddler or preschooler the name of their stuffed friend and inevitably it is named dog or frog or cat, not Billy, Daisy, or Periwinkle.

This book mesmerizes toddlers and preschoolers! They are quickly drawn into the connection between what happens to Dog on his adventure and the additions of colored spots to his white fur. It is a nice complement to storytime because there are a variety of ideas, concepts (math!), objects, and places to talk about as you read the book.

Movement: Bubbles!

Our Friends group just gifted us a parachute for storytime so today I put it to use during a preschool outreach program first thing in the morning and then during the toddler storytime shortly after. The dozen preschoolers went crazy with the parachute and there were tears, I hate to say, when I started winding storytime down. So, I was a little nervous about using it at a toddler storytime with 40 people (about 24 kids). No need! It went perfectly well! Having alot of extra adults is very helpful.

I told caregiverss about the parachute experiment and asked them to help their little ones hold the chute. I mentioned that it was ok if some kids weren’t interested or if they were worried about the noise that might ensue when many toddlers play with a parachute.

This first song set the tone because it was a familiar song we sing often. It gave us the chance to try holding on to the parachute as we walked around during the first verse and then lay it on the floor during the second verse.

Parachute Song: Ring Around the Rosie
Ring (or skip or hop, etc.) around the rosie
Pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!

The cows are in the meadow
Eating buttercups
Thunder, lightning,
We all jump up!

The second song let everyone get a chance to see what the chute could do.

Parachute Song: If You’re Happy and You Know it
If you’re happy and you know it, lift it high!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it fast!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it slow!
If you’re happy and you know it, shake it low!

Credit: Kendra at Read, Sing, Play

The final song got everyone laughing and giggling! We repeated this one several times before moving on to our regular closing song.

Parachute Song: Pop Goes the Lizard (with monkey and lizard puppets)Pop Goes the Lizard
All Around the Cobbler’s Bench
The monkey chased the lizard
Monkey thought ’twas all in fun
POP goes the lizard

Credit: adapted from Kendra’s version at Read, Sing, Play

Closing Song: Wave Hi, Wave low

Photo Credit:
Dog’s Colorful Day: Kentucky Department of Libraries

 

Looking for more toddler storytime ideas? Visit my Toddler Themes page.

Preschool: Berries and Jam

I saw Jbrary’s Pinterest board about a Berries and Jam storytime and immediately got to work planning the Alaska version. Right before the annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race is a great time to talk with my storytime kids about the rest of Alaska, and berries are an easy way to capture kids’ attention. I used basically the same plan for the two preschool age weekly storytimes I held this week and for the family storytime which is part of my two month Storytime on the Go outreach program. We began storytime with the rhyme cube. We ended up singing two songs, The ABC Song (to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb), and If You’re Happy and You Know it.

berryMagicBefore I began reading the first story, Berry Magic, I shared a quick keynote slide show on my iPad about Alaska berries which I made before storytime. Berry Magic (Alaska Northwest Books, 2004), written by Teri Sloat and illustrated by Betty Huffmon, is a wonderful story based on a Yu’pik tale about the magic of how berries came to be on the tundra, but without some additional berry visuals, kids may not understand the connection between the berries and the head scarves worn by each of the dolls in the story. Connecting the colors is a key element to appreciating the beauty of the story.

Using the quick keynote is a simple way to introduce new media in storytime in an intentional way. The clear, real-life,
Salmonberries on iPad berry images added to all of the stories I read, not just Berry Magic, and captured the attention of the children from the start. I also added text to the bottom of the images and pointed to the words as I read them aloud, an important literacy technique.

After the first story I brought out the feltboard to tell the tale of the little hungry bear and the 5 red strawberries. Before I began the story, we talked about why we knew the five strawberries were all strawberries, using our categorization skills. They are all red, have green leaves and little seeds on the outside. Our little bear puppet confirmed that they all tasted like berries also! (Mel Depper has another version with a green strawberry!)

