Take Your Child to the Library day!

take to the library day 2014Mark your Calendars! Saturday, February 1st is Take Your Child to the Library day! My library will be one of over 350 new libraries participating (at last count). It’s a great way to connect with other libraries around the country as well as invite families to the library. Your celebration can be as simple as advertising the day or as complex as planning a menu of programs.

We decided to participate at the last minute, but with the help of the event blog, I found some ideas that I could put together quickly and easily. Here’s what I’ll be doing to help families celebrate.

  • Library LEGO Club: themed and free building for two hours (ages 7-12, parents welcome)
  • Guessing Jar Contest (Guess how many items are in the large glass jar. The person who guesses correctly wins it all, including the toothbrush inside. (Idea found on the event blog.)
  • Stop by and say hello to your librarians
  • Enjoy a good book as a family
  • Explore one of our popular, AWEsome early literacy computers together

How are you planning to celebrate? Don’t forget about the prizes your library could win! Bookboard and the Connecticut Library Consortium are giving away prizes to participating libraries.

Preschool Storytime: Farm Animals

With the upcoming state fair, I decided to focus on farm animals this week. Kids love farm animals and many of the families in my storytime crowd have chickens or farm animals at home. There are so many great books, songs, puppets, and apps about animals, animal sounds, and farm animals, in particular, so I couldn’t miss!

We began story time with the song cube. The experienced kids demonstrated how the game works and the new-to-storytime kids sang along.

What is a farm? After a couple of songs, we came up with animals and plants (vegetables and fruits) that might belong on a farm, big or small, and who lives and works on a farm. We also told each other about our favorite sites at the local farmer’s market

barnyard banterWhile I had several books ready to read, I started with Barnyard Banter by Denise Fleming (Holt, 1994). This is one of those wonderful books where the images (handmade paper illustrations) are as energetic as the playful sounds created by the text. The book follows a goose who has wandered off in pursuit of a dragonfly (or butterfly according to the storytime kids). Each page features animals and their sounds. While all of the other animals are where they should be (“The cows in the pasture, moo moo moo…”), goose is not. Where is he?

Before turning to the first page of the story, we learned the meaning of a new word! None of the kids knew the definition of banter so I explained it and we all said it aloud.

Song: Farm Sounds 
(Tune: Wheels on the Bus)
The cows in the barn go moo, moo, moo,
Moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo.
The cows in the barn go moo, moo, moo,
All around the farm.
Other verses:
… pigs in the pen go oink, oink, oink
… hens in the coop go cluck, cluck, cluck
… rooster on the fence goes cock-a-doodle-do
… ducks in the pond go quack, quack, quack
… lambs on the hill go baa, baa, baa
Credit: The Learning Pad

As we sang the Farm Sounds song, I introduced my farm animal puppets which are always a hit with the kids.  Many of them wander off after I used them for the appropriate verse in this song to be loved and cuddled in the arms of a storytime child.  They always make it back before craft time, so it works out.

Next we played the Animal Sounds game! This game uses an app for the iPad (Animal Sounds-Fun Toddler Game by Innovative Mobile Apps) animal sounds appthat is designed in a flashcard style. Photo images of animals and recorded sounds are used to connect kids with the image of an animal, the sound it makes, and the written name for each animal. The way we used this app is similar to the method used by Anne Hicks at Anne’s Library Life and other librarians incorporating new media into storytime.

To play this game, I held the iPad in front of the group of kids. (We don’t have a large screen or monitor in our children’s library, so I only use apps in story time that are easy to see on the iPad screen.) I explained the game and then turned the screen towards me. I tapped on one of the animals which played the animal’s sound. We guessed which animal would make the sound we just heard and then I turned the screen to the group and we decided if we were correct. As I showed the image of the animal I pointed to the text and read the animal name. There are two images for each animal so sometimes I would show them the second image which was often a group of the animal (herd of cows vs. one cow). We talked about tricky animal names like sheep that refer to one and more than one while we played.

The animals are organized alphabetically, so before story time I went through and found all of the farm animals I could use to make them easier to select during the game. There are a variety of animals included and the additional in-app purchase of animals is worthwhile.

This is a game that is made better by joint media engagement. Playing together and the mystery generated by our guessing game left us all in giggles and made for a positive experience for a variety of age groups.

After the app game, we read Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Karla Firehammer (Little, Brown, 2005).

Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive

This rhyming story about two cows that take off with the farm’s truck for a drive through town ends well and is a silly story featuring many of the animals we saw in earlier parts of storytime. It’s not riveting, but it makes for a nice last book in storytime as kids become tired and attention wains.

To round out the story portion, we sang a couple of verses of Baa, Baa Black Sheep using my different colored sheep. I had intended to also read Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek, but alas, we ran out of time.

Activity

Barn craftWe made barns and farm animal puppets (plus a tractor) so families could extend storytime and use the craft to create farm stories of their own at home.

To create the barn for kids I took a red sheet of 12″x18″ paper and pre-cut two corners off the top which became the roof. I then drew a t-shape in the center of the bottom of the page that kids would cut along to form the opening barn doors. I used a box cutter to also pre-cut a door near the top for the hay loft.

For my sample, I then glued a 81/2″x11″ sheet of heavy paper on the back covering the door to make the barn stiffer and to allow space for kids to glue the tractor or other animals in the doorway. I also glued a 1/8 page of the same heavy paper behind the loft door for a chicken and some green raffia (a nest). I found farm animal images in clipart and compiled them on one sheet so each child could take a sheet, color the pictures, and cut out the farm animals they wanted to add to their barn or glue on to popsicle sticks to use as puppets. Kids decorated their barn in a variety of ways, some of which resembled barns from one of the books we shared.

AWE-some Computers Arrive!

AWE computersThanks to a grant from the Alaska OWL Project, my library recently installed two AWE computers in our children’s library!  There are so many nice features about these additions to our multimedia children’s library that I can see why they are in constant use by an ever-changing group of toddlers, preschoolers, kids, and adults.

1. They offer literacy games and activities for ages 2-10. (STEM games, too!)

2. They are self-contained with preinstalled games and activities, so kids and their caregivers can find valuable games to play quickly.

3. They are not connected to the internet, so users don’t need to log in.

4. The computers are touchscreen and easy to use for most ages.

5. The diverse selection of games appeals to a variety of interests.

6. We received two headsets for each computer which encourages joint media engagement. Having two headsets also allows kids to fully utilize the computers while others are able to enjoy the library in different ways.

Do you have AWE computers at your library? What are your favorite games or activities? How are you using them in your library?