Friday, December 2, 2016

Don't Share Your Germs!

Now that we are between holidays and already into cold and flu season, I decided this was a good time to talk to the kids about germs, and how to keep from spreading them so that they don't get themselves, their family, friends, or Miss Jennifer sick!

We began storytime with our usual welcome song, and introduced the topic of germs. I was a little surprised that several were already familiar with the word and knew it was what makes us sick. We talked a little about how they are everywhere, but they are so tiny we can't even see them. 

After we sang our story song, we read our first book, Germs Are Not For Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen. This is a great non-fiction picture book that works well for storytime. The text is short and simple, and the illustrations are high-contrast, so it is not as dry and boring as some non-fiction. 

This book explains what germs are, how they are spread, and what to do to prevent spreading them in clear, simple terms, and it also shows children of various ethnicities. It also mentions singing the "ABC's" to time handwashing, so we paused and practiced that. There are many other books in this series that address other issues, like hitting, kicking, biting, hurtful words, and another one that would go well with this theme, Noses Are Not For Picking.

After that we did a fun flannel activity about hand-washing to get rid of germs, based on one from Library Quine using free clipart as a pattern for the hand. Of course, since I have a master's degree in microbiology I had to take it a step further and instead of generic "blob" -looking germs, I made mine somewhat representative of actual germs, though obviously not to scale. And of course they had to have faces and googly-eyes even though real germs don't, because, well, just because! 

[In case your wondering, the germs shown (starting with the left column) are: Streptococcus (strep throat, pneumonia, scarlet fever), Staphylococcus (skin and wound infections), Rhinovirus (common cold), Vibrio (cholera, foodborne illnesses), E. coli (diarrhea), Neisseria (meningitis), Enterovirus (polio; hand, foot & mouth disease), Salmonella (gastroenteritis), Enterococcus (UTI, meningitis), and Influenza virus (flu).]

First we talked about the hands, how one was a grown-up and one was a kid, and how one was palm-up and the other was the back of the hand (and yes, I realize it would have been better to have varied skin tones, but unfortunately we were all out of varied shades of brown. I will make additional hands in different tones as soon as I get more felt!) I told them in generic terms what each germ caused (cold, flu, stomach ache, rash, fever, etc.) and talked about where they hide as I placed them on the hands, then we did the rhyme.

All The Little Germs

All the little germs, dirty and mean (make disgusted face)

Hiding on your palms (point), where they cannot be seen (shake head).

Wash them, Scrub them, (pretend to wash & scrub hands)

Rinse them away. (wipe hand across each other)

Then we'll have clean hands, (hold hands up)

Hip, hip, hooray! (jazz hands)

Other verses:  ...Hiding between your fingers....                     
 ...On the backs of your hands....
...Hiding on your thumbs....
...Hiding under your nails....
...Hiding on your wrists....

As we say the rhyme, I remove the germs that are located in the corresponding place. The kids love pointing out that the hands aren't really clean until all the germs are gone.

Next we read Wash Your Hands! by Tony Ross, which at first glance you might think is a non-fiction book, but it actually does have a story featuring a fun-loving Princess who just wants a piece of cake. But everyone keeps taking it away and telling her to wash her hands (because she's been playing in the mud, with the dogs, using the potty, etc.) first. She doesn't understand why she has to wash her hands again and again, until her maid explains about the germs that live in the "dirties and nasties" that could make her sick. After washing her hands one last time and before she finally eats the cake, she asks the maid if she has washed her hands.

I decided to proceed straight to the last book, Felicity Floo Visits The Zoo by E. S. Redmond, and save our activity for the end. All of the animals in the zoo are sick, but the staff has no idea why. The story then unfolds of a little girl who visits the zoo even though she's sick. She wipes her nose with her hand, then proceeds to touch many animals and surfaces in the zoo, spreading her germs everywhere. This is made obvious to the kids as a series of yucky green handprints all over everything. I again reminded them about using tissues, washing hands, and keeping hands away from faces.

Then we did a fun, and only slightly messy, activity that really helps demonstrate to the kids how easily germs are spread. I put some colored glitter (I only had blue, but a mixture of colors could represent different types of germs) in a paper plate, then pressed my hand into it. I then showed the kids how there were "germs" all over my hand now. Then I shook hands with a few of the kids, and had them shake hands with other kids, and so on, until almost everyone had germs!

(I forgot to take pictures of the kids' hands, so I re-created the chain of transmission later)
I asked the kids to think about what would happen if they picked up food with those hands, or if they touched their faces or eyes. They all realized glitter would get in their foods, then in their stomachs, and in their eyes and faces. I reminded them that is exactly what happens with germs; we just can't see them. Then we all washed our hands really well.

I've also heard of this activity done with chalk or flour, and there is a special spray you can buy that glows under black light. Depending on your setting and time frame, instead of having kids shake hands, you could just let it spread naturally over a longer period of time. Another activity is to put confetti inside a balloon and pop it to simulate how a sneeze or cough spreads germs.

How It Went
Ironically, I came down with a nasty head cold just a couple of days before, so my voice and hearing were not in the greatest shape, which made wrangling 14 three-year olds a little more difficult. I could not speak very loudly, my voice was terribly hoarse and kept cracking, and I could not sing at all. I guess I was a little too late with my message of not sharing your germs with Miss Jennifer!

For the most part the kids seemed to follow along pretty well and could at least verbalize the talking points, even if they aren't very good at putting them into practice all the time. But every little bit helps. They loved the flannel activity and asked to do it again, which I was very pleased with (especially after my mentor teased me for being a big nerd and having to make the germs somewhat biologically accurate). They really loved pointing out at the end of each verse that our hands were NOT clean because there were still germs left! At first some of them were a little hesitant with the glitter activity, but once we got going, they were all clamoring for germs! 😏 

I think it went pretty well, considering how difficult it was for me to talk. If my voice had been normal, I don't think I would have had any trouble keeping them engaged. It was nice to actually use my degree for a change! I really hope to have the opportunity to do some serious science programs with slightly older kids in the future.

Remember, share your toys, not your germs!


Some of you may have gotten a huge e-mail update from my blog, after not having gotten one in a long time, so long you may not even remember having signed up for my feed.

Apparently, when I changed my domain earlier this year, it screwed up my feed and I didn't realize I had to manually transfer it to the new domain name. I only realized it wasn't working yesterday and fixed it.

So I apologize for the lack of updates, followed by one huge one!  But thanks for following my blog; I hope you find it helpful!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

And Here We Go Again....

Every year about this time it starts. I'm not talking about shopping, baking, eating, or family bickering, but the endless debates, lectures, and arguments in online library groups about the holidays and whether or not they should be recognized in any way in the library building or programming.

Some people feel very strongly that in the effort to be inclusive, there should be no trace of holidays in the library. No holiday decorating, no holiday displays, and above all, no holiday programming. I personally don't share this extreme view, but if someone else feels that is what is best for their community, I have no problem with it.

What I do have a big problem with is how some of the people who hold this view believe that their way is the one and only right way of doing things, and will lecture, criticize, and belittle other librarians who do have holiday decor and/or programs, without knowing anything at all about the communities they serve. It is shocking and very disconcerting that a group that is supposedly all about inclusion, equality, tolerance, and kindness seems to have no problem bullying others within its ranks who have different views. If you are only "tolerant" of those who agree with you, then you aren't inclusive or tolerant at all!

My personal view is sanitizing all libraries in the name of inclusiveness is at best misguided and unrealistic, and at worst, a form of censorship and promoting a personal agenda. It is unrealistic to expect all programs to appeal to and include everyone; it is an impossible goal. That's why we offer a wide variety of programs. Second, the only time I hear this unattainable standard applied is in relation to holiday programs. Just like every book will not appeal to every patron, it is unreasonable to expect every program to appeal to everyone. 

I think each library has to decide what is right for their community. I don't know your community, and you don't know mine. I agree we need to be inclusive overall, but I don't think that means one cannot have ANY holiday programs, nor do I think anyone HAS to have holiday programs. I think a good compromise is to keep regular programs, like weekly storytimes, neutral, but having a separate holiday program is okay if you have patrons that want it. Above all, I think we all need to realize that there is not one right way of doing things because every community is different, and we need to leave it to the people and librarians in each community to decide what is right for them.

This reminds me so much of all the tiresome "mommy wars".... Some people have such a need to be "right" they cannot recognize that others' viewpoints are just as valid as their own; every family/community is different and what works for one may not be good for another. So how about we start showing more respect for different opinions, have rational discussions and recognize that there is in fact some gray area here, and that we may have to just agree to disagree in the end?

[And yes, as you can see from my blog I do holiday storytimes, because the daycares I go to request them. If I were doing regular storytimes in the library, I would keep with a neutral theme and have a separate holiday program.]

Friday, November 18, 2016

Oh, My Gosh! It's Thanksgiving!

I decided not to write up my 2-weeks of Thanksgiving storytimes with the Storytime-To-Go program, since it was mostly the same as last year. I did try out a few other books, and used the ones that worked the best of those today in my regular storytime.

I walked in with my turkey puppet, and they were all intrigued. I told them we would talk about it after our welcome song. After the song, I first tried to see if anyone knew the puppet was a turkey, and after getting guesses of chicken, rooster, and eagle, someone finally said turkey. That led into talking about Thanksgiving, being thankful, and Thanksgiving dinner. 

I used talking about different foods we have at Thanksgiving dinner as an opportunity to introduce them to squash, which would relate to one of our books. Most children don't know what squash is, so I brought three different varieties (butternut, zucchini, and golden acorn) with varying shapes and colors to show how squash can have all kinds of funny shapes and can be orange like pumpkins.

(The butternut squash actually grew in my backyard, courtesy of my neighbor's 
vine that wandered through the fence. 

We sang our story song, incorporating a couple of turkey
gobbling and wing flapping verses for fun, then read our first book, Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Merkes and Doris Barrette. 

This is a short, sweet story about all kinds of things that kids might be thankful for and can relate to, like playgrounds and playdates, puppies and kittens, and family. After I read each page, I asked them to raise their hands if they were thankful for that, too, and we talked a little more about various things we were thankful for afterward. The whimsical watercolor illustrations are bright and detailed.

Next, I used my turkeys from the "Five Nervous Turkeys" flannel set to do a "Five Silly Turkeys" rhyme, based on the book of the same name by Salina Yoon. I wasn't able to get a copy of the book, but I was able to find a video of it on YouTube to get the words. Due to copyright, I can't include them here, but it has turkeys twirling away, being stung by a bee, falling asleep, and getting sunburned, then regrouping for a Thanksgiving feast.

Our second book was The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz, an absolutely adorable retelling of The Ugly Duckling that works well for both Halloween and Thanksgiving themes. Our protagonist is an oddly shaped pumpkin that nobody wants and everyone is being mean to. He feels ugly and lonely and starts to cry. 

But, upon taking shelter in a nearby garden, he discovers, "O my gosh! I'm a squash!" and finds were he fits in. The kids don't always get the ending, but they understand that he's happy, no longer sad and alone. This story provides a good opportunity to talk about appreciating everyone's differences and being kind.

After that it was time for a little fun and movement with "If You're a Turkey":

If You're a Turkey

If you're a turkey and you know it, flap your wings!
If you're a turkey and you know it, flap your wings!
If you're a turkey and you know it, and you really want to show it,
If you're a turkey and you know it, flap your wings!

Additional Verses:  wobble your head, shake your tail, say "Gobble, gobble," do them all...

I saved the best for last with Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr and Laura Rader. This one is similar to Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano, but is much shorter, so it is great for the younger kids! Plus it has the repeated "Run, turkey, run!" that the kids can say with you. 

It's the day before Thanksgiving, and Turkey sees the large roasting pan in the kitchen, and knows what the farmer intends to put in it, so he must "Run, turkey, run!" He tries to disguise himself as a pig, a duck, and a horse, to no avail, before finally escaping to the forest. Is Turkey safe at last? Yes!......Or is he??

Afterwards, we ended with our closing song, and passed out stickers.

How It Went  
When I got there, I was greeted with lots of hugs and the teacher warned that the kids were pretty wound up, which I could see for myself. It took a little longer than usual to get them settled on the rug, but after that they were okay for the most part. After we got going I noticed one little girl was sitting nicely, but with a mad, sulky look on her face. I decided to just ignore it and hoped she perked up eventually. Then when we sang the verse in our story song that goes "If you're ready for a story, nod your head," she would shake her head "No" each time, being quietly passive-aggressive. I'm not sure what her issue was, maybe just in a bad mood or maybe I interrupted something she was invested in, but I figured it was best just to ignore it as long as she was not being disruptive.

Previous groups have enjoyed Thanks For Thanksgiving, but this class seemed a little bored with it. They were very empathetic with the poor Ugly Pumpkin, though, to the point I was afraid one little girl was going to tear up. Introducing them to squash earlier seemed to help them follow the ending a little better than previous groups have; kids that age aren't very familiar with squash. One boy had a hard time excepting that the golden acorn squash was not a pumpkin though. They all loved Run, Turkey, Run! Both the "Five Silly Turkeys" flannel board and "If You're a Turkey" song & dance went over well and were enjoyed by all.

And I got more hugs as I left :)  

Friday, November 11, 2016

Flannel Friday - Five Nervous Turkeys

This is my first "Flannel Friday" post in quite a while! I just haven't had the time or inspiration lately, but I did manage to finish this one finally.

I was inspired to create this set by a post I saw on the slc book boy blog. I've seen this rhyme done before, but with all five turkeys disguising themselves as ducks. I loved how he changed it and had each one put on a different animal costume, and made up corresponding verses of the song. I modified it a bit and replaced his lion with a horse as I preferred to have all farm animals, and added another verse at the end as it seemed to need some closure.

Five Nervous Turkeys
(to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean")

Five turkeys were getting quite nervous,
Thanksgiving soon would be back.
So one turkey put on a DUCK suit,
And now he says, "Gobble, quack, quack!"

Four turkeys were getting quite nervous,
Thanksgiving was coming, not going.
So one turkey put on a PIG suit,
And now he says, "Gobble, oink, oink!"

Three turkeys were getting quite nervous,
Thanksgiving was in just a week.
So one turkey put on a MOUSE suit,
And now he says, "Gobble, squeak, squeak!"

Two turkeys were getting quite nervous,
So one of them knew just what to do.
That turkey put on a COW suit,
And now he says, "Gobble, moo, moo!"

One turkey was getting quite nervous,
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day!
So he put on a HORSE suit,
And now he says, "Gobble, neigh, neigh!"

The farmer was getting quite nervous,
Today is Thanksgiving Day!
But he can find no turkeys,
Only hears "Quack, oink, squeak, moo, and neigh!"

I thought this would be a great activity to follow reading either Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano & Lee Harper, or Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr & Laura Rader. Both books feature a desperate turkey trying to avoid becoming Thanksgiving dinner by pretending to be other animals. Turkey Trouble is longer and good for older kids, while Run, Turkey, Run! is shorter with more simple text and better for younger kids. It also has the repeating "Run, turkey, run!" that you can have the kids say. Both of these are usually big hits with the kids.

I will warn you, this set was pretty time-consuming to make; I started it last year and ran out of time, so saved it for this year. If I were to have to make it again, I'd be very tempted to just use laminated clip-art! To make a pattern for the turkeys, I just copied book boy's picture and enlarged it, then outlined in marker for patterns. For the animal costumes, I just free-handed it since they didn't have to be too realistic.

I took one shortcut and did not bother with trying to line up the heads and eyes and cut out eyeholes in the "costumes" as I thought that would be very tedious and frustrating, and I didn't want to have to worry about each costume only working with one specific turkey. So I just put more eyes on the costumes.

To see more Flannel Friday posts from other bloggers, go to this week's Flannel Friday Round-Up hosted by Anne at So Tomorrow. Visit the Flannel Friday Pinterest Board for past Round-Up's and tons of inspiration. For more information about Flannel Friday and how to participate, visit the Flannel Friday site.