Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Next Adventure

[Some of you may have seen this already; I posted this the day I got the call, then had to take it down after I found out I wasn't supposed to tell anyone yet as they had not been able to inform all of the other candidates due to one being on vacation.]  

It is official; I will soon be embarking on a whole new storytime adventure!!

After working a little over 2 years as a library page, and interviewing several times for a higher position, I got the official word last week that I *finally* got one!  Such a relief, I was really getting sick of interviewing!  So starting July 13th, I will be working as a Library Assistant in the Outreach Department where I will be going out to various area daycares and preschools with our storytime bus (a donated RV retrofitted to be a mobile storytime room that I will NOT be driving) and presenting 20-minute storytime programs to 3-6 classrooms a day, 3-4 mornings per week.

The best part is, that I will also get to go back and work in the Children's Department at least half a day each week so I will still get to see my old co-workers, stay in practice with customer service and the ILS, and stay current with middle-grade & teen literature.  I am so thankful to my current supervisor and department head for believing in me and all their support and encouragement, and giving me great recommendations!  I have enjoyed working with them and learned so much from them and my co-workers during my time there.  I'm glad I won't be leaving them completely.

I love doing storytime now, and I really wanted a position where I could do storytime at work, but I am a little nervous about doing *so many* storytimes a week!  I hope it doesn't turn out to be too much of a good thing.  But there are supposed to be volunteers to help out at least part of the time.  I'm going to try to continue doing my volunteer storytime every other week because I enjoy it and it's a chance to do whatever I want, but I'm afraid it may just be too much.  I'll have to play it by ear and see what happens, and continue to blog about it.

Wish me luck!!

In honor of my new position on the storytime bus, picture books about buses!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throw-Back Thursday

The only old storytimes I haven't blogged about are seasonal/holiday themes, and I think I will wait to post them closer to the appropriate season/holiday, so there probably won't be anymore "Throw-Back Thursday"s until fall. 

I had originally planned on posting a review of several new picture books I had grabbed before I left work today, but all five of them proved to be disappointing duds and not worth the effort. 

But, stay tuned for an announcement of a new storytime adventure!! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

We're Going To The Zoo

This week begins a series of summer fun storytimes.  One thing many families do during the summer is take a trip to the zoo.  We started with our usual opening song, introductions, and lead-in song.  During the introductions we discussed our favorite zoo animals. 

Our first story was Zoo Ah-Choooo by Peter Mandel.  This story begins with a sleepy zoo day, interrupted by a loud sound, which turns out to be the snow leopard sneezing.  One by one, the sneeze spreads to the other animals.  I chose this book because I thought the kids would enjoy all the different sneezing sounds, and I could tell them my story about being sneezed on by the elephant at the zoo when I was about their age.  The story is cute and funny, but I do think the text could have been written a little better; it is a bit awkward in some places.

Elephant sneezes also remind me of the classic "Animal Fair" song my mom used to sing when I was a kid, so I had to include that (though I modified the line about the monkey getting drunk):

          I went to the animal fair,
          the birds and the beasts were there.
          The big baboon by the light of the moon
          was combing his auburn hair.

          The monkey climbed and jumped,
          and sat on the elephant's trunk.
          The elephant sneezed, and fell on his knees.
          What became of the monk?  The monk, the monk....

And of course you can't mention monkeys without doing one of the "Five Little Monkeys" rhymes, and I chose to do the one where they are swinging in a tree and taunting the alligator:

          Five little monkeys swinging in a tree.               (hold up 5 fingers, wiggle)
          Teasing Mr. Alligator, "Can't catch me!"            (put thumbs in ears & waggle hands)
          Here comes Mr. Alligator slowly as can be,       (put hands together, horizontal)
          snatched that monkey right out of the tree.        (snap hands together)

          Four, three, two, one.....No more monkeys swinging in the tree.

For our second story we read Karen Beaumont's latest book, Wild About Us!  I chose this first because I fell in love with the smiling crocodile on the front cover, but all of the illustrations are very well done, fairly realistic, yet also with a cute, cartoon-ish quality.  The text has a great rhyme and cadence, which makes it fun to read.  At first I thought the message of being proud of what makes you different, and not judging people by appearance was a little heavy-handed, but after I read it a second time out loud, I changed my mind.

We followed that up with a rousing round of "If You're An Animal And You Know It," using several different zoo animals and their corresponding sounds or actions to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It".  The kids always love doing these type songs, and can be expected to get a little loud and rowdy, but it's all in good fun.

          If you're an elephant and you know it, swing your trunk.
          If you're an elephant and you know it, swing your trunk.
          If you're an elephant and you know it, your trunk will surely show it.
          If you're an elephant and you know it, swing your trunk.

          Lion....give a roar, monkey....go "Ooh, ooh", snake...say "hissssss",
          hippo....wiggle your behind, crocodile...snap your jaws.

For our last book I chose Zoo Borns! by Andrew Bleiman because everyone loves cute baby animals, and the kids could try to guess what they were.  Some are pretty easy, but there were some animals in there even I would not have known, like the okapi.  The book has beautiful up close photographs with the name of the animal and a little blurb.  At the end of the book, it gives more information about each animal and what zoo they were from.  Then we ended with our closing song followed by a hand stamp.

How It Went
Today ended up being rather frustrating.  I got to the daycare to find that my regular kids were gone, attending VBS at one of the churches that sponsors the center.  I really wish they had let me know, and I would've just saved it for next time, but they wanted me to go ahead and do storytime with the group of stragglers that were still there, kids that didn't get to daycare in time to go with the group to VBS.  These were all kids I had not had before and didn't know the routine, and were on the younger side.  If I had known, I would have prepared a different storytime and I was kicking myself for not having any shorter books.

As it was, I had a very hard time keeping them engaged in the first book and the first song and rhyme.  However, they did really like Wild About Us! and listened much better with that one.  I think the bold illustrations of just a single animal on each page attracted and held their attention much better, as well as the rhyming text.  They also liked doing the "If You're an Animal and You Know It" song and imitating all the animals.  By the time we got to Zoo Borns! I didn't even try to read the text, just told them the animal's name and let them guess what kind of animal it was.

Lesson Learned - ALWAYS bring at least one shorter book, even if you know your group can handle longer.  You never know what might come up.....

Thursday, June 11, 2015

TBT Down On The Farm

I originally had a slightly different version of a farm animal storytime planned, but I heard two days before my storytime that the daycare was very short-staffed that week and they were having to combine the 3-year old class with younger classes.  So instead of 3 longer books, I chose 4 shorter books and figured I could pick and chose what to use on the fly, depending on how things worked out.

So, after our usual welcome and lead-in songs, we started with Nancy Tafuri's Spots Feathers and Curly Tails.  This is a great little interactive book for younger kids.  Each page shows a small part of a farm animal and the kids guess what it is, then the whole animal is revealed when you turn the page.  Since this book was so short and simple, and we ended up not having the younger kids after all, I followed up immediately by saying, "Now we've seen how well you know what farm animals look like, we'll see if you know what they sound like," and read Do Cows Meow?, a lift-a-flap book by Salina Yoon.  Again, this is another short, simple book with bright illustrations perfect for younger kids that lets them guess the animal sounds.  These books pair together very well.

Next we sung a song borrowing the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus" called "The Animals On The Farm":

          The cows on the farm go "Moo, moo, moo;"
          "moo, moo, moo;" "moo, moo, moo."
          The cows on the farm go "Moo, moo, moo"
          All day long.

          Repeat with other animals & sounds...
           *Source:  PreschoolEducation.com

I used my "animals-on-a-stick" to let them know which animal we were doing next.  These are just simple clip art images I printed, cut out, laminated, and hot-glued to craft sticks [the clip art I used is no longer available, but I'm sure you can easily find some].

For the next book, I chose a pop-up book guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser, Snappy Little Farm by Dugald Steer.  Pop-up books are always a hit!  This one describes various things that go on throughout the day at the farm.  After the story we did the following fingerplay:

                                            "Two Mother Pigs"

          Two mother pigs lived in a pen                       (show thumbs)
          Each had four babies, and that made ten       (show all 10)
          These four babies were black as night           (hold up 4 fingers on one hand)
          These four babies were black and white        (hold up 4 fingers on the other hand)

          All eight babies loved to play                          (wiggle 8 fingers)
          They rolled & rolled in the mud all day           (roll hands)
          At night they curled up in a heap,                  (make fists, palm up)
          And squealed & wiggled till they fell asleep.  (wiggle 8 fingers, then stop)
           *Source:  PreschoolEducation.com

Then we had a lot of fun with an action song where we got to pretend to do all the things a farmer does early in the morning:  "This Is The Way We...."

          This is the way we                             so early in the morning.

                    ...feed the chicks      ...pitch the hay
                    ...gather eggs           ...drive the tractor
                    ...slop the hogs         ...pick the vegetables
                    ...brush the horse     ...milk the cow
                    *Source:  PreschoolEducation.com

I love simple songs like this, where you can modify and add verses to suit your theme, and stretch them out as long as you need to fill time or work out all the wiggles.  I ended the song with a verse using the phrase "This is the way we read a book" to settle them back down on the rug for our last story, Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee.  This is a fun little story about a horse giving some of his other animal friends a ride.  They urge him to go faster and faster until they almost fall off and ask him to stop, which he does too suddenly, sending them flying over his head into a haystack.  At first the horse is afraid his friends might be hurt, but instead they all cry "Again!".  This has a fun repetitive "clip-clop, clippety-clop" refrain that they kids can join in on.  After that, we ended with our closing song.

How It Went
As it was, I could have stuck with my original plan since the younger kids didn't join us after all, but this one still worked and the kids had fun.  The teacher warned me they were extra hyper that day, but they settled down just fine once we got into our routine.  They liked all the stories even though the first two were really meant for slightly younger kids.  They were disappointed the pop-up book wasn't longer and informed me that they were ready for longer stories  ;)  But I figure it's always better to leave them asking for more, right?  They LOVED Clip-Clop and joined in with either saying the clip-clop's or making sound affects; they laughed hysterically when the animals were thrown into the haystack.

They really had fun making all the animal noises in the first song and doing all the actions in the second song.  This is one theme that is guaranteed to work well and a great starting point for anyone new to doing storytimes.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

12 Empowering Children's Books To Add To Little Girls' Bookshelves

Check out Evelyn Chapman's list of picture books and chapter books with girl-power for younger readers.   Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess is my personal favorite, and Roald Dahl's Matilda a close second.

12 Empowering Children's Books To Add To Little Girls' Bookshelves

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Un-Themed Storytime

This week I was a bit distracted with summer reading prep and some other things going on, so I decided I didn't want to be tied to a theme and just pulled some books I'd been wanting to do, but hadn't fit into a previous storytime for one reason or another.  We started with our usual opening song, introductions, and lead-in song.

I love Mo Willems' Pigeon books and have wanted to do one for a while; they are great for a group read-aloud.  Pigeon reminds of my nephew when he's sweet-talking to get his way, and of my son when he slumps over, dejected because he didn't.  I decided to start with the original, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! since most of the others were checked out, and it would pair perfectly with singing "The Wheels On The Bus":

          The wheels on the bus go round & round,               (make circular motions)
           round & round, round & round.
          The wheels on the bus go round & round,
           all through the town.  [alternate:  "all day long"]

         (Wipers go swish, horn goes beep, doors go open & shut, etc.)

The great thing about this song is you can make up lots of different verses, and use as many or as few as you want.  To tie in with the story, I added "the pigeon says 'Let me drive,'" "the driver says 'No, no, no'" and "the motor goes vroomy vroom vroom."

After the song, I transitioned to the next story, Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas, by talking about how when you are too little to do something you can still imagine and pretend about doing it, and we were going to do some pretending with our next story.  This is a great interactive book with lots of movement and pretending for having fun and getting all the wiggles out. I almost used it in my bug theme last week, but had some others I wanted to used and decided to save it for today. 

Since this book talks about a giant, hungry frog being scary, I transitioned to the next song and book by saying "You know what else would be scary?  A big, hungry dinosaur!" which led perfectly to our "Dino Ditty" song to which I have added two new verses:

          Hungry plesiosaur swimming in the sea, singing        (make swimming motions)
          Di-no ditty, ditty dum, ditty do
          Searching all around for yummy fish to eat, singing   (put hand to forehead & search)
          Di-no ditty, ditty dum, ditty do
          He's huge (he's huge), he's strong (he's strong)         (hold arms wide, make muscles)
          He's huge, he's strong; won't be hungry very long.     (repeat arms, shake head)
          Di-no ditty, ditty dum, ditty do
          Di-no ditty, ditty dum, ditty do

          Hungry pterosaur a-soaring in the air, singing             (hold arms out like wings)
          Di-no ditty, ditty dum, ditty do
          Searching for food, but he doesn't want to share, singing  (look around, shake head)
          Di-no ditty, ditty dum, ditty do
          He's fast (he's fast), he's strong (he's strong)              (hold arms wide, make muscles)
          He's fast, he's strong; won't be hungry very long.        (repeat arms, shake head)
          Di-no ditty, ditty dum, ditty do
          Di-no ditty, ditty dum, ditty do                                       (gradually get quieter & end
          Di-no ditty, ditty dum, ditty do                                          at whisper & sitting down)

That song is the perfect lead-in to our last book, Rotten and Rascal: The Two Terrible Pterosaur Twins by Paul Geraghty.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I found this gem while shelf-reading and I loved the dark humor, and hey, it's dinosaurs!  It also has some fun alliteration.  I took a chance that none of the kids would be too traumatized by the main characters getting eaten; at least they aren't cute, cuddly bunnies like in Jon Klassen's I Want My Hat Back ☺ I wouldn't have read something like this at the beginning of the year, but now that they are older I thought they could handle it.  If not, I figured I could quickly district them with hand stamps and stickers and then do our usual closing song.

How It Went

The kids seemed to be in a really good mood today, one little boy had a definite case of the sillies and kept calling me by the wrong names (on purpose), much to the chagrin of one of my loyal fans.  Surprisingly, the Pigeon book fell a little flat.  For whatever reason, they just didn't get into it like kids usually do.  However, they LOVED Can You Make a Scary Face? and were giggling the whole time at all the silly actions.  And I'm happy to report nobody was traumatized by the untimely demise of Rotten and Rascal.  They seemed mesmerized by the story, with the sounds, voices, and alliteration, and at the end it took them a minute to figure out what had happened; you could practically see the little wheels turning in their heads as they put it together.

They already knew the "Wheels On The Bus" song, so everyone joined in, and once again they had fun with the "Dino Ditty" song, and appreciated the two additional verses.  At the end, I told them if they had been good listeners they could line up quietly to get a hand stamp.  I told them they better not argue or bicker about who was first or they might end up being eating by a T. rex like Rotten and Rascal.  One little boy asked if that were really true, and I said we didn't want to take any chances.  As I left I got a few hugs, and an "I love you."  Little kids can be so sweet....

This was my first storytime without a theme, and though I was initially concerned about how it would flow and having good transitions, I think it all came together pretty well in the end.  I probably will still use themes most of the time, but this was a nice change of pace and a chance to do some great books that I hadn't fit in before.