A little message about using feltboards. I love their ability to help kids build their narrative skills and I encourage kids to touch, feel, and play with the story pieces…after storytime. As soon as I bring them out, I have lots of little hands ready to grab them off the board. Unless I am prepared to have lots of helpers, which happens some weeks, I let everyone know I am going to have the first turn and will leave the board out during craft time for others to play. Kids are learning about taking turns and the story gets told with all of the pieces intact. It works well.

Flannelboard: 5 Red Strawberries (with bear puppet)

Five red strawberries, sweet to the core.
Bear came and ate one and then there were four.

5 Red StrawberriesFour red strawberries, growing near a tree.
Bear came and ate one and then there were three.

Three red strawberries, for you and you and you.
Bear came and ate one and then there were two.

Two red strawberries, sitting in the sun.
Bear came and ate one and then there was one.

One red strawberry, left all alone.
Bear came and ate it and then there were none.

Credit: Storytime Katie

We immediately moved into a fingerplay about two bears. I used the two bear finger puppets I have, one brown and one black, to represent two of the three kinds of bears in Alaska. The families used their fingers.

Fingerplay: Two Little Black Bears

Two little black bears sitting on a hill,
One named Jack and one named Jill,
Run away Jack, run away Jill.
Come back Jack, come back Jill.

Two little black bears digging in the snow
One named Fast and one named Slow…

Two little black bears feeling very proud
One named Quiet and one named Loud..

Credit: Jbrary

Our next story was The Blueberry Shoe (Alaska Northwest Books, 1999) written by coworker Ann Dixon and illustrated by Evon Zerbetz, another Alaskan. Iblueberry shoe am biased, but this is a wonderful book about a baby who loses his shoe while he and his family are blueberry picking. After an extensive, but fruitless, search, the family returns home without the shoe. Over the winter various animals incorporate the shoe into their daily life, but only temporarily, leaving the shoe for the family to find the next summer.

The story’s highlight is the sweet, animal-filled sequence of shoe-filled events featuring eye-catching images of Alaskan creatures including bears, foxes, ptarmigan, and even voles. Many families in Alaska make at least one outing for berry picking so many children were able to recount their personal berry adventures, and misadventures.

jamberryThe final book we read together was Jamberry (Harper & Row, 1983) by Bruce Degen! This book has a rhythm that captures kids’ attention and the quirky illustrations keep them focused. We read straight through this story because many kids were ready for something different, but during other readings I have stopped often to talk about the images. Kids felt comfortable to point, touch, and call out humorous features and their favorite berries even without my usual pausing.

On to craft time!

I offered two crafts, both of which were pure hits. I even ran out of the supplies used for the second project. Note to self, have lots of contact paper on hand!

20140219-185857.jpg

For the first option, I printed out the template for a strawberry from Artsy Momma on to a white piece of paper and cut out the berry and the leaf section. A high school volunteer traced the templates onto the red and green card stock. Families cut out the pieces, glued them together and used yellow paint to finger paint the seeds on to the berry.

20140219-185914.jpg

Materials:1 sheet of red card stock (8 1/2″ x 11″)
1/2 piece of green card stock
strawberry template
glue stick
scissors
yellow paint
hand wipes or sink to wash hands

The second craft proved to be a great sensory activity also! Kids made berries using contact paper and tissue paper. Some made raspberries, while others made blueberries or salmonberries.

20140219-185906.jpg

For each child, I peeled the backing off of a piece of clear contact paper and taped it, sticky side up, on to the table in front of them. Immediately, each child put their hands on the sticky paper and was completely surprised at how sticky it was! The looks were priceless! Some kids used one color to create their favorite berry, others chose to do a multi-color collage pattern but all were very clear about what kind of berry they had made.

After the berries were finished, we peeled the back off another piece of contact paper (same size and shape) and laid it on top, sticky side down to create a contact paper sandwich. the result was a square or rectangle shape. With scissors, the adult or the child cut the contact paper into a berry shape.

Materials:
Two pieces of contact paper per child (approximately 12″ x 12″)
tape
tissue paper in berry and stem colors (red, blue, orange, purple, green)
scissors

Photo Credits:
Keynote slide on iPad: Salmonberries (Nomemade)
Berry Magic: ECE Literacy
The Blueberry Shoe: Gulliver Books
Jamberry: Harper Collins Books