Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tools Story Time!

  What a Summer!  With over 20,000 kids participating in our summer reading program this year, I'm officially beat.  I was still able to have quite a bit of fun with story time in August.  Knowing I'd be basically dragging myself along by August, I planned ahead and had this program ready to go.  Who knew it could be so much fun to talk and read about tools?!  Here's what we did:

Tools Story Time

Opening Song: These Are My Glasses by Laurie Berkner Band (I use this song as an opener for every story time!  It's so fun and it's pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on the face of even the most apprehensive kids.)

Book:  Tools by Taro Miura  This is a great book for vocabulary, print motivation, and verbal skills in general.  Before we read I tell my audience that we are going to guess who we think might use the tools that we see, and I also casually mention that talking about books is a great way to learn new words and that helps us learn to read!  Basically wordless, realistic drawings depict different tools and then the next page reveals the occupation that might use the tools.  I paper-clipped many of the pages together and only chose the tools I thought would spark the most conversation, so we ended up with Carpenter, Doctor, Gardener, Cook, and Painter.  

Traditional song with many versions available.  It is tried and true and everyone always has fun singing it and performing the actions.  
"Johnny Works with One Hammer"
Johnny works with one hammer, one hammer, one hammer
Johnny works with one hammer, then he works with two
(Two hammers- both fists on legs; Three hammers- both fists on legs and one foot on the floor; Four hammers- both fists on legs and both feet on the floor; Five hammers- both fists on legs, both feet on floor, nod head up and down.)
Book:  Tap Tap Bang Bang by Emma Garcia  The kids always LOVE to point out that the tools in this book have eyes, which is oh so silly.  I like to mention beforehand that I love this book because we get to make tool noises and at the end we have built something!  You really have to act this book out, and I always encourage the kids to make the motions and the sounds of the tools along with me.  I will often ask what they think we might be building along the way.

Action Rhyme:   Carpenters of the world unite! (Put hands together over head.)
Bang the hammer, bang, bang the hammer x2
Saw the wood, saw, saw the wood x2
Turn the screwdriver, turn, turn the screwdriver x2
Paint the walls, paint, paint the walls x2
Shut the door, shut, shut the door x2
And what did we build?  (Put arms overhead like the roof on a house.)
We built a house!  
Credit: Barb Huff

Activity: 5 Little Whatsits
I got this idea from Mel's Desk, which is my go-to for excellent story time fodder and homemade goodies.  I like the notion that not everything need be a rhyme to memorize, and encouraging vocabulary is always a great thing.  So, I took Mel's lead and found photo images of familiar tools in Microsoft Office, attached some magnets to the back, grabbed a cookie sheet and voila!  I used this differently almost every time.  Sometimes I'd point to a tool, ask what it is, what it does, etc.  Other times I'd ask the kids which tool was used to cut wood, which was used to hit nails into wood, etc.  When we got to the level I always explained it a little more, and showed the kids how silly it might look if the chair I was sitting in wasn't straight!

A great finishing book for story time.  It's short and simple enough that even drifting attention spans will be able to focus.  I usually read four books in story time, but I just couldn't find four solid books that I loved- so we only did three books and I added more rhymes and songs!  

Action Rhyme: Five Little Nails

Five little nails standing straight and steady,
Here I come with my hammer ready!
BAM BAM BAM! That nail goes down.
Now there's just  four nails to pound.  

You can use your hands and fingers to act out this rhyme, or you can make this super cool paper towel roll thingy to help things along!
Credit: Mel's Desk

Craft: Tool belts!
After searching around for a good craft, I finally merged a few different ideas together and came up with these tool belts.  I had some help from staff with cutting out the tools, the belts were easy with the help of a paper cutter, a hole punch and some yarn.  Follow the link below to print out the tool pictures!  
Credit: Brilliant Beginnings Preschool

How It Went: The kids really loved this story time, and I did too!  I really liked these books, and I got more and more confident with letting the participants just talk to me and having a bit of a conversation with them about the tools.  A bit tricky when you have a lot of kids who want to share, but it really (subliminally) reinforces to their parents how important TALKING is with young children!   

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ninja Story Time!

  After hemming and hawing for a few months, amassing quite a collection of book possibilities, and poring over every possibly related topic on Pinterest and beyond, I finally decided to unveil my Ninja Story Time!
  Some of my reservations about this theme had to do with the weaponry and fighting associated with ninjas, but let's face it, kids LOVE ninjas.  Boys especially gravitated to the theme, but the girls in my story times were just as into this as their male counterparts.

There aren't a lot of resources out there related to ninja story times, but I did find some great ideas for flannelboards and action rhymes from a few different sources:
 Falling Flannelboards
What Happens in Storytime...

Books Used
The Boy Who Cried Ninja by Alex Latimer 
At first I wasn't sure I'd read this story, but it is just so funny and weird and was such a big hit the first time I read it that I kept it in the rotation all month long.  I love this book for how it prompts the reader to ask questions of the children.  Do you think Tim is telling the truth?  Do you believe that a sunburned crocodile really landed on the roof?  What is the ninja looking at? 
Eary Literacy Aside: I might introduce this book like this: "Our first book is called 'The boy who cried ninja' and it is by Alex Latimer.  Parents, you'll notice that we talk a lot together about the pictures and the story a lot as we read this book, and that's because children need to have conversations (and LOTS of them!) to be able to figure out how language works."
Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta Art by Ed Young
I love this story because it is short on text and long on large, expressive pictures.  I usually have the kids tell me what is going on in the illustrations- great for working on those narrative skills!
Early Literacy Aside: Grown-ups, you'll notice that we talk through this story to explain what we think is happening.  This is important for children to do because talking about a story helps them understand what they read, or what we read to them.

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz    Illustrated by Dan Santat
This rhyming retelling of the Three Little Pigs is as hilarious as it is adorable.  It has the most clever rhymes, and the kids absolutely love it.  It also introduces lots of fun new words. 
Early Literacy Aside: After reading this book, I would say: Parents, this would be a great book to try at home.  Read it together once, and then have the kids tell the story again as you flip through the pages.  Learning about the beginning, middle and end of a story is another important piece to understanding what you read! 
Songs and Rhymes Used

"If You're a Ninja and You Know It"  (Sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It")
If you’re a ninja and you know it,
Be really quiet.  (Shhh!)
If you’re a ninja and you know it,
Be really quiet.  (Shhh!)
If you’re a ninja and you know it, 
then your face will surely show it.
If you’re a ninja and you know it, 
Be really quiet.  (Shhh!)

If you’re a ninja and you know it…walk on tip toe (Tip Toe)
If you’re a ninja and you know it…say HIYAH (HIYAH!)

"Ninja, Ninja" (Action Rhyme) 
Ninja, ninja – sneak around.
Ninja, ninja – roll on the ground.
Ninja, ninja – climb up high.
Ninja, ninja – touch the sky.
Ninja, ninja – jump down low.
Ninja, ninja – touch your toe.

"Five Little Ninjas" (Action Rhyme/Flannelboard)

Five little ninjas, creeping through the door,
One said HIYAH, and then there were four.
Four little ninjas, climbing up a tree,
One said HIYAH, and then there were three.
Three little ninjas with nothing to do,
One said HIYAH, and then there were two.
Two little ninjas, having so much fun,
One said HIYAH, and then there was one.
One little ninja, on the run.
He says HIYAH, and then there were none.

Credit: Falling Flannelboards          

This flannelboard was so very fun to make (a PINK ninja!) and it was really fun to act out with the kids.  Who doesn't love saying "Hi-yah!"?  Although, one ninja kiddo told me that it's actually pronounced KI-yah.  So, there's that.  I borrowed this idea, and by borrowed I mean stole, from Falling Flannelboards (see words the rhyme above) and had a great time making this extension activity!  
I had to update this post because I really wanted to include the craft!  I created this craft using a few different ideas I found from various websites and blogs: Ninja Puppets!  This works great if you have a die-cut that has multiple circle sizes like we do.  The largest circle size works great for the background color.  Then cut more large circles with black paper, cut the black circles in half, and then a small strip from each, and you have ninja masks!  I like to use the cut strips to make eyebrows and the ends of the ties for the mask.  
A really creative example from a 1st grade Story Time attendee!

  Other Sources
Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Nap by J.C. Phillipps
Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed by J.C. Phillipps
The Legend of Ninja Cowbow Bear by David Bruins and Hilary Leung
Ninjas: Masters of Stealth and Secrecy by Joanne Mattern
Ninjas: A Guide to the Ancient Assassins by Jessica Gunderson

Friday, October 18, 2013

Preschool Story Time: Friends!

  I had a blast in September doing my preschool story time about friendship!  To date, this is probably one of my most favorite programs I have ever created.  The kids really liked the books, and one parent told me that the craft was, "The most successful craft ever!"
  There is certainly something to be said for planning.  When I prepare a story time, I spend quite a bit of time going through books, rhymes, flannel boards, and songs.  With so many great web resources out there related to children's library services, I feel quite lucky to be able to pick and choose from them to create my story times.
  My story time crowd can sometimes be on the younger side, so for that reason I often choose books that aren't too heavy on text.  There's nothing worse than getting halfway through a long picture book only to have to stop because you've completely lost your audience.  At times I see other people's suggestions for story time books and I have to wonder how in the world they got anyone to sit still for that LONG story!  Also, because I can get some pretty large crowds at story time, books with small, very-detailed illustrations generally don't work as well.  Or they need a LOT of explaining so that everyone knows what's going on.

Friendship Story Time- The Plan

Opening Song: We Hit the Floor Together (I enjoy this song because it helps some kids get a bit more comfortable AND it gives us a chance to say hello!)
We hit the floor together,
We hit the floor together,
We hit the floor together,
 Because it's fun to do!
(Repeat with clap our hands, nod our heads, we sway from side to side, we say hello!)  
Source: King County Library System- Tell Me a Story   

First book: Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
There are so many reasons to love this book.  First, you get to make a killer robot voice when you read it aloud, and second, it has 'parent' humor.  Parents at story time love parent humor.  It's also about a robot, which is majorly cool.  Plus, it has the word 'affirmative' in it, which is a great way to teach kids a new vocabulary word.  I sometimes like to mention that words like 'affirmative' are why reading books to children is so important, because they have much richer vocabulary than we use in our every day language.

Song Cube- The song cube is an amazing idea that I got (stole) from the very creative Mel's Desk blog.  Why didn't I think of this before?  It's a great way to get some wiggles out and work on phonological awareness.  The blog suggests some different songs than the ones I used.  As long as you have a simple, easily recognizable picture, as well as a vocabulary word that describes it, you've got the right idea.  I like to have the children try to guess what the song might be based on the picture, and then I make sure to point out our describing word below it. 

Here's what's on my song cube:
Spider = The Itsy Bitsy Spider
Star = Twinkly Twinkle Little Star
Rowboat = Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Head = Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
Hands = If You're Happy and You Know It
Teapot = I'm a Little Teapot

Second Book: What a Treasure! by Jane and Will Hillenbrand
A little mole gets the gift of a shovel and decides to dig for buried treasure.  He digs up all kinds of things that his other animal friends have uses for, but then he digs up another mole and gets what he was looking for all along: A friend!  This story lends itself to having your audience guess what mole has dug up, and then guess what it might be used for.  At the end of the story, I like to point out that the book the two mole friends are reading is called 'Tunnels.'

Fingerplay: Folk Rhyme
Two little friends are better than one, (Hold up two fingers on right hand, one on left)
And three are better than two    (Hold up three fingers on right hand, two on left)
And four are much better still (Hold up four fingers on right hand)
Just think!
What four little friends can do!
(After this simple rhyme, I like to ask my audience what fun things they might like to do with a friend.  The kids always give really great answers.)
Source: Preschool Favorites by Diane Briggs 

Third Book:Maggie's Ball by Lindsay Barrett George
This very simple picture book has wonderfully large illustrations with lots of color and things to look at.  Maggie the dog loses her ball and searches all over town to find it.  This book encourages lots of interaction between storyteller and audience.  Without fail, young listeners will pick right up on the ending: That Maggie has found her ball AND a friend!

Song Cube: Roll the cube and sing a song!

Flannelboard Story: May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers 
I first found the idea for turning this story into a flannelboard from the book Preschool Favorites: 35 Storytimes Kids Love by Diane Briggs.  Using the templates provided in the book, plus the ones from the pages of the actual book, I was able to create a pretty cute rendition of this small story book.  I had to play around with the scaling of the animals and people a bit before getting it just right, but this was a fun story to tell.  The first time doing it I attempted to read/recite the actual text of the book, but it's way too tedious unless you have it memorized I guess, but even still.  It worked better, in my opinion, to just tell the story without trying to be true to the original wording.  If the group was small enough, I even passed out some of the animals and let them come up to put them on the flannel board.

Song Cube!  Roll again and sing.

Fourth Book: Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems 
Leonardo is a terrible monster, meaning he can't seem to scare anyone.  Vowing to find someone to 'scare the tuna salad out of,' Leonardo finds an unsuspecting candidate named Sam.  This story is great for talking about making good choices, but I will warn you that the illustrations are quite sparse so if you're not ready to really ham this one up it might not be the best choice.  This book takes a bit of practice to read just right: Sam's long-winded tantrum is worth heaping on the drama for.  Even though it's a longer book with not a lot of audience participation, I was surprised at how well the kids listened to this one.  Especially since I read it last!

Goodbye Song: Open, Shut Them 
Open, shut them
Open, shut them
Reach your hands up high high high
Open, shut them
Open, shut them
Wave and say goodbye, bye, bye.

Source: Story Time Secrets: Hello and Goodbye Songs

I was fortunate enough to be able to beg my boss to let me order a robot die-cut, which rounded out the Boy + Bot story perfectly!  We made robot friends.  I had the robots cut out ahead of time, then laid out Popsicle sticks and other decorative things for the kids to create their friends.  This was a very successful craft.  Parents and kids alike really loved it.  Simple enough for very little ones to complete, but with enough room for creativity that the older kids can really make it their own. 

Until next time!  I'm working on an exciting theme for December!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Elementary School Story Time!

  One thing I probably love most about my job is going to elementary schools and reading to classes.  It's a great way for the kids to relax and have some free time that is still stimulating and engaging.  They are usually a rapt audience, with the right books, and it's obvious how much they enjoy it.  At my library we have made a list of some of the 'needier' schools in our area- most are Title I schools.  Title I- Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged was created with the purpose of ensuring that all children have fair and equal access to high-quality education.  You can read more the of the specifics at the U.S. Department of Education's website, or click here to be directed to the page.  Needless to say, the Title I schools have a large majority of their student body living at or below the poverty level.  These are often families that move around a lot, families with limited education, families with limited English, and many other worse situations.        While the state of Colorado does have some measures in place to help the children and families of these schools, it takes a village and the tireless effort of public servants like librarians to make sure these children don't slip through the cracks.  What matters most in keeping kids reading and thus boosting their mental and intellectual capabilities is: Keeping it Interesting!  Showing kids the fun we can have with books during a short story time is a great way to keep them excited about books and learning.  And no matter how old they are, kids love being read to!
  I usually try to form some rapport with a nearby elementary school LTE (Library Technology Educator) or librarian in plain speak.  She or he will put out the feelers to see if teachers are interested in having me come to read, and then we go from there.
  I like to keep it low-key and fun, so I'll usually start off by making myself look totally silly.  Putting on these glasses normally does the trick:  

  Most recently, I read to 2nd and 3rd graders, which is a really fun bunch to visit.  They're usually so excited and they love being read to!
  Here are some books I love for this age group:

2nd and 3rd grade books for story time:
Good Dog: Poems by Maya Gottfried
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
The Long-Nosed Pig by Keith Faulkner
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
Guess Again! by Mac Barnett
Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong
Duck!  Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal