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!

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!

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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.

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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

Toddlers: Fall & Moose

Fall is on its way and kids are seeing moose cows and their calves everywhere here in Alaska. Storytimes about topics like the seasons and local animals are a must for helping kids relate to the stories they hear and understanding the world around them.

Welcome Song: Hello Everybody

Action Song: Open Shut Them

This next feltboard story I told first with felt leaves (or bunches of spruce needles) and then using our fingers. Counting is an important toddler and preschool math skill which I include every week in some form another. It may be counting to three before we start a song or action or counting as we share a story like this one, for example.

Feltboard: Five Autumn Leaves
Five autumn leaves, five and no more, [Hold up 5 fingers.]
The caterpillar ate one, now there are four. [Thumb down.]
Four autumn leaves, that’s easy to see.
Along came a rainstorm, now there are three. [Index finger down.]
Three autumn leaves, nothing much to do,
A big wind blew, now there are two! [Middle finger down.]
Two autumn leaves, that’s not much fun,
I glued one on my paper [Ring finger down.]
Now there is one. [Hold up pinky.]

Hang on, pretty autumn leaf!
Your branches won’t break,
You’re one less leaf for me to rake!

Now we had the opportunity to be leaves!
Action Song: Leaves Are Twirling
(tune: Frere Jacques)
Leaves are twirling
Leaves are twirling
All Around
All Around
They are falling softly
Very, very softly
To the ground
To the ground.

Book: Looking for a Moose by Phyllis Root and Randy Cecil (Candlewick Press, 2006)
Kids at my library all know what moose look like, but before we read this story we talked about some of their characteristics so we could find them camouflaged in the story. I explained we were going to help the kids in the story spot the moose. We have some very good spotters!

To reinforce the differences between moose and people, we followed the story with the hokey pokey, moose style.
Action Song: Moose Pokey!
You put your right hoof in (use foot)
You take your right hoof out.
You put your right hoof in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the Moose Pokey
And you turn yourself around.
That’s what it’s all about.

*You put your left hoof in…
*You put your antlers in…
*You put your tail in…
*You put your whole self in…

Movement: Bubbles!

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!

Closing Rhyme: Tickle the Clouds
Tickle the Clouds. Tickle Your Toes.
Turn Around,
And Tickle Your Nose!
Reach down low. Reach up High.
Storytime’s over, wave goodbye!