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

Preschool: My Body

This week was a busy one at our library! We celebrated National Take Your Child to the Library day on February 1st with a LEGOs at the Library program, hosted a tech lab for 8-12 year olds on Digital Learning Day, added an additional preschool storytime at the library (bringing the in-house count to three) and offered a family storytime at a community fire hall as part of our two month Storytime on the Go outreach program. I got the chance to interact with a lot of community members and share library resources with lots of kids and their families!

This week’s storytimes were all about My Body. I began the preschool and outreach programs with a book instead of a song because this book is so engaging and fun to look at.

Ain't Gonna Paint No MoreBook: Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont and David Catrow (Harcourt, 2005)

Ain’t Gonna Paint no More is about a boy who loves to paint anything, much to his mother’s dismay, and gets messy while doing it. The words could be sung, but the images are to be savored so reading the text is my preferred mode. I love that kids can anticipate the next body part to be painted by the rhyme that comes before it. Catrow’s illustrations are colorful and exciting, providing for lots of conversation. My favorite page features a painted arm with small black ants all in a row. We find out that the source of those ants is a mouth painted on the boy’s hand featured on the next page.

After talking about our basic body parts it was time to talk about what’s under our skin. I brought out the book, My Body (DK Children, 1991), part of the What’s Inside? series. The first chapter includes one picture of a fully clothed boy on one side and then a picture on the right of the boy’s photo peeled up revealing a skeleton underneath. It’s an easy way for kids to appreciate the connection between their bodies and bones and begin a discussion about bones. 

fablevision_digital_learning_day_2014_bannerIn honor of Digital Learning Day, I brought my iPad to storytime again! Digital media, like apps, give me and the caregivers in attendance more teaching tools and different ways to engage kids. Using an app like this one in storytime, lets parents learn about new high quality apps they could try at home and let’s me model how to use apps with kids. I strongly support joint media engagement and encourage families to use apps together. When I include digital media in storytime, I use it along with many other familiar tools so kids see there is a time for digital media and a time for books, toys, songs, and the like.

App: This is My Body (urbn;pockets, 2014)my body app This is my Body is one of two iPad apps I looked at for use during this storytime. The other app called The Human Body (Tinybop, 2013) is a more complex app with high quality images, incredible detail, and an interesting Q&A feature, but I felt that This is my Body offered the basic features I needed for a quick activity in a preschool-friendly package. I chose to focus on the skeleton with this app and introduce it by talking about the skeleton as a puzzle.

I started by showing families the starting page and what is included in the app. Then I tapped on the skeleton section, revealing a completed skeleton with a place to tap for the activity page. Select bones are skittered around the outline of a body and with a tap and a drag a bone can be slid to the right location. If the bone is slid to the right spot, it will stick. If not, it will slide back to the area outside of the body. Kids took turns tapping and dragging different bones to the proper location in the body outline.

Using the app in the storytime setting didn’t work quite how I expected, but I would try it again. Here’s what we struggled with: Even with its smaller number of bones, the page still had some bones that kids, particularly the younger ones, weren’t sure where to place. After the larger, more recognizable bones were dropped into the right spot, kids weren’t quite sure what to do. This put kids, especially the younger ones, on the spot as we huddled around the iPad. This may work better mirrored on a big screen so kids don’t feel the need to crowd the iPad making each other feel rushed to figure out the right location for the bone. If I used the app again, I would drag and drop more of the harder to recognize bones (not just one) as I demonstrate how to play the bone game.

I provided an information sheet on a healthy media diet and how to find quality digital media for kids so parents had information to take home.

Action Song: Are you Ready for a Story
If you’re ready for a story, shake and wiggle!
If you’re ready for a story, shake and wiggle!
If you’re ready for a story, If you’re ready for a story,
If you’re ready for a story, shake and wiggle!
… sit down please (with penny whistle)

stand tall mlm

Book: Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell and  David Catrow (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001)

Molly Lou’s body is unique, like everyone’s. Catrow’s illustrations celebrate Molly Lou’s beauty and strengthen the book’s message. This is a colorful, fun to read story celebrating our individuality, the love of family, and friendship. A nice read aloud for toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary.

