Friday, June 15, 2018

Library Day!

So we took a break from Outreach storytimes in May to reorganize and make some changes, and this month the re-invented version of the Storytime-To-Go program debuted. Not only will we be going in the classroom instead of on the Storytime Bus, but the frequency of visits will be reduced from once every two weeks to once every four weeks so I can double the amount of facilities I visit. I am not in favor of this change personally, as I feel it reduces storytime to a novelty rather than a true early literacy intervention program, but I am making the best of it. 

Since it was a new beginning and I have picked up so many new daycares, I decided to kick-off with a "Libraries & Reading" theme to introduce myself and the program to the kids, and of course promote the library and reading. I read 2-3 books and did 1-2 other activities with each group (except for one daycare where the noise level was so high it was just an exercise in futility), in addition to my lead-in and closing songs. 

The Books

library day, library storytime, books about reading
(Click on any image to see full-size)

  • Maisy Goes to the Library by Lucy Cousins, good introduction to library
  • Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn & Rosalind Beadshaw, good for youngers
  • The New LiBEARian by Alison Donald & Alex Willmore, cute twist
  • Froggy Goes to the Library by Jonathan London & Frank Remkiewicz, my fav
  • Wild About Books by Judy Sierra & Marc Brown, cute but long, better for olders
  • The NOT So Quiet Library by Zachariah Ohora, kids really like
  • I Took My Frog to the Library by Eric Kimmel & Blanch Sims, funny & short
  • Chicken Story Time by Sandy Asher & Mark Fearing, another favorite!
  • A Place to Read by Leigh Hodgkinson, looking for the right chair, ok
  • Born to Read by Judy Sierra & Marc Brown, little longer, kids like recognizing classics
  • Read It, Don't Eat It! by Ian Schoenherr, teaches how to treat library books
  • Hooray for Books! by Brian Won, not as good as Hat, but most kids liked it ok
  • Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates, cute, dog opens bookstore, provides RA
  • Llama Llama Loves to Read by Anna Dewdney, longer, better for school-age
  • Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr, bright illustrations & simple text

The Activities

When I first started working with this program, I was encouraged to used thematic songs and rhymes, but over time I realized that just didn't work very well sometimes, particularly for new kids or the younger kids, because they just didn't know them. So first I made sure I only used songs/rhymes with lots of very obvious hand motions so the kids could at least participate that way if they couldn't sing along even after repeating.

With the younger kids in particular, I found it just ended up being me singing/reciting to them while they just sat there, or worse, got squirmy. So I started doing a lot more old classics that they knew, and more importantly, they wanted to do: ABC's, Itsy Bitsy Spider; Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; The Wheels On The Bus, Old MacDonald, etc.

Since half of the kids I was seeing this time were new, many were younger, and I couldn't find any really good library/reading related activities, I stuck with traditional children's songs, and Laurie Berkner's "These Are My Glasses" since it is simple, repetitive, and has hand motions to go with it, so it is easy for the kids to do.

 One class taught me a new song that I'm definitely going to have to incorporate:

Another change I made was instead of giving the teacher coloring sheets related to the theme, I felt a more valuable resource would be to give them a list of all the above books and some songs and rhymes related to the theme. That way they could sing along, and have additional books and activities to use later or share with parents if they chose. I also included in bold red lettering when the next storytime visit would be, as well as my contact info in case they had schedule changes or questions. 

How It Went

It was a real mixed bag! Some classes loved it, were well-behaved, good listeners, engaged, and clearly enjoyed and appreciated it. Others were not engaged at all, bored, and wiggly. I think the books were not as interactive or engaging enough for some of my more challenging groups, and it seems like some of the new classes are not accustomed to structured activities requiring them to be still and quiet. It is also more challenging than I expected to get the teachers to sit and participate with the kids now that I'm in the classroom rather than on the storytime bus. 

One place had completely open classrooms, with only low half-walls dividing them, and the noise level was just ridiculous! I couldn't even hear myself, much less expect the kids to hear and listen. I just read one book to each group and got out of there as my head was throbbing and my ears were ringing! I'll have to have a talk with the director to see if there is not an enclosed room anywhere that we can use for storytime.

I would say the books that worked the best were The NOT So Quiet Library, Froggy Goes to the Library, Chicken Story Time, and Maisy Goes To the Library. The kids who were older and could listen to the longer Born To Read got very excited about recognizing some of their favorite classics in the illustrations. I thought The New LiBEARian was really cute, but it seemed to go over the kids' heads. Almost everyone like Laurie Berkner's "These Are My Glasses".

Friday, June 8, 2018

Flannel Friday - Sharks & Fishies

So, I had an interview* recently where I was asked to prepare a storytime plan. I decided to have fun with it and not overthink things for a change, and just go with a theme that I've done a few times and always have fun with, "Shark Week". I do a Shark Week theme every year and already had some really fun books and a few good songs, so I decided to come up with a couple of additional activities using flannel & felt props as well.

Five Little Fishies, shark flannel rhyme, shark fingerplay
(click on any image to see full-size version)

Five Little Fishies & Mr. Shark

Five little fishies, swimming in the sea.
(hold up 5 fingers, move hand)

Teasing Mr. Shark, "You can't catch me!"
(singsong voice)

Along comes Mr. Shark, as quiet as can be,
(move hands together in wavy motion)

And SNAPPED that fishy right out of the sea!
(open arms and clap together)

Four little fishies..... (continue counting down to zero)

No little fishies, swimming in the sea.
Just Mr. Shark, as full as can be!

This is obviously a take off on the old rhyme with monkeys & an alligator. I just found some clipart to use for patterns and used colored Sharpies to add details, plus googly eyes (googly eyes always make things better!). You could also use the 5 fish by themselves with the following classic children's rhyme to count up:

Five Little Fishies Swimming In A Pool

Five little fishies, swimming in a pool.
(5 fingers, move hand to indicate swimming)

The first one said, "The pool is cool"
(1 finger, shiver)

The second one said, "The pool is deep"
(2 fingers, hold hand up high)

The third one said, "I want to sleep"
(3 fingers, lay head on hands)

The fourth one said, "Let's dive and dip!"
(4 fingers, move hand up and down)

The fifth one said, "I spy a ship!"
(5 fingers, look out)

Along comes a boat, a line goes KERSPLASH!
(move hand like boat,move finger in arch)

Away the five little fishies dash!
(5 fingers, move hand away quickly)

I'll share the second one in another post soon, so stay tuned!  FYI, the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" kicks off July 22.

*I'm extremely happy to report I did get the job!! Next month I will move from Outreach to the Children's Department of our busiest branch. I super excited to be back in a children's department, and working with some awesome children's librarians there!

For more felt & flannel ideas and tips, check out the Flannel Friday Facebook group and Pinterest Boards! To share your flannel, submit via the Flannel Friday Tumblr. For complete information and all the details, visit the main Flannel Friday website.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Flannel Friday - Five Little Bunnies

5 Five Little Bunnies/Rabbits, bunny flannel, rabbit flannel

Five Little Bunnies
(modified from Let's Play Music)

Five little bunnies playing on the floor;
One hopped away, and then there were four.

Four little bunnies hiding behind a tree;
One climbed up, and then there were three.

Three little bunnies wondered what to do;
One went to sleep, and then there were two.

Two little bunnies looking for some fun;
One jumped down a hole, and then there was one.

One little bunny, alone in the sun;
He hopped home to his burrow, and then there was none.

Obviously you can use the word "bunnies" or "rabbits", whichever you prefer, and this could of course be used around Easter time, but any time as well. I initially put this together to have an activity to follow the book Everybunny Dance!

I made a quick and easy pattern using the shapes tool in MS Publisher, with ovals for the ears and circles for the head, body, and tail. Feel free to use my bunny pattern, or make your own. I decided to use a mix of white and brown bunnies, but you could make them all the same, or use other colors. 

When I go to the trouble to make felt pieces, I like them to be multi-purpose, so I will try to find other songs or rhymes to use them with. The first rhyme uses counting and rhyming words; this next song works on letter recognition with the addition of felt letters spelling out "bunny" and the tune of the classic song "Bingo":

B-U-N-N-Y Flannel & song


I know a pet that's soft and cute, 
And "Bunny" is it's name-oh.
B - U - N - N - Y
B - U - N - N - Y
B - U - N - N - Y
And "Bunny" is it's name-oh!

Repeat, and after each verse turn one rabbit around, and instead of saying that letter, either clap or hop in it's place (depending on space and preference).

And here is a "Five Little Bunnies" rhyme that counts up instead of down:

Five Little Bunnies

One little bunny, wondering what to do,
another bunny came along, then there were two.

Two little bunnies, hopping like me (Hop)
Another bunny came along, then there were three.

Three little bunnies, jumping around outdoors,
Another bunny joined them and then there were four.

Four little bunnies, so fluffy and alive,
Another bunny joined them, then there were five.

Five little bunnies, ready for some fun,
Hopped away in the warm, spring sun.

For more felt & flannel ideas and tips, check out the Flannel Friday Facebook group and Pinterest Boards! To share your flannel, submit via the Flannel Friday Tumblr. For complete information and all the details, visit the main Flannel Friday website.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Whoo-Whooo Loves Storytime?

I haven't seen anything inspiring lately, so today I ended up recycling a theme I've done before (owls), but found a couple of different books to use.  I also ended up having another library employee accompany me as part of a job shadow. 

We started with our welcome song, then I told them I was going to give them clues and see if they could guess our theme. I first told them our stories were about an animal that sleeps during the day and is awake at night. I fully expected to have to give them an additional clue, and just as I was about to after several incorrect guesses one little girl got it. We then talked about how owls are nocturnal, and they have such big eyes to help them see at night.

We sang our story song, incorporating flapping our wings and saying "Whoo-whoo", then read our first book, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson. 

This classic is one of my favorites. The baby owls are adorable as they wait for their mother to return, become more concerned the longer they wait, and little Bill wailing "I want my mommy!" over and over. Children can easily relate to missing their parents, and being excited to see them again.

Then we got to pretend to be owls with a song:

"Be Like An Owl"
(to the tune of "London Bridges")

Open your eyes up big and wide, big and wide, big and wide.
Open your eyes up big and wide, just like an owl.

Flap your wings and fly around, fly around, fly around.
Flap your wings and fly around, just like an owl.

Land on the ground and hop along, hop along, hop along.
Land on the ground and hop along, just like an owl.

Fly up in the tree and sit on a branch, sit on a branch, sit on a branch.
Fly up in the tree and sit on a branch, just like an owl.

Turn your head and say "Who, who", say "Who, who", say "who, who".
Turn your head and say "Who, who", just like an owl.

For our second book I chose one of Jonathan Allen's Baby Owl series, I'm Not Cute! This is a very cute series that is both funny and sweet. In this story, Baby Owl wants to be seen as the strong, fierce hunter he will be someday, and gets upset when everyone keeps saying how cute he is instead, saying "I'm not cute!" over and over. 

But when Mama Owl agrees with him, he gets upset because he now wants to be cute, and Mama knows he just needs a nap. This is a good opportunity to talk about how being tired can make us cranky and more prone to tantrums, and that's why sometimes we just need to go to bed.

I followed that with a pair of "Five Little Owls" rhymes, first counting up and then counting back down, using a different hand each time.

Five Little Owls, owl storytime

"Five Little Owls"

One little owl when the moon was new,
Along came another owl, and that made two.

Two little owls perched high in the tree,
Along came another owl, and that made three.

Three little owls flew to the barn door,
Along came another owl, and that made four.

Four little owls lined up side by side,
Along came another owl and that made five.

*Five little owls hooted "Whoo, whoo, whoo,"
Then they flapped their wings and away they flew.*

(*I skip this last verse  when I'm combining the two rhymes*)

Five little owls on a dark, dark night,
Five little owls are quite a sight.*

Five little owls!  Are you keeping score?
One flies away, and that leaves four.

Four little owls, as happy as can be.
One flew away, and that leaves three.

Three little owls calling, "Who, who, who."
One flies away, and that leaves two.

Two little owls, having lots of fun.
One flew away, and that leaves one.

One little owl, and we're almost done.
She flies away, and that leaves none!

I pause at the end of each verse and let the audience fill in the number.  If I hear several wrong answers, then we will stop and count them before moving on.

For at last book I found one that is a little funny and a little dramatic, Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien. Hoot Owl is hungry and on the prowl when he spies a rabbit. Being a master of disguise, he dons a carrot costume to try to lure the rabbit closer. When that fails, he then tries to get a lamb, followed by a pigeon. 

Despite his prowess, he is unable to catch any of them. Then, finally, he finds a unexpected target that can't run away. Kids will like name the disguises and predicting whether Hoot Owl will be successful or not, and the striking illustrations help keep their attention.

We finished up with our closing song and handed out owl stickers, having the kids identify the colors of their respective owls.

How It Went
The kids seemed to like all the books, but were most attentive with Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise, perhaps because of the slightly dramatic tone or maybe they had just finally settled down. The loved pretending to be owls with the song, but some got distracted during the counting rhymes.

Their reactions to our guest observer were funny and unexpected. I thought they would get excited, and mob her asking her name and such, but instead they just stared at her, some seemingly with suspicion. I'm really not sure why, other than the fact I've never brought anyone else before. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Seeing Things From The Other Side

So this month I started a new adventure that will give me a whole new perspective on public librarianship. Drum roll please.....

I am honored to be a newly-appointed member of my local public library's Board of Trustees!

So how did this come about? It's certainly not anything I had ever planned or even thought about doing. But one day I just happened to see a notice in the local paper that they had two openings to finish unexpired terms on the library board. I thought they might have trouble filling two spots, and maybe they'd like to have someone who had knowledge of library operations and ethics who had also been a long-time resident and library user. And for once, my age would not be a detriment as it is in job-hunting (everyone thinks children's librarians must be young, bubbly, and perky); compared to the typical board member I am on the younger side.

I wondered if it would be strange to have the employee of another library on the board, but when I posted the question to a librarian Facebook group, there was a surprising number of librarians who have served on other library boards, and all of them said it was a good experience. So I figured what the heck, it wasn't a huge commitment and could be a really good experience. So I sent in a letter of interest, interviewed with the board, and evidently they liked what I had to say, because this week I was sworn in and attended my first board meeting.

The oath I had to swear was a bit humorous. Not only did I have to swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of the Commonwealth, and the by-laws of the library district, I also had to swear I had never participated in a duel and that I would not participate in any duels during my term of service 😂. Obviously duels were a big problem here at one point in history, and the oath has never been revised. 

The first board meeting I attended was short and sweet, with no major issues to discuss or decide. I admit I felt slightly out of place, with a bit of imposter syndrome triggered by receiving a very disappointing (and unnecessarily harsh) job rejection the day before that left my confidence quite shaken, but I began to feel more at easy by the end. 

I think this will be a really good experience, and being able to see things from the administrative side will help me better understand things that go on in the system where I'm employed and make me a better librarian in the future, as well as giving me the opportunity to serve my own community.