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