Action Song: Hands are for Clapping by Jim Gill (1993) via Sound Cloud

This song got us moving and using specific parts of our bodies as Gill sang. I played the song using my phone, the Sound Cloud app, and a portable speaker. I connected the phone and speaker using an auxiliary cord so the two would stay connected. (Previously, I’ve had the bluetooth connection disconnect between the time when I set up for storytime and when I actually wanted to play the song.)

partsBook: Parts by Tedd Arnold (Dial Books for Young Readers, 1997)

Unlike the other books we read, Parts features a boy who is scared of his own body! He worries about bellybutton fuzz, hairs in his comb, loose teeth and ear wax. Thankfully his parents finally get him sorted out. At one storytime, the kids and I decided this boy, who we named George, should come to storytime to learn a few things about his body!

We ended with this fun action song. We started slowly and then repeated the song multiple times, going faster and faster.

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes (using multiple tempos)
(Sing to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down)
(Have child mimic you and place hands on the appropriate parts of the body.)
Head, shoulders, knees & toes, knees & toes,
Head, shoulders, knees & toes, knees & toes,
Eyes and ears, mouth & nose,
Head, shoulders, knees & toes, knees & toes.

Activities:

IMG_1614Potatohead Station

Potatoheads are a fun, hands-on way for kids to learn the basics about body parts. I borrowed this set of potatoheads from a local teacher who is a close friend. Before storytime I made sure all of the potatoheads were blank so kids could build the characters however they wanted to. This also gave caregivers a chance to talk about the body parts as kids added them and what goes where. Some kids added parts in imaginative ways and others placed each part with anatomical accuracy. This set of 7 large and small potatoheads worked for well as a station for storytime groups of 7-40 in combination with the second station.

Life-size self-portrait

Life Sized Self-portrait

I brought a roll of butcher paper from home for this activity. Along with our boxes of markers and crayons that regularly sit at each table during storytime, the paper was the only material needed. The butcher paper was just wide enough for preschool size kids.

Caregivers had their child lay on top of the precut sheet of paper while they traced the outline of the child’s body. This often resulted in giggling because outlining a preschooler or toddler’s body often leads to unintended tickling!

Once the outline was complete, kids and caregivers went about coloring in body parts and clothes making each one unique.

Photo credits:
Parts: Eva’s Book Addiction
Stand Tall, Molly Lou MelonThe Illustrated Book Image Collective
This is my BodyUrbn; Pockets
Ain’t Gonna Paint No More: Amazon

A Day in the Life of a Children’s Librarian- on the Radio!

A reporter from our local public radio station shadowed me on my adventures last week. She joined me on an outreach visit and spent time with me at the library during toddler storytime and a cataloging session. Now everyone knows my secret…I have the best job in town!

Here’s the story. It was great to get the library on the radio!

Poetry Month

April is poetry month! For the next several weeks, I’ll be featuring the work of well-known and unpublished poets in storytime and as part of a prominent display in the children’s library. I am also including some of the fiction in verse that is popping up these days. I’m currently reading May B. : A Novel by Caroline Starr Rose (Schwartz & Wade, 2012) in honor of poetry month.May-B

What’s great about poetry books for kids is that they have beautiful covers, for the most part, and once they are dug out from the 800s in the non-fiction stacks and put on display, they are whisked away in the hands of potential readers. When the cover is opened and the words are read aloud, the magic of poetry gets families hooked.

Last year, I cam across Greg Pinkus’ site, GottaBook, that features great kids lit year round and 30 Poets/30 Days in April for Poetry Month. I found some fabulous poetry for storytime there. One that worked well for our little hamlet by the sea, was the concrete poem Sea Star by Liz Brownlee. The visual and the topic were just right for our little ones.

song for the water boatmanA beautiful book I shared this week during a visit to a local childcare center is the Caldecott Honor Book, Song of the Water Boatman by Joyce Sidman and Beckie Prange (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2005). I read aloud the poem Spring Splashdown with the pages faced toward me and had the kids use their imagination to help them guess what animal the poem was about.

What are your favorite poetry for kids books, authors, or websites?

Bunnies

Hop! HoEaster Eggsp! Hop! Watching children hop around the children’s library looking for Easter eggs is hysterical! I love to get kids moving during storytime.

You guessed it. We had an Easter egg hunt this week in anticipation of the upcoming holiday.

Before children arrived, I hid colored plastic eggs filled with stickers in easy-to-find and hard-to-find nooks and crannies. (At the outreach program I also added goldfish crackers since clean-up is easier there.)  Kids immediately saw the eggs, but we were able to convince them to sit down for storytime anyway. The anticipation grew and grew and grew throughout the stories and songs included this week. Kids were spotting eggs and proclaiming “I see one!” at every opportunity.

20130403-125559.jpgWith some help from my rabbit puppet, I began storytime with the finger rhyme:

The Rabbit
I saw a little rabbit come
Hop, hop, hop!
I saw his two long ears go
flop, flop, flop!
I saw his little nose go
Twink, twink, twink!
I saw his little eyes go
Wink, wink, wink!
I said “little rabbit, won’t you stay?”
Then he looked at me
And hopped away.
Credit: Artfelt (for link to free pdf of rhymes)

The first story I read was Jan Brett’s The Easter Egg filled with elaborate eggs, kind bunnies, and detailed illustrations on each page in classic Brett style.easter_egg_brett

I followed up with The Black Rabbit by Phillipa Leathers a sweet little tale about a bunny afraid of his shadow (the black rabbit) who just won’t quit following him.  The rabbit tries to shake the stalking black bunny through the early pages until that black shadow eventually scares off a predatory wolf just in the nick of time. The kids easily understood that the black rabbit was a shadow so the story was less scary than it could have been.the black rabbit

Next up was Little Bunny Foo Foo with the help of my magic wand. I modify some of the words as I go if there are any scared faces in the crowd and I explain that a goon is a useless monster that can’t do anything (including scare little children) to diffuse initial fears.

Little Bunny Foo Foo
Little bunny Foo Foo
Hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And bopping ’em on the head
And down came the Good Fairy
And she said
“Little bunny Foo Foo
I don’t like you’re attitude
Scooping up the field mice
And bopping ’em on the head”

I’ll give you 3 chances.
Then I’ll turn you into a goon!
The next day…
(Repeat two more verses with 2 and 1 chances_
3. “I gave you two chances.
Now I’ll turn you into a goon!”
(POOF!)
And the moral of the story is:
Hare today, goon tomorrow!
Credit: Scout Songs

Our last book was Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This is a fun story both if you read all of the text or if you improvise. I did both depending on the general age and interest of the group.  As you can see, it’s tricky to decide if the image is a duck or a rabbit!duck rabbit  One of the pages features a scene which relates nicely to the craft we did- a rabbit hiding in the grass. But, before craft time, it was time to be bunnies and hop around.  The last song for storytime was:

If You’re Hoppy and You Know It
If you’re hoppy and you know it, hop around.
If you’re hoppy and you know it, hop around.
If you’re hoppy and you know it, then your face will surely show it,
If you’re hoppy and you know it, hop around.
…swish your tail
…flop your ears
…wiggle your nose

20130403-125524.jpgCraft

At this point the kids were up and ready to grab for the first egg they saw. To slow the older kids down, I told them this egg hunt was special because they had to jump like bunnies to find eggs and once they found one they could then help someone else find an egg (I had just enough). Off they hopped and the adults couldn’t help but laugh.

I then met the families at the craft table to help them sort out the easy bunny in the grass project I found at Busy Bee Kids Crafts.

The materials needed:

1 paper plate
2 strips of colored card stock, approximately 3 inches wide
three pieces of green construction paper big enough to trace a hand
2 eyes
scissors
stapler
glue (for eyes)

Bunny EarsAt the last minute, I decided I needed bunny ears for storytime. I made these right before everyone arrived and then cut some extra strips for anyone who might want a matching set. Almost every one of the 25 kids walked out with bunny ears. Simple and fun! All you need is one sheet of pink construction paper (cut into four strips), a pair of scissors and a stapler. Staple two strips together to make a band that fits around your head and then 20130403-125534.jpgcut the other two in the shape of ears to staple on the band. Some little ones colored their ears to make them extra special.

This marked the last week of storytime on the road, a three month pilot project which allowed me to visit rural community meeting places and a school approximately twenty-five miles from our library. The grant funded storytimes were definitely successful and we hope to continue them again in the future when funds allow.

Thanks to a visit from a local public radio reporter, the program received some great publicity. The radio story and the beautiful photos were heartwarming. I highly recommend letting local news media know about your outreach projects. It’s a great opportunity for advocacy!

 

Here is the slideshow from the reporter’s visit: